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  1. #1
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    Aug 2016
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    Off Grid Cabin Resources/Ideas/Suggestions

    Looking to build a northern off grid cabin. 4 season use, ideally low maintenance, but would like something aesthetically intersting. Size is ~200ft^2 (20m^2) or less. General ideas/experiences/rants/raves/brags are encouraged.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    The Cone of Uncertainty
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    46,990
    cabinporn.com has good stuff to look at.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    New England
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    11,940
    Stick built or logs? Water nearby? Home Depot?

    Smallhousebliss.com is fun, too
    Screw the net, Surf the backcountry!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    1,970
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman View Post
    cabinporn.com has good stuff to look at.
    that's ideas, nice ones, I was looking for more meat.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Shuswap Highlands
    Posts
    2,343
    Interior plumbing? Design the system for easy draining for when you aren't around during freezing temps. At ~200sqft, you'll probably be having an outhouse or exterior composting privy. Location of the privy can be more important than the cabin, considering both sanitation AND the view for the AM constitutional.
    We've done well with a couple deep cycle 12V batteries in series to run DC lighting (LED). Lots of bulb options now and the prices are coming down. A cheep RV solar panel keeps the system charged well enough. Wire a 12V cigarette lighter somewhere to charge the phone and other devices without converting to AC, then DC again. A 2000W Honda generator with inverter is about ~$800 used and will run most anything else you need after construction is done; a 3000w geny was needed to run the saws and other power tools during construction.

    Got a location picked out? Have fun!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    lake level
    Posts
    1,193
    Mother Earth News
    I really lack the words to compliment myself today. - Alberto Tomba

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    truckee
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    10,821
    Friend of mine has an off the grid place near Joshua Tree. Toilet is a mostly buried 55 gallon drum with a toilet seat on it, behind a rock. There used to be an outhouse but it burned in the Sawtooth fire in 06, his one room cabin was spared--barely. The open air seat is nice--a lot less smelly than an outhouse. He does have an indoor toilet with a small septic field but since his water is trucked in he doesn't use it. On the plus side there's plenty of sunlight for the PV panels and he has to be careful not to burn himself with the passive solar hot water if he takes a rare shower.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Gravity drain plumbing as mentioned.
    Passive solar: Trombe Wall, black drums, solar slab. See https://www.amazon.com/Passive-Solar.../dp/0930031970 .
    PS only works where there's enough sun. duh, I know.
    Also, home wind turbine. Again, duh.

    No mention of location or any constraints makes it hard to focus.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    566
    Wildsnow's chronicles on the Porta Hut are worth a read.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wenatchee
    Posts
    7,661
    I've been eyeing this off the grid place 15 minutes from here
    http://www.century21.com/property/49...01-C2180091109
    I could live full time at a place like this.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Wasatch Back: 7000'
    Posts
    8,800
    I've stayed at these at Henry's Lake. two beds...fire...sink.
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    A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
    ― Milton Friedman

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
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    11,847
    start low, low tech
    insulate the hell out of it, whatever the climate
    passive heating/cooling strategies -- orient openings to the sun & prevailing breezes

  13. #13
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    Sep 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by acinpdx View Post
    start low, low tech
    insulate the hell out of it, whatever the climate
    2x12 wall joists and closed cell foam.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    inpdx
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    11,847
    spray has its uses
    but i don't like it in this case

    In a cold climate, you still have the studs acting as a conduit to allow heat out of the building. Below is a house in New England that had spray insulation applied to the inside of the attic. It improved the attic, but you can see from the frost pattern that it would have been better to lay rigid insulation on top of the roof sheathing. More expensive at the end of the day, but it eliminates the heat leaks.

    Attachment 205565


    so, a better system would be to get all the foam on the outside of the structural frame
    you could still do 2x4 + 1/2 sheathing as the frame if it's a small structure (but check that against your local snow loading criteria)
    but use 6" (or even more) of polyiso on the outside of the walls and the roof
    [depending on mfr, polyiso is R-6/inch]
    then siding/roofing over all that (further details are needed but that's the basic gist)

  15. #15
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    Sep 2010
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    Shuswap Highlands
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    Off Grid Cabin Resources/Ideas/Suggestions

    Construction jong here, but isn't a joist either in the floor or ceiling? 2X12 stud walls seems way overkill... wife's cabin is constructed 2X6 stud walls with 12" joists above & below.
    Last edited by BCMountainHound; 05-04-2017 at 05:16 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    inpdx
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    buster was trying to get a thicker wall & more insulation
    sometimes, that's exactly what's needed

    a friend just finished a multi-family project where they used 2x12's with cellulose insulation in the cavity and two inches of rigid insulation outside the sheathing

    they were going for passivhaus certification, which is a hyper insulated strategy that tries to lower applied lifetime building energy


    and, yes on "joist"

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Hugh's Mom's House
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    11,831
    This might be a good application for structural insulated panels (SIPs) if there is good access to the site. You could have the entire thing raised and dried-in in a single day, especially if it is that small.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Hugh's Mom's House
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    11,831
    Quote Originally Posted by BCMountainHound View Post
    Construction jong here, but isn't a joist either in the floor or ceiling?
    Yes. You are correct.

    People overrate the importance of wall thickness and vastly underrate the importance of continuous and fully air-sealed insulation systems. This is why ac is right that six inches of continuous foam on the outside, properly detailed, is SIGNIFICANTLY better than six inches of foam in between studs.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Southeast New York
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    6,716
    Potentially cheap and mostly ready to go - Get a ~28 foot camper trailer. Add solar or wind and maybe better insulation and call it a day.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    1,194

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    709
    What about a place made out of a couple shipping containers? Definitely achieves the "aesthetically interesting" mold better than a standard log cabin.

    https://www.containerhomeplans.org/p...um=navbar_text

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    1,596
    Shipping containers are ridiculous. Narrow. After all said and done not inexpensive. A dumb fad imo.

    I will add, double pit toilet. Best off grid solution for human waste disposal. You can use pour flush or upgrade to Marine/RV style low flow toilet.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    709
    ^^^ don't disagree, just throwing the idea out there as he wanted something different and never mentions price as an obstacle. At 200 sf, anything he build will qualify as "narrow" in my book.

    These joints would fall in the same category, if you'd be truly interested I'd give them a visit.

    http://rollinghuts.com

  24. #24
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    We did the exterior foam underlayment for the roof only in addition to 2x12s for walls and ceiling. , then blew in the closed cell inside walls and ceiling. I had read that the closed cell was the best R value for the inside insulation.

    Then did a wood ceiling inside as well. This in a place that (used to) regularly sees 20-30 below F.

    Did not go triple pane windows, just argon filled double pane.

    Another thing was since we had hydronic heat in baseboards on upper floors, I put in a fan and air duct from basement to top floors in order to be able to move air from upper floors to the basement.

    Anyway, yeah, the #1 priority for us was insulation. Also went with in floor radiant heat in the basement which has worked well with the usual foam underlayment under the concrete slab. Propane fired heating bills for a 4 story 3k+ ft^2 place are less than $100/month during winters where overnight lows are below zero F on average December-March.

    Still working on the tile: floor sealant, backboard screwed down, now this:

    Attachment 203713.

    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 05-05-2017 at 07:32 AM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  25. #25
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    inpdx
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    11,847
    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    We did the exterior foam underlayment for the roof only in addition to 2x12s for walls and ceiling. , then blew in the closed cell inside walls and ceiling. I had read that the closed cell was the best R value for the inside insulation.
    Absolutely, additionally, the spray foam eliminates air leaks and vapor transmission through the wall. It can even strengthen the wall structurally.

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