I spent this past weekend down in Chico hanging out with my friends Keith and Stephanie (and their 3 cats), and designing my new hut. On my way down, I spent a few hours at Lowe’s (which had the best prices and selection in the area) gathering item numbers and prices on building materials I might use, then started a spreadsheet to keep a tally on how much of everything I’d need, and how much it’d cost. While designing the hut, I tried various permutations on building materials, and hut sizes, to try to minimize cost while maximizing HAI (Hut Awesomeness Index).
The hardest part was deciding on the dimensions, partially because it’s difficult to imagine how a certain amount of space would feel like. The best I could do was to picture myself in my current 6’x8′ hut, and try to imagine what it would look like if that wall were pushed back 4 feet, and that other wall was set back 2 feet, and the ceiling was 8ft high, or maybe 7ft high, with 2×4 trusses instead of 2×6, and if the window was there, there and there, with a ladder to the loft here, or maybe there… Yeah, it’s impossible. Our perception of space is affected by so many factors, including lighting, head room, colors, and little details like how many 2x4s are jutting out, that, at least with my lack of experience, it’s very difficult to try and anticipate the feel of the space.
At the end, I settled on a an 8ft by 12ft hut, with a 4ft by 8ft porch out front. There will be an 8ft by 8ft loft, set 8ft off the floor. I considered lowering the loft to reduce the overall dimensions (for lower cost and wind profile), but having extra headroom will make the place feel more spacious. The loft has “walls” about 16 inches high, and the apex of the 45-degree-pitch roof will be a little under 4ft above that, which means I should almost be able to stand up in the loft if I’m in the middle (one of the benefits of being relatively short, at 5’7″). The loft will have 1’x4′ sliding windows on 3 sides, for light and ventilation. For the lower level, I wanted to try using 4x4s spaced roughly 4ft apart, instead of the more typical 2×4 construction, since the studs would be exposed inside and having fewer bigger columns would look less cluttered than having 2x4s spaced 2ft apart. In general, I used lumber sparingly, hoping that my intuition would be right, though I’ll improvise as I go and add reinforcements where I feel would be needed.
Once my preliminary design was done, my spreadsheet said I’d need $1212 worth of supplies to start building. That didn’t include a few “optional” materials like a couple of windows I wanted (but didn’t need), or roofing panels (which they didn’t have in stock), and some small things like nails and brackets (which I could also get at the local hardware store). I printed out the final list, and headed to Lowe’s.
Fortunately, the sales manager was at the counter, instead of his minions. I asked him about discounts, and he told me that I could get a 10% discount if I got a Lowe’s credit card, or 20% if I was a business. I thought about it, and decided that I could call myself an independent contractor, and apply for the business account. Though, as I was filling out the application form, the manager offered to give me 20% off even if my application wasn’t accepted. Score! But, wait! That means I can reverse all those cost-cutting trade-offs I’d made! I can get more stuff! I hurriedly scratched out the app (I didn’t actually want the credit, if I was going to get the discount anyway), then started revising my order. I’d get treated lumber for the “foundation”. Hey, I’d get one of those windows on clearance for $90, which would now be $72. Actually, make that two windows. Oh, and let’s throw in more lumber. And a few 5lb boxes of nails. It turned into a veritable shopping frenzy. I was practically frothing at the mouth, as I rattled off item numbers. At the end, including tax and delivery (which alone was $139), the order came out to around $1350. Not bad.
I should get the delivery on Wednesday, though that’s no simple matter either. Since I don’t have a street address, they only put in my nearest town, and the driver will have to call me for precise directions to the dirt road (hopefully the driver will have a GPS, and I can give him the coords). The delivery truck almost certainly won’t be able to come up the last stretch of the dirt road to my camp, so I’ll probably get the driver to dump everything a few hundred yards away, and we’ll haul it the rest of the way by hand (or perhaps on the roof of my car).
Getting the materials ordered (and getting a nice discount), and knowing that they can deliver to my property has taken a load off my shoulders though. As long as the delivery goes smoothly, I can spend most of this week finalizing the design, working out the details, and relaxing for a bit before my friends show up on Friday. And then the real fun will begin. I’m excited.
My suggestion to you is instead of doing all the individual computations yourself, try going online and checking out Tiny Houses. You could build a really nice place with full schematics for not a terrible amount of money. It’s just a thought, or you could keep doing what you’re doing. It’s all ultimately up to you.
I think in general you’re right, and it’s better to use a professional design. Personally, for me, I enjoy the design process, and I prefer to design my own than use someone else’s design, because I have more control, and a better understanding of the thoughts that went into the design. I also make more mistakes when I do my own design, but I also learn more too, and that’s ultimately more important to me.
Good luck on your big build day, that’s cool you got a 20% discount and actually got some service at a big box store. Doesn’t happen here. When does the “hut” become a cabin? haha Hut sounds like something the big bad wolf can blow down!
Yeah, this one’s definitely approaching the hut-cabin boundary. We’ll see how it turns out. If it feels like a cabin when it’s done, I’ll call it that…
Glad you managed a discount. We don’t have Loews here so I have no experience with them. When we need lumber we go to a sawmill, and buy direct cutting out the middleman. Here in the northeast they are also a great source for true dimensional lumber, real 2″x4″. We do have a Home Depot but the quality of their merchandise is sometimes suspect. I enjoy your blog and am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
There’s a huge lumber mill a few towns over from my place too, though I just assumed they wouldn’t want to sell to me, since I’d only need a relatively small quantity. It might’ve been worth checking though. I also heard that there are “lumber mills on wheels”. They’ll come to your property and mill your trees, and take lumber as payment.
HAI seems high! Yay!
Sorry I won’t make it to your hut-raising party. Can’t wait to see your work-in-progress and final result. SO EXCITING!!! 😀
that is really good to know that the 20% discount is available to businesses. I have been contemplating a tiny house just like this in my backyard. Any chance you are willing to share the design and materials list?
I’ll probably post the design at some point, though I’ll build it first to see whether it’ll stand 😉 As for the discount, talk to the manager/supervisor. When I first talked to one of the minions, they didn’t tell me about it.
thanks! is this some kind of marketing strategy to keep my subscribed!?!? 😉
Kudo’s on the design.
My storage shed here at my house in CO. is 8 x12 good size to make use of 4 x8 sheet stock. I built it with about $1200 in materials…Home made doors and no windows. Inside I have large built in shelving on 2 walls.
Our cabin down is NM, is bigger at 12 x 20 with a loft at 6 x 12.
All of these materials were delivered over our rough in road by the Home depot fork truck…he drove each load about 1/4 mile with the “pony”…the semi truck was parked on our neighbor lot were he could turn around and such.
thats a nice looking cabin. i do like the simplicity of the lean-to roof but your sleeping loft looks a little too cozy for me.
the loft has the windows in it now so it it way better…it is the primary domain of the kids…the mrs and I sleep in the “dinnette” area…it makes a near king sized bed.
Guess it’s too late to throw out another alternative but what the hell.
How about a yurt (ger)? They look pretty cozy and frontier like. Good luck with the homestead.
Well, I’ve got 60 acres. Who says I can’t do a yurt somewhere down the line 😉
I miss your videos. I really like the Hut 2.0. My unfinished backyard workshop is 8 x 12 and has been sitting there with just a floor and two walls (unraised) for months, maybe even half a year. I think the biggest reason why I’m neglecting it is because I’m dreading the idea of raising those walls so I might end up building it from ground up like you are. Do you happen to have the plans for the Hut 2.0 that you could share with me? Or at least the Sketchup file? Thank you.
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