Man Buys Rotten Cabin For $100 & Now It Looks Completely Different


When a self-proclaimed “vegan hillbilly” first laid eyes on this rotten cabin in the woods of Missouri, he saw something that no one else did.

He Started With This…

He took a chance on the cabin, buying it for a mere $100 and soon enough, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with the wooden structure. 10 years later, and after many hours of blood, sweat, and tears, not even Aiken could believe how this pile of planks would end up looking.

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He Started With This…

He’s Achieved So Much

For Richard Aiken, rebuilding a cabin was just the next challenge in a long life of accolades and accomplishments. Not only did he build a loving family and many friends, but Aiken also achieved a lot in the academic world. The man from Missouri has two doctorates under his belt, a medical degree, and even published with a book – The New Ancestral Diet. However, there was one unique side to Aiken that not even his closest loved ones knew about him…

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He’s Achieved So Much

At One With Nature

Richard Aiken might have been through so much. However, the 65-year-old has a passion that he hasn’t been able to explore as much as he had hoped to in life – nature. The mathematician surprised many of his loved ones when he announced that he wanted to live in the woods. His family was fully aware of this, especially due to his strict vegan requirements. However, they didn’t realize how deep and passionate Aiken felt about nature…

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At One With Nature

His Family Was Worried

Aiken’s sudden passion for all things natural and desire to move into the wild shook his family to their very core. While his wife and kids were determined to show their support for him, there was only so far that they could go. Naturally (no pun intended), they didn’t like the idea of him packing up and relocating to the woods. However, there was a very good reason why they were so concerned about his radical decision…

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His Family Was Worried

Into The Wild

One thing is for sure – living in the wild can be full of dangers, especially when you are 65 years old. Richard’s family were very aware of this and were worried that he wouldn’t be able to survive due to his old age. Nevertheless, the “vegan hillbilly” stayed true to himself, put his foot down and went ahead with his plan. He was determined to live in the wild. However, there was still one obvious obstacle getting in the way of his dream…

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Into The Wild

Cash-Strapped

It made sense that Richard Aiken wanted to venture into the wild and live a humble retirement. However, the irony was that in order to reach this stage of life, one needs to be able to afford such a transition. While he wasn’t poor, Richard was cash-strapped. Buying land and building a home in the woods, believe it or not, costs money. It was at this stage that Richard needed to look at all of his options and think outside the box.

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Cash-Strapped

A Friend Helped Him Out

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know, and this certainly applied in Richard’s situation. A friend of his happened to own a plot of land in the woods that he wanted to live in. Knowing Richard’s financial situation, he happily offered it to him for free. However, the retired man couldn’t accept that and decided to give him $100 for it. Then, when Richard first laid eyes on his new purchase, he realized why it was so cheap…

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A Friend Helped Him Out

Location Was Key

What Richard loved most about the opportunity was that this mystery cabin was located, literally, in the middle of nowhere. He wanted a place located in a spacious, woodlike environment. After putting an ad in the papers, explaining what type of location he was searching for, he realized something daunting. “Those that were in really good condition were quite expensive,” he said. So when he first laid eyes on the cabin he did purchase, he automatically had mixed emotions. But why?

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Location Was Key

Huge Mistake?

When he first saw his newly acquired “cabin,” Richard was convinced that he had made a big mistake. Without a roof and a disgusting interior, the old man certainly had his work cut out for him. “This is the original 1830’s log cabin he started out with,” Richard’s daughter wrote on a blog post. “He was only able to use a handful of logs because so many of them were rotting, and the others needed a lot of help.” Soon enough, Richard decided what to do…

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Huge Mistake?

Staying Positive

While the odds seemed stacked against him, Richard was surprisingly positive about the cabin, describing it as “a real find.” “It was two stories, with a very large ‘pen’ of about 21-22 feet square,” he wrote. “The material was massive white oak beams, hand hewn and squared with half dovetail notches. Most logs were in excellent condition.” After convincing himself that it was a challenge worth taking, Richard committed to the project and got this “mission impossible” renovation underway…

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Staying Positive

Pile Of Planks

As Richard stepped inside the cabin for the very first time and looked inside, he had no idea just how much dead wood was inside. There was a huge pile of trash that needed to be removed. “[The cabin] was a trash bin, so [Billy] wanted to get all the trash out,” he said. “I agreed to remove not just the cabin, but all the junk. I removed all the junk, took it to a dump and left it pretty pristine. So he was happy.”

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Pile Of Planks

Beginning The Restoration

So off Richard went to bring his derelict cabin to full glory. While his family was still skeptical about his plan, they eventually got on board and helped him with the project. His kids certainly brought an element of muscle and stamina to the renovation and in no time at all, the cabin started to look a whole lot better. However, it would not take long before Richard and the Aikens developed a series of unwelcome obstacles…

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Beginning The Restoration

Missouri, We Have A Problem

One of Richard’s goals was to build a basement underneath the cabin – a place where he could store essentials such as food and wine. However, after spending many days digging and excavating, the family soon hit bedrock six feet deep. This meant Aiken needed to rethink things, ultimately deciding to build the cabin high above the ground instead. Seeing though that he was such a clever individual, Richard managed to come up with a great idea…

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Missouri, We Have A Problem

Problem Solved

In order to ensure that he got the basement that he was so desperate for, Richard thought of a great idea. He decided to have floor support structures made out of white oak, this would help to support the main framework of the cabin. While he regretted how many trees he had cut down to make this happen, it was a necessary evil. Yet, the Aikens managed to unearth an incredible secret about the cabin that made them the talk of the town…

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Problem Solved

The Hidden Lake

During these challenging times, when obstacles kept coming Richard’s way, his family discovered something remarkable about the cabin; it was resting on top of a water table. After getting a team of bulldozers to do some digging, they learned that a secret lake had been lying there all that time. All of a sudden, Richard had another idea – to build a cute wooden dock. With one problem solved though, it wouldn’t take long before an even bigger problem came Richard’s way…

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The Hidden Lake

Family Drama

The fact that Richard and his family spent so much time working on the cabin in the middle of nowhere was a problem in itself. With time, the family began to show contempt for one another, with a number of individuals getting sick and tired of the project. It got to a stage when Richard’s kids didn’t want to help anymore. Moreover, Aiken’s wife, Mary, didn’t want to invest any more money into the cabin. However, their time and effort soon paid dividends…

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Family Drama

Filling In The Gaps

Before he knew it, Richard had a much sturdier, stronger foundation to build his cabin from. While he used strong logs to build the main frame of his new home, there was one issue he needed to take care of. Due to the natural irregularity of the logs, there were gaps between them. However, Richard’s problem-solving abilities came into play once again. He got his family to fill the gaps with daub-covered chicken wire. Everything the Aikens did during construction was rustic and traditional.

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Filling In The Gaps

My Kind Of Cabin

One of his main goals during this entire process was to recreate the cabin to make it look like one of the classic Missouri homes in the wilderness from the 1830s. There is no doubt that Richard had done his research building up to this restoration. When everything was said and done, Richard claims that he spent between $30,000 to $40,000 in order to have the cabin the way he had originally envisioned. And he had a pretty cool method of how to do this…

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My Kind Of Cabin

Using Old Oak

One of the ways that Richard and his family were able to bring this project home (literally) was to use oak from trees that had already fallen. Aiken tried to refrain from chopping down trees as much as possible. It appears that his philosophy could be found in the end results. Take this staircase, for example, which the family built out of a fallen tree. The carpenter who helped them with it also made stunning doors and windows. However, that wasn’t even their greatest achievement…

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Using Old Oak

He Designed His Own Fireplace

Richard’s vision could be seen in every nook and cranny of his cabin. One of his proudest moments over that 10-year period was his beloved fireplace, which Richard designed based similar looking hearths from the 19th Century. “[The Rumford hearth] is a brilliant design widely adopted to optimize heat transfer within a room,” Richard said. “The hearth is even with the flooring so that moving a chair or stool close to the fire is facilitated. The hearth is wide and deep for cooking.”

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He Designed His Own Fireplace

He Even Built A Loft

Another issue that Richard could potentially face in the wilderness was access to light. Instead of trying to install electricity into his cabin, he decided to go with candle chandeliers instead. While windows also helped with natural light, Aiken’s prized loft had a huge roof window that added another dimension to the ambiance of the cabin’s interior. It might not be so clear in this photo, but the loft is a perfect place to take a nap.

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He Even Built A Loft

A Gift From The Amish

One group of neighbors that Richard owes a lot of thanks to during his time working on the cabin was an Amish family who would lend a hand from time to time. Once they learned that construction was complete, they provided the Aikens with a very useful house-warming present – a wooden dining table. It was easy to move around. However, it turns out that the table was not technically a house-warming gift after all…

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A Gift From The Amish

I’m Not Moving In

Amazingly, after spending a decade of his life working on this cabin, Richard turned around and told his family that he wasn’t planning on moving into it, at least, not on a permanent basis. Understanding their concerns, he decided to use it as a place where they could go to for vacations. They can remain in civilization while also claiming the cabin as their second home. Upon completion, Richard and his family chose to share their remarkable story with the world…

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I’m Not Moving In

Sharing His Story

As far as he was concerned, Richard knew that it would be a shame if no one other than his family and himself reaped the benefits of his home’s transformation. On his Instagram account, he started to share images of his cabin, including this one of him celebrating Thanksgiving in front of his fireplace. It wouldn’t take long before the “vegan hillbilly” decided to get a bit more social media savvy when it came to sharing his new home with the world…

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Sharing His Story

Viral Sensation

Ultimately, what separates Richard’s story from other ones is how well he and his family documented the entire process. After completing construction, he shared his story with the world, posting images of the transformation on sites such as Reddit and Imgur. Needless to say, the internet fell in love with the Aikens’ project and many want to follow in Richard’s footsteps. Nevertheless, what is still the most surprising part of this story is how radically different the cabin looks now compared to when Richard found it…

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Viral Sensation

From This…To This!

It might have seemed like an impossible task when he first started. However, after 10 years of hard labor, sacrifice, and teamwork, Richard and his family could finally say that the cabin was complete. What was originally a hollowed out carcass of a cabin was now a cozy, beautiful home that only architects and professional builders could dream of constructing. And it wasn’t just the inside of Richard’s new home that went through the most radical of transformations over the 10 years…

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Mission Impossible: Complete

Radical Transformation

Images of the cabin now compared to when Richard first bought it are like night and day. It’s amazing to think that the 65-year-old spent just $100 on it. However, when you take into consideration how much time he spent working on it, the transformation makes a bit more sense. For Richard though, the construction of the cabin was the best part. “I hope I shall never finish working with this log cabin,” he said. “Never stop the silence.”

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Radical Transformation

Whatever The Weather

As you can see, Richard has designed and constructed a cabin that isn’t just suitable to stay in during the summer months. It is the perfect home for any time of the year. However, he certainly requires a bit of help from time to time. Richard claims that during the winter period, the Amish family helps him maintain the cabin so that it doesn’t suffer any serious damage. He tries to visit the cabin once and week, keeping a close eye on it in the process.

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Whatever The Weather