The Idea

January 18th, 2010 by KTU | Filed under 1. Cabin Plans and Design.

Completed shed from across stream (May 2009)

In Summer 2008 I had the urge to build something from scratch. I have owned some land in Southern Vermont for several years, including a very lovely spot next to a stream that cascades about 100 vertical feet into a beautiful river. The land borders the Green Mountain National Forest and is quite secluded, yet is accessed with a decent year-round road. The site is a 5 1/2 hour drive from my home in Philadelphia, so I don’t get there more than about five times a year.

The idea I had was to build a minimalist cabin, roughly the size of Thoreau’s Walden. I sought absolutely zero maintenance, a place I could forget about most of the year, and if I didn’t use it much wouldn’t cause much guilt. My wife doesn’t much like roughing it, and my boys were entering the teen years in which they have heavy¬† commitments on the weekend. Thus, I was pretty sure this was going to be my place. I sleep on the ground quite a few nights a year in various outdoor adventures, so a dry enclosed spot in the woods is luxury living for me when I’m on my own.

I also did not want to leave much of a mark on the land. After spending a few days kicking around the site and cutting a few trees down to expose some views, I came to the idea that I would build a 10′ x 16′ structure perched on a giant boulder at the high point on the site, about 100′ from the rushing stream, and a few hundred feet — via a winding little trail–¬† from the road.

Furthermore, I decided I could devote about two weeks over the Summer and Fall of 2008 to this project, hopefully involving my sons a bit in the process.

The challenge in sum was:

Build a “Walden” perched on a boulder a few hundred feet from the road, with less than 14 days of work.

That’s pretty much what I did.

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