How Much Does it Cost to Build a Log Cabin? With Real Examples

How Luxurious is the Cabin

Believe it or not, this seems to be one of, if not the biggest factor in determining how much a cabin costs to rent.  Not the size.  Not the location.  But how luxurious it is.

I found a 2-bedroom glass cabin in New England that goes for $500 per night just for regular weeknights.  Weekends and Holidays were a lot more.

So if you’re on a budget for your vacation, worry less about your destination location and more about the level of luxury you seek.  Believe it or not there are some awesome deals on cabin rentals even in some pretty high-end destinations.

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We all love the outdoors! Each one of us at Outdoor Troop is an outdoor enthusiast in one area or another. From rappelling to camping, from cabins to paramotor, we have the outdoors covered!

Insulation

When it comes to insulating a cabin there are almo

When it comes to insulating a cabin there are almost as many choices as the timber you use.

I would suggest that you insulate the floor and roof as a minimum for your log home.

Did you know that 65% to 70% of all your log cabins heat is lost through the floor or roof?

Top-tip: If you are using smaller girth logs (less than 12”) with a single skin, then I would recommend you look to install a dry-wall interior for better insulation.

Alternatively you can create two skins, and in the cavity between the double-wall you can use insulation or wool to help insulate the cabin.

For those of you new to insulation, watch Steve Maxwell’s fantastic beginner guide:

Insulation works in two ways:

  1. Keeping you warm in the harsh winters
  2. Keeping you cool in the hot summers

Insulating your cabin is a must if you are planning to use the cabin all year round.

After our concrete pad was laid I used a damp proof membrane and then used 50mm Kingspan floor insulation. I purchased the Kingspan from my local builder’s yard.

Kingspan or Celotex are both reliable brands of PIR insulation board, very good for floor insulation.

For the roof’s insulation you can chose between two options:

  1. Insulating the inside of your roof
  2. Insulating the outside of your roof

Typically, insulating the inside of your roof is much faster and cheaper than the outside .

We decided to insulate the cabin from the inside and used 100mm Kingspan PIR board.

Actual Cost As the waterproof membrane was purchased during the foundation stage, all of the insulation (50mm and 100mm kingspan) cost a little over $2,000 in total.

Final Thoughts

I have rented several cabins for myself and family, and have found that the more populated the place, the more the cabin rental is. When we stay at a private campground with amenities like pools, recreation rooms, and have things like WIFI internet, the more expensive the cabins are.

When you stay in locations that are more desolate, and do not have things like tv and internet, the cheaper they are. It all depends on where you want to camp, and what amenities you want to have, AND how close to things you want to be. Sharing a cabin with family is the best way to go because you can spread out the cost over 2-4 families. Just make sure you all get along!

A Prefab Cabin Home Should Cost More

Photo Credit: www.freepik.com

Photo Credit: www.freepik.com

When considering “how much does a prefab cabin cost”, ask yourself these questions as well.

  1. “Do I want to invest a little more now and save myself money in the future?”
  2. “Do I want to save myself from unnecessary stress?”
  3. “Do I want to live in my prefab cabin right away?”
  4. “Do I have the time to deal with all the extra work, and preparation needed to make cheaper “prefab cabins” livable?”
  5. “Do I want quality?”

If most of your answers are yes 😊 then, looking at a small prefab cabin with prices more in the middle or upper range of $45,000 – $90,000 is more likely to be where the good stuff is at.

Enjoy the following real to life examples of quality prefab cabins and their base prices from Cripple Creek Cabins!

Plumbing

Rough-in costs about $425 per plumbing drop, and fixtures can be estimated at $350 each. Examples of plumbing fixtures include hot water heaters, tubs, showers, sinks, and toilets. This price should include the installation and all rough plumbing materials.

7. Look for specialty financing

Your cabin producer should be able to point you in the right direction to find financing. They can recommend a mortgage company that specializes in these projects or may even finance it themselves.

Finish Roofing

30-year architectural shingles can be figured at $190 per 100 square feet of roof area for materials and labor. 29-gauge metal roofing can be figured at $215 per 100 square feet of roof area for materials and labor. Baked-on enamel metal roofing can be figured at $275 to $300 per 100 square feet of roof area for materials and labor.

Windows and Doors

Most builders that calculate the overall cost to build a small cabin are focused on the essentials. The quality of windows and doors can range greatly, making it hard to calculate. For the purpose of simplicity, let’s assume that a standard model of windows and doors is to be used throughout the small cabin. For four double windows and a few doors, builders can expect to outfit a small cabin for around $500.

How much experience woodworking did you have prior to the cabin build?

I have always loved building stuff. I’ve been building things out of wood ever since my first treehouse in elementary school. It was three stories, probably not safe, but for a slingshot wielding child, it was paradise.

Growing up in Prince George, British Columbia is probably where I fell in love with the outdoors, and all things cabins. My parents purchased a small A-Frame on a little lake when I was a kid, and it was the big highlight of my childhood.

After graduating high school, I took a gap year to figure out what I wanted to do. While seeing what opportunities were out there, I stumbled into framing houses in the Toronto area. I learned quite a bit in a short amount of time and acquired the basics of working with lumber for home building.

4. Use cost-effective foundation solutions

Although a slab or a crawl space is the simplest foundation for a cabin, you do have other options, especially if your cabin is 150 square feet or smaller. “You may want to consider using patio stones, super spikes, cinder blocks, tubes, or concrete piers with small outdoor structures,” says John Hickey of  Summerwood Products.


Photo: Roger Starnes Sr on Unsplash

How Long Are You Staying

Some cabins will give you a break the longer you rent the cabin out. Some cabins will give you a night for free if you rent for five days or more, and some might waive the cleaning fee if you stay long enough. Be careful though, if you try to rent a cabin for just a Friday, or just a Saturday, you might have to rent it for the whole weekend. Some cabins will not want to lose out on weekend money, so they may make you pay. It never hurts to barder with people, especially if you are renting a cabin through private party.

Shipping Container Cabin

Tin Can Cabin

If you’re looking to transform a shipping container into a country cabin, you must peruse Tin Can Cabin. Steve, the self-educated homebuilder who created the blog, shares four years of lessons learned while building his stylish retreat that includes beautiful wood flooring and a beadboard kitchen. Expect to find brutally honest posts including one explaining why you shouldn’t build a ​shipping container home. How much did his DIY cabin cost? Around $36,000.

Whats Next?

There’s really only one way to answer the question ‘how much does it cost to build a log cabin?’ for yourself: research and price it out.

  1. Start by determining which option you want to use to build your cabin: doing it yourself, buying a kit, or hiring a builder.
  2. Research the vendors in the options that you choose: look at floor plans, compare kits, price out vendors
  3. Make sure that you talk to your vendors up front: ask lots of questions, get estimates, and think through every last detail of what you’ll need. This will help prevent surprise costs from popping up later. The vendor that sells you your plan, kit, or home should be able to help you with the pricing process.

For a good starting point to look at examples of small log cabin kits, check out:

The 5 Best Log Cabin Kits on a Budget 

And for cost-effective floor plans, see:

The Best 400 sqft Cabin Plans

Lastly, if you want to hire a builder – start by researching who builds in the region that you have your eye on.

Small Cedar Cabin

Tiny Portable Cabins

Meet the rustic cabin that made New York Magazine’s Luxury Gift Guide (yep, the same list that once featured Michael Jordan’s estate). The Nostalgia Cabin by Tiny Portable Cabins comes with all the basics found in many studio apartments plus a porch for the modest price of $40,000. Upgrades like built-in furniture or an air conditioner are extra. 

How To Budget For The Investment

Budgeting for a home purchase is not as scary as it might sound.  It really breaks down into a few simple steps.  Pull out a pen and pad and take a few minutes to give these points some consideration:

  1. First, how much of a down payment can you afford?  

    Your monthly expenses aside, this is a huge part of buying the house.  The higher your down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage payments and the less interest you’ll have to pay over time.  This money often comes from savings, though many people will get creative and try selling a vehicle or something similar to help bulk up their down payment.

  2. How much take-home pay does your household bring in? 

    If you are going into the purchase with a partner, tally up how much income you bring in each month.  Make sure the number is the after-tax figure, as you don’t want to budget for income you’ll have to pay to the government later.

  3. Add up your monthly expenses.  

    These are going to be things like rent, utilities, health insurance, car payments, food, gas, subscriptions, phone plans, eating out, shopping for clothes and more.  Some of these items will be inflexible, like health insurance and utilities.  Others such as food and subscriptions have some wiggle room to help you make a budget work.

  4. Now, make a list of expenses that will be added when you buy a home

    Homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and utilities are all factors when you own a home.  You may need yard work or snow plowing during certain times of the year. You may not have experience with these costs, so try asking friends who are homeowners to see if they can give you some guidance.

  5. Once you become a cabin owner, what costs will disappear from your expenses?

    You will be spending vacations at the cabin, so money spent on hotels will go away or if living full-time in your log home, expenses may be lower than your current residence.  Look at all your expenses and figure out which ones will go away.

  6. Do some basic math to figure out how much you can spend on housing.  

    Add up all income and subtract the expenses you’ll have with home-ownership.  Do not include costs that dissolve in Step 5.  However, leave some room for emergency repairs, health crises and more to avoid an unexpected expenditure from wrecking your budget.

  7. The leftover figure is how much you can afford each month for your house

    The Internet has no shortage of mortgage calculators, so you can start playing around with figures to determine monthly payments and total house costs.  Enter the down payment you would be able to afford, plus the going interest rate, and by entering the total cost of the house, you will see what the monthly payments would be.

Labour

Building a log cabin yourself was one of the reasons we suggested why you should live in a log cabin.

So in our opinion, labour should cost nothing but hard work and sweat!

If you aren’t able to, or, are considering hiring professionals to build you a cabin, this can increase your build cost dramatically.

If you hire external labour, such as builders, architects and project managers, it will be the single most expensive cost:

Project manager – 5%-10% of total cost, realistically from $5,000 to $50,000. Builder/carpenter – 15-20% of total cost, so anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000.

Actual Cost

The total cost of all the labour for my log cabin was $5,500.

I did most of the construction – apart from site clearance, structural engineering and surveyor activities.

How You Build How Much It Will Cost to Build Your Cabin

The biggest factor that will answer the question of ‘how much does it cost to build a log cabin’ is: how you choose to build your cabin.

Here’s the 3 most popular ways to build a log cabin:

  1. Doing everything yourself: buying a floor plan or creating your own, buying materials and building from the ground up
  2. Buying a log cabin kit: when you buy a kit, a manufacturer ships you all the materials that you need to build a specific cabin plan
  3. Using a builder: paying a builder to design and build your cabin

Generally, the above choices go from least expensive to most (from doing it yourself to using a builder), but even this isn’t a set rule. Using a builder for a small-footprint, simple cabin could be less expensive than trying to do everything yourself and making a couple costly errors along the way! Building your own cabin in a way that’s cost-effective takes knowledge, skill, and preparation.

Plumbing and Electrical

Here’s where we get to the nuts and bolts of building costs for a small cabin. Utilities and services — in other words, plumbing, and electricity — can usually be installed for $3,000 to $8,000. However, there are many factors, such as terrain, property size, and distance to the grid, that can affect the total cost of installing plumbing and electricity.

Example Build Projects

Below are two examples of log cabin builds that fit the formulas above.  These examples do not imply that your project cost will be similar, but are provided as examples only.  Contact us to discuss your specific project needs.

Example 1: Brandywine

This log cabin project cost was 2 times the kit cost. This included permits, survey, excavation, utilities, concrete work, crawl space, insulation, HVAC, kitchen, appliances, bathroom fixtures, landscaping, building contractor plus our complete kit (see our log cabin kit material list).

Example 2: Windsor

This log home project cost was 2.5 times the kit cost. This included a full basement, permits, survey, excavation, utilities, concrete work, insulation, HVAC, kitchen, appliances, bathroom fixtures, landscaping, building contractor plus our complete kit (see our log home kit material list).

The Fog Hollow – 12’x28’ Floor Plan

This prefab cabin comes standard with the followin

This prefab cabin comes standard with the following:

  • 264 square feet of living space
  • Walls and ceiling covered with breath-taking, rustic knotty pine
  • Vinyl plank flooring in living/dining room and laminate flooring in the bathroom
  • Small kitchenette with sink, Alder wood cabinets, and laminate countertops
  • Full bath with sink over cabinets, toilet, and shower
  • 2 lofts

This darling prefab cabin’s current price for 2021 is: $59,850.

View The Fog Hollow

10 Do’s Don’ts for Aspiring DIY Cabin Builders:

  • Don’t be afraid of building something. I am far from a professional yet have been able to build this thing. Somehow.
  • Don't limit yourself by comparing yourself to those around you. It’s easy to take the wind our of your own sails if you think those who’ve built something before you had zero mistakes or struggles.
  • Don’t be too confident, and humble yourself by listening to others with a grain of salt. There is literally thousands of building techniques that work all over the world. Look and listen to understand why and how they work.
  • Don’t wait too long. I had no idea that this would take me a year. I just got after it and didn’t look back. The journey was actually more rewarding than having a completed cabin I can enjoy.
  • Don’t sell yourself short. If I told myself I couldn’t do it, you wouldn’t be reading this article. Compare any other skill you’ve acquired in your life with cabin building. Cabin building is the same, pursue it, and the learning will follow.

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