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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Bolt-Together House 1972- a prefabricated tiny vacation house HIT from Jeff Milstein

For any newcomers to the site (Make Mag, etc.) our NEW, very-expanded edition of our Tiny House/Cabin/Fort/Shack Design book is available for order at the end of this post...)- at a REALLY discounted price. Thanks! 
I've been asked many times before by people "Just what IS your favorite small house style of design?", or "What's the coolest tiny home you've seen?" interviews, in casual conversations.....

Realtor's Photo- from Deer Island, New Brunswick (if the new owners EVER see this post, we'd LOVE to come up and film/interview you guys for our show! PLEASE don't buy this place for the land and tear down the cabin!)
Well, one of the reasons I hesitated on posting these photos and this info, is because the cabin in this blog post was actually recently for sale, and Dustin, Dawn (my brother and my sister-in-law) and I were actually contemplating buying it so that we could shoot a documentary film on it, and occasionally use it. The price (and its WATERFRONT, ON an island in New Brunswick)- a mere $18,000.00. The ultimate reason on us passing and making an offer was that it was just too far away- AND we already have our off-grid cabin in Vermont (See "Tiny Yellow House: Vermont Cabin" episode on youtube).

A shot of the micro-loft
THIS is definitely one of my favorite cabin designs and concepts- and it ties right into the Lester Walker book (link below) which was my FIRST tiny housing book I was gifted at age 10- back in the mid eighties. I STILL haven't tired of this book, and as I've slowly been piecing together a "Deek's Top 15/20 Tiny House Design Books" for an eventual post here, Walker's book will easily be in my top five. Again, check it out below....

Lester's book has some schematics and measurements/multi-views of how to construct this simple cabin. 

Exterior- overall length is just 16'- (four sheets of plywood/T-111)

Dustin "Dr. Demolition" Diedricksen actually had a chance to step inside this place on his way to Nova Scotia a few weekends back and has quite a bit of footage he filmed showing the interior, exterior, and surrounding landscape of this cool little cabin. Once he gets it edited down, we'll toss it up on my relaxshacksDOTcom youtube channel.
The History on this cabin design- Architect Jeff Milstein came up with the pre-fabricated concept of this vacation house (in 1972, which could be fully built for $2500.00), and released the idea through Family Circle Magazine- it not only became a huge hit, even with a cult-following to this very day, but still stands as THE best selling blueprints that the magazine ever carried- selling out its 25,000 copies.

And my book (above- Lester Walker gave me a very positive write-up/review on it as well- which didn't suck).  -Derek "Deek" Diedricksen


  1. Derek,
    Have you had any luck placing any of your structures as primary living spaces in Massachusetts?

    Out here in the Pioneer Valley, I am having a hard time finding any land where I will be allowed to build a tiny house.

    Pete Olsen

  2. Hey Pete....

    Most of what I build is limited by my own space, and money/time- and is built for the sake of material experimentation (for possible application in larger structures). They're not full time residences- more like weekend retreats or escape pods- that said, they're all well under 120 square feet (the size by which I don't really need a building permit in my particular town for a "shed") and in most cases, like yours, the key seems to be finding some understanding and adventurous neighbors, or a friend with land who will let you build your dwelling (better yet, portable (if the later need arises) on his/her property- somewhere out of sight. Massachusetts is terrible, when it comes to the allowance of small homes- even when not bank financed. Many other people, like Jay Shafer, seem to own real, larger homes, but rent them out, while living in smaller dwellings in their own backyards- income AND a tiny house. -Deek

  3. Great post and gives a sense of history in terms of Americans' expectations around vacation homes. It would be interesting to document other modest getaway places built throughout the U.S. before the McMansion era.

  4. My father-in-law built this house in his garage and trucked it up to Hobart, stood as a weekend cottage until around 1992, when it flooded and was ruined. I love the modern paint job on the New Brunswick house...wonder if it were built at around the same time. I talked my pere-in-law to building it rather than trucking up a trailer to the was used as a ski cabin, sometimes sleeping SIX people in tight quarters...great house, very well-thought-out design. The house you have pictures of is no longer on the website of the realtor. "SIGH"...

  5. Love to hear it- do you have photos of the old place- esp. interiors? I'd love to see them! Thanks for commenting

  6. Did the video ever make it to your you tube videos? I can not find it. I am debating on building it in the hills of AZ.

  7. My brother shot the video, and has yet to finish the edit- he works insane hours, so at some point, I just may have to steal the footage from him.....thanks for the reminder...


  9. Video is pretty much done, we're just nixing one shot or so, and posting it really soon....thanks for being patient.

  10. All you have to do is look at the in the "tiny house"book and figure out how to build it. The pic show 2 2x6x16 and 2 2x6x14 bolted to 5 gal. buckets of concrete with enbeded brackets to bolt the 2x6s to then place them on level ground 8 foot apart in a square,you should be able to figure out the rest simply look at the pics and do some simple calculations and you got it, I guess I have built so many sheds and homes its just easy for me,I am going to build one this spring for my new studio,shop.....WCH