By William Edward Summers
Many like the idea of having a cabin tucked away in the woods where they can go to enjoy nature and get away from it all. How to keep the cabin safe from intruders and large animals when you are not there and how to afford it in the first place are two major questions.
“Sitting in front of a crackling campfire at a cabin is one of the great joys in life “ says William Edward Summers, principal of California and British Columbia based design firm William Edward Summers Creative Projects. Find a cabin solution that will not strain your budget. It can be a financially difficult to build a cabin or a remote retreat, yet many view having such a location as a necessity. Many more just want to have a place to get away to enjoy the wilderness. Making these desires a reality requires an affordable feasible solution that will be small and simple.
A rural cabin is a building that needs much different considerations than a typical city house. Often underestimated are the problems that can be caused by the creatures that live in a forest.
Consider these tips when constructing a cabin:
1) T-11 siding is an excellent building material, but some animals, like porcupines, are attracted to the glue used in manufacturing the plywood, so they will literally eat the siding. Some birds will peck holes in it which will allow entry to other critters and bugs. So if T-11 siding is used keep the nail spacing tight and be sure to use construction adhesive.
2) The gable ends are vulnerable spots, make sure that your blocking is flush with the siding. If in doubt turn to sheet metal or rat proof expanded mesh screens to cover any openings.
3) It is good in normal circumstances for a house to “breathe” a bit, but in this environment any vents will become access points for mice, flies, hornets, yellow jackets, etc… Keep vents to a minimum and screen well. Even ridge vents can become home to hornets, so add screening there also.
4) The rafter eaves are very attractive areas to critters so avoid open rafters at the eaves and close tightly. A drastic solution would be to have no overhang and frame the rafters flush with the wall. However this would create other problems with rain water unless there are gutters and downspouts to keep water off of the roof/wall joint as much as possible.
5) In areas with freezing, avoid ice dams by caulking the edge of the metal roof. If you don’t, an ice dam could build up from the gutter sending water under the roofing which can then freeze and rip the roofing off.
6) In areas with lots of snow, the chimney location needs special consideration. To avoid having the snow and ice build up and affect the chimney, place it as near to the ridge as possible.
7) The crawl space under the floor framing is prime space for critters, so a drastic but effective solution is to cover the underside of floor framing with sheet metal. At least use rat proofing expanded steel mesh as a minimum.
8) Exposed wood is always vulnerable to a variety of critters, so if it is pressure treated that will discourage many of them somewhat.. It also protects the wood from water damage.
9) Two legged prowlers will come upon your cabin at some time, so a reasonable goal is to make so difficult for them to enter that they might decide to look elsewhere. Frame the doors and shutters in heavy angle iron and use carriage bolts to close them when you are not there. A double layer of doors of some type, both securely locked will be even more discouraging to prowlers.
10) Create secret places inside the cabin for hiding anything well out of sight. Think about locations that are difficult to access, like in the attic where the rafters meet the wall.
11) Don’t use wood or roll on tar paper type roofing. There are a variety of bugs that would find this type of roofing an attractive place to locate. Steel roofing is actually best. Use flashing and screen any vents well.
12) When framing the cabin think about seismic and high wind conditions and use Simpson type metal fasteners liberally. Minimum locations for these include post caps and post bases, rafter/wall connections, and anchor bolts. Don’t rely on nails only to solve serious structural solution.
13) A root cellar has been considered a best practice for storage by past generations and is something to consider when building. It is possible to create a small hand dug root cellar and line the walls with stone at your remote site. A steel door with a steel frame is the best way to keep pests from taking up residence in your cellar.
14) In addition to the security measures listed above, a sturdy hasp and padlock on top of everything else will help make your out swinging doors more secure. If you have neighbors within earshot a loud alarm attached to a deep cycle battery will tend to discourage those that attempt a break in.
15) Plan for long term use in the event that a place was needed in which to ride out a natural disaster, survive a bout with homelessness or just to get away from the madness. Consider installing a small wood burning stove and other basics for long term use at your cabin siteThe new design project titled “The Remote Stealth Cabin” by William Edward.
Summers can be examined at:
A free report titled “The keep it Simple Guide to Building a Secure Remote Cabin”
Is available at: