Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some more photo's...

The house is coming along nicely and though I am in SC, I thought that I would share an update on the work that I did before I left. I have built a few raised garden beds which will hopefully feed me this coming season. There are 3 beds. One is 3x6, one is 3x3 and another is 1x6 and runs down the side of the porch. This one will have running beans in it (and up a lattice) and act as a privacy screen for the porch. 
I also started the stair/bookshelves for getting into the loft. It is made from 2x3's and recycled oak boards (for stairs) and will hold most of my library. There are three stairs and a large 3x6 closet for clothes. The stairs are steep and a little narrow but they are bolted to the wall and seem to work fine. I still have to put the shelving in and finish the sides.

Raised garden bed....It is 3x6 and 10" deep. 

Underneath the loft. It rests on beams lag bolted into the wall studs. It is 6'x8' and there is about 3' headroom on the high side from the top of the mattress. A thinner mattress is in the near future for a little more headroom.

The beginning of the bookshelf/stairs. It is built from 2x3's and while the steps are pretty high it is not too hard to get in and out of the loft. I hope that it will hold a lot of books. i have yet to put the actual shelves in.

Steps.....books.....whoopee! The steps are made out of recycled oak from some old pallets.

The final step will be the top of my closet. It will hold hanging clothes as well as have two deep drawers for folded clothing and socks/undies. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

a photo rundown......

Here are some photo's of the house in it's new location.....
Laying out the spot and making things level...


I used pressure treated lumber and a railroad tie for a foundation.

And the home arrives...It actually came in on a roll-back with few problems.

setting up the porch..

Split level deck...

Coming together....

The awning is gone now, replaced with a roof made from recycled pallets.

The view from the the right.

It looks a little uneven but that's just the photo. The table is a recycled wire reel

Sunday, November 11, 2012

......electricity options.

so as I get closer to Christmas tree season (and the thought of money in my pocket again) I have started thinking about electricity for the cabin.  I basically have three options.

  1. Put a wire to the barn from the electric company. 
  2. Solar panels and batteries
  3. Micro Hydro and fewer batteries.
Option 1 will give me the most power but I will also incur another monthly bill. Hooking up will cost 500-1000 dollars and the electric company charges a minimum 25 dollar fee to meter so I will be looking at 25-75 dollars a month. This option however will allow me to set my recording gear up in the house....where I don't know, but somewhere.

Option 2 may cost the most up front but might be the best option. I need very little electricity but I need to keep my fridge going, a fan would be nice in the summer, I have a few low wattage 12v lights, a water pump for the sink and one for the shower and it would be nice to have a small TV/DVD combo. I figure I iwll need at least 500w of panels and 4-6 100ah batteries.....maybe. I need to ask someone about this. I like solar because it can travel with me..

Option 3 would give me plenty of juice but since I don't own the land, at some point I will have to leave. If my next spot does not have a creek, well, I am up one. Hydro is pretty cool though. it runs 24/7 and allows you to have a smaller battery bank.

all of these options are expensive.

..lot's of progress.

...I have made some good progress over the last couple of weeks. I installed my loft which frees up a ton of space downstairs. The loft is laid out along two 2x4's that act as ledgers. These are screwed into the wall with lag bolts on four wall joists (each side). On top of this ledger I laid out floor joists for the loft. since I used 2x4's for this as well, I laid them out on 12" centers. The loft is just under 6' deep and rests on 7 joists. There is almost no sag when I climb up and this will be further mitigated when I add the wall for the bathroom which will help support the weight of the loft. I laid out some plywood and put the bed up there. It hangs over a little bit but all in all it's not too bad. I still have to screw down the flooring but for now it is just sitting up there.

...getting into the loft.

I built  bookshelf/stairs to get into the loft. They are each about 12" deep and come off the wall 20". There are three steps each with a bookshelf beneath. I still have to finish the last step which will be my closet. It will be bolted on to the last step and will stand just underneath the loft, about 36" wide. The bookshelves will have about 7 shelves and hopefully (with the floating bookshelf in the living area) will hold most of my books...I am sure that I will have to get rid of some. The steps themselves are made out of recycled oak that I got from some old shipping pallets. They are really nice looking with a great patina.

The first (lowest) step will actually be the futon frame which I have yet to build. I am planning an open box with a removable top(for storage) that is strong enough to step on. My futon pad will fold on top for a nice seating area. I am planning a coffee table that has a false top that comes off and clips to the front of the bench and back of thr coffee table creating a platform for the rolled out futon. This is still in the planning stages.

again still waiting on a camera worth a crap.. Pics to come

Friday, November 9, 2012

a little porch action...

I have been having some problems with rain bouncing off the deck and making it into the house under the sliding glass door. I had been using a big tarp but it did not last through the first snow (it barely lasted through the first rain) so the other day I made a small roof for the porch out of some scrap 2x4's, recycled pressure treated decking and some recycled pallets. The pitch matches that of the roof and it covers about 7 feet of the porch with a 2' overhang. It is screwed in right below the shingle line and is propped up with 2 supports made out of pressure treated lumber (also recycled). It is shingled with re-claimed pallet wood and though it leaks a tiny bit, it keeps the rain from splashing into the door. And it looks good, albeit a little "cabiny".


  The other day I was sitting on the porch of the house waiting for friends to arrive for dinner and enjoying the view to the south. It was cooling down and I looked around this little patch and day dreamed about what could be. I had built some raised garden beds that morning and in my minds eye I saw them over flowing with fresh veggies, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers...a bounty of food. I then looked East, past the fire pit, and pictured my chicken ark, full of healthy birds and fresh eggs.

 The path is hard. There is work to be done, but what a content feeling it will be when I know there will always be food, grown by me, on my table. I have lived so lean, for so long that just knowing those small comforts will be there makes me happy. I can do without electricity ( I do miss it) and the convenience that it brings but the peacefulness out here, without those distractions, is amazing. Soon my days will be spent tending my gardens and feeding my animals  and I am truly looking forward to that.

....lots of progress..

I have made some great progress on the house in the last few weeks. I replaced the undersized window in the kitchen with a larger "picture window" which is actually a recycled skylight. it is framed in and although I need to replace the siding around it (too many cuts) it is in place and looks great. I have it closed in and I put a piece  of plastic sheet over it until I can replace the siding. I put the window in now because the ledgers I planned to hold up my loft would make that difficult.....oh yeah, I put in the loft!!!

The loft was pretty easy. I ran 2 7' ledgers down the walls and bolted them into the wall joists with lag screws and washers. They are made from simple 2x4's which I sanded. The floor joists for the loft are also 2x4's. I laid them out on 12" centers and while the span is around 7 feet there is almost no sag when I get in the loft. In between the floor joists are spacers made from 9.5" pieces of 2x4 and all of these parts are simply nailed together. I laid some plywood up there and put my mattress to test for sag and for headroom. There is almost no sag but there is little headroom so I think a thinner foam mattress is in order. My innerspring mattress is really nice but it is 14" thick. I will get an 8" memory foam mattress and add 6" of headroom......well worth it.

I also started on the bookshelf/stairs combo for getting into the loft. I found a nice old oak pallet and salvaged some very rough but very beautiful 1/2" oak boards......enough to make 3 steps..each 19" wide by 10" deep. The stairs will start on the built in futon (which I have not started yet) and go up 2 tall steps with narrow bookshelves underneath.  The last step will be wider and will be on top of my closet (19" deep by 24" wide). I have not started this yet either, just focusing on the bookshelves to get an idea of how everything  will end up going together. When the futon/stairs/closet are done they will all bolt together and then get lag bolted to the wall for safety.

I am also working out an ottoman with a removable top that will clip into the futon bench to form a day-bed. I think it will be a simple 3/4" plywood slab 4' wide by 24" deep with some simple cleats that fit into the futon frame and the edge of the ottoman creating a 7x4 platform for the futon pad to roll out on. This will have to happen when I get back from Cincinnati.

....well again, pictures are coming soon. I really need a camera.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

12v with no Solar ...

...I have been trying to prioritize projects at the house and while I really want to install Solar it is beyond me financially right now. I came up with a great work-around that I am going to share here. My van (the Vandaminium) os equipped with a second battery that is isolated from the starting battery but charges when the car is running. I made a 12v extension cord out of an old drop cord, some clip on battery jaws and a 3 way 12v accessory outlet. The cable hooks up to the second battery and runs into the house giving me 3 12v outlets for my dvd player, phone charger, pump for the shower and my little 12v vacuum It was an easy .project and a real no brainer since I already had the second battery charging all the time. This will work until I save up the funds for a real solar system (or micro-hydro power).

Zodi Shower Update awhile back the little 6v pump on my Zodi shower crapped out and since I wanted a 12v pump I have been neglecting the Zodi and taking bucket baths. well last week when I moved the house I decided to get the shower back on line. 12v pumps are pretty expensive and after looking around it looked like I was going to have to drop some coin on a pump. While cleaning out an old tool box I came across a fuel pump from my old Land Rover. I remembered the pump working and I hooked it up to a 12v battery and it whirred away. This looked promising so I grabbed some tools and went to work..

First I had to strip away all of the extra parts so I was just left with the pump unit. This was very easy and when I was done I was left with just a 5" long cylinder about an inch and a half in diameter. This pump is an in-tank pump (basically a submersible pump) and needs to be mounted in the bottom of the water source, in my case a 5 gallon bucket.

I wired the + and - connections on the pump to a fused cigarette plug in thingy that I had laying around and went to work on mounting the pump in the bucket.

My first attempt was a failure as I tried to cut a hole in the bucket with a box cutter and then glue the pump in with some kind of household sealent. the sealent did not stick, the hole was too big and jagged and the bucket went in the trash. Luckily it was a beater bucket so I did not waste a good one.

My next attempt was a success and very very easy creating a great seal with no glue. I used my drill and a hole saw a little smaller than the outer diameter of the pump. I cut a hole in the bucket, sanded a little extra and then "press-fit" the pump in. It took a little work but it formed a great watertight seal without any adhesives.

My first shower was taken under the stars on a cool night and was luxurious!! The fuel pump has a higher pressure than the original Zodi pump and works much better. I am running everything off the second battery in the Van with a 12v extension cord that I made..

Happy Showers!

....and finally PROGRESS!! the house has been moved!! We did it on a roll back and although it cost a little more money it went pretty smooth. The house sits on a slight incline and I leveled it using a pressure treated 2x8 on the high end and a large railroad tie on the low end. It is sitting flat and I added two small decks to the front and covered them with a large nylon tarp. I have been sleeping there for a couple of weeks and it is wonderful...falling asleep looking at the leaves change through the sliding glass door while listening to the creek down below.

Now it is time to get to work. I will add photo's as I progress with all the projects that are to come..

New roof
Rain water collection
Install ceiling
Outdoor shower/bathroom
Wood fired hot tub
Micro Hydro power plant and solar panels

I have a lot of work to do....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I am lame. House has stalled. Blah blah

So I have stalled a bit on the house. It is sitting in the lower lot of the raft company waiting to be moved to it's new home, an acre overlooking a waterfall next to a 100 year old barn on a 17 acre spread. Sounds great right? well, moving the house has proven to be challenging. I hope sometime this month I can do it and move back in but as it stands I am back in the Vandaminium and perma-camping again. There is not much to write about here but I realized today that I have neglected the blog so I am trying to get back at it.

more to come....

Monday, January 30, 2012

c.c.c.c.c.......cold in the shackienda this morning!

......woke up a wee bit chilly this morn with the interior temps running in the high 20's low 30's!! I have not been using the propane (to see if I can do it and save a little money) and it's possible. I get warmed up chopping wood and when I go in, I can keep the house very comfortable with about a small log per hour. last night I filled the fire box up with red oak, closed the air intake and the damper and when I woke up 3 hours later my stove fan was still spinning (it only spins at 150 degrees or over). That means that the little cast iron stove held heat for quite awhile. Still not all night though....

About the fan....
My dad bought me an ECOfan for Christmas and it is really neat. It produces electricity when the stove heats up and pins a small brass fan, pushing the warm air out into the room. It works well and it is neat to look at. They are really expensive though. But very cool!


OK updates on the house.....

The lower parts of the walls are done. Some of the seams are a little janky but they will be covered with trim so that's ok. I am going to get some stain for the walls this week (samples) and see what looks best on some scrap wood. The walls went up pretty easy.....with help. My cousin Jess came over and we knocked them out in a few hours. The only problem was the fact that nothing is plumb or on center in the original construction. These were never meant to be finished on the inside when they were built so standards weren't really adhered to. it's not a big deal, we just have to measure and cut a bit more. It is starting to come together and feel like home and I am pretty happy with the outcome. I am still having trouble sealing the crack around the stove pipe where it meets the roof flashing (JB Weld did not hold!!!!!!!!!) but I will figure it out.

Anyway.......the hunt is on for a permanent spot for the house. I will have to moveit come March. I have a few options but I would really like to find some land to buy......with no money. Ahhhhhhhhhh Poverty! Well, back to work...


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Update....

So the floor went in fine. The laminate flooring was a pain to put down but I bought the cheapest stuff. I think a better quality laminate would install easier. I opted to use tar paper instead of the "foam" that they sell for underneath the flooring. The tar paper cost 1/5 of what the foam would have!! and does the exact same thing....keeps the clacky noise down. I ended up buying a tapping block and an edge puller for the install. It was a must and I recommend everyone spend the 15 bucks if you plan on trying to do a project like this. I would also recommend using a rubber or plastic mallet instead of a roofing hammer like I did.
  The install was pretty easy with the help of my cousin Jess and my buddy Chris both of whom I would not be able to do this without!!). First we laid heavy duty plastic down on the old floor as a moisture barrier. Next came 4 sheets of new sub floor (particle board). Then a layer of tar paper went in followed by the laminate flooring. This was mostly done under a tarp in front of the cabin in the rain!!
  So the floor looks great (other than a few small imperfections in the laminates) and the cabin is noticeably warmer with the floors in. There are no more drafts coming up through the floor and even though the floor is cold it is still much nicer to walk on barefoot.
  We put up a couple of wall boards too. It has been pretty awful weather up here (rainy) and on the nice days it seems that I have been going in to the office so I have stalled on the walls. Hopefully the weather will break and I can finish them this week. I doubt that it will take too long.

Roof Leaks...

Well, it is leaking where the stovepipe goes through the roof flashing. When it dries out, this is the first thing that needs to be addressed. I put some gunk in the seam but I guess I used the wrong stuff. If it stops raining at all today, that is priority number one.

  The cabin is staying nice and warm with just the propane heater. The weather has been damp but not that cold so I have been leaving the heater on low and curling up in the blankets with Sho.

So here are some pics....

Well, that's it for now.

Friday, January 6, 2012


last week we had some pretty bitter temperatures up here in the mountains, dipping to 10 degrees before the windchill, and I had a chance to test the limits of my heating system. Now this was not an accurate test as the walls and floor are still unfinished and there is still some drafts that need to be corrected but I decided to take some measurements with the unfinished house. So basically the house is a shell. It is dried in for the most part and the walls and ceilings are insulated with fiberglass insulation,R13 on the walls and R19 in the ceiling joists. There is no insulation under the floor yet. For heat I have my tiny Neptune 1-A marine wood stove and a small blue flame heater (the smallest I could get that still had a thermostat).

The stove heats the house very well, almost to the point of discomfort. I am slightly warm blooded and at times with a roaring fire it was a little too warm. I am getting good draft in the stovepipe and the fire is burning near 400 degrees when it is roaring. The stove works great but the small firebox and the fact that it is not airtight means that the fires do not last very long, about two hours. The idea was to find a propane heater that will kick on when the stove cools and that is what I have....kind of.

I bought a little blue flame heater from Lowe's. It was on sale for 122$ so I snatched it up. I was going to get a plaque heater of the same size but they were 80 bucks more and I am trying to stay under budget. The heater is mounted on the wall at the far end of the building. The first really cold night I set it to low and it did what it was supposed to do.....turn on when the fire in the wood stove went out. The lowest setting, however, was too low and I woke in the morning to a crisp 43 degrees. The next night (even colder!) I set the heater to about 3 and added a small fan in front of it to blow the heat into the room. That morning the temp (at the bed) was about 56 degrees. Much more comfortable. The heater cycles on and off as it should and I hop that it will not use too much propane. My space is so small that a larger wood stove would not be practical so I am going to have to rely on expensive propane more than I would like. I know that when the walls are finished and the floor is in the building will be much more efficient. The large sliding door really lets a lot of sun in during the day so even on super cold days, as long as it's sunny, the building should be bearable with the minimum of heat.

And now a quick word about safety. 2 People died up this way from carbon monoxide the other day. They had both a kerosene heater and a generator in the living space. It is unclear which appliance did them in but is was a stark reminder about safety. Always......always keep a window cracked when using an un-vented heater. Always.....always have a smoke and carbon monoxide detector installed with fresh batteries and always have a fire extinguisher at hand. These things can save your life.

I promise to post pics soon. Tomorrow I will put my new flooring in and Sunday I plan to put the wall boards up.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 update. I have been staying in the "house" for the last few nights. I have the wood stove plumbed and with a roaring fire the building stays reasonably warm. Keep in mind that the walls and floors are unfinished and the building is still pretty drafty. Last night I filled the fire box up at midnight and when I woke up at 6 A.M. the inside temp was hovering around 32 degrees. Yes it was cold but it was 16 degrees outside (without the windchill)! I turned the big buddy on high for about 15 minutes and then it was warm enough to get up and moving....which I promptly did not do, opting instead to crawl back under the covers with my worthless excuse for a Husky and snuggle until 10 AM.

Today ended up being pretty productive. The propane heater is working, running off of a small tank and cycles on when the wood stove cools down. I have it on the lowest setting and it will be interesting to see what the mean temp in the house will be when the heater is cycling on and off. I am hoping that it will be in the low 40's and only cycle occasionally. I would love my 100lb propane to last all winter..

I also ran the power through the wall instead of through the sliding glass door as I had been. I had to stuff a wool blanket in the crack to keep the drafts and being able to close the door all the way will be nice.

Tonight I am going to do some cleaning...making it livable until I put the interior walls and new floors in (this weekend). I will post some pics soon.... I promise.