Relaxshax's Blog


"The U.B. 30" Treehouse/Treefort: An Owl/Pac-man/Vampire-lookin’ guest two-sleeper in a tree
May 31, 2011, 3:54 pm
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“The U.B. 30” guest-sleeper- a treehouse/treehut that was prefabricated and then dragged deep into the woods of Vermont. It could also be used/made into a very affordable homless or emergency-relief shelter, and different variations/methods of roofing could be employed. Photo, and built/designed by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen/Relaxshacks.com

      (Post #2 Today- our workshop schedule and list of events is below). Here’s the prefab- build n’ drag treehouse I built for my brother Dustin, as a surprise for his 30th birthday up in the woods of VT on our 10 acre camp. I built the structure in a single day back at my home in Massachusetts, and then carted the pieces four hours north to Vermont, where my cousin Neil and I assembled most of this in a single evening. The total cost was around $250.00 or so, but with some backbreaking work, and with having to haul the materials down a quarter mile of rugged trails- while running a fever (you can hear it in my voice and breathing at times). The supporting cradle/base was made from pressure treated wood I found on the ride up- when I spotted someone tearing down their deck and leaving all the wood for the taking/trashing- talk about perfect timing (it saved me at least another $100 or more in wood).

Dustin, his wife, and their baby all slept in here during a monstrous storm- and not a single drop of wetness got within.
A few funky, $5.00 prints within- and a curbside, recycled window sash. Naturally, like ALL my cabins, i’ve included a candle-lantern- three actually. The rug used to be in my old living room, and I wouldn’t let it be thrown out- who would have thought its new home would have been six feet up in a set of trees?

We also shot a mini-video on this, which I’ll have up real soon…. on my youtube channel www.youtube.com/relaxshacksDOTcom

Happy birthday Dustin!

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen



Our 2011 Relaxshacks.com workshop- time schedule, speakers, details, and MORE….
May 31, 2011, 9:06 am
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 First, as you read the info below (to those attending this, and those not (you’ll see just what you’re missing!)- for any adventurous attendees, I’m contemplating (based on interest) letting attendees have to chance to overnight in one of my 4/5 micro-cabins (with some muffins, juice, coffee, bagels in the morn) in exchange for a donation/fee- all of which will go to financing an entire micro-shelter for the homeless– to be built by an organization in Georgia. If any of you might be interested, let me know. I need to raise about $650 or so to make this happen…..we’d prob. film it in the endrun- where you’d be thanked as well….

The Gypsy Junker Cabin- built by Derek “Deek” Diedricksen- almost ENTIRELY from roadside junk (except the plastic roofing). Something like this was intended as an idea jump-off point for homeless shelters.

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 As for the real-deal info you might need……
As we’ve mentioned already, our 2011 Relaxshacks.com Hands-On, Tiny Shelter/House Workshop is SOLD OUT,  but we’ve yet to really post the flow of what we’re calling a “One death-wish paced day of tiny house, construction, and thrift/salvage obsession”.

So, finally, here’s the loose rough-schedule for our workshop (as always, things are subject to change, and we have to be flexible)….. First Off, JUST ANNOUNCED- EACH attendee will be receiving a copy of “Compact Cabins”- a bestselling cabin-plan book from Gerald Rowan! Its a $20 book- and incredible, with 62 small house and cabin plans within. You’ll ALSO get the mini-book on Adirondack Pallet Chair construction from Repurposedgoods.com! And more to come….

WHEN: Sat, July 9th- Rain Or Shine….we’ll mega-tent the whole thing if we have to…. 8 am to 10pm culminating in a cocktail/wind-up/bonfire on the premises (weather pending).

8:00 AM- 9:00 AM Check In/Coffee/Donuts Meet N’ Greet- and on display will be Deek’s extensive collection of tiny housing design books- some rare (as long as it isn’t raining). This will give our attendees a chance to peruse through many books first hand (there’s nothing worse than buying a book online upon arrival finding out that its nothing like you thought it’d be). We’ll perhaps set up a few of our home-built solar cookers at this point, and some from solarovens.net as well.

9:00 AM– Deek will give a tour of the micro-cabins on the premises (most featured in “Tiny Yellow House” TV, The NY Times, PBS) and point out many of their salvage-built incorporations, and the ideas behind them. Attendees will be welcome to paw through and go inside each of these structures, while we talk about how they were built, why, and how recycled materials were used.
     On hand will most likely be- THE HICKSHAW, THE GYPSY JUNKER, THE BOXY LADY (as Seen at Maker Faire 2010 in NYC (A best in show prize winner/editor’s choice)), and possibly THE WEDGIE (a micro-shelter base-model), and THE GOTTAGIDDAWAY (a micro-shelter/small prototype for a pre-fab homeless shelter) -unless any of these are stuck on display elsewhere.
     Deek will also take all on a tour of his materials collection and explain as to how certain salvaged items can be put to use and will be incorporated into future projects. The tips/tricks of the trade in terms of salvaging (Deek’s road kit) will be shown and talked about too….

UPDATE- it looks like our LARGEST cabin/treehouse (in its prefabricated state) “THE WOLFE’S DEN” will also be on hand- before we drive it out to NY for re-assembling up in a tree. 

10:00 AM– Environmental Engineer and Harvard Grad, Dustin “Dr. Demolition” Diedricksen will talk about his experiences in his own small house (featured on CBS news) and give a demonstration on pallet speed-deconstruction and general salvage-harvesting tips (some of the materials of which will be used in the project later in the day).  A pallet deck chair from our Make Magazine/TV episode will also be on display, and other uses for pallet wood (and methods to do so) will be talked about. Each attendee will also get a free booklet of pallet-wood adirondack plans from Shelton Davis over at REPURPOSEDGOODS.com – based out of Atlanta.
    We’ll also showcase/explain our composting toilet set-up- and show the unit that was featured on our RelaxshacksDOTcom youtube channel….and yeah, its what you’ll be using- my house is too tiny to accommodate the in and out of 20 or more people all day.

11:00 Alex Pino of TinyHouseTalk.com (coming up here from FL- to speak, report on, and film some of this all day event) will give a presentation on the tiny housing scene and mobile living/codes, and the problems that small home builders/owners face- and ways in which we can overcome some of those hurdles/spacial tips, etc. He’ll also talk about his future small house construction aspirations and plans…his career as a full time tiny house addict, and more….

11:30 to12:00– Deek will give a short demonstration on Redneck Windows- building and incorporating salvaged-material, home built windows into your shed, houses, cabin, hunting camp. etc. This, alongside, many other speaking segments, might be filmed for “Tiny Yellow House” TV- which YOU will be part of!

12:00/12:15- 1:00/1:15 (Lunch guest/speaker) MIMI ZEIGER- Author of “Tiny Houses” and “Micro-Green” will be coming out from NYC to talk to us about her work in the tiny housing field, her reporting for Readymade, Dwell, and many other architectural magazines- and her newest tiny house design book. Its a Qn’A session with a woman well versed in the scene.

1:00 or so- to 5:30– After a quick intro on “Tools We Can’t Live Without”, we’ll get crackin’ on some hands-on building, and swing some hammers towards constructing our micro-shelter (A VERY affordable ultra-micro-shelter/camp design) and a mini-book of plans, materials lists, sketches, descriptions and more will be given to each attendee as well. “QUICK CAMPS n’ LEG CRAMPS” is the name of this mini-book/brainstorm-idea pack, which I really haven’t sold or released anywhere else yet (it was up for a very short time in ’09)- for workshop attendees ONLY! So that’s book #3 you’ll be handed- all yours to keep.

This group project will incorporate some outside-the-box design, in conjunction with the usage of many tool and concepts that you’ll later be able to employ while building your own structure down the road- all on a micro-scale- so we can attempt to finish the entire project in such a short amount of time. Alternative roofing ideas/examples will be talked about and shown too….

Its a large group, so we’ll all have to take turns with the hands-on aspect of things, especially coordination-wise, but even as onlookers, you’ll learn a good deal. Space pending. we might have a secondary project/tour in the works, if we split the group up.

If we have time, we’ll also touch-upon tricks of the trade, in terms of effective time, money, and labor savors while building your own home, or shelter down the road…

Times (as with all)- get pretty flexible from here on out….

5:30 pm– we take a dinner break (food included)- while TRISTAN CHAMBERS and LIBBY REINISH, builders of THE WHITTLED DOWN CARAVAN (which they recently drove across the entire US!) talk about their project, design, origins, and travels. We’ll also get to tour inside this incredible structure as an open-house (we might also be filming for “Tiny Yellow House” as an on-camera interview session conducted by Deek). Please no eating inside their gorgeous caravan! DEF. bring your camera.

6:00/6:30 or so to 9:00– we continue working on our project and finish as much of it as we can! We better bust butt, as Alex Pino of Tinyhousetalk might be the first victim to spend a night in this newly built mini-shelter/tiny house! YOUR work on this might appear both on “Tiny Yellow House” TV on youtube, and on Alex’s channel as well I believe- and certainly on a couple blogs. 

9:00- 10:00 Laid back BONFIRE and discussion wrap up….
10:00– We all fall into unconsciousness from exhaustion! Session ends….we all part ways, half in comas.

ALSO ON DISPLAY TO SEE DURING SIGN-IN AND BETWEEN SEGMENTS (weather and time pending as we have WAY TOO MUCH crammed into this day already……
-“The $3.00 Hammock- from an unaired RelaxshacksDOTcom episode) – perfect for space saving in tiny houses.
-A Simple, homemade, folding, solar shower rig….also great for seasonal vacation camps.
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Note: As we’re filming many parts of this workshop for tens of thousands of people to later see, we’re also looking for sponsors to help us cover the costs, materials, crew, food, etc- that all go along with hosting such an event. In turn, you or your co/product will be showcased in these videos, and you’ll be exposed to many, many people… kidcedar at gmail dot com if interested.

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen



Salvage Tips #4 (more free materials towards your tiny house/cabin/building projects….
May 30, 2011, 6:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s a cool email (below) I got the other day from a blog reader- left as is- some cool ideas, and Mike’s right, boatyards tend to be a place that “harbor” (wocka, wocka…), wasteful types…..

As always, we appreciate any of your ideas and input….. and we’ll have more photos on that recent gypsy wagon project soon.
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boatyard painting from samlow.com

 Hi Deek,

Bought your book, follow your blog, always accumulating stacks of rescued boards and lumber in the back yard for projects.
A great place to dumpster dive: boatyards, especially now when guys are taking off the winter covers and getting ready to put the boats in the water. 
Stuff I have actually found in boatyard dumpsters:
* Lots of 1×2 lath (used as supports for winter covers)…. I built a tree house out of this stuff, and an arbor for my back deck.
* Plastic shrink wrap material … a substitute for Tyvek? (Deek: Prob TOO airtight- but there would be tons of other uses for it).
* Copper wire
* left over, partially empty cans of paint (Deek: Marine paint is usually very high grade, and VERY expensive).
* various boat fittings (hinges, latches, other nice chrome plated bronze thingies)
* quality lumber, especially teak, oak and mahogany.  I just finished building a really nice sofa table out of thrown out oak lumber and the top is a couple of mahogany boards that were the back seat of an outboard boat. Little useless chunks of oak board make my Sunday barbeque smell like a fancy Italian restaurant. (Deek: GREAT firewood too- if not treated/stained).
* electronics (marine radios, cd players, speakers etc.) Some broken, some not.
* flare guns and flares …. July 4 fun?  Home defense??? (Deek: Er…..might want to leave these behind- lol- unless for use on your own boat).
* First aid kits and supplies
* fishing tackle and lead fishing weights (can be sold for the metal melt value)
* rope, cord, fishing line
* tons of recyclable bottles and cans = $$$
A couple of hours on weekend mornings cruising the boatyard dumpsters along Quincy-Weymouth-Hingham (Massachusetts) coast usually yield about $30 in recyclable beverage units plus AT LEAST a couple of the other treasures listed above.(plus, its fun! (Deek’s note)).
All the best,
Mike
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Good stuff Mike! Thanks so much!
-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen


500′ cable ride across a river to Louie’s Cabin In The Woods (Lloyd Kahn Video)
May 29, 2011, 6:58 am
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Great video from Lloyd Kahn of Shelter Publications here- and showing a rather ingenious (and fun) way to arrive at one’s backwoods homestead/cabin. Much more from Lloyd (included his upcoming tiny house/homes book) over at www.lloydkahn.com.
Shelter Publications are responsible for several great books on the outer-living, homesteading, free-thinking, self-built home tip- I most recommend “Homework”- as well as “Shelter”- hours of eye candy- that I STILL relook at. Lloyd’s new book on tiny houses (in which I believe I’ll have some sketches of mine included) is due out late this year- from what I last heard. Can’t wait to review it/check it out!

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen



a volkswagon/vw bus solar camper/rv conversion? What the heck?
May 26, 2011, 5:09 pm
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Out of Africa (No, not the Toto tune)- here’s a road sign shack/tiny home….
May 26, 2011, 6:47 am
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While driving by, I wouldn’t be sure whether or not to slow down for children, stop, of lookout for cattle crossing…..

from Jalopnik.com and one of our facebook group members- Tim Lewellan (thanks!)

I saw quite a few of these when I visited Jamaica years back- same with Puerto Rico- and I have to say, aside from the confusion and lack of direction that would result from their materials sourcing, its a pretty clever use of road signs….

Being all metal, I’d think you’d fry in these though- unless they’re insulated in some way….

(Ps- coolest sign I’ve seen recently- in Truro/Provincetown, MA- a “Turtle Crossing” sign- state issued. You can bet that one gets stolen by herp-nerds frequently!

-Derek “Deek” Diedricksen



Another Boston-area/Massachusetts Gypsy Wagon/Vardo/Tiny Home
May 25, 2011, 5:28 pm
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Sage (see our latest teaser video on HIS Boston Gypsy Wagon below) invited me to an open house/send-off party of sorts last weekend for this (below) new home on wheels/gypsy wagon, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it as I was in Wellfleet, MA for the Cape Cod Eco-Fest (which was great/fun!). I hope to get more info and photos on this very soon- as it looks like a great little place. I do have a few other pix though, that I’ll post soon….once my computer starts behaving….

 If you missed our video teaser on the Boston Gypsy Wagon….