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

OMG, it works!


It’s amazing that all the framing lumber for my cabin will fit in the bed of a pickup truck. I drove up to the mountains on Saturday, alone, to put up my cabin over the long Columbus Day weekend…


Morning: Drive in weekend traffic to the mountains, hit the local Lowe’s to load up all the lumber, nails and supplies. Took 2 1/2 hours to load up a cart, pay, load lumber into truck, repeat this process for 4 lumber carts and one shopping cart.

Afternoon: Unload, layout the wood and tools, set up the new generator, have late lunch, enjoy the view.

Evening: Too dark too soon, exhausted from the 3 hour drive and moving all that wood. Drink beers & star gaze for hours.



Morning: A trip to the local lumber yard to get the 10 roof rafters. Since they’re 16′ long, they’re too unwieldy to transport on the freeway and through town. With a 6′ long bed (8′ with the tailgate down) it’s pretty hilarious that they’re as long as the truck.

Afternoon: I wanted to put up the most difficult wall first. The front wall of 8′ high windows requires a double 2×12 header to span the 7′ of open space. I also need to use 4×4 supports and frame the wall with 2×6’s. This will be one heavy wall. It takes me several hours to lay it all out, measure twice, cut, nail and admire.

The “DUH!” moment comes when I realize this wall is too heavy to lift (and I’m alone in the middle of nowhere).

After much thought (and a beer), I devise a way to use leverage to get it up. I can get the corners up about 6″ before my back starts to scream. One corner at a time, I put progressively larger blocks of lumber under each corner and finally get one side of the wall onto metal sawhorses. This is exhausting.

I’m ready for the big push. I give a big “heave ho” and the entire wall slides off the deck onto the ground with a big THUMP.

Apparently I need to foot the wall.

Using the “see-saw” effect, I manage to get it back onto the deck. I then nail some 2×6 vertical blocks onto the foundation to keep it from sliding when I lift it up. I repeat the wood block dance, corner then corner, then the saw horse dance til the wall is leaning up waist high. I am once again exhausted.

Using 2x4x’s I go from corner to corner, tilting the wall up and blocking it into place by wedging the 2x4s into the dirt. Since the double-deck is 18″ off the ground, I soon swap out to 2x4x10’s, then 12’ers until the wall is tilting up at more than a 45 degree angle.

I feel great. The human mind has overcome the 800 lb. wall! Now the final push to tilt it fully upright.

I gather up all the ratchet straps from my truck and loop them around the header, across the work area and onto the trailer hitch of my truck. I am going to use the power of the Chevy V-8 to hoist the wall.


OMG, it works!

The wall flips up and drops perfectly into position. Since it’s framed with 2×6’s it has a wide base and just sits there, upright and proud. I rush to secure some side braces and do my happy victory dance.

I need to get a second wall up to keep everything from collapsing in the wind. The second wall frames out quickly and is light enough for me to lift up into place by myself.


End of day 2 and I have 2 walls up. Beer time. Stargazing time. Damn my arms are sore.

The radio is reporting a big rain storm heading into SoCal on Monday night/Tuesday morning. 2-3 days of heavy rains are forecast for my mountain. I need to get some sleep and slam the rest of this puppy together tomorrow before the storm hits.

More beers, more stargazing, and btw, who’s hound dog keeps running through here all the time?

You can read my entire blog by clicking HERE!

12 responses

  1. Pingback: Tiny House Design , Archive » Urban Rancher Update

    • Michael, you’re too kind, thanks for all your support man!

      October 15, 2009 at 9:58 am

  2. How’s the budget after the wood purchase?

    October 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    • I’m on budget for the lumber, what I didn’t count on is the purchase price of replacement tools, blades, nails, etc. I’ll post more budget info in my next post!

      October 15, 2009 at 8:57 am

  3. karol

    well done walls and floor, keep on hard working and we’re waitting for more photos !

    October 15, 2009 at 3:16 am

  4. “Apparently I need to foot the wall.”


    Instead of painfully lifting the wall for the first bit you need a gin pole:

    Isle of Eigg Windmill Maintenance

    Still, excellent progress. Looking forward to hearing how you get on.

    October 15, 2009 at 3:53 am

    • True dat Ed, I guess I should have thought through the process a bit more but excitement sometimes gets the best of me!

      October 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

  5. You are doing good, I am going to build my self to but in smaller blicks och stickbuild.

    October 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm

  6. Dayle

    When I saw the pictures of your cabin on Tiny House, I couldn’t believe the similarity to the “shed” we are building on our farm. No house out there yet, so the shed will be used to house the tractor when we’re not there and us when we are! Check out our photos on

    October 15, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    • Hey Dayle, you have a gorgeous property, I love the tractor shed too. Isn’t it cool how fast the framing goes up? I have a feeling the finish work will take a tad bit longer though. I’ll def keep an eye on your blog!

      October 15, 2009 at 9:03 pm

  7. This is the one-year anniversary of the ground-breaking on our tiny house. Congrats on your start – looking forward to keeping tabs on it!

    October 16, 2009 at 7:13 pm

  8. Great project! Not that it matters now(!), but I just thought I’d say your 2×12 header is way oversized for the load it’s carrying, just a light roof load. A doubled 2×8 would have likely been fine, and much easier to heft upright, too.!
    Enjoy the cabin – it’s looking cozy.

    November 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s