Well, this is how it begins – with a stick and a lot of work. But we are a little ahead of ourselves, let’s go back a little…
Amanda’s parents moved to Northern British Columbia, Canada over 10 years ago from the lower mainland (Vancouver area for those not from BC) and they’ve been trying to convince her to move up for years. She was not convinced.
It took meeting the right partner to decide that we were interested in moving north. Despite being raised in the Big Smoke (Toronto, Canada’s biggest city), James was fascinated with a rural lifestyle, self-sufficiency, and survivalism. Amanda’s parents generously offered to split off 12 acres of their 300 acre lot to gift to us if we wanted to come up and build a cabin. And so we made the move.
We recognize that we’ve been incredibly lucky in many ways – being given a piece of land is certainly not an opportunity that everyone gets! We also have the wonderful resource of Amanda’s parents to draw upon – they built their own house and have lived off-grid now for 12 years so we get to learn from them AND all their mistakes! However, it’s up to us to take these amazing opportunities and DO something with them and we plan on it. We will have our own mistakes to make.
This leads me to our goal: We plan on building an entire cabin for less than $10,000.
How do we plan on making this happen? Well, we are going to do almost everything by hand, with the labour of myself and my partner, the invaluable help of Amanda’s parents, and the occasional help of others when available. We won’t be using any heavy machinery, except for the very rare instances where doing something by ourselves proves to be just too much (i.e. heavy digging).
We plan on using primarily reclaimed materials for our cabin. Most of this will come from an old abandoned log cabin from the 60s on the property which was built by draft dodgers during the Vietnam War. This cabin is unfortunately unliveable due to the foundational logs rotting, rats having moved in, and being no where near a water source (there was a river in the 60s, but it has since dried). So our plan is to dismantle the cabin and recover logs, windows, and wood from it which we can recycle into our cabin. Other materials we hope to scavenge through donations from the community, scores off of Craigslist or Kijiji, or otherwise acquire in our searches. And new materials will be purchased as necessary.
Lastly, our cabin will be completely off-the-grid. We are located in a very remote location in Northern BC and there is no access to electricity or communal water or septic. We will need to provide all of this on our own. We’re looking at solar energy, an outhouse to start with a composting toilet one day, and the water from our very own lake. It’s going to be 100% self-sufficient!
So that’s it! And now we are here – we’ve started felling tress with a chainsaw, bucking them up into manageable chunks, and laboriously moving each piece away from our chosen location. We need to clear roughly an acre of land so that none of the aspens which dominate the area are near enough that they may fall on our new cabin. Aspens are a fast-growing, short-lived species and if you keep them too close, they have a terribly tendency to rot and fall on houses!
We hope you follow along as we undertake this adventure! And we’d love to hear from you, your questions, suggestions, or similar undertakings! Please let us know!