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CabinBuilder/Author
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I wrote this article in 2004. No McMansion here.



How to Build a cabin w/deck for $2000, Get out of Debt, Be Healthier and Gain Peace of Mind

People in America have become soft … and spoiled. They HAVE to have their 3000+ square foot house with three bathrooms and 2 to 3 car garages, their new $30,000 cars (more like 2 or 3 of these), their $6 lattes, their designer $100 jeans and tennis shoes, their 55” Boob tube screens to watch their ballgames on and their $20 dinners. Often there are only two people living their big house. But they have to keep up with the Jones’. Even if it means forfeiting their peace of mind, being up the neck in mortgage debt. My Grandfather and Grandmother raised 3 kids in a 800 square foot house with one outhouse. My Dad’s 1st cousin and his wife, across the creek from them, raised 4 kids in the same size house and bathroom facilities. Used to be communication was the number 1 cause of divorce in American…now it is debt…debt on new cars and big houses and the like. Most people pay 50% or more of their paycheck on their house and cars alone.

A few years ago I decided to get out of debt. I cut 6 of my credit cards up, leaving only one for car rental and plane tickets, sold my overpriced city house and bought 3 acres in the country with a creek. Then proceeded to build my 16’x20’ cabin. So I could do it all by myself, I dug a matrix of holes and put railroad ties 3’ feet down (Treated 4x4 posts would do as well) spacing them 4’ to 5’ apart. Then 2’x6’s could be used for the floor joists. I used all rough cut sawn lumber bought from the saw mill as this was a good bit less expensive than smooth lumber bought from the big retailers. Flooring was done with 2x6’s with tar paper on top of that. Later after I had the walls ups and roof framed I put another sub floor on using a network of 2x4’s, then insulation between that and another layer of ¾” pressboard was used on top of that. That was my floor insulation since I would have no skirting around the cabin. Using 2x6’s again for the walls gave me 6” insulation there and as well for the roof. Another sub floor was used on the roof, insulation put in, then layered on top of that. (This was MUCH easier than putting up insulation from the inside on the ceiling as I was always working down and not up. Metal roofing was used and then a nice deck built out front overlooking the creek. I drywalled the inside as it is less expensive and looks better than plywood. Seven windows, all sides, and wall to wall carpeting made the cabin complete. A one room cabin with small bathroom and shower stall and wood burning stove made a nice cozy cabin. A wooden swing out front under the front porch and carved name with the date, Summer 2003, made the abode complete. I live here in the summers and on winter breaks, as I’m a teacher, and it’s a great place in case TSHTF and a getaway place if and when TEOTWAWKI hits. The next summer I built a barn for wood storage and other things with a watch deer that keeps an eye over the place. (the barn cost $2.50 per square foot)

Inside I created a false wall that was about 2’ wide. Inside that is stored quite a few #10 cans of dehydrated food and firearms and lots of ammo. (bricks of 22, 30-06, .308, 30/30, 45 acp, 44, 40, 38, 357) This inside secret cache also includes necessary items such as extra toilet paper, butane lighters, 1st aid kit, boxes of matches and a few other
highly sought after and wanted barter items.

Total cost for the cabin was $2000…Just over $10 per square foot for the cabin.
The amazing thing to me was that it was all easier than I thought. I’d never built any more than a deck and didn’t know what a stud was when I started. Much of building your own cabin or house is just having the confidence to try and the rest is common sense. In the end the mashed fingers and few mistakes were worth every bit of it.

Soon I’ll dig a well for water and there is plenty of firewood all around in the woods.
When I started I was not in good shape. When finished I was in great shape and had started eating healthy foods, making my own hard tack bread, eating a salad a day, 7 grain cereal and drinking plenty of water. No more Big Macs or pizza or sodas. I felt GREAT! One of the best parts is the incredible relief and good feeling I now have being debt free. The peace and solitude of living in nature and away from the rat race in the big city adds to this.
 

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You digging the well by hand or hiring someone ?
 

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The Punisher
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Nice post albertjohnson, thanks! :thumb:

There are some great and practical small cabin plans here http://www.countryplans.com/ I'm still going to get around to building one of them some day.

Lots of good info on that site. I've got plans from them for a smaller cabin that I intend on building next spring.
 

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Mountain Critter
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People in America have become soft … and spoiled. They HAVE to have their 3000+ square foot house with three bathrooms and 2 to 3 car garages, their new $30,000 cars (more like 2 or 3 of these), their $6 lattes, their designer $100 jeans and tennis shoes, their 55'' Boob tube screens to watch their ballgames on and their $20 dinners. Often there are only two people living their big house.
This is a huge part of the reason for our current economic troubles, and the reason so many people are panicing right now. They have been trained to think that unless you are in debt and participating heavily in this credit-based economy, it is impossible to maintain a "good standard of living." They should try making do with less, doing for themselves, having no debt, less worries and a lot more freedom. Now that's living.


Great article!
 

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Informational sponge
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Great post albertjohnson, thanks for sharing your inspiring story.

If I could add 3 tips (been a carpenter for 25 years), they will add a very little cost but is an incredible money (energy) saver;

house wrap - like Tyvex, Typar etc - this creates a barrier that stops drafts and let's moisture and condensation out. The stuff is incredible. On the outside do not use tar paper or plastic, that traps moisture and causes rot. Good for roof and floor, not walls.

Caulking - use it everywhere - around every door/window, sills, plates etc. The expanding foam is great as well, use it behind plug boxes where you can't put the pink stuff. Use the foam made for door/window around them, not the regular foam.

Windows - don't skimp on the windows, 70% of all heat loss is out the windows, a good double pane argon gas filled low E window can be purchased reasonably.

I built a similar type cabin, the only difference was I used 2x10 rafters for the roof and giving lots of room for insulation. Insulation and tightness are important. The cabin I built in in north NH and in the dead of winter it can be heated by a candle, literately.
 

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Information is Ammunition
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the property I want to get allready has a house on it- but I would like to go subterranean and build a below ground shelter- perhaps even with a way in directly from the house.
 

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CabinBuilder/Author
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Photos of the Cabin

TackleB. Haven't dug the well yet. They said i might have to go 500' so it could cost 10 grand. Have just been carrying my water in. Lived in the cabin for 4 summers now. I have a 5 gallon container over the sink there which is used for washing and shaving. (sink just drains out underneath the cabin.) Use solar shower. I still plan on setting up a cistern though, an outfit will fill 500 gallons for $75 every time.

Thanks for the tips Winchester. I'm just a weekend carpenter, but goes to show what a person can do and how little it costs if one does it all by themself. I DID do a lot of caulking and foaming and built my own doors. Check out the door knob on the bathroom. Bought all my windows at some goodwill type construction stuff place. Those in the front cost $20 apiece. The living space for the cabin is 188 sf + the deck out front adds another 96 sf for total of 284 sf. Heh, we spend much of our time out on the front deck watching the wild horse, deer, elk...

Cpl Young. That was my biggest concern, wanted to buy land where i didn't have to have a permit or get it inspected. So nope, didn't. We don't need no stinking permits. Technically by the county it's called a shed. :D:

We could live here full time i think. Just did this thread to show what CAN be done with little cost. The 2 acres cost $11.5k.
GOT to get my water tank in there.

Here's some photos... http://s301.photobucket.com/albums/nn44/DavyKOTWF/?albumview=slideshow
 

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i have to call BS on the price of this cabin.

we purchased all our rough cut lumber,the spikes and nails for our 12x14 log cabin in 2004.

that consisted of rough 1x6 for the floor,loft and roof decking and rough 2x8's for the floor, and roof system,a 50 pound box of 16 inch spikes,10 pounds of 8 penny nails,,5 pounds of 16 penny nails,2 marvin windows standard size,2 rolls 30 pound felt and 5 square of roofing shingles. remember the walls were out of logs we cut ourselves.
we spent 2 grand on those supplies alone. there is no way that cabin was built in 2003 or 2004 for that price.
After looking at the pics of the cabin, I have to agree. I find it hard to believe you could build it for 2g's.
 

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After looking at the pics of the cabin, I have to agree. I find it hard to believe you could build it for 2g's.
that why it cost 2k, he bought the supplies in 2004. if you bought that now it probably more like 5k.

that was a GREAT job. that would make a great hunting cabin :thumb:
 

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Frozen Patriot
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664 Posts
2k - 5k who gives a rats a$$, bottom line, it shows what someone with some motivation and a little imagination can do other than sitting on their fat A$$ nit picking....:rolleyes:

Great job and what a beautiful place, I'm jealous....

DS
 

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Breathe Easy
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Pick up leftovers from construction sites. It has the potential to save you lots of cash. You wouldn't think that a 3' piece of 2x4 would save you money, but what if they had 10 3' pieces of 2x4 and a couple half-cut sheets of plywood? That could make you a counter, bench, part of a door frame, etc. In a small home, small lumber does big things. You could cheapen things up a lot and still end up with it looking nice. Just an idea. Think outside the box. You don't have to buy everything.
 
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