Man Bought A Log Cabin For $100, And What He Did With It Made Everyone Jealous
Ever wondered what a mere $100 can do for you? Well, it got Richard Aiken his lifetime dream log cabin which in his own words was “a real find.”
1. Richard the 65 years old self-described “hillbilly” is a husband and a father of three. He has many accomplishments under his name with two PhDs, an opera singer with a medical degree and an author of a nutrition book.
2. Richard had always wanted to live quietly in the woods in a rustic log cabin. He put out several ads hoping to land a reasonable offer but most log cabins for sale were ridiculously expensive. Then, weeks later after posting his ad he was contacted for a free offer of a 100 years old dilapidated log cabin.
3. In response to the ads, Billy Howell of Missouri contacted Richard about his old rotting cabin that had fallen into disrepair. Billy and his wife had lived in the cabin which was on his property from the 1950’s into the 90’s. A brief research on its history revealed that the cabin may have been built in the early 1830’s although there were no written records to support it.
4. When Richard found this cabin it was a dilapidated misery. The wood was badly rotten, the roof was collapsed and it was full of trash. Most people would not have seen its potential but for Aiken, it was a great opportunity to live his dream. He knew that with a lot of hard work and determination the antique log cabin could be easily restored but clearly he had his work cut out for him. Even though the man from Missouri was offering the cabin for free, Richard insisted on paying $100 for the cabin.
5. Richard immediately got to work removing trash from the interior of the property. According to him, this cabin with two stories and an enormous pen of about 21-22 feet square, was a real find. It was made of huge white oak beams, which were hand carved and squared with half dovetail notches.
6. Even though the structure of the cabin was poor, most logs were in excellent condition. The wood was carefully catalogued and marked after removing the debris for transport to the cabin’s new location.
7. It was even more exciting when they discovered another treasure, the eventual cabin site. It was so beautiful that Richard’s wife cried out of joy when she saw it as it reminded her of her earlier days growing up on a farm. It had a natural spring which they dug up by hand to reach the bedrock and then brought in bulldozers to dig a lake and they built a dock.
8. With a new location, all plans in place and all the wood meticulously labeled, Aiken began reconstructing the cabin in his own property.
9. Although he wanted to stay “true to the spirit of the original construction,” this was not possible as they hit bedrock about six feet down when digging to set up a basement for food and wine storage. The cabin, therefore, had to be a few feet above the ground and they had to pour the basement floor with concrete.
10. Although Richard regretted cutting down trees, the rest of the cabin was made from natural material from within his property. He made floor joists and new ridgepole from white oaks and the roof and porch purlins from hickory and ash. He used split cedar shakes as shingles. In addition, he designed and built a front porch for the log cabin retreat where the family could relax as they listened to nature’s melodies.
11. Of course, a log cabin needs a nice rustic fireplace to complete it. Richard designed a Rumford hearth which was common between 1976 and 1850. The Aiken family adopted this design to optimize the heat transfer in the cabin made possible by its tall and shallow angled sides design. The fireplace is on the same level with the flooring to facilitate moving your seat closer to the fire. The historic fireplace is also wide enough and deep for cooking and warming up food and beverages.
12. They built a gorgeous staircase to the loft space out of a fallen oak tree to avoid cutting down more living trees even though the property sits on 100 acres of forest.
13. The family designed doors and windows and brought the materials and designs to a carpenter some distance away who built them. All hardware in the cabin is hand-wrought iron.
14. Richard used chicken wire to fill in breaches in the cabin and daubing was done using the traditional recipe of cement, lime, and sand.
15. The neighboring Amish family used native white oak and a fallen walnut tree to construct a harvest table. The table is narrow to facilitate movement when the family wants to sit closer to the fire for warmth.
16. Natural light can easily seep through the windows under the peaked roof into the cabin, and a candle chandelier illuminates the cabin as an alternative to electricity.
17. It took Richard ten years of restoration to achieve his dream of a cozy log cabin getaway. The project was completed in 2013 and it cost more $100 but to Aiken, the process still continues. The Aiken’s property in the Ozarks is a true testimony of hard work and determination.
18. Comparing the $100 cabin that Richard had originally bought to the restored beautiful cabin is unbelievable. The drastic improvement to the structure and interiors is astonishing. Though the exteriors still require a little touch-up, the Aiken family have had their share of good times in the cabin.
19. One of the favorite moments in the cabin was a natural, vegan thanksgiving that was inspired by a Native American culture including a Sacred 4 Directions Harvest Table.
20. The passion that Richard had to restore this cabin is palpable. For him, it was a labor of love and he still hopes his work on the cabin never ends.