Here is our final build for the year. It's a rustic structure made out of pallets, wood-trims, floor-boards, up-cycled windows, scrap lumber, fallen or crowding trees, branches from around the property/forest, lots & lots of screws, metal roofing, heavy gauge hinges, lots of imagination & whimsy AND a lot of labour...of love :)
There was a lot of time and money spent in constructing the main-building, the gathering-place and the raised beds but those were all projects that only had some elements of fun & whimsy incorporated in them. That was due to having to work faster as either we were paying the builders($20-$180/hour) or the short building season.
Once those builds were finished and recovery from them completed, I finally got a chance to build more whimsical structures. The stupa/meditation pyramid, a whimsical arbour, meandering brush-walls, the strawberry raised bed, trellises, the chicken coop, yoga/meditation stools & blocks, wooden crates, hooks, door-handles , the chicken coop and now this structure all allowed me to incorporate my creative & whimsical side into them.
What's this structure to be used as you ask? Well, it will mean different things to different individuals and so multi purpose. It could be used as a clubhouse for kids. It could be used as rustic accommodations for two. It could be used to demonstrate to folks looking to see exactly what can be done with a 100 sq ft. footprint or It could be used for artists/writers/crafters/makers etc. who require solitude & complete privacy as they use the forest for their inspiring work.
I know that some of you city-folks drooling over the youtube videos or other social media images that you wish to one day own or live in such structures, as we did. So you would anxiously like to know the cost of constructing such a structure, as did we. So here we go.
1. Starting with the foundation as with absolutely any build.
We spent an hour or two just flattening and levelling the footprint( approximately 100 sq ft.). This meant removing roots and levelling the ground.Then we brought in many loads of gravel to lift the pallets off of the ground and moisture. This process took about a day to load the wheelbarrows, bringing the heavy gravel to the site through a narrow path in the forest, dumping the loads and raking the gravel evenly.
Gravel costs are different in different parts of the country and even the different regions. But regardless of how far or close to a source or how much the delivery cost(even if using your own vehicle), it is a cost non-the-less.
The labour cost could be measured in three ways. Hiring someone at $25-$50/hour. Having volunteers which really is never free because you are required to feed them, responsible for injuries and possibly accommodation and perhaps some form of payment/barter. Or DIY. So what is your time worth?
2. Pallets as subfloor.
So pallets are free right? Wrong!
They are only free on youtube by people who want your subscription. In reality you either have to drive around the town searching for them and dragging each heavy piece back to your property which means your time, gas, wear & tare on your vehicle OR do what we did. When building our main-building & gathering-place, we purchased over $40,000 worth of material from Home Hardware. In return, they delivered a few pallets each time that they made a delivery to us. We also had our batteries, wood cookstove, solar panels etc. that arrived on pallets.
Anyway, rearranging them to fit even remotely seamless or level took a good few hours.
3. Pallets to be used as partial walls.
Again not free as I described earlier and also not quick as rarely can you find two identical pallets that mirror each-other in size, spacing of boards and condition. Bracing these heavy pieces is very necessary.
We used fallen or crowding trees from around property. This meant locating, sawing them using a handsaw as we don't have a chainsaw & de-limbing them and dragging them to the site through the narrow path in the forrest. Both acquiring and installing them was labour intensive. This is something that you are going to be reading again and again.
5. Framing the windows and the door was the next step.
We had 2 windows left as part of a paid delivery of oh about 50 of them about 4 years ago? So we got started on those as we desperately searched for more. You can totally find old, single pane windows for free on the side of the road, though they are not so easily found. The cost of dragging them home is minimal as they are generally light, especially the small-ones.
That said, framing windows are very labour intensive, far more than doors, I find. This is especially true when/if you are using non-dimensional lumber. In this case trees and branches as they are never the same diameter...or smooth ...or even.
Eventually we did find 3 more windows which took imagination and keeping our eyes wide open on our only non-garbage-day trips to town.
6. As part of the framing, we also had to do rafters and strapping.
These are what support your roofs. This is step 4 all over again.
7. Metal+ roofing.
We prefer metal to the conventional asphalt or even cedar shingles for their longevity. The + is for "clear paneling". We used these in all of our structures as they allow an incredible amount of light in for a fraction of the price of a skylight. That said, believe it or not each panel costs more than metal paneling of the same size.
There's also a $75 delivery fee that we avoided(at least in part) by driving an hour away to pick them up ourselves. They also require special screws that come with rubber washers. So more $$.
8. I continued constructing the remaining walls, only this time using branches. Super labour intensive but a labour love for me. The screws though, wow so many!
Incidentally, we used not a single nail in building this structure. I prefer screws to nails because the don't pop/push-out and I find them more structurally sound. They do however cost considerably more.
9. I got busy with the door and although again a labour of love for me, it was labour intensive.
Humm....when they delivered them, we were broadsided by the fact that lumber prices were up 120% since the start of covid. Add to that the fact that we had not bought any more dimensional lumber since the construction of the gathering-place 3 years ago and the regular rise in their cost since.
So yes, a very expensive 100 sq ft of second grade lumber(the first always goes to the States, sigh).
11. installing a loft.
I designed this shed-roof structure with a tiny loft in mind and now was the time to install it using more pallets for the platform and white birch as posts/pillars to support them + ladders. This step although pretty straight forward, like the rest, it took longer than expected to complete...like the rest. Getting the wonky & whimsical posts to align even a little bit while levelling and securing the platforms and tying them to the walls took some time too.
Contact me if you require assistance with locating or purchasing your rural property. I can also mentor & guide you through much of the uncharted territory that you are about to embark on. You don't have to do it alone. My fee is a humble $25/hour. The cost of not asking for help and experiencing every hurdle, miscalculation, uninformed decision, timing etc. is much higher. It will be paid with your physical, mental and spiritual health as well as your financial health.
Learn from our mistakes and experience.