Dan’s Smaller House in Lithuania

by Dan Combellick

Again working alone.

I like it most of the time, but there are moments when a second set of hands would be, well, handy.

This new project is on a farm not far from the capitol of Lithuania, Vilnius. This makes it much easier to acquire various building materials. But in general, wherever you are in Lithuania, you are not far from a sawmill, wood being a major export and forests abundant. And being from America, I like to build with wood.

This property had several buildings officially recorded on the title, and I chose the spot for the new construction in the location of one of those official structures, and by good fortune, the footprint is the size I wanted to use, about 24 square meters, approx. 240 square feet. I am adding a second floor, which yields perhaps another 150 square feet of “walkable space,” being under the roof, but also additional floor area which will provide useful storage space.

land for building

In this photo you see the site of the original building with the old apple trees cut back so they do not overhang the new roof. I am doing the roof in a traditional material, hand split Aspen shakes. Wood roofs do not enjoy having closely overhanging trees, and I have about 40 apple trees, so the loss of a couple does not discomfort me. Most of them are too old and have not been cared for, anyway. Plus apple makes good firewood.

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Ode to the Outhouse

The lowly outhouse may be making a comeback. Some tiny houses being designed these days are not being outfitted with a bathroom or even a space for a composting toilet. While a specific design or structure may be sound and even really beautiful, it may not provide people with one of the most basic of human needs. A simple or more complex outhouse could be a viable solution.

The outhouse originated about 500 years ago in Europe, and was used primarily at inns or in public spaces. During this time, the ubiquitous symbol of the crescent moon on the outhouse door also began to appear. Since most people were illiterate during this time, the male outhouses were marked with the symbol of a sun, indicating masculinity, and the women’s were marked with a symbol of a crescent moon, which represented the feminine (also the Roman goddess Diana who was the protector of women). As time went on and the American frontier opened up, the men’s outhouses were not maintained as well as the women’s (since men tended to just go out in the woods), so the men’s outdoor commodes began to disappear, leaving the women’s (and their crescent moon symbol) behind. Eventually, outhouses became unisex and some even included several different sized holes for men, women and children. Continue reading