Our off grid living story (part one, the outside)

 

 

My parents bought some property out in Eatonville, WA. They got it for somewhere to put their horses. It’s 16 1/2 acres. I would say half woods, half open field. There is a creek and ponds that are seasonal. We started a small barnyard out there. Horses, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, bunnies… Been a fun experience so far with the animals and the land.

Seems like so long ago. The kids were little and loving all the free and open space. We wanted to allow them to have fun and grow up enjoying the outdoors like we did as kids. We felt it was important that they get out and use their imagination and have fun. They enjoyed tepees made from the trees, forts, walks around the property, all the wild animals. Was absolutely amazing, so perfect to see them play and be as young children should be. Cheyenne asked for a tire swing since there were so many trees. Andy had found just the right tree and hung up a swing for the kids. Only problem was it was so far back and tucked in the woods we didn’t like the kids going back there by themselves. So it was just a once and awhile thing. Since a lot of our time was spent up in the front part of the property where my parents dropped their roots.

We had asked them if there was space to spare for us to build a small cabin tucked in the woods. Somewhere that we could go to get away. Somewhere that we could have a small off grid space. A glamping retreat. While walking around looking for somewhere to build our little cabin in the woods we found ourselves standing at the very spot the tire swing was. It had called to us that spot. Andy and I that day deemed it that to be our spot. The very spot that I would eventually call my happy place. The place we would eventually bury our loving animals. Because they even grew to love it so much here. The place we would spend our summers and getways with the kids. So many amazing memories here, so many family get togethers, BBQ’s, parties, sleepovers, the fires and scary stories all the smores, how I yurn for summer now just writing this. The cabin is truly our happy place. And I’m so happy that we have it. That we built it. Andy and I carried each and every piece of material back there to build this amazing little place that we all cherish so much.

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It was the most perfect spot. The creek went right through there, the spot was under multiple maple trees, in fact the only cluster of maples on the property. And I absolutely love fall and I could only picture how amazing it would be when all the trees would be changing in the fall season. So we started prepping the space for our cabin. We started clearing out a space for us to start the building process. The clean up seemed like it was taking forever. We wanted to be in a secluded area tucked in tight in the trees. One day Andy and I were there plugging away at the space we had picked and were taking a break looking around and changed our mind. While standing there looking across what would’ve been the front yard we decided the the space about 100 yards in the opposite direction was a better fitting spot. Partly because it was already clear of any obstacles. Was already ready to be built on.

Andy being an experienced builder was already thinking about what he wanted to do. Now, we weren’t aiming for something huge. This was just going to be a small weekend getaway place for us. A way to get away from the regular hustle and bustle of life. We were going for a very small 200 square foot cabin. Something functional that would be something that could hold our family of five and still allow space for visiting guests. I immediately turned to pinterest and google for ideas. Me not being a builder I didn’t know the first thing that we needed to do to achieve this. And it was going to be our cabin so I wanted to have some sort of say in what it looked like. I came up with dozens of photos and ideas that I shared with Andy and we were able to come to a lot of great ideas and agreements. From the angle of how the building was going to sit on the property, the height of the ceilings, window placement. Everything had been thought out and we talked about it often. He would draw me pictures to give me a better idea of what something was going to look like. He had a very distinct idea of what he wanted. I was having a hard time seeing it. Then finally one day while on pinterest I found it. His idea. His ambition. A cabin that was exactly the look he was after. It was so nice to finally see a completed building. It gave me so much to look forward to. I got so excited.

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This, I must say, our idea behind the cabin is honestly where it all started. All our future ambitions would be derived from our cabin. It has been the driving force behind goals, we just didn’t know it then. It’s so clear that all of this started that day by the tire swing saying “this is the spot!” Has been an amazing whirl wind of emotions realizing that.

We had so many ideas on how we wanted the cabin to be. The best idea I think that we had was that our goal was to get as much already used material that people no longer needed or wanted and use it to build our cabin, was great for the environment and our pocket book. We felt that it would give it so much extra character. It would be rough around the edges, it wouldn’t match, it wouldn’t be full of modern touches. It would be re-purposed, a recycled cabin. I have always been a firm believer in making the earth a better place. And why not use something that still had a lot of life left in it.

Now that we had an idea on how we wanted the cabin to look we needed to find material. We turned to craigslist. That was a saving grace in the beginning. So many people giving away free wood, free buildings if you came to tear it down. Andy was at the time working with a friend of his doing landscaping. One of the houses they were working at re-did their porch and has all the extra material from the previous one, so we got it. We were all over that. Was a huge porch made of almost all 2×6. Provided SO much wood. Andy found this guy on craigslist that was giving away a tree house if he came to tear it down. It was really neat the way it was built, unfortunate we couldn’t keep it in it’s regular form. It provided a lot of material for the cabin. 2×4’s galore, the wood shingles for the outside and TONS of screws. Saved us so much money going this route.

We have our floor plan and now we have material. We finally broke ground. Of course we started with the floor frame. Digging holes in the ground for the brick support legs. The the wood frame, the plywood sheets for the floor, then the walls, and the roof. It was going together so quickly. I think the most expensive part of the cabin up to this point was getting all the tools to build it. Got Andy an air compressor so he can use an air nail gun, made things go so much faster. Then all the saws, screw gun, drill. Seemed like I was always hearing him say he needed another tool. Thankful again for craigslist and yard sales. Once he started getting all these tools we needed somewhere to put them. He built a little outbuilding shed, just something small it’s 4×8. Was nice having all the tools tucked away, safe and out of the weather since before we were just tucking them under the floor slab of the cabin. The shed would eventually turn into our outhouse.

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Only took us around five months to get to this point. Everything considered that is amazing timing. Searching for everything to put into the cabin. All the tools to use, Andy was working, I was working. The kids were in school. So finding the time to get all this done was tough. But we managed. The hike to get everything back to the spot was the most time consuming part. These materials aren’t light. Especially the ply wood sheets. I could only tackle one of those at a time, so heavy and awkward. Carrying back the 2×4’s I was lucky to get 8 up on my shoulders at a time. The hike back to where the cabin is I would guess is maybe a quarter, to a half mile hike. It isn’t flat even ground either. It’s hilly and depending on the weather there is almost always standing water. Everything was carried by hand until we found a little push wagon at a yard sale for 10$. That piece of crap has broke a million times over, but has made so many trips, I guess you can say its paid for its self by now. Has made light of a few hard jobs.

So here we are about the end of September. Andy is in hustle mode because we want to get a roof on this before the winter comes. It was a hard goal to try to achieve. Being that its the roof it was the one purchase we bought out right. The majority of the framing was bought as well as the felt paper, the metal, closures, metal screws and all the flashing, ridge cap. Everything that went into the roof we ended up buying, because we weren’t wanting to deal with any leaks or future surprises. Coming up with the funds to get that was kind of hard given the time of year. Thankfully the building was small, and we were going with just torch down on the flat part seeing we would be eventually be putting a porch there.  The roof and everything that went along with it set us back around $1k. Aside from the tools and small things here and there, this was the first big purchase towards the cabin.

We kind of cheated. Our local grocery store, Fred Meyer. They sell Home Depot gift cards. Which happens to be the hardware store for anyone who may not know. Well we get gas rewards when buying gift cards. We ended up doing that a few times. Was so useful. I highly recommend that to anyone who may want to get a little extra out of their grocery store if they offer a gas rewards program. Gas these days is not cheap. I call it double dipping.

Thankfully we got the roof done in time before the good ole Pacific Northwest rains and wind. Let me tell you. That metal roof is absolutely amazing in the rain. To be able to hear that. Ahh. Falling asleep to that… is heaven on earth. I couldn’t thank my husband more for this. Was scary watching him up there. From the peak to the ground on the one side its maybe 20 feet. The end result of all his hard work has been amazing. Has turned out just the way we were thinking it would.

Got the roof done. Installed the windows and doors. These were all re-purposed also. A girlfriend got new windows in her house and had all the ones she took out and passed them down to us, as well as a glass sliding door, talk about a score! Then one of the buildings Andy found on Craigslist we took down, had a larger bay like window in it. LOVE that window. Took up a big part of the one wall that looks over the creek. The front door we got at a garage sale for 10$. It needed some sanding and a paint job. It worked out nice, wood frame, huge glass center. We ended up purchasing the door jam and all that hardware. Got the door installed. Can finally keep the outside out. Was a fun satisfying feeling. Got the shingles and trim up and painted on the outside. The cabin is looking absolutely amazing. Its super cute.

Seemed like with the weather, rain, snow, wind. All that good Pacific Northwest variety we took the rest of the winter off from building. We went back often to check on things. Work a little in the yard. While Andy was working on the building and I wasn’t helping, I was working in the yard. Cleaning up areas to make gardens, clearing paths you know that girly touch.

Once we got back into it, we started on the porch. I was so excited to have a cute little porch to decorate and paint. Had so many ideas. Honestly I had a stash of decorations I was saving up just to use on the porch. Was nice to have a covered porch to stand under when it was raining.

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Love how the porch turned out. Has been so much fun getting to decorate. One of my favorite spots to hang out. Have seen so many amazing birds from this porch. But this porch was short lived. Andy wanted to add railing and an addition to this to make the porch larger and eventually wrap around the one side of the cabin looking over the creek and to a free standing kitchen and root cellar. Yes, big dreams. Who knows, maybe one day. It would be totally awesome though.

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Starting in 2015. Going through life, work and the kids our production has stopped with finishing the outside. Still have the roof top porch/stairs, but other than that the outside is done. I know Andy wants to expand the porch around that back side too, now that I’m looking at the picture, okay so maybe the outside isn’t completely done. Not sure if this project has a date of completion. I think it will forever be changing and getting different looks.  That’s half the fun. And that I get to do it with Andy and it be somewhere for the girls to grow and have memories. That’s all that matters.

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For now the cabin is an on going project. With so many new dreams and ambitions that we’re chasing. I hope that you guys stay tuned for the next part of our story. I think first will be the finishing the wrap around porch, the roof top porch, the inside, our green house (THIS is going to be amazing) and after that… We’ll see. Andy and I have talked about so many different projects here. Just the order that we execute them, it’s a mystery… to us too. I can’t wait to see where this little place goes.

 

 

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