Pre-fab or my-fab?

Fall/Winter 2016

The cabin is declared a verifiable wreck, the cement pad has been painstakingly cleared off, and the land is cleared around it. Now I was left, standing in front of this literal blank state, trying to decide what I want to build. And if I even wanted to build it. The prospect of building a whole entire building from scratch frankly frightened me.

I have plenty of building experience (see another post about this: My First Hammer). I’ve re-roofed, built frames for walls, porches, ramps, insulation, and even a little bit of plumbing. The only difference is that someone was there telling me what to do most of the time. Someone else had already drafted the plans and bought all the supplies.

Book nerd heaven

My only real foray into drafting my own plans was when I built custom bookshelves for my room in our new house. It had always been a dream of mine to have a room that was lined with books from floor to ceiling. My Grandma defined the term “book nerd,” and visiting their house growing up was like visiting my own personal library. The house smelled like books (and cats).

She got her Doctorate in children’s illustrations, and I have bright memories of the bookshelf at the bottom of the stairs that housed her prize children’s books. I would sit on the landing and thumb through them, already intimately familiar with the stories they held. My new bookshelf in my room would be an attempt to reinvent that memory. There would be books upon books and a little window seat to cuddle up on.


It went pretty well seeing as how I only sort of planned in out. I had a basic draft of what it was going to be, but the whole angled ceiling thing was a matter of guess work on what the angle was and hoping the cuts would fit. The window seat is still awaiting construction.

Dreams do come true

My next drafting adventures was building a custom art and craft table for my partner. All I have to say about this project is that the end product is awesome but I despise drawers.

Almost done- all that’s left is the trimmings

So, from scratch or not?

If all I’ve built from scratch, on my own, is some shelves and desk, how in the world was I supposed to build an entire cabin!? My first, and I think reasonable, reaction was to do some research in pre-fab cabins. You know, those sheds that you can buy at Lowes that has everything in it. A cabin kit.

I even found an incredible company that my mom and I both really liked. They were local Ohioans, they didn’t factory produce anything, and we could customize the final product however we wanted. Plus Weaver Barns was located in Sugarcreek, so I got to marvel at the absurdity of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock.

Kwik-Kit DIY Shed

It made sense. Not only would I not have to go through the stress of trying to learn how to draft, the structure could also be up in a day, with hardly any work. And the price wasn’t terrible. I mean, we could have a building at the farm for about $3,000. That’s a whole structure, complete with doors, windows, 15 yr roofing, pine floors, wood siding. That’s an incredible price. And everything would be pre-cut for me. Glorious.

Then I visited my Aunt Gretchen in Colorado during winter. She helped remind me that one of the goals of this whole project was to teach myself how to build better and that I have all that experience. And…here’s the icing on the cake…I can read. I went home with “How to Build a House” under my arm and got to work.

Preliminary pricing showed me that I could make a structure almost twice the size of the Weaver Barn’s option for only about $500 more. Sold!


Coming soon: my failures, struggles, and adventures in drafting a plan for a house.