Traditional Japanese Architecture, Design & Woodworking

Summer House

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On a whim we made what we call a summer house for ourselves, and midway through this little project got to thinking perhaps others might like something like this. This building is six feet wide and ten feet long with about 7 feet of head clearance. We wanted to make a pleasant, little garden structure for summer use which would accommodate even a medium sized table and chairs. We wanted something to provide shelter from the sun and rain, and to some degree the wind, and still allow one to be outside in hot or rainy weather. But it could also serve as an outside office, a sleeping porch, a summer guest room, a children's play house , even as a very nice bus stop or waiting place at the entry to a house. This small structure is available as a complete kit for clients who either want to assemble it themselves or have their local contractor assemble it for them.

It is every bit as finely made, with the same materials, as any of the other work seen in this web site. In most localities because of its small size ( 60 square feet) a building permit probably isn't necessary, and since it has no utilities, insulation or doors and windows, it costs less. It only requires reasonable care in assembly.

The kit of the building shown is very complete and should require no foraging to get additional materials. Even the plywood roof decking, roofing, and wall structure including plastering base is included and precut. It is complete.

What is included

All visible components are hand planed and chamfered where appropriate, smoother than any sand paper could ever make them. The basic structure is a timber frame, employing traditional Japanese joinery (mortise and tenon, dovetails, pegs, etc) to hold it together.

  • All the timber framing and roof materials, including:
    • posts
    • short posts
    • beams (keta)
    • spanning log beam (hari)
    • barge rafters (hafu)
    • rafters
    • eaves fascia
    • finished roof boards
    • plywood roof deck
    • any other wooden materials
    • Pegs, wedges and other fastening wooden pieces.
      All joinery is cut, finish planed, chamfered and wrapped first in stretch plastic to keep it clean and then packed carefully in a crate.

  • The wall structure, with top and bottom members framed and joinery cut, as well as wall studs, plywood sheathing, and interior hardibacker ( cement board) which is a substrate for plaster is all cut to size, and fasteners are supplied
  • WR Grace Ultra adhesive rubberized asphalt roof underlayment and all the roofing, roofing fasteners, screws, eaves and rake trim. Roofing is complete. The client can pick the color at the following web page:
  • Three bags of "wara juuraku", waterproof mud plaster with straw in it for finishing the walls. (see detail of plaster below)
  • Lag bolts to anchor the structure to your slab, stone foundation or other flat plane
  • A few small special fasteners for assembly,
  • Sets of drawings of the structure
  • Detailed installation instructions.

Summer house
plaster detail.


What's not included

What is not included is the following:

  • The foundation or pad upon which this building sits
  • Standard fasteners like nails and wood screws
  • Oils and finishes, except on the roof boards, which we will apply in our shop. Sealing this building's wooden components is optional since those most likely to rot are made of Port Orford Cedar, a very rot resistant wood.
  • Epoxy adhesive necessary to hold posts down to base using the lag bolts
    ( included) fixed into post bottom surfaces.

We can customize this structure if we are asked to.

If the owner would like to have us prepare additional walls and leave an opening for doors or windows, or for roll down screens, invisible from inside the structure when rolled up, we can do that. We can also make changes in the floor plan dimension (to a reasonable degree), or a raised floor added for outside summer sleeping use; we will happily look at it and make these adjustments. These changes will of course result in reasonable changes in the cost.


The cost for the kit alone is $19,000.

Time necessary to assemble: Assembly on a finished slab or other flat plane, complete with roof and plaster, should take three to four days for two men. The structure alone should take a day or two to assemble. Preparation and cost of the platform upon which the building sits is too variable and site-specific for us to estimate.

Crating is included in the cost, but shipping and insurance are dependent upon destination and means of shipping.

If you want us to send you this, please contact us using the "contact" link above.

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