In July of 2018, TimberHomes raised and enclosed this 10’x14′ timber frame writer’s retreat cabin in Duxbury, Vermont. This space will be used as a writing retreat and general “she-shed”, and has a loft space for guest snoozing. It does not have electricity or running water, but is insulated & air sealed and has a small wood stove, so it can be used year-round. The timber frame is built from local wood species, and the pine siding helps it blend into the classic mixed northern hardwood forest. Because of it’s middle-of-the-woods location, all materials and tools had to be carted or carried down a steep woodland path to the site, but this beautiful building site was well worth the schlepping.

The project was truly unique from the ground up. Prior to the build, the homeowners (who are repeat customers…this cabin was built for the owners of the “Vermont Craftsman” home) had used their tractor to move crushed stone and set boulders placed at the four corners of the building to be used as piers. From there an insulated, pressure-treated floor system was constructed. The underside was wrapped with reflective insulation to keep the warmth in and hardware cloth to keep the woodland critters out.

With the help of friends, the frame was successfully raised in a day. The next day we attached the pine tongue-and-groove roof boards and TopGuard roofing underlayment. With the roof protected, the focus switched to boarding up the walls, insulation, strapping, air sealing, and hanging doors and windows.

Not a residence, the writer’s cabin design exemplified a practical balance between cost and thermal performance. In terms of insulation, 2 layers of 1.5″ (R-12) Roxul Comfort Board were used on the roof and a single layer of 2″ on the walls (R-8). While this falls short of recommended residential R-Values, close attention was paid to properly air sealing the entire envelope. To this end, Mento, a “smart perm” house wrap, was applied and joints were taped with Tescon Vana. Heated with scrap wood, the writer’s retreat cabin should come up to temperature quickly and remain comfortable while being used.