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Welcome to our cabin: this inviting getaway was quickly built from a kit. It showcases new materials and techniques.

Inspired by the compact, one-room miners' cabins of the Gold Rush era, this 400-square-foot structure works for today by incorporating some of the latest resource and energy-efficient products. Architect David Wright designed the modular unit to be easy to build and inexpensive to operate. Its simple, iconic porch-fronted design allows it to fit into almost any setting, from the mountains to the coast. It's adaptable in function too: You can build it in a suburban backyard as a guest house or home office. We put it on display at our headquarters, where thousands of Visitors toured it during our annual Celebration Weekend event in May.

Unlike its rough-hewn ancestors, the cabin feels bright and spacious. A T-shaped wall divides the 20- by 20-foot interior into a main living area--which rises to a 14-foot peak--and a kitchen, closet, and bathroom, which are tucked under a storage and sleeping loft. Other elements contributing to the airy design include a pair of skylights and clerestory windows. A double-glazed 12-foot-wide sliding-glass door opens up the cabin to the 8 1/2-foot-wide porch, which wraps around the front and one side. Cream- and sage-hued walls coupled with bamboo flooring and light-colored contemporary furniture add to the fresh, informal look.

Construction and materials

Built with a modular system of engineered panels called structural insulated panels (SIPs), the cabin is extremely energy efficient and easy to construct. The walls and roof arrived on a flatbed truck, and a crew of four erected the shell in just seven hours. Because it was a temporary installation, we did not build a foundation.

The exterior is covered with materials that are long lasting and resistant to fire, insects, and rot, including a metal roof (fabricated on site), fiber-cement siding, and composite wood decking. The only dimensional lumber used in construction is in the deck and porch roof framing, the framing of the interior walls, and the trim around the windows and floor.

Designed as a getaway, our cabin is ideal for a young family. We installed a Murphy bed on the porch to take advantage of balmy summer nights. The cabin could also be equipped with a photo-voltaic system and a passive-solar water heater so that it could function off the grid. Propane or natural gas could run the direct-vent stove, range, or cooktop, and even a refrigerator (from a company that supplies RVs). A light palette--including warm wood tones and simple textures--contributes to the summery atmosphere.

RELATED ARTICLE: Plans and prices

The complete plans for the cabin are available from architect David Wright for $1,500. The shell of our cabin was fabricated and installed by Sun Builders of Nevada City, California. The kit's cost is $14,975, plus tax. Shell assembly cost is $1975, in addition to travel, per diems, and equipment. Not included are foundation, electrical, plumbing, siding, roofing, windows, and doors, framing of interior walls and porch, decking, plaster wallboard, painting, and furniture. Finished costs of the cabin shown here would be about $70,000, but that amount could be reduced by selecting other finish materials. The cabin was built by De Mattei Construction in San Jose.

Vacation cabin resources

Sunset would like to thank the following companies for donating time, expertise, and materials.

Design: David Wright Associates, AIA, Grass Valley, CA; (530) 477-5058 or

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs): Better Building Systems and Advanced Foam Plastics (AFP), Grass Valley, CA; (530) 477-8017 or

Cabin Shell Fabrication and Construction: Sun Builders, Inc., Nevada City, CA; (530) 265-8724 or

Local Construction: De Mattei Construction, San Jose; (408) 295-7516 or

Bathtub and Toilet: Saratoga Plumbing Supply I (De Anza), San Jose; (408) 996-1773

Decking: Trex Company, LLC, Winchester, VA; (800) 289-8739 or

OK Lumber, San Carlos, CA; (650) 593-8041

Drywall Services: Denvik Drywall Systems, Gilroy, CA; (408) 842-6116

Fireplace: Hearthstone, Morrisville, VT; (800) 827-8603 or

Floating Bamboo Flooring: Smith & Fong, South San Francisco, CA; (650) 872-1184 or

Flooring Installation: Rick Bauman Floors, Pacifica, CA; (650) 355-0324

Hearth Pad: Hearth Classics, Sandy, OR; (800) 829-5470 or

Interior Furnishings: IKEA Emeryville, Emeryville CA; (510) 420-4532 or

Metal Roof: Custom But Metals, South El Monte, CA; (800) 826-7813 or

Metal Roofing Alliance, Gig Harbor, WA; (253) 858-0233 or

Murphy Bed: Create-A-Bed, Louisville, KY; (877) 966-3852 or

Paint: Payless Ace Hardware & Rockery, San Jose; (408) 274-4922

Painting: Rianda Painting, San Jose; (408) 264-6610

Photovoltaic Systems: Gaiam Real Goods, Hopland, CA; (800) 919-2400 or

Roofing Installation: Western Region Roofing, San Jose; (408) 360-9111

Siding: Certain Teed Corporation, Valley Forge, PA; (610) 341-7000 or

Skylights: Velux Roof Windows and Skylights, Greenwood, SC; (800) 888-3589 or

Solar Hot Water: Solahart USA Inc., San Martin, CA; (925) 249-1546

Windows: Loewen Windows, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada; (800) 563-9367 or

Hull's NorCal Window and Door, Chico, CA; (530) 345-5266
COPYRIGHT 2002 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Whiteley, Peter O.
Date:Aug 1, 2002
Previous Article:Seeing clearly: an open design and a fresh, cool palette brighten this home. (Home).
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