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Thread: Plywood and 2x4 cabin plans

  1. #1
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    Default Plywood and 2x4 cabin plans

    I am looking at building a small cabin, with loft. Goal is to put together in back yard then disassemble, trailer it to Kenai to reassemble. Nothing fancy, beds for 2 adults and bunks for kids, wood stove, most likely propane lighting and cooking stove. Figure a 12x20 with an overhang to stay out of the wather. foundation is good, but just looking for idea's plan etc from anyone already successful and happy with thier plans. Thanks in advance for the help.

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    Member CaptNemo's Avatar
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    Default kenai cabin

    Any cabin in the woods is better than being in town. However if you are planning on using it in the winter I would suggest at least a 2x6 exterior wall for more insulation, enjoy your cabin instead of the never ending battle to stay warm. good luck. CN

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    Spring, Summer and Fall, will insulate according to those seasons.........Thanks

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    I am in the planning stage for a cabin also. Check out this site for some great ideas:

    http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php

    A 12 X 20 could be very nice! Affordable yet comfortable.

    I also suggest using 2 X 6. More for strenght than for insulation. Especially if you add a loft.

    I really like what this guy built.

    http://www.countryplans.com/lemay.html

    Link:

    http://www.abetterplan.com/cabinplans.html

    For more ideas, go to the remote realty sites and look at the land with cabins for sale.

    I am with you on the prefab part. Time in the summer is short. You may be able to precut and prefab a few things. I would believe that most will have to be stick built on the spot. Precut all your studs for consistant length. Make sure that you stay with your multiple of 4. It will save you money and time.

    Good luck!!
    Mike

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Check into http://katrinacottagehousing.org/ or search yahoo or google for KATRINA COTTAGE plans. They are small but complete designs and you can go to lowes and buy a package deal that includes every thing. There are several design firms that you can access from their purchase page. These are designed to meet or excede all building codes. It makes it much easier to gat a loan to build or sell it if the builder/purchaser needs to get a loan to build/buy your cabin.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

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    Default Small cabin.

    I agree...2x6.Cost is nothing compared to your gain.Also, going with a loft,stick-frame the roof,12/12 pitch.PITA to roof,but will shed the snow load, so you won't be worrying all winter.Also a 2' overhang on sides to keep snow away from the cabin.I have 30" on the ground now, but roof is clean.I like that.Also with a loft, I'd build in a roof access so I didn't have to fight ladders cleaning my chimney.GR

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    Member AlbertJohnson's Avatar
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    Talking

    I like it... "any cabin in the woods is better than being in town"

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    I have been in construction for 16 years now and built just about one of everything. 2X6 walls are a must. Also if your using 2x6 you can go with 2' on center and still carry a very good snow load. Where if you went 2x4 I would not go more than 16' on center. Also with the 2x6 you can use R-19 insulation and keep cozy in the winter and cool in the summer. Please use vapor barrier and tape the seams on your barrier and around any outlets or penatrations you might have. It sounds trivial but in the long run it will help prolong the life of your cabin and your comfort. Another thing with the 2x6 and snow load, I would go with at least bare minimum 8/12 pitch with metal roofing. This will allow the snow to slide off before the load gets to much and your 2x6 walls are more that sturdy to hold that load. I prefer 10/12 or 12/12 Pitch. I have used t-111 siding many times. Your can pre paint it this winter and just nail it up. If you can wrap your cabin in Tyveck house wrap and it will cut down on drafts and still allows the place to breath. Floor joist and rafters, Dont pinch pennys on these. 2x8 to 2x12 depending on what your gonna be putting in the cabin as far a load and weight. 2x8 on the roof is no problem on leeser pitches and would more than carry the load at 10/12 and 12/12. I also cantalever my joist off the side at least 12 inches to display the snow and rain. 2x8 for the floor is good if you do 16 on center but i would go 2x10 or 2x12 for the floor on 2' on centers. Sorry for rambling just my 2 cents worth
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Member AlbertJohnson's Avatar
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    Alaska Chuck, i always was concerned about some kind of air/moisture vent... if you make the cabin VERY tight, which is sounds like you certainly do, will too much moisture build up inside? Do you need to have a small vent somewhere to let the cabin breath? (course i know then that some heat will escape)

    Reason i ask, one of my cabins is very tight. But for some reason, moisture builds up, and it'll drip from the ceiling INSIDE.

    What do you think?

    Thanks

  10. #10
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    Default Ventilation options

    AlaskaChuck---great info--right on the mark!
    I'm no carpenter. HVAC is my bag, so thought I'd jump in on the ventilation issue. There are some "passive" ventilation vents called by numerous names, " Airlets" are one that comes to mind. The idea is to let moist air escape and fresh air in. In truth-- in many cases here in extreme cold climate they don't work-- they frost up, and thus no more exchange takes place. And you typically need more than one or two, so you're cutting holes in your cabin. But- they don't draw any electricity. The State has spent thousands of $$ equiping rural housing with these, then walks away oblivious ( or not ) as to whether they perform as claimed up here. Maybe some people that have them could weigh in on how well they're working for them.
    The best way, in a perfect world, is a heat recovery ventilator. They're not cheap, they require electricity, but you exchange an even qty of air and preheat the incoming air with the heat from the outgoing " stale" and moisture-laden air. We've had issues with these, as well, in the coldest areas of Alaska, because even though they are recovering 60-80% of the heat you already paid for, the discharge temperature at -25F is still near 45-50deg, and people feel chilled and turn 'em off. But- heating +45-50deg air up to +70 is alot cheaper than doing it to -25 to -40F air. I'll take a 20 deg rise vs. a 100-110 deg rise anyday.
    Fantech ( www.fantech.net ) has recently come out with a very small version of the typical hrv, which would better match smaller dwellings. I mention this one in particular because Fantech's motors take a ton of abuse and hold up well, and are very efficent. Model # VHR704 has 3 speed control, draws .36 amps @ 115V ( 40 watts ). That's at high speed ( approx 80 cfm ). If you set this thing down to low speed ( approx 35 cfm ) the power draw is reduced by 1/2 or more. It has 4" collars for the air ducts, so in a cabin it would be a simple one-intake, 1-exhaust for both the outdoor and indoor connections ( 4 total ). This is the sweetest "small" thing I've seen come down the pike like this so far. As far as proper sizing goes: 16x20 cabin , ave. 12ft ceiling height, would need a continuous ventilation rate of somewhere near 20-22 cfm. Thus if you cycled it say once every hour for 15 minutes, you'd run it on high speed; continuous would be on low speed. And you can always run it however you want for whatever time you want. Any ventilation if better than no ventilation at all.
    If you don't go the hrv route, keep in mind you need an intake and an exhaust to "exchange" air. Simply dumping out moisture-laden air with a 12V exhaust fan just solves one problem and creates another. Air must now come in to replace the air you've just sent out. YOU want to control where the air comes in; cheapest way would be to have an equal size intake opening that you can damper open or closed as needed.
    Sorry, long rant, but this is an issue that becomes more and more important as we tighten up our houses. As you said, you're seeing moisture dripping from the ceiling. You definately have a situation calling for some type of ventilation.

  11. #11
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input there Mr bill. Now to address my thoughts on the to tight issue. Yes you can make a building to tight for sure. We had an issue when I did residental homes and the moisture inside the house and running down the windows was a problem. i found de-humindifiers (sp) was the solution back then but that was early to mid 90's. I am now into the commercial side and do not know what the latest or greatest machine is to handle the issue now. If this is just a cabin to be used occasionaly and not lived in all the time I would not be too concerened with the to tight issue. One thing that can help is make sure you vent your roof. If you use and 2x8 for your rafter and bird mouth the tail you can insulate the rafter with R-38 and leave the air space needed to vent your roof and keep it cool. 2x6 blocks inbetween your rafters with bird screen will create about 2 inches of air space to keep your roof healty and pull some moisture out. Not alot but some. Also you dont not have to do this inbetween every tail I would only do every other since it is just a cabin and not permant residence. You can do them all and it will not hurt by any means. Most house vent well enough because of all the penatrations. IE Recepticles, cable lines, windowsetc etc just about anything on and exposed wall will allow some air in. One thing that might work if you find the place getting moist on an extended stay is small fan to pull out air on one side of the cabin through window opened and bit and crack a window on the other side of the place and see if it helps. If it does then I would not be against a small battery opereated fan like a bathroom exhaust fan to just pull air out when needed. Anyway Im rambling again and just my thoughts.

    I must say i have never seen a place that actually had water collecting on the lid. I would like to see what the other members think or have done to prevent this. I dont like the passive vent thing of just cutting vent holes. I dont find it works at all and all it does is allow cold air in and the other vent pulls my warm air out,
    Last edited by alaskachuck; 01-23-2008 at 18:31. Reason: more thoughts
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Default Feel free

    To pm me or email me at ceujr39@yahoo.com about any issues any members might have or be thinking about with cabins. I have built many and know the joy and comfort they bring. I am pretty good at what i do (or at least I think I am). Man that just sounds so arrogent and I dont mean it that way. I love to help and Im not looking to pawn my services of building or charge anyone for advice or thoughts. Just a fellow alaskan love life of 26 years up here trying to help us all build it right.

    When in doubt make it stout
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

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    Smile Moisture control...

    This cabin I live in is small,which means with a wood stove you have dry air if you don't have a pot on the stove all the time.So you ask, were does the moisture go?The old wives tail says that several quarts of water evaporate through your walls and ceiling every day.Well, lets put a vapor barrier (visqueen) under your paneling or drywall,tape the boxes and seams, then what? I only have the vapor barrier on my insulation, and we have cold temps,(4degrees now)I have never had a problem, but if temps stayed around zero for long periods like in alaska,I could see a problem.We are continually are opening and closing doors, so air exchange is not a problem here.I'm not sure, as experience is the best teacher, but I'd have to go with the visqueen sealed walls and ceilings, and a wood 1x6 t&G paneling so it could breath, then maybe no problems.I think you'd die of old age before it fell down

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    Member AlbertJohnson's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses Bill, Chuck and Archer.
    Seems when i DO heat with wood, there is no dripping inside...makes sense.

    Got me to thinking, maybe on occasion, just open up one door and also the door on the opposing side...for a few minutes. (as a cheap fix)
    Some heat would escape, sure, but maybe that'd let the cabin breath and let moisture out?

    What do you think?

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    Default Exactly right

    Yep- nothing wong with a "poor man's " ventilation system: totally manual - open a door, window, etc. for some time , and ventilate the space. You lose what heat you've created, to some point, but if you're heating with wood, it's just more trips to the woodpile, right?
    As to woodstoves being "dry" heat, this is a description you hear all the time; same when some people refer to forced-air as " dry". But think about it for a second: Why is hydronic concidered "wet" heat? The "Wet" is the water contained within the copper pipe, which has metal fins running down its length, air moves accross these metal surfaces, is heated, and rises into the room. The "wet" of the water is not present for any evaporation to take place into the space. Why is that any different from a woodstove-- heat contained within a metal vessel, air moves across it, and is heated? Answer: it isn't. Not from an engineering standpoint, anyway.
    Why woodstoves usually get this rap of dry heat is usually a combination of a couple of issues: air is being exchanged in the bldg as the existing air is being used up to burn the wood, and also because warmer air is capable of holding more moisture than cooler air. Each temp of air has its saturation point at which it can no longer hold any more water, and thus the excess water is released. We call this it's "dew point". The term "Relative Humidity" is an expression of this value. 70 deg air can hold alot more moisture than +20 deg air. So when we see a weather report and it says that its 70% relative humidity & +20F outside, if you bring that air inside and heat it to +70 degrees, the relative humidity in the space would only be 15-20%. Because 70% of the dewpoint of 20deg air represents maybe only 15% of the dewpoint of 70 deg air. ( my numbers are not accurate here- I'm not writing this with a psychometric chart beside me ). The water didn't simply run away and hide somewhere, or disappear altogether. "Dryness" is an expression of Relative Humidity.
    We're trying to maintain a relative humidity in living spaces somewhere near 30-35% RH for optimum comfort level.
    Anything below this, you begin to feel colder at any given temperature, because we as living beings are made up mostly of water, and if we are in a space with low humidity, we begin evaporating some of our own moisture to the airstream aound us. Natural "evaporative cooling", if you will. Woodstoves can really crank out the heat. If the temps are higher, the relative humidity in the room drops, and may drop to the point where you get the static electric shocks when touching metal , etc. Also- the wood needs lots of Oxygen for combustion, and this air is typically taken from the living space and then expelled with the flue-gasses up and out the chimney. Air must come in again to replace that air. This air from outside leaks in at a much lower relative humidity ( during the winter ) as compared to the surrounding air stream, as was described above. And thus lowers the relative humidity in the room. Again, the water didn't run and hide somewhere. Cool the room down, and RH goes back up. Shut off the woodstove, and the air leakage issue reduces.
    But- the point to keep in mind here is that God or Mother Nature doesn't play favorites and punish woodstoves or forced-air heat, and reward hydronic or any other form of heat, and bend or erase the laws of Physics on thier favorites' behalf. All of the symptoms of a system's behavior are related to these basic laws of physics.

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    Member Bushpilot's Avatar
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    Mr Bill, you're making me feel like I'm back in college again. I vaporlocked about half way through and had to reload the brain circuitry before continuing. Paragraph breaks are your friend.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

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    Member AlbertJohnson's Avatar
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    Thanks again Mr. Bill for the confirmation on the "poor man's" way.

    I too had to take a shot of whiskey half way thru your explanation. (heh, just kidding...
    i took 2 shots. )

    Guess that's what ole Dick Proenneke did in his cabin, eh?

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    Default Sorry!

    Sorry, Bushpilot! I was putting in paragraph breaks, but they don't appear when I upload. Perhaps I needed to double space between them, instead.

    Anyhow, I've talked enough already. I think I'll shut up for a week or so...

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    Thumbs up

    No problem Mr Bill. It just brought back memories of some of the curriculum I had to wade through in school.. Good info though.
    I refuse to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death.


    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

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    Smile Relative humidity..and static electricity

    So, That explains why when the stove is crankin, and I go to pet the cat, I "Zap" her...lol...I'll try to explain that scenario to her,well, maybe I'll let her read it herself so I can lay off the Jim Beam.

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