Building On A Budget – The Alaskan Way

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Building On A Budget, The Alaskan Way

As anyone who has read my previous post about our finances knows, we are on a serious budget out here. But just because we don’t have money doesn’t mean work on the homestead stops! With winter fast approaching we knew we couldn’t let our water reservoir freeze. Last year we hauled all our water in 5 gallon buckets from a nearby creek, but this year we have running water in the cabin and we pull from our reservoir for that. So how to keep it from freezing? We thought about burying it, but it’d need to be 8 feet down and that is a lot of digging by hand.

We decided we would build our reservoir its own cabin.

There are 3 natural materials we have an abundance of out here: trees, moss, and clay. We started by felling trees, limbed and cut them to length, then moved them to our building site. We ended up using about 60 logs for the entire process. We cut some of our work by joining the water shed to our existing cabin.

Kyle notched the logs and stacked them just as he did when we built our cabin addition, with the exception that we left space for a door rather than cutting one out later. It may have made things a bit trickier, but we needed to be able to work from both sides of the logs. We used timberloks to attach the logs together and make sure the walls are sturdy.

We also timberloked the water shed to our cabin for stability.

After the walls were up, Kyle continued falling trees for the roof. The baby and I picked moss and packed it in all the gaps in the walls. B was a big help picking out pieces to hand to me. Then she went up on the roof with Kyle and helped him add a layer of moss there. After letting the moss dry, I added a layer of clay to fill any other gaps.

Due to the strict budget, we couldn’t afford to purchase much for the shed.

Instead of buying new roofing we bartered with our neighbors for some extra tin roofing they had. Kyle milled them stairs for their cabin in exchange. He also put together the most adorable door from lumber we have milled as well. Our sawmill has more than paid for itself in milled lumber! We also found a free wood stove and installed that into the water shed.

The end result is an “old school” cabin as our water shed.

We’ve already had our first snow here, and have spent several days in the low teens. I’m happy to report that our water shed has not dipped below 35°. We usually only light one fire before bed, but on especially chilly days we’ll light another in the morning. Every time we go outside we check the temperature in the water shed. If it’s below 40° we light a fire. We only have about 200 gallons in our 1100 gallon reservoir, so once we fill it the water shed should be even warmer.

I’m so glad we didn’t need to go back to our bucket system and gravity filters this winter!

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