A Solar Cabin in Two Weeks for $2,000

After finding himself without a home, LaMar Alexander moved onto inherited land and built a 400-square-foot cabin in two weeks for $2,000.

| June/July 2014

  • Unfinished Solar Cabin
    The author, LaMar Alexander, designed and built his own tiny cabin. He salvaged his front door from a nearby abandoned house.
    Photo by LaMar Alexander
  • Kitchen and Appliances in the Solar Cabin
    LaMar captures water from his sink to use in his solar composter tank or to water fruit trees and shrubs.
    Photo by LaMar Alexander
  • Living Room in the Solar Cabin
    The interior of LaMar’s cabin is about 400 square feet. Downsizing has allowed LaMar to pursue his hobbies, such as writing and music.
    Photo by LaMar Alexander
  • Front Porch of the Solar Cabin
    The porch on this tiny cabin is built out of logs from a local lumber mill and recycled cedar fence boards.
    Photo by LaMar Alexander
  • Outside of the Lived-in Solar Cabin
    Fully outfitted with solar panels, a wind turbine, a garden, and a solar composter, LaMar’s cabin is completely debt-free, which allows him to pursue other creative endeavors.
    Photo by LaMar Alexander

  • Unfinished Solar Cabin
  • Kitchen and Appliances in the Solar Cabin
  • Living Room in the Solar Cabin
  • Front Porch of the Solar Cabin
  • Outside of the Lived-in Solar Cabin

I built my cabin about 15 years ago after a divorce and sudden illness left me homeless and broke. I had inherited a small piece of land from my family’s old homestead, and I set up camp on my property with an old camp trailer and truck. Working part-time while I cleared the land, I was able to save up $2,000 and designed a 14-by-14-foot cabin that I felt I could build by myself and that would function for my needs.

With the full loft upstairs, it has almost 400 square feet of living space. The ceiling height in the main floor and loft is 7 feet, so an average adult can stand comfortably.

The cabin structure is made out of mostly new materials and the walls are 2-by-4-foot lumber, while the floor and roof is 2-by-6-foot lumber. It has a tarpaper wind and water barrier and is fully insulated, with an insulation rating of R-13 in the walls and R-19 in the floor and roof. When possible I bought blemished boards and asked for a bulk discount from suppliers.

To keep costs down, I used recycled, double-pane, low-e glass windows and steel-insulated doors that I salvaged from an abandoned house that was being demolished.



For cabin trim and a porch I used log supports and rough-cut lumber from our local lumber mill and recycled cedar fence boards for the cabin’s interior trim.

After the cabin was built I salvaged all of the appliances and other items from my old camp trailer: sink, stove, fridge, lights, water pump, propane tanks, shower, and lots of wiring and plumbing. Because they are smaller they fit the cabin perfectly and so did not cost anything.






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