Living off the Grid: Building an off the Grid Cabin for Winter for $300


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Categories: Building Methods

Building an off the Grid Cabin for $300

I think our biggest pride when it comes to building this cabin is that we were able to build it with little cash. We’ve been working diligently to find second-hand and reclaimed building materials for pennies so that we don’t have to run down to Home Depot every time we have a need for supplies. If we have quality homestead tools, then we can build just about anything if we can get the materials!

Most of the materials used to build this cabin came from our recent demolition project which resulted in us salvaging $7,000 or so in building materials. Just days after we finished salvaging materials from that demolition, we were putting screws through them to build this cabin. From that one demolition alone we were able to build the entire frame of this cabin, the roof (both the rafters and the metal roofing) and the siding.

We did the math and this tiny little cabin would have cost us around $3,000 if we were to buy the materials from Home Depot. If you’re willing to use time instead of money, you can often find great deals on materials like we were able to which can result in saving large amounts of money on your projects in the long run.

What We Had to Buy Retail

Even though we have been doing our best to find reclaimed materials for pennies, we still had to resort to the local building store for some supplies. We’ll let you know what those things were just because we can, and these are just more things to keep an eye out for so that you don’t have to buy them new:


  • Endless screws and roof screws: We used so many of these on this project. If you ever find a great deal on screws or someone wants to give you a bunch… take them and run!
  • Chimney: While we were able to find our wood stove for $200 on Craigslist during our first month on the homestead, we weren’t able to find any chimney parts, nor did we think about looking. We spent around $150 on our chimney, and that’s cheap! We are trying out the single wall stove pipe for now but may have to upgrade to double wall which will be even more expensive. That’s okay… at least we can use all of this on our future barn or home.
  • Plastic roofing: While we were able to pick up a handful of windows for pennies, they didn’t seem like they were going to fit well with our design, nor were we interested in doing additional work! We had the bright idea to use clear roofing as our windows. We were okay spending money on this because it allows a lot of natural light to come on, we were exhausted and wanted to end the project, and we really do like the look of it. We spent $80 on these panels.
  • Weather stripping: Because we built our cabin with reclaimed materials, many of them weren’t exactly to dimension which resulted in a lot of air gaps. That’s okay… but that did mean we had to buy some weather stripping. It’s cheap, but we had to buy it nonetheless.

The Importance of Starting with Small Projects

As we talk about frequently on this homesteading blog, when taking on such a large project (starting a homestead from scratch!), we can’t stress the importance enough of starting with small projects. While Jesse and I have been working together for quite a while now (we started on this 9 month house rehabbing project), are are still learning to work as a team. Whether we’re building a cabin such as this, sawhorses with leftover lumber, learning to cut down trees to mill for lumber, or building a deck for our RV, they are all of great importance and great learning opportunities.

Every project that we do together goes more and more smoothly. We built this entire cabin in 3-5 days (with help from Jesse’s sister of course!) and we were all really able to work as a team.

While part of us regrets not having the basic frame of our barn up by now, another part of us knows that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason and if we would have gone straight for the big project, it could have resulted in failure or great frustration, and we still may not have gotten it done in time.


Summary

We couldn’t be happier with how our first little cabin turned out! Even though we’ve lived in nicer homes before, we are extremely happy to see the cabin we built when we come up the driveway. We are really stoked that we are learning to build with the materials we have, and we own our cabin outright… no mortgage payment to deal with. In lowering our standards of living now, we are able to keep our eyes on the prize which is the building of our barn and eventually, our home. At the end of the day, all we really need is food, shelter, warmth, and love is nice too which our home has an abundance of. 

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