About the house

The camp, built over the last five years, is compact and comfortable.  1200 square feet, three levels, two bedrooms, one bathroom with full bath.  Being well insulated it is reasonable to heat in the winter, with ample windows to catch the cooling breezes in the summer.  The master bedroom with a queen sized bed occupies the daylight basement.  A door opens to the outside on this lower level as well as three windows to the east and one to the south.  Very cool both summer and winter . . . there is a propane wall heater for the winter.  The main floor has living/dining areas, kitchen, mudroom, bathroom, pantry, and a second (tiny) bedroom with a double bed.  The loft adds 220 square feet of playing/living/overflow sleeping space.  Our goal was to have the camp occupy a small footprint but still feel ample.  Situated on seven acres, with no neighbors in sight, and the long view stretching to the blue Camden Hills, the site is very peaceful.

The camp is off-grid and solar powered.  In most cases the house functions like any other and there is the satisfaction of being powered by a renewable source of energy.  So what happens if the sun doesn’t shine and the meter on the wall indicates the battery levels are dwindling?  Conservation!  Light the candles and the gas lamp, have a shorter shower and don’t wash your car, turn off the overhead fan . . . even a cloudy sky creates some energy and in all likelihood the necessity of being energy aware will be short-lived and your vacation will have a small carbon footprint with little depravity.  We have not experienced problems with our guests in the past . . . still it is good to know!

Perched on a ledge outcropping makes for a dramatic view!  Our shallow soil around the house is sensitive to drought and never has the green lushness of a conventional lawn.  The plants that thrive are tougher and more diverse with wildflowers making several showings a summer.  The water from our deep well filters through the mountaintop and emerges iron-rich and drinkable but not palatable for some.  We supply water for drinking, though we cook and bathe and brush our teeth with the tap water.  We have built several terraces down the plunging south-facing slope right in front of the camp.  Last year the greengage plum that we planted the year we started building yielded nearly a bushel of fruit.  We have other fruit trees and a little space for annual crops and herbs.  The terraces are an ongoing project which holds back the press of wilderness just a little bit.  We hope to have things to share from the garden during the growing season though with farming there is never any certainty.

Our six year old Romy has grown up at camp through all phases of construction, has prowled in the woods, played in the sandbox, on the swings and slide, climbed trees, set up picnics on mossy beds, built snow forts, skied and sledded.  Is camp a good spot for kids?  Nature is captivating for many but could be boring for some . . .there is no entertainment not of your own making at camp.  Rejoice!  The house itself is not well set up for mobile babies without a lot of supervision.  Everyone young and old needs to know that beyond the terraces in front of the camp there is a real cliff to the ravine below!

Our camp has not been “finished” for long and there are many on-going projects and plans for the future.  An outdoor kitchen may take form during the summer of 2011.  The painting studio as yet a dream is a good one worth pursuing.  More topsoil would be nice and some shelves in the closet in the downstairs bedroom.  Curtains?!  Some we know would like to block out those early rays streaming through the east facing windows.  Even as-is our camp is a special place.  Find yourself up way earlier than usual and let yourself out to feel the dew on your bare feet and contemplate the fog caught in the valleys stretching as far as you can see.  Listen to the birds and pick a few of the wild blueberries scattered about before crawling back in bed.

There is no smoking inside the house.  Care should be taken outside–please safely extinguish and properly dispose of cigarette butts–our site can be very dry at certain times of year.

2012 Update

We are nearing the end of January and Romy is seven now!  We had a great first year renting the camp.  I think a lot of the right people found our spot with all its quiet and solace and were able to enjoy it like we do.  We are hoping to put in a fancy iron filter this spring to clear up our water and make it a little softer–easier on the hair and the bathroom fixtures.  And, we have put up the bare bones of our outdoor kitchen (a ramada) over next to the shed.  With any luck we’ll be building a pizza oven and hearth for cooking this summer.  We look forward to sharing our camp again this year and hope some of our guests from last year are able to come again.  Happy New Year!



2 Responses to About the house

  1. Sarah Ugaz says:

    I really love your home. I am moving to the area and have been looking into the green home. Would you mind providing me any information you may have on the dwelling, or did you built the home from scratch. I love the large window and the size is perfect. My son is 7 and this is just what we are looking for.
    Thanks in advance


    • Sarah,
      We built and designed this home combining salvaged materials (the roofing/siding, windows etc) with new construction. The process has taken four and a half years to get to the present stage. I have done most of the work myself with one helper. Its been a labor of love. Check out the homes designed by the GO LOGIC team here in Belfast. They are doing small eco houses with lots of southern facing glass. Good luck.


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