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

Drinking beer is way better than installing drywall

The weather report was magnificent for this past weekend so on Friday morning, I headed up to the mountain. I want to get the drywall up so I can finish the interior and actually start using the cabin. I stopped at Lowe’s and loaded up the truck with 11 sheets of 1/2″ drywall, joint compound, trowel, screws plus the utility connecting stuff I need, out the door for $158!

Before I put up the drywall I needed to mount the phone and electric outlet boxes on the outside. To keep the cabin “street legal” as a storage shed, it can NOT be attached to any utilities. I’ll get around this by using a male power inlet for a hookup to the generator (eventually solar panels).

These 2 exterior boxes back right up inside to the interior outlets, each required only a small hole drilled through the siding to minimalize critter and insect access. A touch of caulk and it be done.

The concept of sheetrock is simple. Lay out the full sheets on the open expanses of wall and then cut and fill-in the rest. News flash…drywall is easy to cut in theory but rarely cuts cleanly in the field. It’s heavy, dusty, chips and breaks easily, never fits the first time, and is never flush with the adjacent pieces.

Full sheets seem easy enough to hang as long as your studs are on 16″ centers. A 4×8 sheet should just fit perfectly against the studs. This is a lie. None of my sheets fit as they were intended.  While all my studs were 16″ on center, the ends of the framed walls ran past the perpendicular walls so that my alignment was always off by an inch or two. I was forever shaving and adjusting sheets so I could share the studs with each adjacent sheet.  In other words, a gigantic pain-in-the-a**.

I used 1 5/8 course-thread drywall screws. This was the easiest and most reliable part of my task.

The angled ceiling presented me with the opportunity to cut long, angles sheets to fill in the gaps above and simultaneously hate that my walls were not all 8′ high.

Once all the gypsum was up, I needed to test the ports. I plugged the generator into the outside power inlet and my circular saw ran beautifully off of the inside plug!

By the time I was finished with the installation, I decided I never want to see another piece of drywall as long as I live. This grouchy-pants attitude prevented me from taping and spackling the seams. Screw it. This will have to wait for another day. For now, I hate sheetrock and love Stella Artois.

While sipping my third Stella, I noticed that my once gorgeous siding boards on the back wall had warped and were separating. I guess my experiment in using the cheapest fence boards possible has ended in failure. Combine this developement with the fact that the tar paper on the front window wall is staring to fray tells me I better get the exterior siding finished stat.

Installing cedar shiplap siding on the front and back walls before the sun burns the tar paper off. Woohoo, sounds like a party!

I put the word out to my buddies.  in 2 weeks, be there or be square.

bring Stella.

17 responses

  1. Grant Wagner

    Congradulations on the major step. I know that any form of finish work in a major PITA.

    One thing I would suggest. If you truely want to go solar, or even get the most of your generator, put a extra utility box up with heavy duty 12V connectors. Get used to 12V power useage. Anything with a wall wort can be replaced with an automotive type general adaptor, and lights can be bought as 12V. Even putting a good deep cycle battery or a pair of golf cart batteries between your loads and your generator will let you use your genny sparsly, and at maximum effecentcy, while still giving your a solid 24H/day of use. If/when you do go solar, you’ll still need the batteries, and stepping up to 120V causes a lot of conversion waste, especially if you go back down on the other side of the wall. Also, remember that automotive type 12V plugs are limited to about 10Amps, or 120 watts, so at least to go into the space, you’ll want something a little more solid.

    April 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

    • Thanks Grant,
      As much as I’m grateful for 12V power (I have it in the trailer), I really want 120V available to power a TV, satellite, and even a small heater and a/c unit when the weather demands. I can’t have permanently installed solar power on the building, that’s considered an “attached utility” in my county. A larger power box is a big red flag to the inspectors.

      My plan is to eventually build a battery hut nearby. The batteries will be charged by a solar array. The hut will feed power to a 12V water pump as well as underground lines running to all my small buildings. I can either add a 12V power inlet or simply convert the 120V plug to a 12V one when the time comes!

      April 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

  2. Most awesome cabin. An unfortunate insulation gap next to your outlets, however. Ceiling drywall usually goes up first unless you were planning on a different sheathing.

    N.B. I’m not criticizing, I’m just a straight shooter. I apologize if it sounds like the former.

    April 20, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    • no worries Brian,
      the insulation gap next to the outlets was there only while I was installing. I cut the fiberglass around the boxes before the gypsum went up so it’s all a nice snug fit!
      The ceiling is going to be t&g pine 1×6. I wanted to get the drywall up first since the lumber will give a cleaner edge.

      April 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      • Brian

        In that case I approve. Rather jealously, I may add…

        May 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm

  3. Doing it again, would you go for t&g on the walls as well?

    April 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  4. I have used fence boards(reclaimed)successfully, I used them in a rain screen siding system – – Let me know if you have any questions about using this approach.

    April 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    • Looks really beautiful Joseph! I think the mistake I made was not curing them for a few weeks in the sun first.

      April 20, 2010 at 7:12 pm

      • That will help, but what they needed was an airspace behind them so any water that got in the siding could evaporate. Rain screen siding also equalizes pressure so as to not draw in moisture.

        April 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

  5. Moontree Ranch

    Hiding insulation is always a good thing…I Got started on my cabin ceiling a few weeks ago…T&G Blue Stain Pine…all the inside will be that.

    Instead of Stella…we prefer Stone IPA

    April 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

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  7. leigh

    Dear sir , I really hope you answer this. I have a second baby on the way and have nowhere in the house to store my music equipmet. I can”t afford to employ someone to build or buy a kit for a garden room. I live in the city just by a tube station. But I am also surrounded by industrial estates where I can easily find materials. I was looking into building a house out of pallettes or reclaim. When you get into it there is loads on the net but they are mostly with pitch roofs and are not the shape I want . I was going through sites again today and up pops yours which is exactly what I have been drawing (or trying to) myself. I have built a few strutures in the that have worked ok but what really daunts me is the roof (and yours looks amazing. I don’t know the best way to get the angle in or or how to properly finish the edges for run off and leaks etc. Do you have any plans or drawings for the structurs you built I would happily send you some money through paypal if you can help.Kind regards. Leigh.London.UK.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    • Sorry Leigh but I don’t have any plans available. If you go back through my early posts, there are plenty of photos that show how the cabin was framed. The roof pitch was simple…The cabin is 10′ wide x 12′ long. I built the front window wall 1′ higher than the other 3 walls (9′ front and 8′ high on the sides and back). The rafters just sit up at that angle, they are 16′ long with a 32″ overhang on the front and about 12″ overhang on the rear. I secured the rafters to the wall frames using Simpson connectors.

      To finish off the edges, I simply framed out an additional 12″ wider than the building, measured out the openings and screwed on the facing.

      Hope this helps!

      January 3, 2012 at 6:40 pm

  8. Tim Hernandez

    Where did you find the male power inlet for your shed?

    May 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

    • I got the male inlet from Grainger. It’s actually a marine component, designed for a boat. I had to order it online and pick it up at the store in Burbank, cost was about $70. it’s an expensive little bugger!

      May 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

  9. We are building debt-free too, it’s a great feeling

    June 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm

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