November 25, 2012

A little cottage can fill a big need in the backyard

By CEDAR BURNETT The Associated Press

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A prefabricated cabin is used as a backyard artist studio in Pasadena, Calif. The Zip model by Cabin Fever in Miami, Fla., comes flat-packed and can be assembled in just a few days.

The Associated Press

"We have a model you can build in a weekend," says Zalduondo. "It comes flat-packed. It's tight and weather-proofed and you don't even need to pour a full slab. You can just prepare a lightweight foundation and put the cabin on top of it."

Seattle resident Isaac Vicknair pioneered a new kind of off-the-grid, backyard living in his quest for affordable housing. He builds simple 8-by-8-foot sheds in exchange for free rent in them for three to six months after completion.

"It's a great deal for everyone," says Vicknair. "They cost me about $800 in materials and then I save around $5,000 in rent while I live there. All the homeowner has to pay for is the electricity I use, which is almost nothing."

Vicknair picks a neighborhood he wants to live in and posts flyers advertising his trade proposal. He says he generally receives calls from three or four interested parties, and takes the project that seems most appealing.

The cabins are built without plumbing or electricity, so Vicknair runs an extension cord from the house and makes do with a space heater, electric skillet, small fridge and a couple of lamps. He bought a portable marine toilet that he sets up behind the cabin, and he showers at friends' houses or the gym.


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