The $300 Vacation Home

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Shack Builder Is Part of a Movement.

By Brad Beckstrom

Derek Diedricksen, or “Deek” for short, doesn’t fit the mold of someone who would be sought out to lecture at MIT.  He’s not a famous physicist or a Nobel Laureate.

He builds tiny houses which he likes to call “relax shacks.” His yard is filled with these shacks in various stages of development. He also collects all types of salvage, often from the side of the road and trash dumps, to give his his small structures a one-of-a-kind appearance.

Looking at his backyard you might think, ”I’m glad this guy’s not my neighbor.” As a turns out, the neighbors love what he does and even let him build some structures on their land as well.  In fact, people come from all over to purchase these shacks as fast as he can build them.

Shelter as Art

The Lunar Lander

If you look closely, you’ll see that each one of these shacks is really a piece of art. A piece of art you can sleep in. Deek spends a lot of time creating these structures in wild pen and ink drawings and then brings them to life using innovative, low-cost building techniques.

The results of his efforts become summer cabins, artist studios, home offices, lakeside retreats. Deek has years worth of designs he hasn’t built yet. He’s been doing some very cool hands-on, relax-shacks workshops up and down the East Coast.  At this workshop, a small group (limited to 20 attendees) can actually bring one of his designs to life. He teaches people how to use hand tools, framing techniques, window repair, and salvage construction.

Burning Man or MIT

A lot of his creations are like something you might see at Burning Man or in a Mad Max movie.  He admitted he was a bit surprised when MIT paid him to lecture.  As it turns out, Deek has something very important to share with students at MIT and anyone who attends his workshops or watches his YouTube videos.

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It’s as simple as this. In a time when the best minds of his generation are focused on building the latest app or new technology, it’s important to step away from the keyboard and the glowing screen to create something in the physical world. To Deek’s students, that could be a cabin in the woods, a treehouse made from wood shipping pallets, or a series of creative drawings of structures in pen and ink.

Deek is part of the Tiny House movement that started in the Pacific Northwest and has quickly moved east spawning hundreds of blogs, millions of YouTube views, best-selling books on Amazon, and a hit TV show Tiny House Nation. Deek’s efforts have gotten a lot of attention including that of HGTV which  has launched a new TV show called Tiny House Builders that features Deek, his brother, and a crew of misfit builders venturing off into small towns to build these creative small structures.

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Deek often calls himself a Lark-itect. Sometimes it takes just one piece, like an old aquarium or discarded shed door, to inspire an entire structure, built on a lark. Many of his structures could be called micro-houses. including an emergency movable shelter hut called Gottagiddaway.

Deke has published his own book featuring many of his designs called:

It’s a great read if you want to be inspired to build something, draw something, or think creatively about low cost solutions for your own $300 cabin in the woods. Find out more about Deek and his new HGTV show here.

 The Frug

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