I’m Selling my Tiny Cabin on a River in Oregon

by Travis Moles



Hello all

Going up for sale in August 2012.

Tiny Cabin on a River, one hour West of Portland, Oregon.

Reasons That Might Persuade:

  • It’s on a coastal river in Oregon that has a Salmon Run!
  • It’s located smack in the coastal range, in a landscape dominated by wildness.
  • There is a forest maintained hiking trail within walking distance.
  • There is a wild river located a few miles away (river with no road along it -very rare in the US).
  • There is a mountain lake located a few miles away with a healthy fish population.
  • There is nothing but forest in every direction, except for my AWESOME neighbors upstream, which I can’t really even see from the cabin.
  • The property is small, yet there are a multitude of places inside and out to nestle oneself with the main presence always being that of the river.
  • Alternative construction process: It’s built modular with as much recycled and local materials as I could scrounge (more details in building section). I used a vegetable oil powered truck to acquire materials and haul them there.
  • 5 miles away is a small general store with everything from food and wireless internet to pipe fittings and gas/diesel. There’s good cell service there. It’s nice to be able to go to the cabin and have a focused removed time, with the option to leave and check up on any real world commitments if need be. I like that I have to leave the cabin to do this.

Reasons That Might Dissuade:

  • In Oregon, no permit is required for structures 200 sq. ft. or less, this one is 12’x16′ (196 sq. ft): It’s not permitted.
  • It doesn’t have a driveway. My neighbors are AWESOME and allow me to drive through their property on to mine, but that’s not something I can promise will be in place 50 years from now. It’s possible to park on the road above it, but it’s a little tight, I’ve done it, and I wouldn’t recommend it for a long term solution. A 3 minute walk down the road is a large pullout with enough parking for a small family reunion. If someone really wanted, a driveway platform could be built into the slope.
  • There is a culvert on the property that drains a few small creeks off the mountainside. During significant rain, it can really flow, there’s minimal-no flow during summer. I don’t mind it, and drink from it sometimes. If you got around to building a parking platform, one could be built over the culvert.
  • It’s off grid. There are no public utilities to the place. Power is a stone’s throw away. There are innumerable water sources, and it’s only a matter of determination if you’d want to harness some hydro and/or sun energy.
  • Cell service is spotty. This usually inspires me to just turn my phone off, which I like.
  • Those are all the deal breakers I can muster.
looking up to cabin

Current Utilities:

  • A classic propane stove / oven.
  • Gravity pressured river water for washing dishes and such.
  • Gravity pressured drinking water that I collect from a local spring
  • Gravity pressured shower (heat up water on stove first)
  • Candles when it gets dark (lots of windows provide natural light all day).
  • I haven’t minded enough to put in a heat system. It’s a decently insulated small space and heats up significantly with body heat. Would be prime for a mini wood stove or one of these: http://www.dickinsonmarine.com/propane.php
  • Composting toilet under the cabin (Best view I’ve ever had from such a seat).
in the window


  • I’ll continue to update this document as new questions come in.
  • The lot size is .12 acres. There’s a nice open flat spot next to the cabin with plenty of room for people to gather and have a fire. There’s also an excellent sandy space at the river’s edge (this varies with water level). The rest of the lot has varying slope to it. Some of the .12 acres is actually in the river.
  • Is it out of the flood zone? -The cabin is approximately 9 feet higher above the water than the house upstream from me. If the cabin gets taken out, the area will be in trouble.
  • The only neighbors I have are upstream from me. There is nothing but forest in every other direction. My neighbors have be most gracious and welcoming to me. At first I was scared that they would feel I invaded their space. On the contrary, they said: “This is America, a guy should be able to buy a piece of land and build a cabin on it!” They initiated the idea of me driving through their property to get to mine. Again, you can’t count on this relationship to be in place in 50 years, and: the neighbors are AWESOME. I’m seeking to find someone who will appreciate and respect these people.
the river

Building Story

I lead backpacking expeditions for a living. On one trip I dreamed up this modular cabin idea. On the following trip, I drew up the design. On the next trip I made a complete materials list. When I came home I didn’t have a good reason not to build it. So I setup shop in my backyard in Portland. I spent much time sifting through recycled materials: All 9 windows and the door were acquired from recycling centers. I got all the insulation from a demolition crew that tore down a newer house. The entire deck platform, stairs, and upper decking rails were all made from lumber that I recycled from a garage roof in Portland. I got most of the heavy duty roof felt from a guy down the street who ordered too much.

cabin plan

All interior amenities are 2nd hand pieces. I bought all the lumber from a local mill that acquires wood from the Northwest. As I began to assemble the pieces I found a small patch of land out by the coast! So I designed the layout to sit and overlook the river. I assembled all the panels together in my backyard in Portland and put the roof on. Then I disassembled it and hauled it out to the coast and put it back together. For all structural pieces I used tork drive screws for ease of disassemble and modification. There is not one nail in the whole structure. I designed it modular for its portability and strength. Unlike a traditional home, which has structural integrity as a whole, each piece of this cabin has its own structural integrity. It’s strong.

cabin ready to be moved

After much thinking about foundation options, I chose pier blocks and posts. I concluded that any structure built on the base of a coastal mountain is going to shift at some point, so why pour a bunch of concrete? The cabin currently sits on a stout, cross-braced, post and pier foundation. And, one day, when it does shift, someone can get out a couple hand tools, some bottle jacks and spend the afternoon leveling it out for years to come. One corner actually sits on a massive old growth stump; I don’t think that one will need attention any time soon.

cabin walls up

Why Would I Sell It?

I’m looking to engage in some long term far away adventures starting this fall. I’d like to bask in it for the first part of summer, make it a little more welcoming, then pass it on to someone who will cherish it.

cabin roof panels

Location and Showing

It seems inevitable that random people at random times would end up strolling around my neighbor’s place if I were to list the location – and I don’t want that. I hope to start showing the Cabin to small groups of folks who are SERIOUSLY interested starting in early August. Until then, it’s about an hour west of Portland, and about a 1/2 hour inland from the coast.

The Sale

I’m not sure what it’s worth. Therefore I feel most inclined to set up an auction and begin with the price of a cheap new car: $12,500, and pray that it gets bid on like crazy. I’m open to offers, but don’t really like haggling, and don’t want to spend much time doing that. View more pictures here.

Contact Me

Please email me with any questions you might have, and I will attempt to post answers below. If seriously interested and would like to begin a dialog, send me an email; I may be backpacking and will get back to you as soon as I’m able.


All the best in your search,


cabin completed

32 thoughts on “I’m Selling my Tiny Cabin on a River in Oregon”

  1. 1) “About an hour west of Portland” isn’t quite specific enough.

    2) Is there already an auction?

    3) Details on general store would be nice. It’s 5 miles away, so give the location of that, if you don’t want to give the loc of the cabin itself.

  2. It’s beautiful, Travis. I understand your answer about being in the flood zone, that the valley would be in trouble if the cabin floods. But, have you had it surveyed or seen a flood zone map? Is it within the FEMA flood zone and if so, how far within, or how far below the elevation of the outside edge of the flood zone, please?

  3. I am totally in love with this… I spent some of my growing up time living much like this and for some reason it speaks to me today… I’m sick of the “American Dream” this is MY dream! Beautiful!!

  4. from Ontario Canada, I am aching to live in a tiny cabin like this……if anyone knows of any (cheap) options in my area, I’d love to hear about anything!!!


  5. I’m wondering about this too. You hold the deed on the .12 acres the house is currently sitting on, and that is included in the purchase price? Is it the neighbors’ land? Does the owner of the land know your house is on it?

  6. This is EXACTLY the type of tiny house and property that I’d love to own – except it’s on the wrong continent for me… 🙁
    Your neighbours truly sound like awesome people, I hope whoever buys your lovely house will appreciate them just as you do.

    Best wishes (from Europe)


  7. It’s a very nice location and I’m sure someone will be interested. Also, an interesting building technique and my comment is more related to this than an expression of interest.

    Travis writes “Unlike a traditional home, which has structural integrity as a whole, each piece of this cabin has its own structural integrity. It’s strong.”

    I appreciate the desire and advantage of building modular components but I wonder if that logic about structural integrity holds? Does whole structural integrity naturally follow if each piece has its own structural integrity?

    A brick has natural structural integrity but a stack of bricks does not unless specific techniques are used to join them together.

    Maybe Travis can comment about what provides the structural integrity in this construction.

  8. I’m interested but will be traveling the south Pacific for the next six weeks, Would like to hear from you then.

  9. Wow…there is a very lucky person out there who is going to get this little slice of heaven. I’m so tempted, but it’s not in the cards for me yet. I loved seeing the pictures and the videos though. Thank you for sharing this. : )

  10. I am seriously interested in purchasing your cabin.
    Does the land go with it?
    Are you taking offers or going to use an auction type approach?
    Is it possible to see it?

  11. Is this property available? Contact me please via email or cell ( call or txt). two one nine 405 three 0 three 7.


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