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Mini-cabin in the big woods  RSS feed

 
Michelle Johnson
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We have been building a 200 sq foot cabin in central Oregon. It was such a relief to finally get the roof on and the siding finished this week so it's protected from the elements (and we are protected from the mosquitoes)! I have been ravenously reading and watching videos trying to plan the interior decorating. It is an off grid 10 x 20 rectangle with 10 x 10 loft (with the door in the middle of a 20 foot side). I am amazed at all the new multi-functional equipment and ideas! I want it to feel luxurious but be as inexpensive as possible. I also am making it as fire proof as possible as it is in an area that could have a wild fire.

I am longing to see your book! The chapter on fold up beds has my curiosity. I have been wanting a fold up bed but hate the price tags on murphy beds Have been trying to make one at home but it's not looking so good. I want a compact shower/composting toilet (is there any such thing? There's got to be something better than my outhouse) I have to haul in water so needs to be minimal water. Looking for ideas. I have hardiboard T1- 11 for sides and metal roofing to help resist fire. We also used lumber cut off our property and windows we found on craigslist. I am thinking stone tile or ceramic tile flooring (it won't burn).

When I walk in the door, It seems normal to have the kitchen to the immediate left there's about 5 feet to the corner. then it seems normal to have the bathroom in the corner next to the kitchen. It seems like the living area should be the rest of the cabin to the right. I need to have a place for a fold up bed downstairs (and also have a bed or two in the loft). I have to decide between the rocket mass stove or a small wood stove or wood cook stove... Do I put sheet rock on the ceiling above the loft or leave the rafters open for more head room? or just put rigid isulation between the rafter boards and leave it exposed...?? My husband says it makes a big difference to be able to put his head up between the rafters. (He also says just get a microwave for cooking tv dinners and a small woodstove for heat.) I am thinking a 2 burner propane cooktop would be sufficient.

I read some ideas about refrigerators too. Some people said they had problems with the freezer getting cold enough and the refrigerator getting too cold. He did some research and got one that had good reviews (black and decker maybe if I remember) Haven't plugged it in yet.

I would love to know where to find plans for the fold up beds and fold up multipurpose furniture or walls. Ideas on bathrooms: how to build one with a toilet in the center of the shower maybe? We have a generator for power right now. How do you best insulate it for really cold weather? Near zero at Christmas.

I would love to win a copy of your book!

Thanks for any ideas!!

MJ



 
Kim Hill
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Hi MJ,

One thing I can tell you from experience is that a toilet in the shower is a total pain. When we lived on a boat, the toilet was in the shower and we had a lot of problems. Even though there was a decent lid, it always got full of water and would overflow when we took a shower. It is also a pain to have a wet floor after showering and then need to use the toilet. We went through a lot of towels trying to keep the floor dry after the shower which caused us to have to wash more, which costs more money and/or the space to have things to keep the floor dry. One thought I have for you if space is the problem...what about a composting toilet on wheels that you could roll into the shower and out of the way? But then you would still have the issue of needing to dry the floor all the time.

Also as far as a stove, we also only had a microwave and it was a pain. I totally longed for at least a 2 burner stove because there are so many things I wanted to cook like pancakes and such. I did end up with an electric frying pan which did help some. I know there are some very nice table top models of stoves you could get that can be tucked out of the way if wanted. Well just wanted to share a few experiences. Kim
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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If you are serious about wildfire design, you need to think beyond fireproof sheathing. Especially if there is forest surrounding your site. If there is conifer forest within less than a hundred feet or so, imagine it on fire. Your whole site will be at 400-500 F or more for a short time as the main fire front passes, even if nothing can burn, just from the radiation. Windows break. Insulation and studs underneath metal and siding smolder. This is serious shit. Talk to some folks who have lived through it. What about the ember fallout.....smoldering, red-hot embers dropping out of the smoke cloud as it billows overhead....sometimes well in advance of the main fire front. We're talking embers an inch or two deep....think of snow. Will it slide off your roof? your outbuildings? decks? mulched gardens?
What I decided to invest in, after making sure our yard was kept mown short where it isn't irrigated, and everything raked away from the house several feet, was a generator to power our well, and a couple of sprinklers permanently on the roof. The generator is needed because a wildfire can take out the power lines between me and town. If I was up where you are I'd think about metal water lines between well or storage and the sprinklers, because the radiation and ember fallout can melt plastic and rubber hoses. Where I am is mostly oak and grass, not tall conifer timber, so the ember fallout danger is less.
In Australia where eucalyptus "bush" burns frequently and furiously, underground "safe rooms" are common. Perhaps where you are such a thing could double as a root cellar. Such a bunker only needs to keep you alive as the main fire front passes, then you can come out and mop up anything that has caught. Thus it needs no elaborate ventilation. Same thing with your sprinkler system. It doesn't need to be on for very long, but it needs to be reliable when you do need it!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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we have an old horse barn that is falling down in the woods on our property..I would like to replace it with a small "bug out" cabin and a get away area for us..it is on the trails through our woods from our house..

I have even thought of buying one of those "amish cabins" that they sell around here as right now we would have access to "pull" it back thro the neighbor's field to the site..so we wouldn't have to do the building ourselves (as I'm 62 and partially disabled and hubby is disabled)..We have a propane generator we could use at this cabin and a tiny refrig we could use there already..so it is an idea I still would like to consider even at my age..
 
Michelle Johnson
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Thanks for the replies!

The comments about the 400 to 500 degree fire really got my imagination going! Ouch! I've got some work to do!
When you think of the entire forest being an oven it changes the perspective! I wanted to keep the trees because I like the look of being in the woods. If I cut alot of trees then the sagebrush will grow like crazy! The closest water is a mile away. Wells are deep and go dry. I would love to store some water off the roof. A rain barrel of water won't go far. Any ideas on the next best water storage? preferably one that won't grow mosquitoes.

I can see the problem with a toilet in the shower. Love the idea of a composter on wheels to just pull out. I can do that!

Thanks for the ideas!

 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1389
Location: northern California
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For shade and "woodsiness" you can plant, or preferentially leave when clearing, deciduous trees like oak, maple, etc. These resist fire better and burn cooler if it comes down to it. Leave space between them and keep the underbrush down to hinder a ground fire becoming a crown fire. There's a whole science about this, "defensible space" with resources on line and in brochures available.
If wells frequently go dry it seems like your only water security option is massive cisterns, big enough to get you through dry season and enough to, in a fire scenario, support a few hours' of intensive sprinkling.....
 
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