From the Ground Up Build a Camp/ Cabin

So living in Florida is beautiful, however needing a place to hang your hat, cook a meal, sleep, etc. is sort of important. We have a piece of property that we love to spend time at, but the camper thing was getting old. We used our motorhome, but wanted more permanent...so we started by getting a free old park edition trailer, rebuilding it and enjoyed it for a few years, but you can only do so much with old junk, and time is starting to take its toll...and we wanted more. The property is 27 miles out of town, a mile off the road, with no utilities, so off the grid and efficient is a must. We built a pole barn with the intention of using the poles as part of our cabin/house but hurricane Irma twisted the entire barn over 2 feet, so square was impossible. So, instead of starting over, we decided to just build inside! We had plenty of ideas, and friends had many ideas, all which actually delayed starting partly due to cost and partly trying to decide which would be best. We finally decided on the plan, and only changed it twenty or a zillion times before we actually dug the first hole. I want to give special thanks to a great friend, Darin...whose help is the only way we have gotten this far. He motivates, dives in every day to help and has plenty of ideas to make it easier and better. Also thanks to all those great friends that stop by and offer help, or just drink a beer and give moral support, and that guy that isn't afraid of getting 12' off the ground and walking a 3 1/2 inch beam like it was a stadium floor, Ian.

Step 1: Digg'in, Placing Posts and Floor Framing

We decided on a raised floor (about 3 feet) for a few reasons. Number one, if a big storm comes through, we wanted plenty of height above our flat ground, as Irma showed us that it could flood out here a little. Number two is ease of plumbing when we really weren't sure of the floor plan yet. So, I grabbed my chain saw, cut 20 telephone /power poles and started putting them in the ground. The we started talking to a neighbor that did concrete and decided on a slab...so out with them...geez. Wasted a bunch of labor and at the end had nothing to show but a bunch of poles cut. We hemmed and hawed for a while and I said to heck with it, bought 6x6 pressure treated posts and started digging again. There are 5 rows of 5 posts, with 3 more in the middle which I planned on being under the main bearing wall. Each post is 3 feet in the ground with a bag of concrete in each to lock it in. We squared them all using the 3-4-5 method, and the outer dimensions came out to be roughly 31'x 30'. We then used pressure treated 2x8's for the main framework, doubled and sandwiched with 1/2" OSB all glued and screwed together from both sides with 3" x 9 deck screws. (you will note that during the entire build we used glue and screws, no nails) All of the outer framework is those beams, and the center boards are doubled and glued and on each side of the posts. Each of these beams was glued and lag bolted to the 6x6 posts. In later photos you will see the completed framework. of course we used a laser level to make sure they were all level.

Step 2: Step Up to the Floor & Insulate!

As we placed so many posts and beams, the longest span for a floor joist is 7'6" so 2x6 syp was used for the joists, with each one hung in strong tie hangers and screwed to the frames on 16" centers.. Overbuilt? Yup. Now the fun starts. I, as you may or may not know am a hunter of deals...much more on this subject to follow; but I found 13"x 13 x 20" styrofoam blocks for free and decided I would build the largest igloo cooler on the planet. So we made a jig with a few scraps of 2 x 6 and some stainless steel tie wire, used jumper cables to heat the wire and cut all of it into 14 1/2" x 4" pieces (over 512!) and glued it in between every joist. Talk about take some time! WIll make the floor quiet and it is well insulated. Then on to floor sheathing. I used OSB tongue and groove sheathing...and once again glued and screwed every one to every floor joist using exterior grade deck screws. . No squeaks in our future! You will notice between steps floor turned white, that is because not only did we seal it, we coated it with two coats of water based acrylic elastomer system to ensure the floor would stay flat without lifting or absorbing water while we build. Plus it also eliminates the chances of water intrusion later if a sink or any other water leak arises. We also filled all the seams with it for the same reason. It has repeatedly rained since installing the flooring, and no signs of problems. This product is used on roofs of commercial buildings, I am a certified installer and know first hand from use in motorhomes that flooring adhesives will adhere, so when we tile and put down our Pergo style flooring it will work. At the same time, we built a 10x30' deck facing east so we can enjoy breakfast outside, and in the afternoon heat we'll be in the shade. That's important here. Also it will be screened in and have an outdoor kitchen.

Step 3: Walls

Because of the extreme heat and storms here, I wanted the walls to be strong, so I opted for 2x6" with a double plate on top. But, as always I decided to over do it. I went with 12" centers instead of the normal 16", and hey; it only used 5 or 6 more boards per side, so cost was no issue to make it so much stronger. We laid the walls out on the floor, and as you can see in the pictures I even set the windows in to size before standing up. We did the long walls in two parts, as with only two of us normally available the weight was a factor. As we swung up the first half we glued it to the floor and used 3" deck screws to fasten it down...about a zillion of them. We then raised the other half and placed our second 2x6" top plate over the seam to strengthen it all.. we repeated this for all of the walls, and framed the door openings at the same time. We built the gables out of 2x6's at the same height and pitch the roof will be. These also include triangular openings for custom windows I found at "Habitat For Humanity" for 75 bucks for 8 of them. We made our door headers out of 4 2x6's glued and screwed into a box beam. It is hard to see in the picture, but the layout has an open design, with one major bearing wall about in the middle of the floor ending in the kitchen. So the first interior wall had to be the center one, as it will hold the 4x4" beams for the roof. It was the first wall not out of 2x6's, however it is still put together with screws not nails. We built it 12' tall with a double plate on top, as it will have the 4x4's screwed to it. We also installed the pocket door frame at the same time, and the header there was 3- 2x4's.

Step 4: Beginnings of Open Beam Ceiling/ Roof

I purchased 32-4x4"x 16 pressure treated beams to use not only for aesthetics but also to support the "roof". I put that in quotes as it is a roof that is inside another roof, so the requirements are a little different than most. It has to look good, be strong and water tight of course, but it is seldom ever going to see the sun as the barn roof gable will be covered upon completion also. So I measured the beams and found the angle for my matching cut to be 13 degrees, however as the support wall is 4' off center (see the floor structure photos and you will see that I wanted it to screw through the subfloor into the double 2x8's with the 1/2" sandwich in between. So I cut each beam, mixed up a color on my mixing station (yup, I bought one from a hardware store that was bought out and changed suppliers) and painted them all. Then, with help from people that actually can climb a ladder without their knees knocking we installed them on 24" centers, starting from the outside of the outer gables. We then used a 6" lag screw in each to attach to the outside wall, and will install hurricane straps also. They will be redundant, but what the heck......More to come! This is a work in progress, and is happening right now as money and time allow. Stay tuned......

Step 5: Design Within the Space

So as you will see in the rummage, search, scavenge, wheel and deal...we bought a kitchen, so before we put the walls in around that end, we test fit it with our appliances. Although hard to see, it gave us an idea of how the walk in pantry will fit behind it, as well as our matched refrigerator and freezer.

Step 6: Let the Walls Begin!

So now it starts to take shape...and get hotter to work on also. We started by installing the Tyvek vapor barrier with a few zillion staples, starting with the bottom so it overlaps. We then tape the seam with Tyvek tape to finish the wall. Then, setting my skil saw at 13 degrees I shave 1/4" off the top of each piece of t-111 so it will match the 4x4's for the roof joists. After that, we lift them into position and install with screws being sure the first and each subsequent piece is level and square to the floor. We will prime and paint prior to cutting out the window openings, less mess and easier.

Step 7: Rummage, Search, Scavenge, Wheel and Deal...

I am a searcher for stuff...no idea what stuff, but stuff non the less. Here is a list of just the stuff I can remember used in this build and in the future installments

32 sheets t-111 for 200 bucks...normally sells for 25 bucks a sheet. Saved $600.00

Purchased entire replaced stock from local hardware for $2500.00, using screws, hardware and hundreds more things. Saved: zillions You can't even imagine how many trips to town, forgot that...I've saved myself and neighbors from.

40 sheets roofing osb with reflective side another 300 bucks, it sells for over 30 bucks a sheet Saved $900.00

250" 14-2 romex, 250' 10-3 romex, 25' 8-3 romex for $50.00 retails for over $300.00 saved $250.00

Complete kitchen, counters, sink, new faucet, and dishwasher $50.00...Saved a bunch and will sell the dishwasher so all for free. We will use for mock-up or use.

Stainless dishwasher, new $249.00 retail $699.00 saved 450.00

Stainless gas stove $200.00 retail 1,499.00 saved 1,299.00 (it was used though)

Frigidaire stainless steel refrigerator with separate freezer 2 days labor rebuilding a deck retail $3,700.00

Corner shower/tub/jacuzzi combo with curved glass doors, led lights and 6 shower heads $100.00, retail 2500.00 (needs a little work as someone stole the copper pipes) still a deal.

6500 watts of solar panels $450.00 retail 4,000.00 plus the brackets that were included, saved 3,550.00 (used until Irma, then roof needed replaced so owner upgraded to larger system)

5 new argon filled hurricane rated "e" rated windows $100.00 retail 2,500.00 saved 2,400.00

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