My childhood holidays were regularly spent staying in the cabin my grandfather built nearly 60 years ago. The small wooden garage style building was erected in a miniature valley with a babbling stream on the land of a generous farmer in the south of Scotland. With help from my Grandmother and Father who was only a boy, they adapted the kit garage to accommodate a small kitchen, sleeping area and table. After years of use and many repairs it finally and sadly reached the end of its life. Fuelled by memories of hot summers, swimming in the river and eating spaghetti bolognese I have finally rebuilt The Hut. Many thanks are deserved by my friends family and boyfriend without whom this certainly wouldn't have happened.
After much sketching and a few research trips we finally concluded that without spending a ridiculous amount of money you can not buy a cabin that will be as good quality as one you build yourself. Even if you are an amateur. More importantly than the financial benefits you wont learn all the skills, wont have the memories, the joy of showing others your bruises and bulging muscles, or the huge sense of pride in the imperfect yet wonderful house that you built! So I would say to anyone out there thinking of buying a shed or cabin I would say "dont buy it, build it!".
We spent Monday preparing the flag stone and railway sleeper foundations so that we would be ready to begin building the hut base the following day. As the sun came up and we were making our camp breakfast we saw the blue delivery truck arriving over the hill. We trudged up the track in pyjamas and wooly jumpers, coffee in hand and our nerves beginning to set in. Once the delivery was unloaded we knew we had almost everything required to build the hut, but it was stacked up in a dauntingly un-hut-like pile.
Foundations and wall panels
Four long days were spent preparing a flat wooden base and creating timber frames for the side walls and roof trusses. When we finally laid the flooring we felt like we had reached a mighty summit. A wee dance round the floor, a few beers and finally lying down on the flat surface and listening to our backs crack back into shape marked the end of the hardest part of the whole build.
Realisation such as materials being sold in imperial sizes but actually measuring slightly smaller caused minor errors. The biggest lesson learned however was; test your spirit level before you purchase it. After nearly 2 days of working on the base and struggling to get things level we realised the spirit level was broken. A lot of wasted effort but we got there in the end.
Birthday Barn Raising
Saturday morning after a cold wash in the river, much needed reinforcements arrived in the form of my close friends and family. Everyone set up camp next to us in the main field, fresh supplies of beer burgers and biscuits were welcomed and our spirits were raised. With our kit of panels ready to go and a pot of coffee on the brew the very quick process of assembling the main structure began.
With so many hands to help and everyone coming prepared with a hammer the cladding went up in the blink of an eye and an awful lot of banging. I was able to take a back seat for a while and let the team take control.
By the end of the day we had the roof trusses up, all the cladding on and even a coat of green preservative on most of the walls. The joy of self tapping coach screws meant the roof trusses went up super easily. We finished the day with only one injury despite the slight chaos. My father hadnt checked the angle grinder and it was set up left handed with the guard on the wrong side. Luckily two of my friends are nurses and they patched up his cut finger.
Saturday was my birthday and we spent the evening celebrating the weeks achievement of a nearly completed hut with a huge bbq and bonfire.
Mike the roofer
On Sunday there was a change over of friends and our mate Mike who happens to be a climber and kitchen fitter was on hand to help us with laying the roof. We hadnt thought this stage through entirely and if we were to do it again we would do a couple of things differently. However through determination and the bravery of Mike on the roof we achieved a water tight and secure hut.
As the final piece of the roof went up the heavens broke and we were forced to pack up camp, pack up the building site and get ready to leave. The hut still had no doors so I left James to assemble these while I rescued our tent from the flooding field. I helped to pack up Mike, Debs and family into their car, soaked to the skin but warm under hastily packed sleeping bags for the ride home.
With everything getting too slippery James and I were forced to simply nail the doors in place and leave. The farm road had turned into a river, all the frogs were out and jumping everywhere and the sky turned black as the stormy night descended. A very dramatic end to an exhausting but triumphant week.
Trip no. two
With a second trip and some glorious sunshine on our side we hung and painted the doors. My parents came down from the borders bringing my brother who had traveled all the way over from Australia. Together we build a deck, which James completed with a staircase. This is a departure from the original hut design but we all agreed the addition gave the hut a great hangout space for eating and resting.
Since this photo was taken we have been again and created a pizza oven, picnic table and treated the decking. Our next trip will hopefully compete the last of the major works and reward us with beds a little kitchen and a wood burning stove.