A Small Cabin in the Judith Mountains, Montana

This cabin is located in the Apline Gulch of the Judith Mountains, central Montana. The owners had been looking for an idyllic site for years and when they finally found this location it was ‘like being hit by lightning’. The cabin lies on 113 acres of land which originally had a small log cabin on it. Although the owners found it to be dark, cold and claustrophobic and decided that they wanted a larger, brighter space to live in.


Judith Mountain Cabin

Judith Mountain Cabin


For both the architect and clients, the new cabin had to fulfil cultural needs as well as physical needs. The forests of Montana often feature fire towers to help guard the land. These lookouts are found at the most inaccessible and spectacular locations, and the people that lived there often lead a very basic lifestyle.

Judith Mountain Cabin


Judith Mountain Cabin

The clients wanted to help capture this romantic lifestyle in their new home, and so the cabin had to meld with the landscape – not just in form and material, but also in time. Their aim was to make the cabin look old from it’s completion. To achieve this aged look, they used recycled materials extensively. The cabin features corrugated metal roofing, originally from a barn that was being demolished. The beams, flooring and decking were recycled from an 80-year-old trestle. The stone was sourced from the site and the rock flooring quarried from Idaho.

Judith Mountain Cabin

Judith Mountain Cabin

In contrast to the rustic exterior, the interior is light and relatively modern. The first floor contains cooking, washing and storage amenities, with a sleeping area for two. The second floor contains windows in every direction, and also includes a 6-foot-square skylight at the apex of the roof, flooding the space with light. The second floor also has sleeping for two and storage spaces.

Judith Mountain Cabin

Judith Mountain Cabin

To provide the cabin with electricity the clients have opted for two 50-watt photovoltaic panels that provide power for outlets, lights and the well pump. Power provided by the PV panels allows the owners to have a sterio, TV/VCR, running water in the sink, and to water to fill a wood-fired hot tub. The home also features a composting toilet.

Judith Mountain Cabin

Judith Mountain Cabin

Via PrairieWindArch

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. Love the home in Judith Mountains. Wanting to build same but with three stories; kitchen and living space top, sleeping second and shop and art studio on ground level, ? Basement.
    Love to hear your thoughts re pricing on something like this 15×15 or 20×20 feet square, half bath top, 1 1/2 bath ground floor and full on second. Plan to build in Maine. Embrasure (arrow slit) windows in stone on ground level, narrow/tall double hung on second and floor to ceiling sliders up top. Stone floor bottom, hardwood elsewhere. Steam heat with old cast iron registers. Mitsubishi wall AC each floor. Really like to hear from you! Thanks!

  2. I like the design of the small humble cabin in the middle of the woods on top of the mountain.
    Cool design externally and internally. Thanks.

  3. Just about a perfect design. Great use of US Forest Service Fire Watch Tower vernacular for inspiration.


  4. Nice building. I would like to build one in the North Carolina mountains. Where can I get the plans?

  5. If I chose to build a similar tower is it possible at a reasonable cost to build a basement underneath that would be much larger than the base of the tower for added living space.


  6. Gerhard, did you build one of these structures? I’m in NC, too, so I’d like to see your cabin/tower if you have built it!

  7. Very nice! What is the cost of this property? Curious what this costs to build?

  8. Do you do actual design and construction of tiny houses on wheels? Would like to do off the grid, recycled products, etc. I’m a widow and am looking to extreme downsizing and simplifying. Would go to 10′ wide and length not decided, no loft bedroom.

  9. Hi, I recently bought property on mountain in Washington State and think this cabin is awesome. Does anyone have any idea on what the cost might be to build something similar?

  10. Anthony, Congratulations on your new property. The cost of building depends on what exactly you want (such as real stone on the outside vs. veneer, real beams vs. engineered beams, central HVAC vs. fireplace only, kitchen amenities, etc., and how much customizing you want.) It also depends on location and the labor rates in the area. How much driveway and land clearing do you need? Do you need a 100 foot driveway or a 1 mile driveway. I would guess $150.00 per square foot, but I live in North Carolina. If you do some of the work yourself, you might get the cost down to $100.00 per square foot of so. At 800 square feet total (400 downstairs and 400 upstairs) I would guess the total cost would be around $150,000. But that is only a guess. Talk to a few reputable builders in the area and see what the market price per square foot is.

    Don’t forget the architectural fees (the cost of the drawings). I understand the drawings are copyrighted, so you want to be legal and pay for this unique design.

    Best wishes going forward and let us know how it turns out.

  11. Of all of the small home designs I have ever seen (and I have seen quite a few) this one really shines. It just seems incredibly livable. I’d love to build something like this as a getaway somewhere scenic.