Cabin Reveal Part 1 | HometalkMart 22, 2021
Years ago, my husband and I embarked on a land buying and cabin building adventure in spectacular south-central Utah. We ended up buying 15 acres of land near Capitol Reef National Park. Due to some permit conditions, we had to build an apartment almost immediately. Since we are currently unable to build a house, we decided to build a tiny cabin that will one day become the guest room / cabin for a larger main house (we hope).
Around the time we closed the property, I began sketching plan views and floor plans on graph paper, but quickly decided on a software program that would allow plans to be planned and modified more efficiently. After doing some research online, I settled on Chief Architect Pro’s Home Designer Pro program which appeared to have great 3D rendering capabilities, an extensive library of symbols for furniture, furnishings, appliances, etc. This allowed me to really mess around with the floor plan. The top view shown below is a nearly complete version of the final floor plan of our tiny cabin.
Home Designer Pro also has extensive dimensioning capabilities and the ability to create final construction-level drawings with detailed plan views, frame sections, elevations, etc. – everything we need to apply for a building permit. Since the cabin is basically a simple little box structure, we decided to come up with the final plans for how to apply for the building permit. Talk about DIY! I had a lot of fun designing our little “escape” cabin (as well as the main house which is still in the design stage). Below is an example of what the frame sections look like.
Our property had neither water nor electricity so our first task was to bring water, electricity and TV / internet from the main road to our property. We hired a local contractor to do this, and he and my husband dug a 1/2 mile trench from the main road to our property. My job was to finish floor areas with a mini Bobcat (never used before, had to “learn on the job”).
Below is the bottom line of a long, dusty, dirty week of digging – our new water connection point! In the background of the photo below is the small meadow on which our hut is located.
Last fall, we hired a contractor to build the cabin on the weatherproof step. We plan to install the sewer system and finish the interior ourselves (insulation, flooring, drywall / tongue and groove siding, final installation, etc.). Below is the excavation for the foundation and foundation walls.
Foundation foot walls and reinforcement below.
Floor joists are installed below. Our property has been furnished with the little “canned ham” tag that you can see in the background. I see this as a fun future project where I ‘glamp’ it and turn it into another little guest cabin.
Finished sub-floor and foundation below, with magnificent red rock formations in the background. We have aligned the cabin (and future main house) to maximize the wonderful views that are possible in all directions on our property.
Cabin completely framed below. Note that we have remotely monitored this entire process as we live approximately 700 miles from our Utah property. Lots of emails, texts and photos go back and forth between us and the contractor. Monitoring a construction project over long distances is a challenge to say the least. I was able to identify some window placement issues by carefully examining every photo the contractor sent me.
House packing and siding.
Siding here almost completely finished; At that point, it finally looked like the little cabin we envisioned.
We finally have our little hut! A quick note on some of the materials we used: the siding is made of James Hardie fiber cement overlap siding and offset edge shingles; galvanized metal roof; and Pella Thermastar single-slope windows (‘Colonial’ pattern only in the top lites). Now it’s our turn to get things done! My job will be to paint the siding, not to mention finish much of the painting and the finishing touches (including decoration!) In the interior.
This project has been a total science experiment for both my husband and me, in which the things we understand correctly and our mistakes are clearly visible to the world. It was 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 next time we tackle the bigger “main house”. For example, the results of the last inspection indicated that a window next to one of the doors must have tempered glass (which is not currently the case). When I specified the windows for the cabin, I didn’t know that windows next to a door need to be tempered (to be unbreakable against the vibrations of a slamming door).
Please check out my blog shown below for a more detailed account of the “weatherproof” phase of our cabin project, as well as more detailed information on the initial “utility installation phase”, my initial design process, and so on.