Escrow for the lot closed on March 8 and we went up there the next week to set up camp. The first picture in this set is from March 14th and the last is from March 27th. We built the whole thing with cheap hand tools and no AC power.

After we cleared some trails and set up camp, we identified a good sunny spot to build. We hacked the ferns down with machetes and then pulled away the fern roots to get down to basalt.

clearing the fern roots

fern roots close up

We used a rock chisel and a steel hammer to make level stacks of cap blocks to set posts on.

leveling blocks with a chisel

We hammered together a frame for the floor out of 2x4s and then nailed the floor into some 4x4 posts.

floor resting on blocks

sizing up the posts

floor raised on posts

With some trusses on the side, this platform was very sturdy.

The stacks of cap blocks seemed too tall under 3 of the legs, so we bought some hollow blocks to fill with concrete. It rained a lot the day before and we emptied pools of water from tarps into some buckets that we used to mix the concrete. Over 3 days we braced each leg in turn with blocks and spare lumber as the concrete dried.

While Marina worked on concrete, I made some roof trusses.

It rains frequently, so it's good to keep everything dry.

keeping dry under the platform under a tarp

Our tent and kitchen area during construction.


kitchen area

Once we nailed down some plywood to make a floor on top, we could install the upper frame.

roof trusses ready to install

roof trusses on the platform

putting up roof strusses

upper structure

We put up some more 2x4s to extend the eves from the top of the roof and with those boards in place I hand-twisted the wood tites to keep the roof on one by one. Marina drilled the roof panels with the battery-powered drill that only just made it to the end of the job on a single charge.

putting up the roof panels

roof installation

We kept working all day to install all the roof panels until we finished at 01:00. We moved the solar panels over to hang on the south side and I hooked up the lights so we could work in the dark.

at night

In the morning, through a mosquito net:

dawn from the platform

The solar panels are up now, producing considerably more power than when they were strung up from some trees and more shaded.

roof with the solar panels on the south side

mppt pulling plenty of amps

Now, we paint.

beginning to paint

Next up, we'll build a ladder, install better flashing (the material on the top of the roof), put up gutters for catchment, and think about what kind of walls we want. We got some free possible wall material from our neighbor: some closet doors, two sliding glass doors, and a solid wood door. We'll see.

looking up