Solutions for Self-Reliance

How To Build a Thoreau Cabin For Under $1,000


Over the course of two years, two months, and two days Henry David Thoreau carried out his famous experiment in simple living in a cabin he built near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. No electricity. No running water. Surrounded by nature.

Thoreau built his cabin from recycled and hand cut materials for $28.12 in 1845. Adjusted for inflation that’s equivalent to $878.75 in 2014.

Here’s how you can build your own 10×16 Thoreau cabin replica for off-grid use, for under $1,000:

$1,000 will get you the outer shell of the cabin. Naturally it will cost you far more if you want to pimp out your cabin with even the most basic plumbing or electricity. Still, you can get quite far with recycled building material.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

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