Ever wonder what motivates a person to go into an uncommon line of work – like building tiny cabins?
I love a good personal story behind an unusual shelter. Dwellings are all about people, after all. It’s easy to forget that fact in our modern fast-paced real estate world filled with assembly line, carbon copy McMansions.
So when I came across one of Kevin’s custom mini cabins on the Tiny House Blog a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued.
I emailed Kevin to see if he might be interested in having some of his cabins featured on my website. He wrote me back with his personal story – the story of why he started building mini cabins in the first place. I found it compelling so [with Kevin’s permission] I wanted to share it with you.
Below is Kevin’s story as told in his own words – and interspersed with photos of his work:
My story begins about twenty years ago. I’ve always dreamed of building my own home and raising a family. Neither one has happened …yet.
I’ve been self employed most of my life and love being creative. My family came over from Norway to America before I was born. They had the American dream …buy a home with the white picket fence. I’ve aways been close with my family and especially my mother. She had a dream to own her own home and raise her family there. When I was in my early twenties it finally happened.
She told me she was going to try a bank loan. My father worked a lot and was away most of the time. With a lot of praying and persistence the loan went through. I was so excited for her. I took the next six months to build the house. I felt as if it was my home also and was not going to let her down. It wasn’t easy. The headaches and stress from building the home seemed endless. On Christmas eve we were finished and moved in. I stayed for about a year then moved out. I always came back on weekends to help around the house.
At the same time I had purchased a five acre piece of property with money I had been saving for years. I was hoping to build my own home on it some day. I had all the timbers and lumber cut by a saw mill for a timber frame home. All the mortis and tendon joints I made by hand which took me weeks to do. I found out that the township where the property was did not give extensions on building permits. They wanted everything done and completed in six months. I was figuring on maybe two or three years to build my home. A little at a time as the money came in. I couldn’t do anything but wait and cover the timbers and lumber from the rain and snow.
It took me years to save up enough money to try again but about five years ago my mom passed away. What a living hell!! My father was upside down with all the bills which he never payed attention to when she was alive. So to keep the home from going into foreclosure I helped him financially. I put my dream on hold again.
We all chipped in, even my sister and her family moved in to help out. I guess you can say we were a little bit like the Amish. Three different generations living under one roof helping one another to get through a tough time.
Then about two years ago I finally had a chance to look at the timbers that I had covered so many years ago. My heart sank … half of the timbers and lumber were either rotted or had carpenter ants living in them.
I knew I needed to do something fast before I lost the rest of the wood. So I told myself “if you can’t build your home right now then build something smaller”. I didn’t even have any ideas or drawings. That week I started building out of sheer panic.
The first one was an A frame style cabin with short side walls. They ended up being short because I didn’t have long enough timbers. The second cabin I built was a style I called “the little house on the prairie”.
The wood I got to salvage from a home I’ve never been able to build (yet) went into building two beautiful cabins. My dream in building my own home some day is still alive. I wont quit. Nothing feels better than to build you own home from scratch.
The cabin in the photo [above] with the sod roof on it is one of my favorites. The grass grows all year round without any maintenance required. The birds love it because of the nesting material. I use it now for holding workshops and keep the other side for a small bait shop that I gave to my father to help him put a few dollars in his pocket.
Being an entrepreneur I’m always looking for creative ways to solve problems / salvage material / use things that nobody else will / and use my gifts that God has given me.
A home is not just a place to sleep. It’s a place where memories are made. I built it …so it means a lot more to me.
Out of all this came a new business called Kevin’s Cabins. ( http://kevinscabins.com ) If any of your readers want to know more about me or the cabins please let them know that I would love to talk with them.
Reading Kevin’s email reminded me of what a magical thing “home” is – no matter what size it is or how hard it is to achieve. Everyone makes their home in their own way, in their own time, but some people have to be a bit more resourceful than others.
For those people, there’s nothing sweeter than home.