Living Large in our Little House

You Can Skimp on Looks, but not on Quality

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

We drove down our long, winding driveway in anticipation of viewing the progress the builders made on our dream lake home the previous week.

My husband stopped the truck and we just sat there, staring, not in awe, but in shock.
“What the *$!*?” my husband said. “The back is facing the driveway instead of the lake!”
Only the framing was up, but we could tell by the placement of the holes where doors and windows were to go that our 480-square foot dream was facing the wrong direction!


Like most working people going after their dreams, we were on a tight budget. Halting construction and starting over was possible – but would cost us.

When we did the math, we knew the cost wasn’t worth what we would have to give up – 2×6 construction, the highest rated insulation, energy efficient windows, doors and appliances.


When we built our Little House in the Big Woods, as my sister in law has dubbed it (can you tell she teaches Kindergarten?), we didn’t intend on living there full-time at first, but we knew we wanted a cozy, energy efficient cabin that would keep us cool in the summer and warm during winter retreats.

That decision almost cost us one of our little beloved dogs, Hershey. She was older when we built the cabin and during one of our many trips to the town hardware store when the cabin was first completed, we didn’t realize how airtight our place really was. Turns out, if you don’t shut a door all the way, when you open another, the trapped air will cause the improperly closed door to open. Poor Hershey, nearly blind, stepped out of the backdoor and dropped 4 feet to the ground. We came home and she was wandering around in circles in the yard. Thankfully, she hadn’t been eaten by coyotes and was otherwise all right. We learned our lesson about just how well our cabin was built – and our deck was completed soon after!


Not skimping on construction has also kept us warm and cozy in the winter now that we do live here full time. We only use a small wood burning stove for heat – and many times – we have had to turn it down, as it gets too hot in our little cabin. I would also recommend a wood-burning stove to anyone building any house in the country. We not only used the stove to heat our home during an 8-day power outage last winter caused by the great ice storm that hit several states, but we used it to cook our meals as well.

In the height of summer, we pay about $70 for electricity for the cabin – and that includes running a window air unit. In the winter, we often only have to pay the minimum our electric company requires.

We may have a house situated cockeyed to the lake below, but we have an energy efficient one – and besides, the strange way it’s positioned always makes for interesting conversational ice breakers with first time visitors to the Little House in the Big Woods!

Thank you Kerri for sharing your story. You can follow Kerri’s continuing story at the Living Large in our Little House blog.




by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for the (Tiny House Blog)

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