How to Build a Nipa Hut
A nipa hut is a traditional native housing structure indigenous to the Pacific islands. Nipas are typically constructed from machete-cut bamboo, with the logs inserted through chopped cutouts in the corresponding logs. Thatched roofs, pull-up window panels and flooring of split bamboo make the nipa livable in all but the most severe weather. Their construction allows them to be disassembled, moved and reassembled quickly and easily. A nipa hut makes a great rustic cabana. While they are still built using bamboo, a 16-foot-square nipa hut can be constructed of PVC pipe, plywood flooring and vertical window blinds for shingles.
Frame the Nipa Structure
Use a tape measure and marker to mark eight pieces of 4-inch PVC pipe 16 feet long. Use a reciprocating saw to cut the pipe with right-angle cuts. Drill 1/2-inch holes through all the ends of all the pipes, 8 inches from the ends. Arrange them in two groups of four squares and bolt each group together, with 9-inch carriage bolts, into a square. Select one side of the first square to be the front of the nipa. Drill 1/2-inch holes through the outside ends of the front-corner pipe extensions, 2 inches from the ends.
Measure, mark and cut four more pieces of 4-inch PVC pipe 7 feet in length. Drill 1/2-inch holes, identically into all four pieces, that are at 2 inches from one end and 12 inches from the other end. Drill both holes on the same side of the pipe. Stand a 7-foot pipe vertically between the pipe extensions at the front corner of the first square and lift the end of the square to match the hole in the vertical pipe that is 12 inches off the ground. Bolt the pipes together at this point with another 9-inch carriage bolt. Repeat this process at all four corners of the square, constructing the floor joist for the hut.
With two people assisting, lift the other pipe square and bolt it to the top of the vertical pipes. Cut another 16-foot piece of 4-inch PVC pipe and lay it, off-center by 4 inches, between the front and rear upper 4-inch pipes. Drill the same dimension holes and bolt this truss-connector piece in place.
Measure and cut two 9-foot pieces of 3-inch PVC pipe. Measure, mark and cut an inward, 45-degree miter in one end of both pieces. Drill a 1/2-inch hole through the mitered ends of the 9-foot pieces and bolt them together with a 5-inch carriage bolt, into an arrow-shaped assembly. Mount, drill and bolt this assembly onto the top, front end of the upper square. Repeat this process and mount the second arrow-shaped truss at the back of the hut.
Measure and cut another 16-foot piece of 4-inch PVC pipe as the king log. Bolt it, on the underside of the mitered joint, between the front and back trusses. Measure and place four marks on each side of the king log every 38 inches along the pipe. Cut eight 3-inch pieces of PVC pipe 9 feet in length. Lay them with one end on the top of the king log and the other against the side log in the upper square. Miter the top ends and drill and bolt them in place with carriage bolts. Cut a 4 1/2-foot-long piece of 3-inch PVC pipe and drill and mount it vertically between the king log and the center point of the 16-foot center line pipe below it.
Cut four 16-foot pieces of 3-inch PVC pipe and bolt them to the vertical pipes, 5 feet above the floor. Attach vertical 3-inch support pipes to the center of them, bolting the other ends to the bottom square. Frame and bolt in place additional pieces of 2-inch PVC pipe that frame the 30-by-72-inch doorway and the centered, 4-by-8-foot side window openings on the sides and back of the hut.
Finish the Roof and Interior of the Hut
Lay enough 4-inch strips of vertical patio-door blinds across the roof, starting at the bottom, to shingle the hut. Drill 1/4-inch holes through the front and back ends of the strips and screw them onto the rafters with 1/4-inch machine screws. Cut more blinds and mount them vertically in the triangles above the front and back trusses, closing in the structure.
Cut and bolt in place six 3-inch pieces of PVC pipe for the floor joists. Bolting them to 12-inch pieces of 4-inch pipe to serve as floor-support stanchions and to the front/back pipes in the bottom square. Cut and lay enough pieces of 3/4-inch plywood to cover the joists for the floor. Cut additional pieces of plywood to cover the lower inside surfaces of the walls.
Cut a 30-by-72-inch piece of 3/4-inch plywood for the door. Screw on two 4-inch hinges and screw the door onto the vertical pipe in the right front corner of the hut.
Screw two 4-inch hinges onto a 4-by-8-foot piece of latticework, at 2 and 6 feet from one end and screw-attach the lattice to the top pipe above the window opening. Repeat this on the sides and back of the hut. Measure and cut the long dimension of another piece of lattice to fit the window opening beside the door, and screw it in place.
Drill and attach four screw rings, into the center line pipe in the upper square. Tie a length of 1/4-inch nylon cord to the lower, center edge of the lattices and run it through the screw rings and down just above head level. Lift the lattices to ceiling height, tying the cord to the around the screw ring.
Things You Will Need
- 4-, 3- and 2-inch PVC pipe
- Tape measure
- Permanent marker
- Reciprocating saw
- Framing square
- Power drill
- 9-, 7- and 5-by-1/2-inch carriage bolts
- Socket set
- 3/4-inch plywood
- Circular saw
- Vertical 4-inch sliding-door blinds
- 1-by-4-inch door hinges
- 4-by-8-foot white wooden lattice panels
- 2-inch screw rings
- 1/4-inch nylon rope
- Add paper lanterns and bean bags for a cabana look.
- Use caution when working with power tools.