Microshelters (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen explores the most creative, clever microshelters out there and what makes them work. Diedricksen also gives plenty of tips for supply scavenging, building and decorating a tiny home. This excerpt comes from chapter 2, “Backyard Cabins, Camps & Hideaways.”
You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Microshelters.
I designed this little cabin on the fly for a communal build workshop I held deep in the woods of northern Vermont. It’s off the grid and has as its only lighting a Coleman lantern and other candle and oil lamps. Because half of the roof is clear Tuftex polycarbonate, when the sun goes down this microstructure takes on a lanternlike appearance from a distance.
This 8 x 8-foot cabin is meant to be a simple, bare-bones, seasonal retreat in the woods, as well as a backwoods library of sorts. During future workshops, a pair of attendees could stay there and enjoy the sweeping view of the woods through its many windows. We dubbed it the Rock Bottom because it was built on the most meager of budgets, it happens to be downhill from our main camp cabin, and it sits next to a very large boulder, a giant glacial erratic that seems to stand as the cabin’s long-lost prehistoric relative.
All in all, the Rock Bottom cost a mere $300 to build, with many of its materials scavenged for free or acquired secondhand. The window in the door is a Pet Peek dome, designed to give pets a view through solid fencing, and it adds a little character to the front of the cabin. The multicolor chair inside also is made from what many would consider trash: barn boards and pallet wood. The front deck was yet another freebie. It’s actually a thick fence panel that Goodridge Lumber in Albany, Vermont was tossing out. After I reinforced it from below with more free lumber, it was transformed into a nice spot where I could survey the landscape with a cold beverage while tending the nearby campfire.
What I particularly like about the Rock Bottom is its simplicity. It’s basically an easy-to-build A-frame that’s been lifted onto short knee walls to create a little more space inside. The deck is proof that if you keep your eyes peeled and are willing to wait a little bit or think outside the box, the solution might be right under your nose. Better yet, that solution just might be a free one. The low windows come with the risk of being kicked out, but when you’re stretched out in a sleeping bag, they offer a unique ground view of the forest floor and the landscape downhill.