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

All I need now is a lawn deer, a 30′ long pole and a terracotta bunny with a gingham basket

Well it’s been a monumental weekend up on my mountain. I finished the siding on the front window wall (I think it looks just grand!), I added onto the front deck (Margaritas anyone?), and I WON A WIND TURBINE from the Jetson Green contest (OMG, I’m gonna faint!!!!!)

Being a low-key dude, I thought I’d talk about the challenges of completeing the work on my cabin, then work in a reference to winning the turbine but I’m so excited, I gotta go outta order…

I didn’t get back into LA until almost 11pm on Sunday night. After all the weekend’s heavy lifting, the whole “dog drama” thing and being exhausted, I still decided to check my email before collapsing in bed. The first email I see is from Preston at Jetson Green, I won a 400 watt wind turbine in their online contest!

Now I’ve been a fan of Jetson Green for a while now and I entered the contest on a lark (I never win anything and I REALLY need some off-grid power so there was no way I’d actually win). This small turbine will be PERFECT to power my tiny cabin. I get a fairly constant breeeze blowing through the valley and the 400W micro unit looks easy enough for me to install and maintain!

I’ll need to get a tower to put the thing on but I’m sure my crafty mind will figure something out. In the meantime, I’ll post updates on my progress. Thanks ever so much to Preston Koerner at Jetson Green, Sam’s Club for sending the unit and to all the folks who have been so supportive of my efforts!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now back to our regularly-scheduled tiny house building blog…

…so after NOT getting a huge high-paying job (they said I was a shoe-in) and then NOT getting a lower-budget but very cool TV job (they said it was mine if I wanted it), I decided to split town and nurse my bruised ego by doing more construction on my cabin in the blazing, punishing, self-flaggelating sun.

My first task was to re-skin the front wall with roofing felt. The tar paper was wearing down after a harsh winter so I stapled on a new layer over the old.

Next up, I needed to finish closing in the side eaves. I ran out of energy last trip so I never got to finishing them.

Once these 2 tasks were done, it was time to install the ship-lap siding on the window wall.  I simply set the lowest piece so that it was level (to the eye) and nailed it to the wall. Each strip simply sat on top of the previous one. In a stroke of pure luck (I sense a theme starting here) the side pieces were exactly sized to the height of the window AND the soffit so that I didn’t need to cut any partial sections. It basically went up in 20 mins and fit exactly, to a “tee”!

The next day was to be crowned “Deck Expansion Day”. It was changed to “Barking Dog Day” at 5:45am.

A pair of hound dogs on a nearby mountain (I’m not pointing fingers at my neighbor Bob, I’m just sayin’…) started HOWLING and BARKING at 5:45am. Now they’re quite far away and in the woods where I cannot walk or drive (to shoot them) but dang they be LOUD. They barked constantly until exactly 8:15 when they were quiet and not heard from again (did my other neighbor pay them a visit with a machete? I’m just sayin…).

The barking-festval got me up and out (and a headache) earlier than normal. I was hard at work moving lumber around by 7am, crack-o’-dawn by my watch.

I wanted a deck to run under the window both for visual appeal and comfort. I thought it would be good to build an outdoor fireplace in front of the window, one could then sit on the edge of the deck and enjoy the fire up close and personal, while the more “city-mouse” types could enjoy the fire through the window.

I cut and pre-painted the lumber with Olympic Solid Stain and Wood Protector, Autumn Brown color. I leveled and set concrete blocks as footings, packing in gravel when they were level.

I laid the pressure treated 4×4’s and the 4×6 frame down and attached it all with Simpson Connectors. Notice that I built the deck in 2 sections (there is a split at 9′ over). Since the deck is NOT attached permanently to the earth, it will be easier to maintain the deck if I can turn the sections over and paint them underneath, plus the free 4×6’s I got were only 9′ long and the deck is 14′ long!

I hammered on the deck boards, moved the scrap lumber piles, raked and cleaned up the area and Abracadabra, the outside is almost complete. I only need to paint the door frame, add some trim boards, get a lawn deer and some terracotta bunnies with flowers and my tiny house will look like a tiny home!

just for reference, here’s the original SketchUp design I did last October…

of course, the interior is whole other story…

8 responses

  1. Congratulations!!! Can’t wait to see the turbine installed.

    May 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

  2. Pingback: All I need now is a lawn deer, a 30′ long pole and a terracotta … | Wind Power Guide Blog

  3. Pingback: Tiny House Design , Archive » Urban Rancher Wins Wind Turbine!

  4. ET

    Your house is coming together very nicely.
    One person doing all this by himself is an inspiration.

    May 11, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  5. danny

    can you post the plans that u used so others can build one too?

    May 12, 2010 at 7:38 am

    • There were no plans Danny, I made it up as I went along. I do have some carpentry skills and movie set building experience so that definitely helped.

      If you read back through the blog, there are enough notes and pictures for someone to replicate it. Whenever I needed to know how to do some aspect of the build that I was unfamiliar with, (installing metal roof, squaring the door, putting up insulation & drywall, etc…) I looked it up on the Internet.

      I simply framed everything out at 16″ on center, using a house framing book I bought (it’s in an early blog post). I used pressure treated lumber for the lower floor deck, and I framed out the walls according to the door and windows I had. When it came to the roof, I just made it 12’w x 16’L so there would be a nice overhang on a 10’x12′ building, and again, framed it out at 16″ on center.

      The ONLY change I would make if I did it again, would be to line up the roof rafters with the vertical wall studs on the 2 weight-bearing walls (front window wall and back wall). If you look at my framing pictures, the rafters are off-set by several inches. This is because I laid them out from the wrong end… I should have been more consistant with my framing layout (maybe I should have spent more time doing plans, LOL)!

      Good luck man, let me know if you do build one. You’re welcome to email me at if you have any specific questions!

      May 12, 2010 at 9:20 am

  6. Congrats on your windmill!
    The deck and exterior is looking good—can’t wait to see the interior get going and see how you deal with the space.
    Your writing here is hilarious–I totally feel you about the hounds, we have some as neighbors about 25′ away.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

  7. Pingback: finally! « Kate McKinnon

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