Some Little Shack – Alone in the Woods

Hey party people! Sorry I’ve been pretty absent online of late. I haven’t been doing much writing, just building. I’m about 5 months in total on my house, and I know the blog has been a bit lonely, so here I am with a little update.

As you can see, I purchased a door mat. I don’t think I have to overstate the function behind that one, it’s not something to “pretty up” the house, but it sure does give it a sense of home anyway. The masonite I’m laying down isn’t going to handle wetness very well, so I’m trying to seal it also, but it never hurts to wipe off the wetness from outside.

I started this project as an idea in August. And I thought I’d do a little but of a recap. I’ve been sleeping out here in the wilderness every night, but I’m still holding the apartment to take care of a couple things until everything here is up and running. Wintertime itself means extra work to stay warm. The wood stove has been a blessing, but I was unprepared to be out here and had very little fuel stored up. That means making the choice between working on the house and cutting wood.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t had many days off from what was supposed to be a part-time job, and I’ve been full-timing it. I don’t mind, and the money definitely helps, but everything takes time. I spent around 30 “working days” through December of last year building this place, or around 240 man hours. Since then, an 8-hour workday has become rather meaningless, as I need to tend the fire, find wood, prepare food, etc. etc. There are time suckers hiding in every corner.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the projects that I’ll have lined up for this year, and the first novel I plan on releasing, which is far overdue on its journey. The focus this year is editing, and I feel I’m at a similar stage with the house. The walls are framed and mostly covered in drywall sheets now, and the last few details of construction are being hammered out.

Normally, I don’t think all of these steps would be such a bother, but when everything is off-grid and untethered, everything becomes a bit more complicated. Save for a few more switches and outlets, the wiring is pretty well done, so the next thing on the list is plumbing. Drainage is in place, but the high pressure side is going to take some tinkering. I started assembling some of the linkages for the pump, pressure tank, and filtering today. I still need to rig up outside tanks, figure out what to do about hot water, and run my main lines to the sinks and bathrooms (those red and blue things on the floor).

And speaking of bathrooms. I think I officially hate hooking up shower/tub combos at this point. Showers in general perhaps, not so much the tub. Everything in a shower mounts funny and has oddball connections. Once that part is done, the sinks should be cake, and for the moment, I’m trying this composting toilet thing, and it looks like it might work out, so that’ll be one less thing. I’m leaving the connections for a water toilet in place though, just in case.

For hot water, I’m considering an LP on-demand heater for space-saving and such. I won’t be using it much, so I’ll probably just rig up a 20 lb bottle for starters, and perhaps upgrade to a 200 gallon permanent bottle outside later on. The LP (liquid propane) will run my generator as well, so that would mean fewer gasoline fill-ups for it, plus cleaner internal workings. Cycling LP through it from time to time should act as a sort of carb-cleaner and reduce buildups.

People keep asking when I’ll be done. “Never” seems like a good answer, but my progress so far speaks for itself, and I only need to look at though rough trusses over my head to serve as a reminder of how much work has gone into this place, and how quickly it went up.

There’s nagging bits and pieces to finish up everywhere. I need to fix ALL of the drywall holes for electronics, mostly because I needed plug-ins for my stuff. This is why you don’t move into a house until the walls are done. Perhaps I should have focused on that before the wood stove and batteries. Lesson learned.

Basically, If I can get hot running water, store up about 1000 gallons (easier than it sounds because my catchment system is already in place), get my countertops installed (which includes finishing the drywall), then I’ll be ready to cut the cord with city living. I think.

Some other nice things to have: Rocks outside for driveway gravel; my road on the hillside is great, but the top is a muddy mess with all this rain. Appliances, such as a cooktop, little fridge, and a miniature washing machine would be nice. I’m also thinking about a little mini-bar/island between the kitchen counter and the entrance that will hide the waterworks, provide more vertical storage space, and give me a nice place for cereal in the morning.

After that, the world is my oyster. I have some big plans for storage around here. I keep telling myself to “think vertical.” I’ve given the windows alone much thought. My original concept was some over-sized sills in the six- to eight-inch range. I’ve since expanded on that idea, and now I’m thinking about adding a big top sill as well for extra storage up high, and adding little cubbies on the sides as part of the window surround, so each one will look like a little miniature entertainment center with a window instead of a television as the central accent.

I plan to make all of the shelving floor-to-ceiling, and I’ll build out my bed with a second tier for added storage, with another rack facing the wall and drawers underneath. Not much different from an offshore state room in that respect. Anywhere I can tuck a drawer, shelf, or little closet, I’ll put one. Every inch of wall space needs to be optimized to make the most of my 384 square feet of living space. The bathroom will have similarly little closets and cubbies as well. I made it six feet wide instead of five for a reason.

I also need to run power behind my stove. This will serve for the blower motor on cold days, and I plan on moving my cook top onto the stove in the summertime to free up a few more feet of counter space. That last bit I may or may not do. I’m planning a vertical wood rack as well to hold up to 1/6th of a cord at a time, which means fewer trips out to get a pile of firewood during the cold months. Right now I’ve been making little piles on the floor.

Those are just some of my ideas. I’m sure there will be more as things continue moving along. I love it out here, and I plan on being just as comfortable as any on-grid home, with far less waste and more focus on living my life.

There will be one certain thing that will stake my claim out here as permanent. The addition of animals. Once the early shakedown period is over, I’m going to get a few barn cats and build them a little insulated apartment in the pole barn. They should cut down on the critter population as work begins on my mobile chicken coop.

I expect this year will be quite the adventure, and I’m ready to take my first steps into the realization of a dream I’ve had for over a decade.


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Author: spottedgeckgo

Writer. Making my living on my pen, and working to turn a raw chunk of land into a future homestead.

2 thoughts

  1. Wow, it looks like things are moving right along. I’m impressed with your progress. I think sometimes people get these grand ideas, but once they start in on the project they realize they underestimated the amount of work it would take and the project gets pushed aside for other things. So, the mere fact that you’ve made it this far is quite a feat, and I look forward to the next update. You’re too far in to quit now. 🙂 Plus, fulfilling a decade-long dream has to feel satisfying. You’re going to make this process look too easy, Marty, and then everyone will think they can do it.
    I think it will be a day for celebration when you’re able to let go of the apartment. I just noticed I missed your 2019 goals, so I’ll have to check that post out.

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