Me? Build a Cabin?

First Cabin

First Cabin


I never expected to build a cabin. I really thought I was going to be a Rancher’s Wife and not even one of the ones that helps out, outdoors, either. I was going to be perfect Susie Homemaker, keeping the house spotless, the meals on time and maybe do the gardening. Of course children would be the perfect ‘seen but not heard’ kind, coming along 2 or more years apart at least 4 years after I got married. As babies, they would sleep a lot. Ha.  God is really laughing about all that.

As I thread my way through the clutter in my home, I think of how clueless I was. It is probably a very good thing I could not foresee the future. I did get to do a lot of gardening, so there is that. Besides, perfect children would have been so boring. I got interesting children instead. Children that thrived on 2 hours of sleep a night.

My first experience in using a hammer was to build an Arctic entryway on the house the Toad and I owned near North Pole, Alaska. Surprising enough, it did not collapse or fall off the house.

My second experience in building was a semi-underground log cabin. (See picture above) I was still extremely afraid of ladders, so built, placed vapor barrier, insulation, dirt and built on some more until I could step off the bank onto the roof. Yay, no ladder needed on the entire project. It was a case of build or lose the property as it was a Homesite.

My third experience in building was a frame cabin. 16’ x 20’ with a partial loft. It was supposed to be the first of many small rental cabins with the rent paying for construction of the next cabin and so on.

I started that project in January 2001, after a warm spell about 45 degrees F. made it possible to start my old Dozer. I cleared the snow and brush away from an area not in the way of anything else planned. A Pulaski and muscle made semi-level pads to place pier blocks on as a foundation. A small sawmill in Fairbanks provided rough cut lumber at a reasonable price so I made the floor deck of 2×6’s, then insulated between the joists and added a plywood deck.

Well, that wasn’t so bad now, was it? The Grouch stopped by a couple of times and helped out but usually told me how it was never going to work, it was all going to slide down the hill during break-up and other helpful tips.

I kept on going. Using rough cut 2×4’s, I built the wall frames. A friend helped me raise the beam across the top of the walls to support the loft floor. I used 2×4’s 12 inches apart for the floor upstairs as I didn’t have the money to buy any more 2×6’s. Then it got scary. I needed to use a ladder to work on the upstairs. I was really running out of supplies by this time, so only built one side wall, 4 feet high, then the end gables, using a ridgepole for rafter support. I was able to get rafters and the same friend did help out by putting the rafters and metal roofing on. I house wrapped and insulated it without any siding on the outside.

The small sawmill had rough cut slab boards that I bought to use as siding on the outside walls and it sturdied up the building a lot to have some nailed up all around the outside. I couldn’t reach very high, while holding each board, so would place a nail in just enough to hold one end of the board while I nailed the other end in place, nailed that one and pulled the nail to use for the next board. Once I got to the highest I could reach, that was it. No more siding, just house wrap above that. The windows were easy to place. I had some on hand and used their measurements while building the walls, then just slid them into place. I bought 6 of them and one was given to me. I started sheetrocking the downstairs, even though I dislike sheetrock. It was very cheap, less than $4 a sheet.

A lady and her daughter came up from Florida to visit and my Granddaughter was staying with me, so the two girls taped and mudded the sheetrock.

I made a spiral staircase for the small loft. It was a royal pain as I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but it is still working, 14 years later. I put part of it up, The Grouch and his son did put the rest of it up.

I nailed plywood up for the ceiling. That was fun. I played tour Guide for a nice man visiting from Utah with his son, taking them to Valdez fishing. When we returned, they build a small bathroom downstairs and sheetrocked it, too.

The cabin wasn’t even finished when The Grouch moved in and has been in residence ever since with a brief bout of moving back to Pennsylvania, never to return, although he was back here quite soon. The first 3 1/2 years he was on payroll so the cabin was part of his pay. When he started getting a monthly check, he paid rent a few months.

Since that third cabin, I seem to always have some sort of building in progress. Mom sold her house, sent the money up and we built her a home. Then I built a shop, then we built my Daughter a house. We are still working on my Grandson’s house. We are also still working on a small gift shop, a very small rental cabin, both using mainly salvaged materials. I kind of like building. I still don’t like ladders but I use them anyway.