Posts Tagged With: composting toilet

Where is that lottery ticket?

I have given some thought to the total cost of this mid-life crisis (aka “retirement dream”) of mine.  For those who have built cabins, feel free to comment on my unrealistic projections!  For those who haven’t, understand that this is VERY rough…I’m sure that I’m in for some expensive surprises along the way.

If you visit Friesen’s website, you will see that the Plan 5 in a 20×24 with T-111 siding starts at $20,120.00.  If I’m reading the specs correctly, this includes the pilings, the floor, basic framing of outer walls, door(s), windows, and a metal roof. 

A sample of a plan 5 cabin built by Jay Friesen's crew.  Mine will be slightly larger and will have a deck and an extended roof over the front door

A sample of a plan 5 cabin built by Jay Friesen’s crew. Mine will be slightly larger and will have a deck and an extended roof over the front door

It does not include: insulation under the floors (approx $1368), one extra 4×4’ window ($368), 8×24’ deck ($3409), and a 4’ extended overhang at one end of the roof ($855).  It also doesn’t include installation of a chimney (no cost given) or the added costs due to the remote off-road location (I assume a number in the $1000’s). 

All told, I’m looking at right around $30,000 for the shell of a cabin.  Other expenses I will have to manage piecemeal (doing most of the work myself) will include: interior insulation, drywall and paint, the new woodstove, flooring, appliances, cupboards and fixtures for kitchen and bath, and lastly, furniture.    

For plumbing, I am researching eco-friendly grey-water disposal systems that won’t necessitate a septic tank.  This will be another Do-It-Yourself project.  The composting toilet is – so far – working out just fine which will save the need for a “black water” disposal system.  (For an amusing review of the Nature’s Head toilet that I currently use, visit the Good Luck Duck.   They use theirs in a big RV and have enjoyed not having to deal with the icky splish splash dumping of black water!)

Research is on-going as to feasibility and costs for electric but it will also be eco-friendly as far as I’m able.  Solar panels (iffy in winter with 4 hours per day of daylight!) and possibly a thermo-electric generator are possibilities, supplemented by my propane generator.  (The Kimberly Woodstove that I want supposedly has an optional thermo-electric accessory.)  Off-grid living isn’t a matter of choice on my property!

As I review and edit this post I realize that I’m going to be sitting at a desk for a few years yet to pay for all of this stuff…but as with any pleasant destination, planning the journey is often half of the fun!

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I got the power!

Here’s hoping everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving!  I know I did!  I threw all thoughts of dieting aside and stuffed myself in the great American tradition.

On Saturday we had Christmas because my snow bird parents will head south (health permitting) sometime in December.  They didn’t get out at all last winter due to health issues and they are missing their little home in Moab.  I already have plans to visit them there next spring.

The Cabin has been on my mind a lot lately.  Holiday and birthday get-togethers have kept me in town since September and I left things undone up there that I will undoubtedly regret.  I especially don’t look forward to having to thaw the composting toilet inside by the fire in order to be able to dump it…blech!

What I do look forward to, however, is being able to use my new toy…my family got together, with the help and instigation of my roommate, and got me a new generator for Christmas!

Ain’t she a beauty! 1000 watts all mine…

I think Dad is as excited as I am.  It won’t power anything very big, but I’ll be able to recharge electronics like power tools and my Kindle as well as possibly run a little electric cooler.  It would be nice to have real groceries like meat and dairy products for my longer stays. 

We had several good talks about my plans for a future cabin up there.  I showed him a floor plan from my builder’s website along with a price sheet of extras that I am including in my estimated costs.  (If you’re interested check out the website at www.friesenscustomcabins.com  I’m going with Plan 5 in a 20×24′ size.)

Dad had several good ideas for things like the plumbing and electrical and wants to get up there to help me bring down some of the bigger dead trees on the property this winter. 

After we were done oohing and aahing over the generator, he turned to me and said “The next thing you need is a four-wheeler right?”  Whew.  Things are really starting to come together for this project fast!  With a little bit of spending self-control and luck, I could be handing Jay Friesen my down payment next winter!

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Bathroom…um…Outhouse Remodel

I have an appointment to pick up a new toilet on Saturday!


Regular readers may recall that a composting toilet has been on my wish list for the Cabin.  I have done my homework and decided that Nature’s Head (http://www.natureshead.net) is the best – cleanest – easiest, but have hesitated to order it due to the likely hassle and expense of having it shipped to Alaska. 


(For those of you who live “outside” I should explain that shipping is something Alaskans NEVER take for granted!  There are few cheap options, especially for larger items, and we frequently come up against uneducated folks who insist they can’t ship internationally!  Once we convince them that Alaska is actually part of their United States they often tell us that the shipping costs are double whatever the website claims.  And “free” shipping?  Forget it!)





nature’s head composting toilet

The Nature’s Head weighs about 28 lbs so I figured freight could be as much as $100 or even more depending on the packaging and the preferred shipping method of the company.  I was therefore delighted to find that there is a local dealer who loves them so much she sells them out of her garage and at the website’s advertised retail price of $875 (no shipping costs!)


Through the years we have had a couple of outhouses at the Cabin.  The first one that I remember was quite a ways back in the woods and was basically an open A-frame over a log that was propped up over a hole.  Dad nailed a tarp over the A-frame for protection from the rain, but you had to trust the geography of the location to shield you from sight.  Potty trips were mostly done in pairs by gender! 


The current one is quite nice with a door that latches, a roof of corrugated plastic that lets in light but sheds snow and rain, and a real toilet seat.  But the hole is nearly full and no amount of ashes from the woodstove completely kills the smell anymore.  (Oddly I don’t have pictures of either of these backwoods bathrooms!)  The new toilet will live in the old outhouse, but Dad and I plan to move the little building itself closer to the Cabin first and then bury the existing hole.


I can’t wait to … well … to try it out!  Let’s be honest after all!

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