Timber Frame Writer's Retreat Cabin

In July of 2012, TimberHomes raised and enclosed a 10’x14′ timber frame writer’s retreat cabin in Duxbury, Vermont. Though a small project, it did pose some significant logistical challenges. Unreachable by truck, all materials and tools had to be carted or carried down a steep woodland path to the site. Nestled into a classic mixed northern hardwood forest, the cabin’s location actually turned out to be an oasis. With many days’ temperatures in the high 80s and even a few in the 90s, we were all grateful to be working in a place where the midday sun was obscured by tree cover.

 

The project was truly unique from the ground up. Prior to the build, the homeowners 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.