A vision of an archetypal little cabin in the woods—reinterpreted with a contemporary aesthetic and a sustainable footprint—inspired Bill Yudchitz and his son, Daniel, both architects, to put their years-long dedication to the small home movement into action five years ago. “Everything we saw was ugly, corny, and Spartan,” says Yudchitz. “We wanted to prove that architecture can be artful and soulful, but still tiny, affordable, and green.” With Yudchitz’s practice, Revelations Architects/Builders, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and Daniel working for architecture and engineering firm HGA in Minneapolis, the experiment would also yield a pair of weekend retreats for their families.
Finding lakeside land proved surprisingly daunting; many idyllic spots, such as Wisconsin’s Door County, have zoning ordinances with minimum size requirements larger than what the Yudchitzes planned to build. In September 2009, after seeing dozens of sites, they landed a 2.78-acre lot with water access on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay for $52,500. It’s 2.6 miles outside Bayfield, Wisconsin, population 530, and about a four-hour drive from each of their homes.
ARCHITECT: Revelations Architects/Builders
Photo by Narayan Mahon
Four months later, they completed a cabin they christened the EDGE (Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment), a striking rectangular structure clad with a white-oak rain screen, topped with a playful butterfly roof, and sporting integrated multifunctional furnishings that doubled the livability of its 325 square feet (plus two 85-square-foot sleeping lofts), Yudchitz estimates. But because of the two men’s admiration for Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor’s exquisite construction details, it was built with the painstaking precision of a Swiss watch—and it was pricey. “It cost at least $100,000 to build because the materials were crafted to within .002 inches, so it’s expensive for what it is,” says Yudchitz.
“As an antidote, we built Nest,” he quips. They started work on the structure—about 130 feet away from their EDGE cabin, but hidden by the woods and plopped on a platform of treated framing lumber supported by concrete piers—in July 2013. Working only on weekends, the pair completed Nest in a little over a year. To mitigate costs, they used leftovers from prior projects and filled it in with newly purchased supplies, making an exact budget tough to pin down. “Not counting time, it will take between $15,000 and $25,000 to build the Nest, depending on materials selection,” says Yudchitz, who believes almost anyone can do the job from their plans. “We managed, and we’re not finish carpenters. The only tool we used that required any real skill was a miter box. The Murphy bed was the hardest thing in the place to make,” he says.
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