The Minimalist Cabin Project

I’ve been on the road for 16 months, living out of a bag.  I’ve thought about what the next phase of my journey would be.  While hiking in Nepal, I saw a cabin that made me stutter.  It was so simple, but so elegant.  It spoke to my minimalist heart.  I took a photo of it, and here it is:

Cabin Inspiration

Ever since then, I’ve been slowly planning to build my own cabin.  I’ve built a cabin before, in the bush of Alaska.  It was a beautiful and life-changing experience.  I was 18 and with the help of my friend Sarah, we built most of the structure in about four weeks.  It was wiped out by an iceberg in one of those “this can’t be a real story” stories.  What remains is a dream.  A dream to build my own minimalist-inspired cabin.

So I’ve been researching and learning as much as I can.  Can I make this an entirely green project, with everything being recycled, hand-worked and repurposed?  I’ve helped others build cabins, cut down beetle-killed trees and mill logs.  What are building codes in Boulder, Colorado?   I’ve met with the city and looked into all the things I need to do to get a design approved.  I’ve read every book I can find on homesteading, minimal cabin design and log cabin construction.

Minimal Log Cabin Plans

So I’ve been planning.  Looking at proporties.  I’ve even made a few offers on land.  Nothing has connected so far, but I’ve also been pretty silent about the project.

I realized something.  Everything positive that has happened in my life has been because I was open and prepared to say yes to chance opportunities.

So friends, and friends of friends, I have a life goal of building my own log cabin.  I love Boulder, and it still feels like home after all this traveling.  If you ever run into a friend with a small piece of land for sale to a person looking to do a project like this, please contact me.  I have a budget from years of saving, but it is just not enough (especially looking at the market where too many purchased too much for what they needed and are left with debts that far exceed with this project would be — a home, not a flip).

So far I’ve found the raw materials (Colorado beetle kill, by logging them I’m helping with the fire danger in the area).  I’m ready for a project in the next six months as I return from travel, and I just have a feeling that this is going to work out somehow.  I’ve spent years acting in the community’s best interests over my own financial interests.  I have no regrets with that, but buying a house on the hill is in not a short-term reality.

North Boulder, Colorado

I floated this idea around the coffeeshop I’m writing at, and their first two questions were:

  • Are you building a guest room?
  • Can I come over for dinner?

I answered yes to both.  Travelers are welcome, and I would be thrilled to cook you dinner.  A community project, or community help, would be matched as such.

Looking for about an acre of land, ideally within biking distance (20 miles) of Boulder.  Completely open to chance ideas.  [email protected] is my email.

Now, my minimalist cabin project is not just alive in the notes of my journals. An adventure is where the outcome is unknown, and this feels like a match for that.


UPDATE Jan 2012.

I spent over three months working on the design and negotiating for a specific property  only to have negotiations fail. It is hard if not impossible to get a building loan (and buying the land has to be done with cash) making the project a bit more difficult.

The land I was looking at just sold so I’m back to square one with what to look at. The good news is I have been able to save a sizable down payment and am feeling great in my patience.  The bad? Well, I’m still looking for land!

Financially, it is a bit of an interesting project. Land / well / septic runs around $100k for the cheapest thing I can find. $150k for something I’d be proud to invite friends over to. That is the cost, in cash, to break ground on a cabin in 2013. That buys you a nice condo in a lot of places, so the thought of going minimal with construction on that type of base just doesn’t make that much sense. If the project will take $230k for a one bedroom and $235k for a two bedroom, well, you build a two bedroom.  Not as minimal of a project as I first expected, but it is evolving with reality.

This might take a few years, and I’m comfortable with that. It will be beautiful.

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