Homes

Inside Andrew Szeto’s minimalist, DIY, YouTube-famous A-frame

Photographer, skateboarder, woodworker, adventurer — and, most recently, YouTube sensation. At over 1.5 million views, Andrew Szeto’s time-lapse how-to-build-a-cabin tutorial plugs into the zeitgeist — one that speaks directly to a new generation of eco-aware, budget-conscious makers who admire that “just do it” mentality. When Andrew gets a great idea, he’s not afraid to run with it. And have fun with it.

The eight-minute video shows Andrew and his friends working with their hands, getting cold and dirty and in the process, making his cottage dream happen. His is a cottage that goes beyond beer-commercial good times — a just comfy-enough spot in which to be truly at one with the surrounding nature. It’s a mere 10 by 10 feet and can sleep four on the floor with Thermarests. “It’s more glamping than camping, but not by much,” he jokes.

Andrew relaxes with Atlas on the couch. Photo by Andrew Szeto

Condo-dwelling Andrew had wanted to try his hand at building a cottage for a while, so when he was tipped off to an affordable piece of property with deeded access to Lac George near Low, he jumped on it. His friend Richard Scott at Ottawa City Woodshop made a quick 3-D model in SketchUp, and Szeto took it from there. All in all, the cabin took just 30 days to complete.

The beauty of the iconic A-frame is that it’s both economical and relatively easy to build. Szeto aimed for a minimal environmental impact, using patio stones rather than a concrete foundation and shopping at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a second-hand door and windows. The only other pieces of furniture are a wood stove and a hammock. The walls are plywood, and the roof is tin. Cedar shakes on the outside give the off-grid cabin its rustic charm. Insulated to R-20 and equipped with a tiny Norwegian wood stove, it’s habitable in all four seasons. The tally for this little triangle of paradise? Just over $10,000.

Inside, Szeto got playful with a climbing wall that leads up to a reading loft. “When you look at the angle of the roof, it just seemed a fun feature,” he explains. Beyond that, there’s a compact couch, a comfy hammock that can be suspended from hooks on opposite walls, and the wood stove for cool nights.

A playful climbing wall leads up to a reading loft. Photos by Andrew Szeto
Andrew and Atlas out for a paddle on Lac George. Photo by Andrew Szeto

Canoeing, campfires, and a YouTubefamous cabin just 75 minutes from his doorstep — for Andrew Szeto, it doesn’t get much better than that.