Can a city boy build his dream homestead on a mountain, by himself and with no mortgage?

Consultations with experts lead to loftier ceilings and warmer feet

The cabin as seen from the trailer

I apparently know more high-end carpenters than I thought!

Two buddies (both were home builders/framers in former careers) have shown me ways to frame the cabin so that I can have the insulated, vaulted ceiling I wanted AND be able to insulate the floor without vermin nesting in my insulation. The “2 roof” design was presenting some problems so I’ve decided to go with a single “shed-style” roof and closed-in, angled side-walls.

With the old double roof, I foresaw critters nesting in the narrow end of the gap and I didn’t like the thought of screening in the sides. It’s always been a constant battle keeping mice, wasps, squirrels and birds out of the trailer and I REALLY wanted a 9′ high vaulted ceiling inside. Although the new exterior look is not as dramatic, the interior will be WAY more interesting.  I always planned to add redwood decking and an arbor to the exterior. These elements will MORE than make up for the simple roofline.

My first order, according to Mark from San Diego, is to frame out another floor structure (using 2×4’s) on top of the existing deck. Pink fiberglass insulation will go between these new floor joists then I’ll cover it with a second layer of 3/4″ plywood. This will give me (from the ground up) an air gap, 2×6 joists, 3/4″ T&G ply, 2×4’s with insulation, more 3/4″ ply, and wood laminate flooring.  Mass, air and insulation will keep the floor VERY warm in winter and cooler in summer. I just salvaged the extra plywood from a discarded movie set, the 2×4’s will only cost $35 and the insulation is about $100. I can easily make up these new costs in the savings from building only 1 roof.

Nate (a guy I work with) laid out a plan to use 4×4’s to support the front glass window wall so I can span 2x8x16′ rafters from that 9′ high wall to the 8′ high rear wall. This will give me a dramatic 30″ overhang on the front of the building and enough room above to insulate the ceiling with fiberglass.  The cabin will now have only 2 load bearing walls (front and rear) so I can simply fill in the angled tops on the sidewalls with 2×4 short-ends.

When I was in Lowe’s I bought the  “Ultimate Guide to House Framing” by John D. Wagner.


It is proving to be an invaluable resource with clear, easy to understand drawings, photos and instructions.  This book has easily helped me overcome my fear of cutting angles so I now feel totally confident I can handle this project.

On Thursday I head to the mountain to put up dem walls!

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