Melissa
Melissa
  • Hometalker
  • Murrieta, CA

Cabin Reveal Part 1


Several years ago my husband and I embarked upon a land-purchasing, cabin-building adventure in spectacularly scenic south-central Utah. We ended up purchasing a 15-acre property near Capitol Reef National Park. Because of some permit conditions, we had to build a dwelling almost immediately. Since we aren't in a position to build a house at this time, we decided to build a tiny cabin, which will one day become the guest room/cabin for a larger 'main' house (we hope).
cabin reveal part 1
Right around the time we closed on the property, I started to sketch plan views and floor plans on graph paper, but quickly decided I needed a software program that allowed for more efficient plan design and modification. After some online research I settled on Chief Architect Pro's Home Designer Pro program, which seemed to offer great 3-D rendering capabilities, an extensive library of symbols for furniture, fixtures, appliances, etc.-- this allowed me to really play around with the floor plan. The plan view shown below is a nearly-complete version of the final floor plan of our tiny cabin.
cabin reveal part 1
Home Designer Pro also has full dimensioning capabilities and the ability to create final, construction level drawings with detailed plan views, framing sections, elevations, and so on--- all things that we needed in order to submit our application for a building permit. Since the cabin is basically a simple little box structure, we decided that I would create the final plans needed to apply for the building permit. Talk about DIY! I had a ton of fun designing our little 'get away' cabin (as well as the main house, which is still in draft stage). Below is an example of what the framing sections look like.
cabin reveal part 1
Our property had no water or power, so our first task was to get water, power, and TV/internet to our property from the main road. We hired a local contractor to assist with this and he and my husband dug a 1/2 mile trench from the main road to our property. My job was to finish ground surfaces with a mini bobcat (never used one before, had to 'learn on the job').
cabin reveal part 1
Below is the end result of a long, dusty, dirty week of digging-- our new water point of connection! In the background of the photo below is the little meadow in which our cabin will be located.
cabin reveal part 1
Last fall we hired a contractor to build the cabin to the 'weather-tight' stage. We are planning on installing the septic system and finishing the interior ourselves (insulation, floors, drywall/tongue-and-groove paneling, final plumbing, etc.). Below is the excavation for the foundation and foundation walls.
cabin reveal part 1
Foundation foot walls and re-bar below.
cabin reveal part 1
Floor joists being installed below. Our property came equipped with the little 'canned-ham' trailer you see in the background. I see this as a fun future project where I 'glamp' it up and turn it into another little guest cabin.
cabin reveal part 1
Finished sub-floor and foundation below, with glorious red-rock formations in the background. We oriented the cabin (and future main house) to maximize the gorgeous views that are available in every direction on our property.
cabin reveal part 1
Cabin completely framed below. Note that we oversaw this entire process remotely since we live about 700 miles away from our Utah property. Lots of emails and texts and photos going back and forth between us and the contractor. Overseeing a construction project long distance is challenging to say the least; I was able to catch some problems with window placement by closely examining each photo that the contractor sent to me.
cabin reveal part 1
House wrap and siding stage.
cabin reveal part 1
Siding almost completely finished here; at this point it was finally starting to look like the little cabin we had envisioned.
cabin reveal part 1
At last we have our little cabin! A quick note about some of the materials we used: the siding is James Hardie fiber cement lap siding and staggered edge shingles; galvanized metal roofing; and Pella Thermastar single-hung windows ('Colonial' pattern in the upper lites only). Now it's our turn to finish things up! My job will be to paint the trim, not to mention completing much of the painting and final finishing touches (including decorating!) on the interior.
cabin reveal part 1
This project has been a total science experiment for both my husband and I, where the things we got right, as well as our mistakes, are nicely showcased for the world to see. It's been a new experience with a steep learning curve, where we quickly learned what worked and what didn't, what to do and what not to do the next time around when we tackle the larger 'main' house. For instance, the results of the last inspection revealed that a window located next to one of the doors needs to have tempered glass (which it currently does not). When I specified the windows for the cabin, I didn't know that windows located adjacent to a door must be tempered (to be shatter proof from the vibrations of a slamming door).
Please stop by my blog shown below for a more detailed account of the the 'weather-tight' stage of our cabin project, as well as more detailed information on the initial 'utility installation' stage, my initial design process, etc.

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Melissa

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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2 of 14 comments
  • Angel
    on Mar 15, 2015

    Great post! I'll never be able to do this myself due to advancing age, so thanks for letting me share!

  • Ai Jaedee
    on Mar 16, 2015

    Should have built a tiny-house instead DIY & it would have probably cost you less & it's transportable.

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