A Look at the Original Structure

The original structure was built sometime in the late summer or fall by a friend of an old tenant.  All I know is that he never finished it, originally planning on living in it in through the winter but after hurting his ankle, he was unable to work on the project anymore and moved in with his girlfriend.  This might not even be true.  I don’t know. Anyway, it is abandoned and available, so I am not taking over someone else’s space.

So this is a side view above there.  As you can see, it is a sloping roof.  The roof is completely waterproof using some sort of wavy plastic board that is used for roofing or perhaps not used for roofing at all.  It is extremely stable, using standing trees as supplementary support. Latter included! The roof is covered strategically placed branches.  I am pretty sure this is for camouflage.  The shorter end faces towards the house on the property.  In the winter the structure may almost be visible with less trees so the branches on the roof could cover it up pretty well.

So, the structure is completely situated off the ground which is great and what is necessary (no sinking, water entering through the floor, etc.). Look at the roofing material there!  I would want to reinforce the floor in the place where I would put the stove so that it doesn’t collapse under the weight.  If I buy a stove, it will be around 120 pounds/54 kilos.  This will be does with concrete blocks most likely or stones.

Here is the interior.  Those wood pallets are regular sized pallets and would perfectly fit a twin bed.  I would insulate the floor with rugs and inside the pallets to reduce airflow under my bed therefore reducing cold and keeping my and Diesel’s bodies warmer at night. You can see a window in the corner.  On the other side of the inside, there is any other window as well as a door. Door and stove will be on the wall that does not yet exist.  As you can see, the structure is drafty…what with no wall on one side and cracks between the boards.  This will all be changed soon.

Better view of roof.  White under branches is the plastic wavy board. Blanket there for draft control I guess. Again, another view of how the trees already standing at acting upon this structure in some way.

First thing to work on is covering the cracks in the existing walls with wooden “band-aids”.  Once there is a solid exterior wall, I can begin slip straw.

Example of Slip straw without exterior wall or finish


When you walk through the yard and into the woods, you come across a wooden skunk cut in half. One half nailed to a stump of here, one half nailed to a stump over there. Then you notice the wooden structure with the camouflage roof, advertisements near by for tomatoes and basile. Though, why anyone would come lloing for these tastes here, I do not know.

I am moving into a three walled hut in the woods.

       I live in a house where the rent is too expensive, the bus stop is too far, it is (inconveniently) without internet, and the exterior walls are filled with mice instead of insulation. Really, a whole house that is uninsulated.  However, it is a great house.  It was built in 1740, there are some aging gnarly looking chickens, a wood burning stove for winter heat and it is a month to month lease.  The landlord seems communicative and open; I could approach him with any project ideas and use the expansive property with its years of left-by-past-house-livers’ resources.
        I guess the biggest problem is that there is no wood for the wood stove and no one really wants to buy/put the time into finding wood.  It is not even cold out yet, lows at night being in the 40sF/≈7C and it is cold in there.  I moved there September 1st.  The person who lived in the room before me said that he knew it was cold when he woke up to find his water bottle frozen next to his bed.  With a North/East facing room, it is going to be cold not matter what.
        I started thinking about exterior insulation for the bedroom but realized I don’t have much energy for a project in that room because I don’t feel connected to the house or most of the people in it.  Not true of two folks I love a lot who do/will live there.  I was planning on moving out in November/December time to live with two beautiful people coming back East.  So I am not interested in putting time into making my space there comfortable or warm because it isn’t worth it to me.
       So I am giving my landlord my month’s notice.  I will live there through the end of October.  The rest of September and all of October will be spent winterizing a three walled plywood hut in the wood behind my friends’ house.This blog will cover the process of winterizing a “summer shelter” using earth building methods including Slip straw, earth bag, and a small bit of cob as well as brick or stone work.  This will be a space for me to process my ideas and show the progress.  Eventually, this structure which is a three sided, plywood shack will be properly insulated structure with a wood burning stove.
       Things I will accomplish through this (beyond having a space that will be rent free, warm and cozy, much closer to friends I want to see everyday) will be becoming a more confident slip-straw builder, builder in general, learning how to cheaply winterize an already standing structure, learning how to properly install a factory made wood burning stove or (if I am brave) how to make one myself, I will be able to run my first workshop about earth building through this project which would be rewarding for everyone involved. An infinite amount of things to learn; let’s see what happens.