Building Studio BUDA


Please check the VIDEO link for Building Studio Buda below:


Although ideas start inside my head, Studio Buda is the physical place where arts happen.  I built this studio in  2013 using mostly recycle or discarded materials.  Please see “Building Studio Buda” for further detail


(Link for Video: )

STUDIO BUDA:  4510 NE 95th Way, Vancouver, WA 98665


For a long time now, I have been a strong proponent of the Small House movement (wanted to build, live in, and cherish a small patch of housing happiness).  However it is not practical when you have a beautiful family and you want them to live in the most comfortable place that you can provide.  So, I put the idea of building a small house forever to rest.  However, that little voice inside me still commands a satisfaction.  For about 3 years now, I’ve been developing and designing my own little Small House project which I intend to use as my art studio (aka. Studio Buda).

My backyard is a disaster, overgrown with weed and drown in mud (since grass don’t live well in cloudy Washington State).  It is a perfect spot for the little pioneer man inside me to build a beautiful art studio.  It took me two years to find enough time (between working full-time as a doctor, paint 40 hours a week, taking care of my little family) to clear the overgrown backyard, put down a brick patio, and start my studio building project.  It was back breaking work since I have to move 3 yard of dirt to elevate the ground and place 400 large bricks to cover the area. This page is dedicated to document my art studio building process.


Having dumpster diving for the last 2 years, I am always amazed of what being thrown to trash these days.  I intend to use as much recycled materials as possible.  Not because I’m cheap, but because I’m responsible.   Those dumpsters provided me enough material to help build my 10×14 patch of dream (Walmart dumpster gave me lot of wood pallets.  Dumpsters at most construction site have various size of 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood of various size, even 4’x8′ sheet.  I recovered 150+ nails and screw from each of those wood pallets).  I also drive across town to collect old windows from landfill and generous donor from Craiglist.  For the timbers needed to build the main frame, I  bought the reclaimed wood from Portland Rebuilding Center (most of them slightly burned or need a run through a planner or slightly sanded and they’ll good as new).   For those windows at special places or with special sizes for my building, I build them from scratch in my garage (with the wood scrap from dumpster diving of course).


old/burnt 4×6 lumbers bought for a fraction of the price from old building sites


Old/weathered lumber (2x4x8′ and 2×6 x10) that I collected from dumpsters, old building over the two years. Another bigger pile of used lumber and sheathing is not pictured.


It’s in my head…and it changes depend on what kind of material I found next.  But here is a stick model.




The overgrown weed are cleared (most of them over 4 feet high). The site is now ready for building.  This was in April of 2012


The site (10’x14′ or 3.1m x 4.3 m) was framed.  The footing was then dug 15 inches into the ground then packed with gravel until I have about 10 inches for the concrete


Concrete footing (10+ inches deep and 6 inches wide), enough for a long lasting foundation.  Plastic sheet lined the bottom to prevent water from leaking inside the bricked area, but there are way for water to drain to the sides and toward the tree line.  Gravel was then packed on top (3 inches thick) then 3 inches of sand.  On top will be the brick floor.


At the end of September 2012. The beautiful new brick floor is installed (the only major thing I bough from Home Depot this far). I could not find any used bricks to construct the floor. So, I had to buy them.  I’m glad that I did though, because the new floor is beautiful.  It also will act as a thermal unit to keep things comfortable.  The bottom wood silt (with found pressured treated 4×4 wood beam ) is fasten into the concrete floor with enough galvanized nuts and bolts.  This will provide a place for the whole buiding to connect to the floor.  The concrete patch right in front is my special place for a wood stove to keep the whole studio warm during winter months.


It’s winter!  And it rains in Washington state!  So I move the construction inside the garage.  Making windows


Making windows from scratch.  Glass will be provided from old windows that I collected 2 years ago from various dumpsters.


Recycle timbers bought for 1/4 of the price from various locations. Some of them were burned. But with a little sanding, they’re as good as new (and visually beautiful).  Some of them are from the throw-away bins from construction sites.


Wall #1 set up: mortise and tenon joints are cut and custom fitted. I chose to go with the post and beam building construction because I intended to put a lot of windows in these walls. Stick-buit wall with 2x4s are very weak when you have a lot of opennings (for windows). It actually took me a while to learn how to do a proper joint preparation. Measuring is the key! and patience is a must! I hope the next wall will be a lot faster


The first wall is semi-ready for installing. The whole wall is extremely heavy and I don’t think I can safely lift this up and drop it in the mortise holes of the floor beam (silt) all by myself.  Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone to help me with construction. I will have to think of a way to safely constructing the wall post by post, beam by beam. The assembly may be quite tricky, but I have absolutely no other  choice.



I prefer hand tool over power tool. Not because I want to prove anything, but it’s because I want to keep all of my fingers intact. One must gain a lot of confidence and experience before trying those power-tools. My skill is from YouTube, so I have to be extremely careful.


Correct measurement is the key!


To speed up the process, I pre-drilled the mortise. Then start the cutting with sharp chisels


Mortise and tenon are ready for assembly.


And they fit like gloves!


Another complicated brace joint


It is a lot of work! Especially when you learned your skill from YouTube, but the feeling of satisfaction is priceless when another joint is done.  Whenever I can find time, I set my goal for 4 mortise and tenon joints that day (about 3 hours of labor)


Details of the main roof (this part is 10×9 feet so far).  I chose a complicated roof line b/c I want to see if I can pull it off (so far, I did.  Yayyy! ).  All the main lumber members are 4×6 in dimension.  I will add 2×6’s to cover the roof.  The loft (10×5 foot print with the height of 12 feet addition will be added next to this structure to make the whole floor plan 10×14 feet total.


This roof part is 10×9 feet and 4+ feet high. There will be another addition to the right of the structure with a different roof structure to make a very handsome overall roof line. I specifically create the opening at the right gable end to allow the access for a 5 foot loft. The structure stands on its own currently without any nail holding them up. All the joints fit perfectly. Whenever I have time to build, I put them together in less than 10 min and take the whole thing down at the end of the day. All the walls holding up this roof was already done waiting for the final assembly days (need 3 good days of sun…that won’t happen until April in rainy Washington)


There was 3 days of “no rain” in the Washington/Oregon area. It’s time to build! Taking the whole thing out of the garage


First wall goes up


starting of second wall


Adding horizontal elements




more posts erected


starting adding the roof


more roof


Ready for the roof structure


Half of the roof is now finished. I still haven’t used a single nail or bolt yet. But it seems to hold up very well.


I can see it taking shape nicely now. The rain will come back tomorrow. So, it’s time to cover the whole thing up with plastic tarp so that I can work from inside out.


March 6, 2013. Roof day. I’m getting tired of this project and need to get back to painting ASAP


March 9: Finalizing roof construction. This whole SunTop roof was bought from Home Depot, 16 sheets in total. I figured that in order to limit roof maintenance (if using recycle material) and limit the chance falling off this steep roof, I better spend some money to buy the new one and forget about it for 10-20 years.


The roof seen from above. I am quite very happy with the design


March 13, 2013: progress as usual



It is now completely functional. The small addition on the far right was supposed to be the chimney, but I decided not to put a wood burner inside. So it will house a small electric heater instead. The door was rescused from the dumpster 2 years ago. I still need to paint the outside and clean up the backyard before showing it to patrons

The studio was finally put to use around August of 2013. The interior was not finally done until the winter of 2013. As you can tell, I'm very PROUD of this creation. However, I'll take many years break until my next building project.

The studio was finally put to use around August of 2013. The interior was not finally done until the winter of that year. As you can tell, I’m very PROUD of this creation. However, I’ll take many years break until my next building project.