Build a Small, Temporary Shelter For About $1,000

Would you like to build yourself a small, temporary shelter for a little more than $1,000? Keep reading!


| January/February 1985


Like so many other home builders, my wife, Sherrie, and I needed a quickly and easily built temporary shelter to live in while our permanent house was being constructed, but we wanted one that was sturdy enough — and of a suitable design — to be used later as a workshop, small barn or guest house. It had to be inexpensive, since most of our funds had gone into a down payment on our land; but with winter coming on, it also had to be warm and windtight. The question was, what could we put together with these qualifications?

A neighbor's garage, built with Starplate connectors, was our inspiration. After a speculative look at the triangular walls, Sherrie decided that the pentagon-shaped dome (actually a truncated icosahedron having 15 sides) had potential as a heat-efficient, cozy temporary shelter with a loft.

Now, the loft idea was intriguing, but, as far as I knew, Starplate buildings weren't designed to be 15 feet high, allowing for two floors. The 11 steel plates that come in the kit are designed to bolt to the ends of 6-foot 2-by-2s or 8-foot 2-by-4s. Could they handle 10-foot 2-by-6s?

We called David Hamel, engineer and inventor of the Starplate connectors to find out. "Nobody's ever tried building a house with them," he told us. But, we asked, if the roof peak was supported by an oak post, why couldn't it work? "Either that, or run a cable around the eaves to tie the five roof struts together," Hamel suggested. Otherwise, he didn't recommend anything larger than a 9-foot strut. We considered the risks and the options and decided to go for 10-footers.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Norm and Sherrie were fortunate to live in an area where the building code requirements present few problems. They needed a permit from the town in order to put up a building, and an inspector checked their wiring, but they had no other stringent rules to follow. Whatever you do, check with your local inspector — call the town clerk to find out who the correct official is — before making extensive plans or buying materials.]  

Frame, Footer and Floor

We used our VW camper to truck the struts to our building site: 20 10-foot 2-by-6s for the walls, and 5 12-foot 2-by-6s for the roof (the extra length was to accommodate the eaves). Drilling holes through the 6-inch width of the timbers, 1 ½ inches from their ends, was easy as long as we were careful to keep the drill lined up properly, and assembling the roof was like putting together an adult-size Tinkertoy set. In fact, the back-to-childhood nature of the construction attracted a number of onlookers who wanted to participate!





mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265