Planning the Cabin Design II

This started off as just a reply to Tyler on my previous post, but since it was getting long and because he raised some very important points, I’m going to make another post as a reply.

Don’t worry, I haven’t kid myself into thinking it’s all a simple endeavor when it comes to design. ;)

My primary reason for getting this book was for ideas on the overall interior and exterior arrangements and of course I’m going to be as practical as possible when it goes into practice.

All the exterior walls are going to be 2 x 6 and the only interior walls will be around the bathroom which will be 2 x 4. I want to create “rooms” and provide privacy by using long curtains hanging from the ceiling rather than interior walls. Although there would still need to be at least a 6 x 6 beam in the center of the structure going all the way to the floor to support the roof in the middle.

I’m thinking of going with 2 inches of closed cell spray foam to prevent air movement plus Roxul bats for sound proofing and the windows are going to be triple glazed like you suggest. Yes it’s pricey, but because the overall structure is small, it’s still less than it would be for the average sized building.

There will definitely be rigid foam over the Tyvek wrap and, yes, I’m thinking of going with recycled cedar or a cement board product for the exterior just like the last pic (will have to figure that out exactly). The headers will be two 2 x 6 pieces each with insulation sandwiched in between and I was also thinking of going with a metal roof. Yeah I didn’t choose that pic by accident ;).

I think the most expensive part of the whole thing would be the windows and doors. I definitely don’t want to feel like I’m in a cave so the windows are a must.

I also want to use the landscape to my advantage.

I’m thinking of planting perennials on the South side so they will lose the leaves in the Winter allowing the Sun to hit the structure directly to warm it up, but will provide natural shade in the Spring/Summer by blocking the sun after the leaves grow back. This will allow me to have at least a couple of windows on the South, while the majority of them will be on the North side. These will have to be short trees so they don’t block the solar panels I’m also thinking of installing.

Planning the Cabin Design (interior and exterior)

I haven’t forgotten the cardinal rule of real estate; location, location, location. But precluding location issues that may warrant an exterior or interior change, I’ve narrowed down some of the preliminary design ideas to 3 specific ones.

These are from my new favorite book, Compact Cabins (highly recommended) which isn’t so much a book on actual design, but design ideas and how to approach the problem of layouts. Think of it as a roadmap to your own roadmap to a cabin design.

Apologies for the quality. I didn’t want to scan these in high res as that could be a copyright violation. I just wanted to share the three designs I’ve settled on to incorporate into my own.

I really like the floor layout here. The floor area is also what I've had in mind for a while.

The above cabin has pretty much most of layout for the 1st floor I had in mind except I want the bed on the 2nd floor. I basically want to keep all “plumbing” on the 1st floor to simplify construction and keep the 2nd floor as open as possible.

I also want a rear door by the kitchen, so by expanding the width and taking away the cabinet, I can put a door back there.


The front window arrangement is what caught my attention here. The simple roof oriented south would keep it from getting too hot in the summer while still allowing plenty of light.

That cabin has most of the exterior look I’m looking for when it comes to the windows. I do want lots of windows to let in plenty of natural light and also to enjoy the scenery. I’m not too crazy about the bathroom jotting out, but if I make the square footage the same, if not slightly bigger than the first cabin, I can squeeze it inside the main structure as in the first example.


This has the perfect height and outside shape. Also love the windows.

When I said I want the bed upstairs, this is exactly what I had in mind. I also want the top floor open to the bottom, and the front porch is just perfect. Couple this with the bottom floor arrangement of the first cabin (minus bed) and I think this is where I should start.


So overall dimentions would be something like…

  • 16ft x 16ft footprint with 16ft height (we’ll make this a cube, except with a sloping roof).
  • Similar porch as in the last cabin example.
  • 2nd Floor open to the 1st floor as in the last cabin.
  • Front fascade similar to the 2nd cabin example (we’ll lower and shorten the front window to fit under the porch roof. Maybe make it a patio door.)
  • Maybe an exterior storage shed similar to the 2nd example.
  • Single slope or at most, an asymmetrical roof with the greater surface area pointed south for solar panels.

The roof has me divided a bit, but I want it either a single slope roof or like the following…

Via Emily Badger

I also like all the glass, except I may have it pointed North to prevent direct sunlight making it too hot inside.

So there you have it… Ideas in place, I just have to go about designing the thing.

I still didn’t get a chance to play with SketchUp yet because of my schedule, but I plan to get something done by the end of this week. I also don’t want just rough sketches (we’ll start with those), I want the interior structure layed out as well. If a 2 x 6 piece of lumber is actually layed out in the program, I can truly visualize how to construct. This would also prevent logical errors in the construction.

Living in 160sq feet

This demonstration in California has a lot of great ideas about living in the smallest allowed square footage in the state. I must say I learned quite a lot in such a short demo. What may seem intuitive at first may not always work and the honesty in what really doesn’t work was more helpful than anything.

As the guy says, some things were “too clever”. A great intro overall.


For the nay sayers of small living…

Here’s to minor victories

Well that was painful… I’ve just spent the last couple of weeks rediscovering why I hate the tech industry and computers in general.

That’s it, I need a vacation!

I’ve been thinking more about that cabin idea and right now, I realize I can’t spend the cash necessary to secure land, permits, material and have at it, but I think I’ve narrowed down the procedure at least. This past weekend I’ve been researching the overall approach to building the cabin and came to the conclusion that paper and paper ain’t gonna cut it.

This week, I’m going to familiarize myself with Google SketchUp which I had used in the past, but haven’t touched lately. I think the best approach is to create the entire structure virtually so I can examine all the details. Besides, it’s a lot easier to secure permits if I can show the structure is sound. Maybe even get an engineer to sign off on it, just to be safe.

Recycle your pee or piss off!

It turns out that human urine can be poured on just any ol’ tree. Who knew? I looked more at this recycling crap since watching a video on DIY toilets and it turns out this isn’t as hard as it sounds. I’m not sure yet if I will be using a composting toilet, but it’s an idea that I want to explore more.

It’s not gross as I’ve been “Scared Straight” to be believe in the past by the consumerist police and the prospects of having an ecological alternative to wasting water for flushing (which, in case you didn’t know, is only secondary to a full bath in terms of water usage) gives me the option of working out a way to use rainwater for sanitary use.

Details abound, but on the plus side, there are plenty of resources on the web that are just a search away.

Meanwhile, enjoy B-Line by Lamb. I saw this video on MTV’s AMP years ago (remember when MTV didn’t suck?) and been trying to find it ever since. It didn’t help that I didn’t know the lyrics or the name of the band, but accidental score FTW!

WARNING: May be too creepy for some people (I sometimes feel like the lady with the big head after a day at work).

Living Small : Tiny Houses in Vermont

If there ever was anyone with practical knowledge on how to build a tiny house and has been doing so for quite a while, Peter King is the guy to speak to.

The best quote in the entire clip : “Don’t borrow your life away”. Considering the film was made in 2008, right when the full effects of the credit crunch and collapsing housing market took hold, it’s very apt and quite prescient.

I found the statue of the Buddha on the property very appropriate as well since simple living is very much inline with Buddhist philosophy and Mr. King has taken a lot of it to heart.