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100 sq ft Cabin - What makes sense?  RSS feed

 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
duck forest garden fungi
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First off : Let me state that I am a complete Green Horn

Secondly: I have found myself in the very blessed position to be working in partnership on an existing homestead. I live in a trailer at the moment, but have been given the assist and push to branch out and create my own tiny home on the property. We are at the base of a mountain on Vancouver Island. It is apparently haunted. Ghost prevention should be a high priority.

Limitations:
- Time. This is going to be a small space, the quicker it goes up, the quicker I can get back to work on other projects needing my attention
- Code. Has to have a foot print of 10x10 square or 12 ft diameter round to avoid pesky make you sad pencil pushers
- Location. Out of site. In the woods. Lack of sunlight. Passive solar design is not something that I feel will be beneficial....thermal inertia though....


Advantages:
- Lots of good wood on the property. Maple, Alder, Fir, Cedar
- AND A MILL! And not an alaska mill (not hating on alaska mills...but..)
- Clay in abundance, Sand is easily accessible
- A great community of supportive individuals (read: free labour...), and assistance from people with timber framing experience

I have been looking at the multitude of possibilities and find myself wanting more information, feedback before we jump into a specific style to build here.

What do YOU see being appropriate?

Looking forward to reading any responses from you wonderful amazing individuals

- Keener Bre




 
Bradley Dillinger
Posts: 25
Location: Cincinnati,OH Zone 6a
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I'm not sure where you live, but I have heard that in the US if you build a tiny house on wheels there are no regulations. Just wanted to make sure you explored that possibility.
 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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Bradley Dillinger wrote:I'm not sure where you live, but I have heard that in the US if you build a tiny house on wheels there are no regulations. Just wanted to make sure you explored that possibility.


Still a possibility. We were hoping to build something natural... I could build a more conventional tiny house with a loft as well, lots of wood for that...put it on a trailer bed... but if we are trying to get some mass to the walls to retain and radiate heat I feel as though the weight would be a limiting factor.
Why more natural? To utilize less resources, and maximize on thermal mass for retaining heat. I know I am on Vancouver Island, which is not a very tough winter. But I am a wimp. I want to be warm.
Rocket stoves are high on the list to make and play with.
 
Bradley Dillinger
Posts: 25
Location: Cincinnati,OH Zone 6a
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I guess I would first be curious as to the longevity of your plans for this home. Is it a temporary living space, or something more permanent, that would probably help you to make the decision. The added bonus of a tiny house on wheels is that it can be moved.
 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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Permanent.
This residence can be utilized for farm stays, long term interns etc. after me
I see myself living in this place for 5 or more years
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2844
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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If you have the logs, why not build a 10 x10 log cabin? they can be put up fast and there isn't any extra work for walling in.
Way back "in the day" most of this type cabin had a single slope roof (shed roof) which is easy to lay on too.
The clay and sand can be used for the chinking especially if you add some lime when mixing the "cob".

I would think that with helpers you could buildup a cabin this size in a week.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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Hi Bre,

I spent summer 2014 on a farm at the base of Mt Richards, a few minutes north of Duncan. Really nice area. Which mountain are you next to?


The (only?) lovely thing about code is that it usually cares about ground level footprint of space above a certain headroom. If I was needing to stay under that obnoxious 100sf limit and still have a decent amount of room, I'd be thinking about making it as tall as possible to allow for a sleeping loft with good headroom both in it and below. I'd also put in very large cantilevered bay windows on 2 or 3 sides. One or two could house seating with storage below; another could have kitchen stuff.

Another point is that a tall structure can have a large covered area or porch without changing the slope of the roof or getting short on headroom.


I think Bryant's suggestion might be your best bet for a combination of 'naturalness' with speed of build, if you've got enough cedar/fir. (Maple isn't likely to be terribly straight, and I don't think alder is durable enough to consider for anything but indoor use.)

Doesn't make sense to me to try for a cob structure as most codes care about outside dimensions, so the wall thickness comes out of your living space... Plus, wrong season to be building one anyhow.


If you need even more free labour, I could probably make it up there for a day or two in the new year; always nice to see another homestead.
 
Bryant RedHawk
garden master
Posts: 2844
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
233
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
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Bre, I forgot to mention, the appeasing of the spirits is not hard just take some of the cedar and get some white sage, burn these as an offering of peace to the spirits.
You can take it a step further and bury some tobacco at the base of the trees around the site, once you have that done, some sage and cedar, burnt over it with prayers to the spirits for peace and their well being.

To really make sure the spirits understand your intent, set this up as a ritual, performed every year.
 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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Doesn't make sense to me to try for a cob structure as most codes care about outside dimensions, so the wall thickness comes out of your living space... Plus, wrong season to be building one anyhow.


Actually Dillon, it is interior sq footage... your walls can be however thick you want them. Checked with the D. of North Cow already. Looks like some natural builders have already paved the way for us (Thank you!)

Loft is pretty much essential... there is no way I could cram a bed and a rocket stove below. Good idea on the cantilevered windows!

Log cabin was discussed, but neither of us wanted to be chasing drafts if our chinking was shit.

My farm partner and I have started drawing up plans for the cabin on sketchup, we are looking at a combo of timber frame and slip straw for ease of doing.

No we will not be starting building in the wet season. We may start on the timber frame and have that going before spring however.
Dillon, feel free to message me your contact info. I will keep you posted on our work party. We will be roasting a pig (hope you are not vegetarian)
- PS we worked at the same farm.... but that is not where I am now.

Thank you for the suggestion of appeasing the spirits.. I do not feel any malcontent vibes from this place at all, but I will make an offering of peace!


 
William Bronson
Posts: 1451
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Since wall, thickness is not an issue, how about log/ cob / log sandwich walls?
If the ground floor is all that is counted, and the inside only, a ten foot room with 5 foot walls could hold one hell of a second story!
Second story walls could be a near two feet thick, or the second story could cantilever out in all directions off of the stout first floor.
The window wells could double as sleep space...
What tools do you have to move earth?
Also consider your walls and/or floor as potential locations for a rocket stove, bench and /or bell.
Wrapped in warm walls, sounds delightful!
Around here ( Appalachia), log homes are often made of roughly squared off timbers, rather than round logs.
One more idea for a loft, a properly secured net could add minimal weight, and a lot of comfort.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1451
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I just looked into how a buildings area is defined here in my city and state, and they are careful to include parts of the building covered by a projecting roof or second story.
Decks and canopies are not mentioned.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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Bre Quigley wrote:
Actually Dillon, it is interior sq footage... your walls can be however thick you want them. Checked with the D. of North Cow already.


Awesome! That frees up all sorts of fun wall options. Plus, the option to build a rocket mass heater with all that mass counting as wall, rather than eating up precious floor space!

I've only done a very small amount of slip straw @ a mudgirls workshop, but I really liked it.

You could add in cob inside timber-frame/straw slip quite readily, to increase thermal mass. You could even lay out the 100sf interior inside cob walls that only go up a foot or two, up to the base of the 'bay window' space all around the building, then put the timber frame and slip-stray walls around the cob, so your 'cantilevered' windows are entirely inside the resulting thick (3'?) walls! You'd need to either design an interesting roof, or go back and fill in at the top of the bays, to bring the headroom down to whatever is necessary to keep them from counting in the floorspace - assuming a headroom cutoff is the determining factor for this calculation in the CVRD

(I think my previous post was misleading; my understanding is that generally total interior floor space would include the 2nd floor area *if* it has a high enough ceiling. The cutoff number that comes to mind for my area is 1.67M, ~5.5ft. I'm assuming Bre already has details for her area, and as already shown they might not match what I'm used to... but that's my guess.)


Probably a good call on waiting. I'm building in this weather, and it's a bit suboptimal, especially days like today.

Nifty; if were you there more recently than me, how were the food forests faring? I've been meaning to drop by, but haven't been in the area for a while. Sending contact info by PM. I'm not remotely vegetarian; a pig roast sounds like an excellent way to get serious numbers of warm bodies on site.


I like William's net idea; something like the trampoline on the bow of a catamaran could be very cool lounge space, or a safety feature when not in use for that. I have a friend who fell out of his loft bed... the resulting bruises were truly spectacular, and he was very lucky not to get worse.


What are you thinking for foundation/floor?
 
Jeff Higdon
Posts: 48
Location: Idaho
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I have some pictures of a teeny tiny earth integrated (as he would prefer it called) cabin on mike oehler's place. He gave my family a tour there summer before last and I took some (terrible) pictures. It is a small bunkhouse. Shed roof with earth on top, bermed up to the windows on the sides, and the front a normal face. It has two twin beds, a wood stove, and not much else. It was built I think in a 3 day workshop he put on years ago, and a couple with a small child lived in it for a year. Much better than a tent, but not very big.

I also have a few pictures of his survival shelter which is 10x10. The pictures for it were even worse so it is hard to get a good idea of what it actually looks like other than seeing the boards and post.

It is important to have light from at least two sides, especially in such a small space if you don't want to go crazy. Maybe also make a covered outside patio to extend your living room outdoors in good weather. Perhaps you could even put greenhouse hoops using PVC pipe off the front face that would give you a warmer area to sit in the winter and a place to start plants early in the spring. Take it down when summer arrives.

We live in a 40' travel trailer with my wife and two of my kids and we manage quite well. We are totally off grid, use a bucket toilet inside for emergencies and an outhouse outside. We have no running water unless you count running out to our storage tank to get a bucket of water.

Jeff

The blog post about Mike Oehler's place with the pictures is: http://happyhigdons.blogspot.com/2015/12/mike-oehler-and-50-and-up-underground.html
 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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We drew up an idea. We staked it out. We walked it. We stared at it.

Here is what were thinking
Still feeling partial to the Slip Straw/Light Clay Staw for walls. Still discussing post and beam or timber frame.
The roof will have room for insulation....apparently you can use the slip straw as insulation with a couple inch gap between that and metal roofing. The clay deters rodents. Neat.

The foundation is going to be a rubble trench, concrete ground beam with moisture barrier.. but should the ground beam have a lip on either side so the plaster as something to rest on?

We want to have earthen floors. We want to incorporate a rocket stove. We are trying to find creative solutions to the small footprint inside the space. Partial cob wall with the rocket stove inside? In a small bench? (Partially)Submerged into the floor? We will be running pipe and using the floor as thermal mass and the bench as well. Lots of questions about rocket stove burn rate efficiency and how far you can pipe for heat through a mass, how much heat is lost per foot? , better to post in the rocket stove forum I imagine and link back to here for context.
I love the idea of a warmed bed in the winter. Living in a trailer in the winter - everything that is warm is all kinds of sexy.

I dig Mike Oehler's place - but alas I am alone in that one. Not his cup of tea.

Thanks for following the progress thus far... it is nice to have a place to bounce ideas through out the planning process.
Heres a little sketch:
 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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Earthen floor seems an excellent fit given the desire for thermal mass and a RMH. Worth noting that the most frequently mentioned issue discussed at the mudgirls workshop I attended was moisture issues in earthen floors due to inadequate drainage/foundation height, and questionable building placement. The instructors talked about it incessantly, and both of them had previous troubles with this to relate. Obviously this will be pretty dependent on the site, but worth thinking about early on. Since you've got your area staked you can readily see what you're dealing with in this lovely wet winter...


Bre Quigley wrote:but should the ground beam have a lip on either side so the plaster as something to rest on?
Interesting... If this was done on any of the plastered cob and strawbale structures I've seen, it was not apparent to me. I've definitely seen plaster working fine without it. My copy of the hand-sculpted house seems to have grown legs, so I can't check that. If the cob builders handbook mentions such a lip, I'm not seeing it. I haven't got any books specific to light clay on hand, nor were any of these structure predominantly light clay. I'd like to see what the EcoNest book says...

On the other hand, these folks say you do want a 1" lip each side, but no indication where they got that info. http://www.theyearofmud.com/2012/03/01/light-clay-straw-house/


I think that getting the rocket-stove into the wall and/or floor as much as possible is key to preserving your floorspace.


I like the shape of your sketch! I think the originally mentioned shed roof is less hassle/time than a peaked roof, but with this sketch it wouldn't work as well as the peaked option.

 
Bre Quigley
Posts: 7
Location: Cowichan, Vancouver Island
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Drainage is super important.
We live at the base of a mountain, water moves down and through the farm to the river that is on it. I am higher in elevation from the river, and water does move through this area.
We are doing rubble trench, and a french drain extending out beyond the roof overhang around the building an We might even add a trench/weeping tile 25 ft to the embankment.

Thanks! I like the shape too! 30 degree angles are a bit easier then 90 degrees to work within. This is still a TINY space!

Do you remember what the Mud girls had suggested to do to prevent this problem? We are looking at moisture barriers now.
 
Dillon Nichols
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Location: Victoria BC
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I don't think there was anything particularly special about their suggested method; more a matter of doing what feels like serious overkill of all the obvious things. Making sure you're not building on a spot that's just too wet; swampy, or impermeable so water can't move through. Trenching/french drains, sloped the right way, more and deeper than you think you need. Given the slope you mention I'd be trying to intercept that water flowing beneath the surface well away from the building, to guide it off to the sides before it ever reaches the last-ditch french drains. Surface graded away from the building on all sides. Gravel/road base layers beneath the floor. Directing roof-run off well away(lie 20ft and downhill) from the house, if it overflows the rainbarrel or tank. Trenching off to an embankment sounds like a good idea.

The site for the workshop was a partially completed earthship built into a hillside; at an earlier point, they had halted construction for most of a year to do massive excavation for drainage, as the initial drainage proved inadequate to the degree that they had a stream flowing out of the hill in the excavated foundation area, thousands of gallons per minute!

If you get the chance to attend one of their workshops, I definitely recommend them; I had a great time, and they're very open to specific questions. Cost is very low compared to a lot of natural building workshops, as their main income is from the owner of the project rather than attendees.

I really can't recall what if anything they said about moisture barriers. This is a bit of a heated topic around permies; Jay talks about it some in this thread and I'm sure many others. http://www.permies.com/t/34088/earthen-floor/Earthen-floor-mould


If it's not impossibly muddy, a bit of test digging will help you get a better sense of how water is behaving at the build site. A good time to be planning, from that perspective.


I'd suggest starting a dedicated thread for the foundation and drainage, with pictures & contour lines for the site and a diagram of your proposed drainage solution; hopefully some of the more experienced builders around here would be able to offer more specific feedback and suggestions with that.
 
Glenn Herbert
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Given the extremely small interior footprint, I would advise doing an underfloor RMH mass. This will also definitively prevent cold damp floors. If you run the exhaust around the floor and back to the feed/barrel area, you can put in a bypass that will let you use the barrel top for cooking year round without heating the floor any more than you want. A 6" RMH would be plenty big for your space, and robust enough that you don't need to be a master to get it working right. I would locate the RMH feed and barrel next to a wall, partially embedded perhaps, with cob instead of straw/clay for 6" or so around it.

For more discussion of this, please post in the rocket stove forum and I and others will be happy to brainstorm.
 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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It's really important to keep a dry and mold-free interior. Dry, warm and safe are three very important things to make a priority when living out away from other people.

If bedding, towels, pillows, clothing, furniture cannot dry out there will be mold. Friends of ours had a sort of treehouse up under the redwoods where there was no sunshine, and it never dried out inside their treehouse, and their clothing smelled like mold, everything smelled like mold, and they had a big wood burning stove. Nothing ever got rid of the mold. The county just red-tagged their place, BTW. It is hopelessly unrepairable. So when you say there is no hope for passive solar, there should at least be direct sunlight at least 50% of the day during the hottest time of the day.

An earthen floor means all the rodents and critters have complete access to the interior of your home. They want dry soil, just like you do, and they are experts at finding it. The minute anything digs a tunnel to the interior, everything else will use that tunnel, including insects, other rodents, snakes and water. When the ground gets saturated, water flows through gopher tunnels perfectly and bubbles out the opening, dumping water 24/7 onto the floor.

But if you change your mind after building something with an earthen floor, installing a solid floor of any kind requires the exterior walls to come down over the exterior edges of that flooring, not onto the top of it. Water/ driving rain, rodents, insects, drafts must not be able to get under the wall that connects to the floor and get inside. If the floor is wooden, airflow between the soil and the under side of the wood is crucial for the longevity of that wooden floor and mold development. Crawl spaces need to be at least 18" high. All the plumbing, some electrical and future heating ducting needs to be under the floor.

A basement that is waterproof is an excellent addition to a home. It works as a dry, solid foundation, and it can be a cool root cellar in which to store whatever you grow and keep it rodent free. Basements can have hot water heaters, compost toilet containers, and water tanks to keep them from freezing. They are a very valuable part of a dwelling if done correctly, and in a location where it won't get swamped by ground water.

I would focus on the foundation and its location, because once you have that, and it's done really, really well, everything you put on top of it is frosting.

And just for the sake of peace of mind, I have found 400 square feet per person to be a reasonable and compatible amount of space to keep everything happy. That includes a mud room, laundry, a hardware zone, room for a hobby, and space to have guests and visitors when necessary.
 
It would give a normal human mental abilities to rival mine. To think it is just a tiny ad:
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