Timber Frame Cabin


  • Square footage of 384 square feet (16 feet x 24 feet) with 192 square feet of loft space. 448 square of exterior covered porch space.
  • Pier and beam foundation.
  • Load bearing structure is timber frame construction consisting of rough sawn large dimension timbers (e.g. 8x8s, 8x12s) using mortise and tenon joinery.
  • The walls are 8 to 10 inches thick infilled with light clay straw. Light clay straw is straw coated with clay slip(watery clay) for binding. It has significantly more straw than the typical cob mix resulting in better insulative qualities. The R value of light clay straw is 1.5-2 per inch depending on how tightly it is packed.
  • Internal to the load bearing structure is framing of dimensional lumber (e.g. 2x8s) that provides attachments for windows and doors and supports light clay straw infill.
  • Cathedral ceiling with exposed rafters and 2×6 tongue and groove decking.
  • Rigid foam board mounted on roof deck provides roof insulation.
  • Vented roof deck with standing seam concealed fastener metal roof panels.
  • Supplemental cooling provided by 12000 BTU electric mini split air conditioner. Supplemental heating provided portable propane space heaters.
  • Not connected to public electric, water or sewer facilities and incorporates the following elements:
    • 4 kilowatts of solar PV modules located on the south facing monoslope roof.
    • A 48 volt 20 kilowatt-hour flooded lead acid battery bank.
    • Two 1650 gallon above ground rain water storage tanks
    • Composting toilet (bucket system)
    • A branched drain gray water system
    • Propane tankless water heater
    • Propane range
  • Other finishing and furnishing elements
    • Interior and exterior finished with earthen plaster consisting of sand, clay and straw
    • Alternating tread stair for loft access with counterbalanced raising mechanism
    • Slide out under counter top opening fridge(converted from chest freezer)
    • Custom built banquette with integrated storage and pedestal table
    • Bottle wall made from recycled beer bottles
    • An office desk that folds up to conceal wall mounted monitors


Video Series


  • Received Learn to Timber Frame by Will Beemer yesterday. Has cleared up square rule layout method I’ve been having difficulty wrapping […]

  • Staked out approximate corners of cabin footprint and flagged trees that need to be felled. Planning to call in professional […]

  • Site Layout and Preparation

    On Friday I staked out approximate corners of cabin footprint and flagged trees to be felled. On Saturday and Sunday […]

  • Site Preparation: Felling Dead Tree

    More clearing today including felling this large dead tree 

  • Water Usage Calculator

    This week I’ve been studying water usage to determine rain water collection tank sizing. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension has a […]

  • Design Page Updated with Floor plans

    I added floor plans to the Design page.

  • Updated 3D model with wrap around porch

    I updated the 3D sketchup model with walls, windows and the wrap around porch. Click on the design tab to […]

  • Saw Horses

    Paul made me a couple of sawhorses for working the timbers. For timber framing you want shorter than typical horses […]

  • Requested Estimates for Timbers

    I requested estimates for the timbers and 2×6 tongue and groove decking from Ryan Wholesale and McCoys. I also requested an […]

  • Exposed rafters and Insulating the Roof Deck

    I’ll be using 4×10 rough sawn timbers for the rafters. The roof deck will be 2×6 tongue and groove cedar […]

  • Pier and Beam Foundation

    I’m planning on using a raised floor, pier and beam foundation. Most houses in my area are on a single […]

  • Ground Broken

    We finally broke ground on the timber frame cabin this week. This is the first hole of total of nine […]

  • Foundation Poured

    This week we did the form work and poured the concrete pier foundation.  I cleaned out the holes we dug […]

  • Timber Framing Joinery: The Posts

    The lumber for our timber frame was delivered last week before we poured the piers. My friend John came out […]

  • Timber Framing Joinery: Continued

    We finished up the posts this week and moved on the first of the beams. I thought the 8×8 posts […]

  • Timber Framing Joinery: The Beams

    The joinery continued on this week with the tie beams and plate beams. We also managed to do some rafters […]

  • Last Beam Finished and Floor Construction Begun

    I had hoped that I could I have titled this post “Last Beam and Floor Construction Finished” but alas the […]

  • Sub-Floor Finished

    This week was all about flooring. Structural flooring that is. The architectural, aesthetically pleasing portion of flooring is still a […]

  • Larry Haun: House Framing Wizard

    While researching for this project I’ve watched many a diy construction video. Several months ago I stumbled upon Larry Haun. […]

  • Floor leveled and rafters cut, sanded and stained

    When we installed the grade beams I didn’t have complete confidence in the stick level readings. So on Monday, I […]

  • It’s only a model: Planning Framing Day

    The joinery is cut, the sub-floor is installed and so the time has come to raise the frame. Barring adverse […]

  • Laying out the bents and preparing for the frame raising

    This week we made preparations for raising day. Top of the list of the preparations was assembling the bents (wall […]

  • Frame Raising Day

    Leading up to raising day the following questions had been dogging me: Will the weather hold up? Will enough people […]

  • Roof Raising

    “Give a cob house a good pair of boots and a a good hat and she’ll last forever.” – The […]

  • Wall Framing

    After much deliberation as to how to frame the walls and some tinkering with window sizes and locations we started […]

  • Framing and Furring Strips

    Work continued this week on framing the exterior walls. We finished the front of the cabin but didn’t have enough […]

  • Framing and Porch Foundation

    Pouring the piers for the porch I’ve gotten a little behind with the weekly recap. Late April and early May […]

  • Roof Installation

    Roof Installation

    Back in April we installed the 2×6 tongue and groove roof decking and put down some felt paper to provide […]

  • Porch Deck Installation

    Our porch deck materials were delivered a week and a half ago. As we’ll be on hiatus for the latter […]

  • Porch Roof Design and Construction Overview

    Construction has resumed after our mid-summer break. I finished up the porch deck a few weeks ago and have started […]

  • Porch Roof Construction Part 1: Posts and Beams

    We had a big stack of lumber delivered a few weeks ago so I sharpened up my chisels and dusted […]

  • Porch Roof Construction Part 2: Rafters and Decking

    Work continued this week on the rafters and decking for the porch roof. Cutting the rafters was the most complex […]

  • Plumbing Rough-In

    My goal is to have the walls ready to be infilled with light clay straw by the end of September. […]

  • Porch Roof Construction Part 3 – Gutters and Metal Cladding

    Central Texas has been experiencing something of a dry spell for the past few months. As the heat presses on […]

  • Electric Rough-In

    The month is almost over and we’re close to having the wall ready to be infilled with light clay straw.Over […]

  • Water Tank Pad Preparation and Tank Install

    Well, we’re on our way to rain water collection. In late August we ordered a couple of 1680 gallon water […]

  • Light Straw Clay Construction: The Orientation

    The plumbing and electrical have been roughed in, the furring strips have been installed, and last week 109 bales of […]

  • Inaugural Straw Light Clay Packing Party

    We invited a bunch of people over Saturday to help us pack the straw light clay in the walls and […]

  • Straw Light Clay Packing Party Part II

    The walls are about 2/3rd packed at this point. We had another work party last weekend that put a significant […]

  • Straw Light Clay Wrap up

    We had another small work party in early November that got us to around 85% complete. Over the latter half […]

  • Straw Light Clay Tumbler Design and Build

    We’ve moved on from the straw light clay phase of the build. I’ll have some posts up soon about pulling […]

  • Straw Light Clay Curved Wall

    In her book Light Straw Clay Construction Lydia Doleman has loads of diagrams like this one that really flesh out building […]

  • Electric Wiring

    We finishing up wiring the house in early January. I’m currently working on installing the solar power system so we […]

  • Windows Install

    “Dry-In” means that the building shell has been completed sufficiently to keep out wind, rain, or the weather in general, […]

  • Earthen Plaster (Base Coat)

    Earthen Plaster (Base Coat)

    Sand, Clay and Straw, the cornerstones of a well balanced natural building endeavor. We’ve had many conversations with people that […]

  • The Front Door

    The Front Door

    I was inspired by this custom made door on an earth sheltered house I toured while in Montana this past […]

  • Solar Power Install

    Solar Power Install

    The cabin is now powered by the sun! Check out the video below: And here are some stills: Wiring the […]

  • Water Collection System

    Water Collection System

    Here’s the plan for our water collection system. Red circles are down spouts. The blue circles are rain tanks. We […]

  • Earthen Plaster (Finish Coat)

    Earthen Plaster (Finish Coat)

    We finished plastering the inside of the cabin a couple of weeks ago. Check out the recap video here: And […]

  • Water Distribution System

    Water Distribution System

    Within a few weeks of plumbing in our gutters to our water tanks the tanks were full. The next thing […]

  • Flooring


    Sorry for lack of posts recently. We’re were pretty pushing hard in June and July to get the cabin livable […]

  • Kitchen and Dining/Living Room Furnishings

    Kitchen and Dining/Living Room Furnishings

    With the flooring finished it was time to get started finishing the interior. Several months ago we found a giant […]

  • Plumbing Revision/Winterization

    Plumbing Revision/Winterization

    In February 2021 central Texas experienced some extremely cold weather. There were at least five days where the temperature did […]

  • Septic System: In Pursuit of a Variance

    Septic System: In Pursuit of a Variance

    This is part 1 of a 3 part series of designing and installing our onsite sewage facility or septic system […]

  • Septic System: The Design

    Septic System: The Design

    A conventional septic system consists of a septic tank and an absorptive drain field. I’ll cover sizing and locating both […]

  • Septic System: The Install

    Septic System: The Install

    Note: This is part 3 of a 3 part series covering the design and install of conventional septic system for […]

  • Off-grid Living during a Texas Heat Wave

    Off-grid Living during a Texas Heat Wave

    My Google news feed is determined to feed me a constant supply of stories regarding Texas’ unprecedented drought and heat […]