Our Cabin Build

By The Petite Plantation - December 18, 2019

Our family has completed our 16x20 off grid cabin and we are thrilled with our new home! It was an incredibly gratifying experience building our own home and we want to share it with you!

We have met many people along our journey that have expressed their dreams of doing the same, building a tiny house, or off grid, or a cabin in the woods and we want to tell you dreams do come true!

I hope you find our story inspiring, I hope you start taking action and making choices to start living your dream! 

2013 // The dream was born!  

After living paycheque to paycheque for years and never getting ahead, my husband lost his job, it was the holiday season and a $800 power bill dropped in the mailbox, we wanted out! He wanted to move off the grid and live in a tiny house, I wanted a farm to grow my own food and live in the forest. We began selling our belongings, downsizing, and adapting to a minimalist lifestyle while reducing our power and water consumption.

July 2015 // We downsized!

We moved from our 1300sqft town home in Ontario to a 700sqft apartment in New Brunswick. The last of our belongings fit in a small utility trailer. We knew land was far less expensive in this part of our country and the maritimes was our home!

March 2018 // Our Mindset Shifted!

We still felt stuck! Sure, we were growing our own food, hanging our clothes to dry on the line, but we were still living paycheque to paycheque in the city and on the grid. But something changed, we woke up, stopped dreaming about it, started doing it! Our mindset shifted from *dreaming about one day living off the grid and tiny*, to making choices to get us to where we wanted to be!

April 2018 // Became Nomads!

On a whim we bought and renovated a 24' Class C motorhome, moved in within 3 weeks, lived in it full time while we eliminated debt and built up our savings. Everyone thought we were crazy, we kind of were. I mean, the motorhome was in rough shape when we bought it but we were determined to live in it full time while we continued to work, earn and save!

Our 24' Class C Motorhome named Nelson!

MARCH 2019 // We Bought Land!

We found a property on an online classifieds website and visited in the winter with snowbanks 6 feet high. It had everything on our list of things to consider before buying a piece of property and we fell in love when we visited it the following weekend. We purchased our first two acres with cash in Central New Brunswick in late March!

APRIL 5TH, 2019 // We got to work!

We didn't waste anytime, we wanted to be living in our cabin before the end of summer! There was no driveway or entry point to the property, just a lot of trees and bushes so we started with cutting them down ourselves to make a driveway and cabin site. We saved these logs for firewood! You can read more about how we cleared the property by hand, and why we did it while there was still snow on the ground, here. It was tiresome. But we knew we needed to do the work ourselves to make the dream become a reality.

We had to wait until MID MAY for the snow bank in the ditch to melt before we could work on a culvert. I was determined and become so impatient that I started to shovel the snow OUT of the ditch so we could install our DIY culvert (click to learn more about the DIY culvert). This saved us around $950 on the culvert and around $200 on the installation. We shoved the dirt ourselves.

UPDATE: After living and driving over this culvert for around 6 months, and having large dump trucks drive over it, it still works great!

MAY 28th, 2019 // From the ground up!

Because the driveway wasn't yet finished, we carried in the lumber from the road and started building the 2x10 subfloor for the 16'x20' cabin, this only took us a day but once we finished we took some time off from building and pushing so hard to clear the forest, cutting and stacking firewood for the upcoming winter.

Every day of the build was a priceless learning experience for our two homeschooled children who now have aspirations to build their own tiny houses on our now 8 acres of land!

JUNE 5th, 2019 // Rocky Road!

We had our 150' shale rock driveway, parking spot, and turn around installed. We wanted to do this all ourselves but it was taking us too long, we still wanted to meet our goal of living in the cabin by the end of summer. We didn't have to park our camper on the dirt road any longer! You can watch a video of our driveway installation here!

AUGUST 8TH, 2019 // Happy Anniversary, babe!

On our 10th wedding anniversary we purchased all our lumber for under $4000 to build the rest of the 16x20 cabin and started building! Building our cabin was easy, even for myself who had never built anything before. While my husband helped a local resident in the village nearby in the mornings, I would assemble a wall and when he returned, we would raise it. One wall each day. 

Each day we conquered a new project on the build. After the walls went up within a week of receiving our lumber, AUGUST 18th, 2019, we put up the 2x10x16 loft floor joists, the sill around the rest of the walls to make up the difference, and the 3/4" tongue & groove OSB on the loft floor.

AUGUST 20th, 2019 // It starts to look like a home!

We assembled both gable end walls and raised them on AUGUST 21st, 2019. We needed more hands to raise the front gable and in hindsight, we could have built the front gable wall, where there was no floor to stand on, in place rather than raising an entire wall at once. We also put on the 1/2" plywood sheathing and it started to look like a home!

AUGUST 22nd, 2019 // Smitten over our loft!

Next we installed the ridge beam and started to install the 2x8 birds mouth rafters! Over the loft floor was much easier than the rest!

AUGUST 23rd & 24th, 2019 // Raise the roof!

Once the walls were up and we had the cabin all framed, we only needed the roof sheathing and to install the windows and door before we moved our beds inside. We could have waited, but we were eager to have more room to move around after living in a 24' motorhome for a year and half.

We quickly threw on our underlayment and house wrap to protect our new home!

AUGUST 26th // Through the looking glass!

We installed all our windows in an afternoon. All of our windows and the back door are salvaged and found for free! This saved us thousands of dollars and this resourcefulness is why our cabin cost under $4000 to build.

AUGUST 27th // First Impressions!

We purchased a new front door and installed it ourselves. We did have another salvaged exterior door we could have used but I wanted a fresh and more private front door.

Roman, one of two farm cats we added to the family!

AUGUST 30th // Ladder to leisure!

Using left over lumber entirely, I designed and hubs built a ladder or set of stairs to the loft. I was frightened of falling with a regular construction ladder and wanted something mimicking a set of actual stairs, this was the result.

AUGUST 31st // Started plank flooring!

We made our own flooring out of 1/2" plywood. I want to do another blog post about these floors someday because they are so amazing and rustic! We run these 8" planks on a diagonal throughout the cabin so it feels much more grand. Every person who walks in the cabin says the same thing..."Oh! It's so BIG!" The floors run on a diagonal, and many other design elements, make our cabin feel so grand!

SEPTEMBER 6th & 7th // The ROOF!

After much research, we decided to invest in a metal roof. Because we live in a forest, and have a wood stove, we wanted to ensure we have fire resistance. We also are building a rain catchment system and didn't want the sediment from asphalt shingles.

SEPTEMBER 13th // Privacy PLEASE!

We chose to run a 10 foot wall across the back of the cabin to house a bathroom for our gravity fed shower. This allows us to keep all our plumbing on an interior wall to avoid freezing and gave us a long farmhouse kitchen for food preservation! DREAMS!


This photo isn't from the day of the counter project, I didn't have a good one to share. We built our farmhouse kitchen cupboards out of leftover lumber from our cabin build. Keeping the shelving open allows the eye to wander further, and makes the space feel larger than it would with a typical closed cupboard.

SEPTEMBER 20th // Chilly Nights!

As the nights started to become cooler with the arrival of autumn, we started to insulate the cabin walls and cathedral ceiling. After many mix ups with the hardware store, they gifted us ALL the attic baffles we needed to insulate the ceiling. Finishing the insulation on the half of the ceiling where there isn't a loft, took us months to get around to.


We installed a used fireplace with all new stove and chimney pipe. I have to admit, cutting a hole in our new metal roof hurt, but cold toes hurt more.

Within two months of receiving the lumber, we had our cabin built for under $6000, dried in and were living in it. We are still chipping away at the to-do list to finish the interior but have slowed our pace to enjoy the freedom of living off the grid, debt free!

Throughout the winter we plan to finish painting and adding trim. Next spring we will be installing board and batten siding and a wrap around deck!

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