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Mortgage-Free Octagon Cabin w/ Add-Ons 

Guest Post by Reader who Lives in Mortgage-free Small Octagon House

We built this small octagon house in 1979 with mostly found/recycled materials that we pulled through the woods on a little path on a reinforced garden cart so we did it with no mortgage. Later on, we got a little crazy with the add-ons as you’ll see. And the sauna is near a river. While there are only 2 acres, it’s in the middle of the Green Mountain National Forest. I raised 4 children with no running water here. I chose voluntary simplicity (mostly voluntary). Oh, and one more, I built a tent platform then garden shed recently and my daughter made another studio with it.

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Family’s Mortgage-free Octagon Home w/ Add-Ons…

Small Octagon House

I’m 64 now and have never earned more than $10,000 a year. And except for lack of dentistry am joyful.

Mortgage-free Small Octagon House Mortgage-free Octagon House

Here we are hanging around the house. I’m peeling garlic on the porch and some of my kids are visiting and catching a breeze on the roof.

Family in a Mortgage-free Octagon House Deck Interior of Small Octagon House

You can see some of the interior living space in the photo above.


I run an art/nature summer day camp for kids in the yard, woods and river. We are really connected to each other and the land here.

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Spencer Limb
    October 8, 2012, 5:10 pm

    I love your house, and have been planning on building with a similar design in mind. One of things hold me up is what to use for the foundation. What did you do when you built this place?

    • Alex
      October 10, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Great question Spencer, I’ll see if I can get an answer for you from her. Thanks!

  • Joel
    October 8, 2012, 11:22 pm

    Inspirational, thanks for sharing. I wish everyone could be this connected to the land.

    • Alex
      October 10, 2012, 12:46 pm

      Thanks Joel, glad you liked it!

  • Dominick Bundy
    October 9, 2012, 10:03 am

    How refreshing , to learn of someone else almost in the same category as me.. Imagine only living on 10,000 a year nowadays. But it can be done. Because I do it as well.. And i consider my self very rich. I don’t need or want any more than I already have.And everything I own is paid for. The key is be happy with what you have, Don’t buy crap you don’t need.Pay off all your debts and bills. then just sit back live life and watch the world go by. you’ll be surprise how quickly you can built a need egg for yourself. without depriving yourself the simpler joys of life.. so see that alone makes me very rich..

    • Alex
      October 10, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing Dominick, I didn’t know that about you.

    • brian
      September 2, 2015, 7:23 am

      Dominick, it could not have been said any other way, you hit the nail right on the head. If we take a look around our living space and just look at the things we have purchased, and some of the things we bought and have not seen in years in our closet, cellar, garage there is a lot of money we could use for just living simple. This is my biggest goal, when I buy something I think first, how many hours do I have to work for it, and do I really need it. Living life at home, or with friends and not spending most of our life working just to spend our money on (things) that don’t mean a thing. Enjoy nature, simple pleasures, and life will be so much better

    • Frances Schultz
      April 18, 2021, 12:05 am

      Amen! I was working a good job in 2015 and bought a new ToyotaCamry. Last week I made my last payment!!!! I had lost health and work but got it paid off and as a 75 y.o. woman I am happy and feel safe with a good care and no bill!!

  • Autumn
    October 14, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Thank you for such an inspiring post. What a wonderful house and a wonderful (though I’m sure not without it’s challenges) life! The writer is clearly a brave and strong woman.

  • Carolyn B
    October 15, 2012, 12:38 am

    Nice home. !979 –hmmmm, some very early forward thinking in the small house & voluntary simplicity movements.

  • Juliana
    October 15, 2012, 9:58 pm

    What a wonderful life. I will be you at 64. I am 52 just embarking on my grid free journey. Thank you, you encourage me.

  • Brian
    May 9, 2014, 6:07 pm

    What an inspiration you are. Thankyou so much for sharing. It really made my day.

  • connie
    May 9, 2014, 7:41 pm

    I love your tiny house, your garden, your land and your life!

  • Melissa Potter
    May 10, 2014, 6:04 am

    I love your home! I am very inspired by you. I can feel the love, creativity and homey-ness through the pictures. What beautiful colors and joy! Thank you. I am also very inspired that you are showing us that we can create these homesteads and live our lives joyfully with smaller incomes if we have the land to have our homes on.

  • Dean
    May 10, 2014, 11:23 am

    The key is NO Debt! It is amazing how much people spend renting other peoples money. Being debt free and owning your own home, tiny, small or otherwise, is freedom!

  • Kim W
    August 31, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I love this little house, which is really a home! What a lovely place to raise your children! We have 4 children and lived mostly in a big village near Ilkely Moor. The children didn’t necessarily appreciate the beauty of the area at the time or the freedom they had there, but they do now !

  • Marsha Cowan
    August 31, 2015, 3:03 pm

    So cool!

  • Jjannice Joyner
    August 31, 2015, 3:24 pm

    I admire your courage. Simplicity breeds a sense of peace and tranquility. To free ourselves from the burden of” things “, open up the doors to noticing and appreciating the small things in life. The beauty of the day.

  • dave
    August 31, 2015, 10:06 pm

    She mentions lack of dental care as one of her regrets in only make 10K a year..well, high quality dental care is available across the border from Yuma in Algodones Mexico for a fraction (sometimes as much as 70% less) than what US dentists cost. Snowbirds flock to Algodones for the cheap dental care, prescriptions and opticians. The blogs I read all say they are very happy with the level of care and quality. The world outside the USA is much less expensive, most Americans just don’t realize it.

  • David
    September 1, 2018, 5:36 pm

    You didn’t mention the source of the $10,000. per year. I’ll bet it’s selling garlic.

  • Brenda Foster
    April 17, 2021, 2:48 pm

    When I was 80, I decided I wanted to live in a cabin in the woods. I drew a picture of what I wanted, and found a contractor who built it. For the person unsure of what to do for the foundation, that was my dilemma also. I had to clear the land, make a pathway to get the materials to the site by putting a hitch on my golf cart and driving up to the site in small bundles, because all I had were garden size carts, not industrial. I did all the prep work and the contractor worked on the structure.

    I cleared the site, put down heavy duty landscape fabric, topped with about 2″ of rock, for my 10×20 future cabin. We used pier blocks, and 2×6’s to form the foundation off the ground. Because it was in the woods, I wanted it as critter proof as possible, and, it is. It was important to me to be as organic as possible, and was anxious to work with the land, not against it, so I totally identify with the woman who submitted this incredibly wonderful debt-free home. I also have two acres and it is more of a wildlife sanctuary, so I needed to be thoughtful about what I did.

    I had built a carriage house with a cement floor, a barn with an old-growth timber floor, and also used gravel and sand in the chicken coops, as the floor. The best of all was the one for the cabin. It is off the ground, has a crawl space, does not injure the land, and nothing gets into the house through the floor or sides. I live on the southern Oregon coast, above the ocean, so deal with rain and sea wind. Hope this helps.

    • RightUp Sam
      April 17, 2021, 5:34 pm

      Brenda, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would LOVE to see some photos, and hear more! Maybe you could “Submit Your Tiny?” It sounds amazing–and I love to hear about other women doing projects themselves (or with minimal help/heavy-lifting help).

      I mean, I love to hear everyone’s story, but as a woman planning to build as much of my own tiny as possible–and who already did most of the interior finish work (framing walls, hanging drywall, tiling, installing a shower, flooring) for one for my dad–I always enjoy hearing similar stories.

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