Daniel’s Lithuanian House Update

by Daniel Combellick

For those unfamiliar with the project, It was started the summer of 2012. I have 12 acres just 30 minutes north of Vilnius, Lithuania. 2012 saw the completed exterior shell, which I originally planned without the full bath. 2013 I insulated, drywalled, plastered, wired, and installed the woodstove and chimney. Spring of 2014 I decided to make this my permanent residence. therefore, early in 2014 I began the bath/laundry/ rear entry. The bath would have a lavatory, toilet, shower, and clothes washer. This I accomplished in a space of 75 sq. ft. I also added on an oversized airlock for additional storage space.

Another reason behind the change of heart on the bath is I would like to have a place for people to come and stay, and not everyone would be excited by the prospect of too few amenities. During summer months I can move back into the old log house, and this house can be rented out to people who would like to experience this kind of living, this remote location, learn about building if it interests them, or who just wish to get away from – wherever they are- and just about everything else for that matter.

You can see the beginnings of the formwork on the left for the rear airlock/entry.



Progress could be faster, but the day is always filled with the other chores of living.


As an example, the garden.

Remember while I am here I am living in the old log house, which has no plumbing and barely electricity.

Everything I do takes extra time. Just to do dishes is a long chore, and it restricts me when cooking, I am always worried about making another dish dirty. The stove and the fridge were inside, the water outside, so my working triangle in the kitchen was about 50 feet and through three doorways. So all in all, I would get to work on the house about 4 hours a day, then address all the other tasks necessary.

I needed to add some ventilation to the bath. I do not like looking at exhaust vents. here was my solution.




I got it as far as the roof, and then turned my attention to a tool shed. I hired the roof to be completed. I don’t like other people working on the house, but there is a limit to how much time I have.


The tool shed foundation.

tool shed

and after about 4 weeks.

In the future, I plan a second “gardening/landscaping” shed, but for this year these tools must share space. The carpenter tools are a little huffy about it, and the gardening and digging items are going to have to suffer snide comments from them, but hopefully not for long.

Once the tool shed was finished, or at least useful, I was able to clear all tools from the tiny house project, and turn my attention to finishing things inside. Since then I have been working almost without break. I needed a place to live. Winter was coming.

I built the entry doors, which are really nothing more than barn doors, with good locks, and then insulated and finished on the inside as well.


Did ceramic tile.


tile 2

I also had a crew come and drill a well next to the hew house. They ran a pipe to the new house over a meter deep, so I could have year-round water.
I am not a master plumber. But there is water everywhere I want it, and nowhere I don’t so… good enough? The water heater is just 30 liters. It is plenty for a shower.

mechanical room

The “mechanical room”.

The closer I get to done seems to create greater impetus to finish things. There was also the weather. Since my water supply at the old house was a hose from the well, as soon as it freezes I lose running water. Add into this the old house is impossible to keep warm, and just supplying it with firewood was a major project. It made me sick to continually thrust logs into the old wood stoves and not even have the place warm if the wind was blowing.


Although I had planned to build kitchen cabinets myself, I simply was running out of time. I went to IKEA. I am happy with the result.

Thanksgiving day was the last day of using the outhouse.




So this year I have gone from an old, cold, bug infested house with no plumbing, to a modern small living place. totaling about 450 sq feet.

I was able to move some furnishings in.

living area

sleeping area

View from bedroom window:

view from bedroom

dining area

I still have a long way to go.

But most days something gets done, some small improvement.


This is the view from the West, you can see where the new well is, and the mess from digging. The orange on the right is the front airlock, on the left the rear airlock and storage area. The lower window with the shutter is in the shower, the upper window is the bedroom.

On this property there is only 3KW of power available, so it was an easy decision to go with 100% LED lighting. I could turn on every light in the house and it would not equal two 100 watt incandescent lights.
A plus and a minus of where I live is the isolation. For being just 20 km from the geographical center of Europe, you might think it would be more crowded. The closest neighbor is about 1 km( 0.6 m) away. It is a plus because I vehemently dislike hearing other people’s noise. It is a minus because sometimes it can be extremely lonely. But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. Also, I have not exactly encouraged people to visit. I think now that this was related to the stress of my previous living conditions. Someone coming out invariably led to more dishes, more work of some sort. I think I would not admit this even to myself, as I pictured myself able to live in any circumstances, but now that conditions are improved I seem to think more clearly. In some ways I think I could not think then, simply because of the stress. I limited my concentration to the project of building the new house, and tried to block everything else out. People who are interested in taking a similar path might consider it, others might be fine with it. I was not. Primitive life has its drawbacks.

As I am writing this I have been living in the new tiny house for about two months. The temps have been as much as -13C, there has been wind and rain and snow. The extra attention I paid to insulation can be felt every day. Indeed when it is around freezing the house is difficult to keep cool enough. I usually need to open a window. My joy increased when the temperatures really dropped, and at times it was still necessary to open a window. The windows are triple paned, and of good quality, all electrical outlets are completely sealed. It is a great feeling to be comfortably warm with a small fire going, and howling winds and snow outside. Not the smallest draft – such a change from a 70 year old log house.

Next year I need to add another tool shed, storage for all my collected crap I have been accumulating since I was a carpenter in Montana in 1973, and a wood shed large enough to hold three winters of wood.
Here I am in my winter hat.


And here is a picture of a cat.


And here is a poem:

I like a good story, with swords more than guns.
I like mail clad knights and horses that run.
I like a fair princess in high tower trapped,
And heroic rescue that wakes her from her nap.
On this lonely hill in a faraway place
I have trouble sometimes to find even a trace
of heroic deeds, of honor, adventure,
but isn’t this simply destructive self-censure?
We cannot compare the times we are now
to ones where we weren’t. No matter, no how.
There is plenty of drama in everyday life
if we simply could see it, it it’s proper light.

I have said in the long dark winters of Lithuania, one must become a poet or an alcoholic. I try to choose the former. I am late in getting this article to Kent, so I add one more springtime Poem.

Skeins of geese and wedges of swans honking across the sky,
In the far away a herd of cranes making their ancient cry,
Murders of crows, labors of moles, a tiding of magpies too-
A sounder of boars, mobs of deer, (but no troops of kangaroo)
The northern Spring is underway it is time to plant some trees,
Clean the gardens, pick up sticks, and rake away the leaves.
A murmuration of starlings sparkles the forest with sound,
Husks of hares with startled stare scatter with leap and bound.
Braces of ducks, a boil of hawks, an unkindness of raven, or two,
But best of all, not yet, but soon-a mustering of storks in the blue

48 thoughts on “Daniel’s Lithuanian House Update”

  1. stunning, just stunning!..both interior and exterior are so functional AND lovely to look at ,which is not always the case……..’congrats and good luck to you!

  2. You have done an outstanding job on your tiny house! It is very well planed out much better than most! Really exceptional work and crafmanship! Love it!

  3. So much to admire, here: thanks for the honest look at the difficulties of your tasks and choices. It makes the beautifully functional results all the more compelling. And I do love that birdhouse over the plastic vent!

    • She is a wonder, Rob. She has cleared this farm of rodents, and now she wanders far away to find more. She is very adventurous, fearless, and never meows. She never chases birds! Really, a perfect cat.

  4. I loved this story. The pioneer spirit is not dead! Sometimes it looks that way with the soft, stress filled lives we live. Reaching out to friends is one of the best remedies for loneliness 🙂 Enjoy your new snug home!

  5. Good job, it all looks beautiful, progress and reflection. I bet there are apples growing nearby; make yourself a pie and celebrate.

  6. Hello Dan. So much enjoyed your story and your poems. I am glad you are warm and cozy in your new house. Yes a critter to cuddle is great companionship. I recommend it. My husband and I hope to escape the urban sprawl we presently live in and build an ecco friendly small house on a piece of property. You are an inspiration. Happy trails!

    • A critter to cuddle? 🙂 Cats are for keeping rodents under control. A dog would be for keeping the deer away, and chasing the neighbor’s cows off my land (they have a tendency to get loose). I am thinking about chickens, but there are many predators of chickens in the area, so a dog might help there too. I do not like buying food for cats or dogs, so they better earn their keep. I admit they can provide some company, but I fear I would only enjoy it if they are “doing their job”

  7. It looks like you have everything you need. Look at that view! What a peaceful area, I agree about the aversion to other’s noise. I like the outside colors (red and blue), the rough-hewn wood siding. The air lock is a great idea. I like how you can stand up in the bedroom, not have to crawl around on all fours. You’ve done a great job here. I like your poetry. Yes, look at all those apples, I like to make applesauce and apple cake. Thanks for sharing photos of the building process.

    • I have about thirty apple trees. Last year we got about 400 liters of apple juice- and that was primarily from just two trees. The trees are old, each year I cut three or four down. I think that between 5 and 10 trees is more than plenty. I wondered what the previous owners did with so many trees…. not enough to make a living from, I thought, and then in the old barn I was tearing down I found the remains of a still. Home made vodka. That, during soviet times, would have provided a handy little income.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this blog post– reading and seeing photos of your progress on the tiny house. It’s lovely! Have you considered donating some of your tools so you wouldn’t have to have 2-3 sheds? Sometimes less is more when it comes to material items.

  9. Lovely workmanship and details! Very functional. Impressive gardens too. Poem creates so many images of spring and rural life.

  10. The new house looks fabulous. I’m amazed at all you are capable of doing. I have to ask, though, what’s in Lithuania that made you go there?

  11. Absolutely beautiful, I love it!!! The shed is adorable too. I like the way you write, just like we’re having a conversation. 🙂

    • I would not say it was courage. There are consequences to changing your life, but there are also consequences to leaving it the way it is. One actually does not know what the issues will be in either case, so rather than focus on them, I just do what I want. It is, after all, something that many millions of people have done, over countless centuries. And Lithuania is an easy place to like. It is a beautiful country filled with highly educated and polite people.

    • Tina, this is a quiet land. Sometimes it is so still there is actually no sound at all, and that can be eerie. But nicely so. I have no barking dog-playing music too loud neighbors. No car alarms, no sirens, no traffic noise. On some days the loudest sound I hear will be the swishing of a crow’s wings through the air. They are very noisy fliers.

  12. An inspiration to me. Beautiful home. Love your garden and your kitty! I am living in a little, but too big for me house right now and yours is the direction I am heading towards. Wish I had your talents!

  13. Dan, I have nothing but admiration for you with what you have created for yourself, by yourself. Your slice of heaven-on-earth is something to be very proud of. It’s not something I could ever dream of doing, but I can appreciate how you live. Very, very well done!


  14. Daniel, you have done an amazing job with your lovely abode AND your poetry. Your sense of humor and love of your work shines through in your writing. Many, many blessings to your days and nights in your delightful new shelter!

  15. Hi Dan,

    Great design and great article. It is true, even the most basic amenities allow for comfort and less stress. I am curious,
    did you insulate the floor of your new house? I think that makes a huge difference.

    • You “think” it makes a difference? It is not a matter that is open for opinions. The floor can easily be the greatest heat loss in a house. When I was designing solar homes back when that was popular, running thermal calcs for the floor were just as important as the roof and walls.

  16. Dan,
    Thanks for sharing your photos of your beautiful home & garden and also the challenges (mental & Physical stresses)you overcame and your talent for building a cozy home,helpful friendships &partnerships to complete your dream and your inspiring creative poems ! Lovely !

    • Thanks for your kind words. I think my poetry is perhaps equivalent with starting a novel- “It was a dark and stormy night” . It is fun for me, that is all. It is very nice to hear someone else likes it, too. Thank you.

  17. Your care and enthusiasm are well-reflected. The garden looks amazing!

    Enjoyed the wordplay in the poem as well.
    Best wishes on many contented years of enjoying your handiwork and the gorgeous winter view.

    • Thank you. If Kent allows, I will send another update later in the year, and try to remember to include some of my views. Although it has little to do with a tiny house, I do live in a beautiful spot.

      • Labas Dan,

        I would love to read another update. I have never commented on this site, but have been curious because my mother who is 93 is Lithuanian and loved poetry.

        I would love to read more poems about Lithuania and see more views. Some day I hope to visit Lithuania.

        Do you speak some Lithuanian?

        Achu labia!

  18. What a beautiful house, Dan – you should be very proud of yourself. It looks very cosy and homely – everything a home should be. I wish you many happy years living in it.

  19. I join the others in thanking you for this story and sharing the results of all your work. I can imagine the satisfaction of living there after going along without plumbing and heat for some time. Good luck ahead with all your projects.

  20. I’m so glad to see the update and that your winters will be warm now. So many improvements in a relatively short time and mostly by your own hands, well done. The sheer luxury of what some people take for granted! I know what you mean about dishes too. When you carry all your water in and out like I did for years you are constantly doing little calculations in your head about what order to do things in so you get several uses out of a dish before it needs washing.

    Asking guests to help with chores is usually more trouble than just doing it yourself once you have to start explaining all the quirks in your systems. Now it will be so much easier.

  21. Yes! A comfortable little house it is. Snug as a bug in a rug! Thank you for sharing. You did an excellent job. And I really enjoyed following the progress. And the poems.

  22. Well done. Love your home, gardens and lifestyle. This is what I long for but I do not have the talents. I am trying to find a way to live like this……until I can I will live vicariously through your posts. Thank you!


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