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09.12.2013 admin
Use these free images for your websites, art projects, reports, and Powerpoint presentations! Please note that Predator Offroad Trailers has halted production but hope to be fully operational very soon. Before I get started with this tour, I cannot emphasize this enough: My husband and I are not rich and we are not particularly handy. Our cabin is a work in progress and probably always will be, but I want to share it with you in its current state and tell you a bit about how we got here, the mistakes we made along the way, and what we're planning next. How much did it cost to build?The materials cost - including salvaged windows and doors - was about $7,000. How long did it take?All told, about two weeks of work for two guys: my husband, John, and our good friend Stefan, who brought a lot of skill and positive thinking to the whole project. The frame is made of BC pine, and the walls are sheathed in marine-grade plywood (which means minimal off-gassing). About the locationThe cabin is sited on five acres of gorgeous west coast wilderness on one of the islands in BC's Gulf Islands chain. The only reason we were able to afford such an amazing piece of land is because the island is relatively difficult to get to (it's close to Vancouver, but there's no ferry service) and there are zero amenities: no stores, no electricity, no running water. Our "design aesthetic"I use quotes because when it comes to living in such a small space, we don't have room for more than the necessities. When we were thinking about what kind of cabin we wanted, we found we were inspired by two things: the utilitarianism of houseboats, as well as summer camp buildings, with their exposed framing and unapologetic woodiness.
We did have one surprise money-saving coup, when we rented a storage locker as a short-term way to store our building materials and the fridge and whatnot before our barging date. Favorite DIYs and hacksPretty much the entire cabin is DIY, but here are our favorite projects:We looked into tension-wire for the deck railings, but it's insanely expensive.
Random scoresWe did buy a few things new - mostly bedding - but everything else was either salvaged or found at thrift stores and yard sales and such:We bought the fake Hans Wegner folding chairs years ago and put them away thinking someday we'd have a use for them. As far as infrastructure goes, at some point down the road we're going to add a small 12-volt solar power system, rain catchment for our washing up water, and a pump from our well to the cabin for drinking water. We'll probably also convert to a composting toilet, though right now we have no complaints about our current low-tech arrangements, considering this is the view we enjoy every time we, ahem, use the facilities.

Inspired by sites like Shedworking, John went on a serious mission to find just the right shed plan to form the basis for our cabin. We also agreed that we wanted to be transparent about our sources, which is why we didn't make any effort to hide the lumber stamps and the discoloration caused by the pine beetle infestation that's plaguing the Pacific Northwest. We thought we'd take out a small loan and pay a local company to design and prefab a bigger cabin right away. I'm just saying maybe, in a parallel universe where we're a bit brighter, we'd consider placing it on a wall that doesn't get full late-afternoon light.
Things creep over to the cabin from our home in the city, and every so often we have to do an audit of what gets to stay. The locker place told us that the first month was only $1, and the subsequent months were full price. As the boys get older, we hope to spend more time here in the colder months, so John has his eye on one of those tiny propane fireplaces you see on boats.
This latter fact was probably the driver behind why two people with little money and even fewer skills would even attempt to build a cabin on an isolated island with no amenities. We realized we needed a truck on the island, so we spent $2,000 on an awesome orange 1990 Chevy Blazer. We hacked the plans to extend the roofline out 4 feet over the door, and we built the floor out of of 2x4s.
In front of us is a breathtaking ocean view straight across Howe Sound to the Coastal Mountains on the mainland. But if I had to define our style, I'd say we're probably a lot like you: a bit modernist, a bit vintage-y, a bit Ikea, and a bit plain old functional. This infestation is part of our ecological historical record, and we find that really interesting.
We even went so far as to have the plans fully engineered (we still have them; they're awesome). We realized that we needed to expand the outdoor space so that we could just throw the doors open and have one large 10 by 22 foot area. We thought we were smart in siting the cabin back in the trees, rather than doing the typical west-coast thing of positioning it out on the bluff.

Our boys are happy to do their fair share of digging, playing with sticks, pestering insects, throwing rocks and whathaveyou.
I love it more than wire, to tell the truth.Stefan also hand-crafted the ladder to the loft. Then we scored the perfect one at a yard sale down the street.The army medic's bag is a surplus store find. But armed with a hacked $25 shed plan and an incredibly generous friend with actual skills, we gave it a shot.
The deck, which we added this past spring, is 10 by 10, and boy, does it make a difference. If the weather was good, they hooked spotlights up to the generator and worked till late at night. Are you saying we only pay a dollar if we check out before a month?" And they kept saying yes. But then the economy started to deflate and we realized we didn't want to have a loan hanging over our heads. In the meantime, we appreciate that our fiberglass wall helps the cabin feel open and airy and is probably the reason why ours is the only local cabin we know that didn't suffer from black mold over the winter. That's when we decided to start over with a new, more modest plan and DIY the whole thing, with the help of our aforementioned awesome friend Stefan.
We've also realized that even kids need their own space, which is why our next project is a sweet little playhouse in the trees. I fashioned some full-length roman blinds, using blackout fabric on one side and vintage bedsheets on the other, and they work a treat.

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