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House of 3 tents: affordable cabin home in California

When Glen and Gerry bought a property in Northern California, they wanted first to live on the land to determine the best place to site their home. They found a company that makes tent cabins and erected three. They’re not of the camping variety, but more semi-permanent fabric shelters sold by Sweetwater Bungalows.

The living/dining room tent was an a la carte option where they paid $5200 for a DIY setup: this includes the shell and rain fly and eave and awning system. The couple had to find their own lumber for framing the 14 by 20-foot room. They cut holes in the fabric to fit french doors and the salvaged windows they’d found.

The bedroom and guest bedroom tents are smaller (12 x 14), but large enough to fit standard beds and completely floored with plywood. These kits come complete with frame, windows, and door pricing at $6100, not including the platforms which the customer builds themselves with plans supplied by Sweetwater Bungalows.

The couple converted an old shed (left on the property by the previous owner) into a plywood-clad bathroom, complete with composting toilet. The showers are outdoors on the decks.

For the kitchen, they constructed an open-air lean-to outfitted with propane refrigerator, gas barbecue (with one burner and stove), and a corrugated metal roof.

The space was built to be temporary, but several years have gone by and they’ve yet to break ground on their home.