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9 / The beginning of the dream






































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How to build a cabin?

How to build a cabin.  The possibilities are endless, from kit construction to complete renovation. Wood, metal, stone…

Everything is a matter of compromises, and we cannot provide ready-made solutions

shack in Vosges/26

That’s not our goal.  The objective of the-huts.com is to suggest that there may be more adventure in the woods than you think . Additionally you will find some cabin designs that, with some imagination and a little arithmetic, ought to provide you with a solid base from which to work as well as a price estimate for the wood.

The Wood:  Wood can be a great cost-saver but beware that the timber and logging trade are professional industries in their own right and that working with such products can often end up being long and expensive.

-- Oak: beige plank dark but clear once sanded, a grain showing streaks plotted as a succession dashes ------ harder to work, a good characteristic odour resistant and used in roofing, flooring, woodwork.

-- Pine and Douglas:
recognisable by the aroma of resin, stronger than poplar, but subject to pests with age, easy to work, multiple uses. A variant of pine and fir, Douglas fir plank dew, and very thick grain Resistant Hard work but a reputation for not requiring treatment.

Materials to build cabins

1) Material density

This is a table to treasure.  The weight of wood doubles between 0-50% humidity.  It is also difficult to give the weight of wet topsoil. One option is to take 50kg (110lbs) of topsoil and then weigh that same volume after a heavy rain.


shelves chesnut ::: shelves chesnut

attic and shack::: In an attic, Poplar k


Tools for building wood

Here is a list types of tools for the construction timber.
-- Circular saw
-- Angle grinder tray with flexible and abrasive grain discs 36 (always with gloves and adequate protections, the wounds heal very poorly).
-- Orbital sanders
-- Saw
-- Mini plane width 80
-- Hammers, nails twisted 60, 70, 80.clous carpenter.
-- Screwdrivers + electric screwdriver. Screws (yellow) all medium and large sizes, large quantities
-- Drill, forests
-- Bracket graduated, bubble level, measuring tape and large rigid length 8 m
-- Clamps pump, straps type automobile
-- Hind foot tire with nails, cutting forceps
-- Scissors wood

tools for wood::: tool box...


Cabin Design

Cabin Designs

Design:  Construction sketch of a. 16 or 20 sq. m.(53 or 66 sq. ft) cabin with terrace and mezzanine.

Note:  Roof structure is not specified in these designs and therefore the height of the rectangular pillars will vary according to the presence of gables or other roof design features.   

Later on you will be able to add decorative elements according to your own style, such as the bow windows pictured below for sunbathing.

                                                      white bow window on island::: bow-window

1.  Attic cabins:  here’s an invitation to live out your cabin dreams in a converted attic space.

This construction utilizes poplar for the dressing and in pine for the beams and advantageously uses flooring to replace drywall while maintaining minimal weight on the beams on the floor below (approximately 200/250kg max).

shack in an attic::: poplar and pin

2.  The Indian Ocean Cabin 

An example of a hut built in two months at minimal cost.  Here we can see the hoisted bed with an ocean view and optimized floor space. 

Mats, green plants, and bamboo blinds complete this exotic interior.

3.The Floating Cabin

I built the cabin of my dreams and… it floats!  This allows me to change the scenery or river on a mere whim.  It’s the dream.”

A secret hideout twenty minutes from the nearest road with a mixed construction method. This requires that very little of the frame be built from rock all the while maintaining a touch of that dry stone construction look.

Insulation becomes more and more feasible with adapted waterproof bottom coatings. It speaks for itself.  You will find examples of this technique used often on chalets high in the mountains and since it has been done successfully by a member of the-huts.com, perhaps we should give it more credit

Log cabins

The shorter path!  If you’re lucky enough to own a forest that lends itself well to this, you can follow the example of Maadiar from our forums or trappers in the Yukon and come away with a fine cabin with only a couple liters of fuel for the chainsaw and a few sore muscles from swinging the axe.

However, for professionals, it is more often the case that the process will consist of a pre-construction phase of the structure itself near the site, followed by disassembly and reassembly phases on the intended site.  

On the other hand, having a well constructed house guarantees peace of mind and personal security. 

The "Log Cabin Saw" explains, "The eye of the builder is indispensible to the construction of any log cabin.  The woods are chosen and cut according to the precise place they will be used in the structure.  The wood will shrink slightly (6cm per meter) which implies the effective settling of the house and marks the artistic mastery of the cabin maker over the raw wood.” 

Maadiar, Amateur Log Cabin Builder, Forum Member

Maadiar has kindly offered to explain his experiences as a log cabin builder with some images.

His testimony ought to compel any amateur that the adventure is not out of reach, nor too costly, for anyone willing to attempt it. 


"I’ve only just signed up to the-huts.com, but the idea for my project originally came to me from reading your site and the forum." 

After reading books such as “Hermits in the Taïga” and especially “A Cabin Year” by Olaf Candau, I put myself to work searching for information on cabins and came across this site, it was just last spring.

from "A cabin year"

So I decided to find some land and to set myself up there."

"I managed to spend just 350 Dollars and came out with a nice little 20m2 cabin."

"I rent the woods for one Euro a year, for twenty years, and the woods are about 3 square kilometers of an old orchard that’s been abandoned since World War I.  Incidentally it’s also crisscrossed by trenches.”

Waddle and daub joints (hay, dirt, dung, water, whitewash), studs, planks, some trim, and unfortunately a little plastic… (and tarps are too expensive!)”-

Dick Proenneke’s life of solitude in "The Wild State”

The-Huts.com would like to offer you a trip into the wilderness, where you’ll find the raw beauty of nature and not a man to be seen for miles. A breath of fresh air. 

Richard Louis Proenneke (1916-2003), known as Dick, became an icon of wilderness living near Lake Clark in Alaska. Born in Iowa, he worked on a farm before joining the Marines the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After being discharged in 1945 following an episode of acute rheumatoid arthritis, he took up sheep farming in Oregon not without a brief experiment in diesel mechanics. In 1949, he made his first trip to Alaska upon invitation by a friend. After having worked there for several years, Dick ventured into the mountains in the Twin Lakes region with no intention of turning back. Fortunately the arthritis had vanished.

 In 1967, he began working on a cabin which he finished a year later. He completed the entire cabin masterfully by hand at the age of 52.Even if it wasn’t the first cabin in Twin Lakes, Dick Proenneke’s distinguishes itself by the savoir-faire of its builder and his unshakeable philosophy of self-sufficiency.The cabin was constructed with the help of certain tools, most of which were fashioned by Proenneke himself.

All thirty years that he spent living alone in his cabin, Proenneke furniture and loads of other objects reflecting his mastery of woodworking.

 He would live in this environment among caribou, bear, and wolves, as well as the stunning flora that bloomed in the warmer months.Winters at 60° North are interminable. A woman, who went on to become a good friend, would periodically check up on him during his years of solitude in dazzling landscape he called home.

 At the age of 82, after thirty years in solitude near Twin Lake, Dick withdrew from his adventure. He spent his final days at a friend’s California home and passed away four years later in 2003. We highly recommend watching this short clip that speaks volumes to the message Dick wants to leave us with. His message is clear thanks to his notes as well as a film he created to document his experiences. His actions were inspired by a desire to lessen his ecological impact and the philosophy of resourcefulness and spontaneity known as “System D”. Truly a video to be shared, even to younger audiences, to show that it’s possible to view the world in new and different ways, especially beyond the culture of consumerism.  

Several works along with the video are also available at:  www.aloneinthewilderness.com

Two excellent photos of the Twin Lakes wilderness near the fatal spot where Chris MacCandless attempted to survive in his Magic Bus

Mark Meyer


stones shack

This summer, a part of the team was at work, in the middle of heat wave, renovate (quickly) a small fold at the border of the Lozère french departement,appreciated by Jim Harisson . The entire abstract or nearly imaging. Ten full days have been the time necessary to recoiffer this small building. Without forgetting few detours on the festivals that take place in the region, and many ideas swimming in corners wild days very rich exchange and a dining area.

an another ruin 1)Dry stones ruins (without cement)

::: A half-buried ruins. It is an old sheep remarkably dry stone built on the rock which served as a career, the angles of the walls are carved sandstone and frames.

building site with beams and a car

::: A day of tracto shovel later. A day to adjust access and setting up the site, the terraces are a must in this type of work. All the wood used is pine Douglas.

 rebuilding a wall

::: The objective was to keep the nearby dry stone exterior, but to build with mortar construction son who worked for decades around the rock (visible on the photo below right). In this photo we took everything back to coaching. He had worked on more than 5 cm with a vertical crack in a likely landslide.


:::::: We got back diverse and varied scaffolds: on photos this below scales (ladders) and roofers' wedges for the inside, thank you for the helps of each. Careful: these systems are dangerous...

a window

::: We notice the part formerly buried (color is in hiding) and the rebuilt part ( all the rest).

extracted stone

::: Repairs to be made on a big trapézoïdale ejected stone, a following a compression.

the roof

::: False wooden details are installed(settled) to guarantee a certain symmetry on 4 walls, far from being in right angle and to compensate also for a length of insufficient beam. Everything will be rebuilds anyway between beams. We opted for a mixture cement and lime, much easier to use than the lime (unless having specialist of the cleaning of cement mixers). This very general-purpose cement is mainly employed by him(it)

roof beams

::: The cog(sprocket) is rebuilds by countering a stomach (sinking inward) of the facade. This option was taken by knowing that there was risk that it provokes evictions from new stones in the center of this hollow
carpenters on the roof

::: The cover(blanket) is advanced(moved) well, we notice a terrace unpacked(paid out) around the building.

a new shack in the meadow

::: And here is ended time, the lath does not have more than to wait for its cover(blanket) of slate, and for a small house in the meadow furthermore.

old beam to extract

::: Renovation of the inside, it is necessary to loosen(to kick away) the stubs of the former(ancient) beams, we enlarge and we pass possibly around


::: Laths, having studied several solutions, beams, stones, we opted for vulgar one wall in perpend to put beams. Let us say that we have a strong section and it was impossible to insert them into the rock; by report(relationship) notably in the humidity. A chevêtre was installed(settled) to avoid a support on the girder of the door already tried(felt) by decades.