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What would be the VERY BEST way for me to TRANSITION into my newly adopted off-grid, survivalist, subsistence lifestyle? Answered

A 16'x16'x16', 256-square foot, A-frame cabin on an elevated 3' concrete paver floating DekBlock foundation with a 3'x 6'8" front flush door, one rear 48"x 48"horizontal slider window, and another upper 24"x 24" horizontal slider window for the sleeping loft.

I'm thinking that one of those standard U.S. Stove designs might provide just a little too much heat for my needs up in the Copper River Basin region of ALASKA's rural backcountry. Who knows? What are your suggestions for the above described "habitat"? Where can I find the best deals for my 256-square foot space? (Heating/ventilation-wise, we're speaking of subzero temperatures and heavy snowfall, so, I don't believe that "opening a window" is a practical solution for me if it gets too hot and smokey inside my A-frame.)

Plus, I've done the HEATING ESTIMATE for the A-frame I'm going to build and the numbers come out to about a 620,000 btuh (heat loss) for the new dimensions I'm finally settling on: 16'x16'x16' or 256sq.ft.

This calculation is for -50 degrees F with cold floor, ceiling, and glass surfaces taken into account. (Insulation isn't a factor this early in the design.)

"Wow!" I thought at first. "A 620,000 btuh HEAT LOSS! I reckon you can never have too much stove even for an A-frame design." (Being that A-frame cabins retain heat so well, and that my sleeping loft may get really HOT in the Winter, this was a preliminary concern.)

(4) 8"- diameter cardboard cylindrical concrete forms for pin-point piers;
(4) 84" reinforcement rods for pin-point concrete forms;
(16) Bricks for base of footing;
(24) Layout stakes;
(8) 5' batter boards;
(1) Spool of wire for joining the two 14" reinforcement rods for each footing base;
(1) Spool of line for marking building layout lines;
(?) Bags of cement;
(?) Bags of gravel;
(?) Bags of sand...

*A few questions about the amount of concrete needed for the four footings and the four concrete piers: "How much concrete will be needed for four 8"-deep concrete footings poured into four 16"-diameter, 44"-deep holes with each containing four bricks and the four reinforcement rod supports? How much concrete will be needed to fill four 8"-diameter pin-point concrete pier forms to an estimated height of about 80"-inches? How many total bags of cement, gravel and sand (aggregate) will my foundation require? Most importantly, how much will it all cost?"

A-Frame Structural Triangle (Theoretical Dimensions):
Sides = 16'
Base = 16'
Angles opposite sides = 60 degrees
Angle opposite base = 60 degrees
Area = 110.85125168441 sq. ft.
Perimeter = 48 ft.

(2) 2"x 10"x 16' girders;
(12) 2"x 6"x 12' rafters;
(6) 2"x 6"x 8' joists;
(4) 2"x 4"x 4' collar beams;
(10) 4'x 4' plywood sheets for subflooring;
(2) 16' framing braces for structural support against wind damage;
(?) 3200-square feet of roof/wall sheathing material for exterior surface areas...

*A few questions about the amount of roof/wall sheathing material needed to cover the 3200-square foot exterior surface area: "How much exterior sheathing will I need? How much will it cost? I understand that metal sheathing is preferred in the Copper River Basin region for its snow-shedding ability, so, given everything I've just said, what are my options for the A-frame I recently designed?"

My total approach to this whole subsistence lifestyle (i.e. living off the land within a small, confined space) is probably all wrong.

I understand that I might need to change my complete "mindset" and adopt a sort of NAUTICAL (or MARITIME) theme with my decor, furnishings and appliances.

Since I'm really getting into boats anyway (my one chosen option for escaping the bitterly harsh winters of ALASKA's COPPER RIVER BASIN if all else fails), I feel that marine stoves, composting toilets, and an overall nautical aspect in the "finish work" might help me cope since sailboat cabins tend to be tiny, and I may need to transplant a lot of what I have to my seagoing vessel, "Vera Essie".



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Best Answer 11 years ago

Is it an option to build the cabin into a hillside or otherwise underground? This would cut down on your insulation needs enormously.

Another option to reduce (eliminate?) heating and insulation needs would be to use a single piece of polyurethane foam with no seams (other than the door and windows). This manufacturer has some impressive praise for the technique. Wikipedia mentions a few of the shortcomings.

As far as maintaining a survivalist and subsistence lifestyle goes, at some point you will probably need to either "cheat" or to find a like-minded neighbor who you can get along with. To live off the land in such a harsh climate it will be difficult enough in any case; you probably do not want the added complications of having nobody but yourself to depend on. Life on the edge of survival is not conducive to individualism.


Answer 11 years ago

Comrade, what is meant by the word, "CHEAT"? If you mean POACHING or otherwise THIEVING a la William Moreland, then that's a non-starter because I do qualify for a subsistence hunter's license, and I'd much rather play by the rules anyway. Plus, I believe a DOG is probably the greatest survival asset a man could have in such a harsh environment as Tazlina -- in lieu of good neighbors, that is: "Arfff-Arfff! Grrrrrrr!" And, with BROWN BEARs being quite common, good neighbors are few and far between in the locating. -WSDBinns


11 years ago

Thanks-A-Million, Comrades! Great suggestions. I'll let you fellas know ASAP how it all works out: This winter is guaranteed to be colder than a bee-yatch!!! -WSDBinns


11 years ago

. I'm with frollard - you've really done your home work. . I can't offer anything you don't already know or will soon find out from further research, but I'll mention a few things anyway. . If you are burning wood or other "dirty" fuel, you need to be careful about the buildup of creosote and other flammables in the flue piping. . A fan should help bring the loft temp down if it gets too hot. Bring some cooler air up from the floor. . Don't seal the house too well. You want some fresh air, especially if you have a fire going. But I guess you don't want a lot of 50 below air, either. . Good luck!


11 years ago

I see you've done a lot of research - there are tonnes of ways to search for cutting back. For your house - insulation, more is more :D Insulate the snot outta that thing!!!