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8 Tips to Building a Low-Cost Log Cabin

As affordable as a log cabin can be, you can make it even cheaper with a little pre-planning. Here are eight low-cost log cabin tips you should follow to maximize your budget while building a cabin.

log home on cinder block foundation
This log home from Conestoga Log Cabins and Log Homes sits on a cinder block foundation.
 

1. Keep it simple with a small footprint.

Small homes are by nature more energy efficient and less expensive to begin with.  Of course, an added bonus is that smaller log cabins  on smaller parcels of land require less maintenance-and costs-overall.

 

2. Don't compromise on quality.

Small doesn't have to mean cheap. Skimping on window quality to spend more on a fireplace, for example, can result in big bucks on heating bills down the road — if you need to stay in budget, use fewer windows but don’t compromise the quality.

 

3. Live by the 4 Ps.

“Ponder, prioritize, plan, and process,” says Bill Keller Jr., CEO of Conestoga Log Cabins & Homes. “Each one of these steps will save you money in the long run. People who don’t thoroughly plan ahead may have to go back and spend more time and money on a part of the home they had not considered, such as kitchen amenities or the utilities.” To that end, understand that even a low-cost log cabin will need maintenance and stick to the recommended guidelines for protective overhangs and clutter-free landscaping.

 

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.

 

5. Stick to the package and purchase everything else locally.

By sticking to the stock floor plan package you purchased, you will avoid tacking on additional expenses.  Customizing a cabin with extra corners and bumpouts can add costs in a hurry.   Purchasing your wood and other materials locally will save you money on transport costs and help your local economy.

 

6. Build at least some of it yourself.

That savings comes in the form of your own time and labor. If you have some background and understanding of basic construction, then you can realize notable savings. Many kits come with detailed instructions, so a few handymen may be able to get a small cabin built over several weekends.

 

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.

 

8. Go off the grid.

As part of your planning, consider alternative energy options and toilet facilities. Research Products offers the Incinolet electric incinerating toilet that runs on 120 or 240 volts of electricity. Panel Concepts produces a couple of products: The Excel compost toilet for cottage use as the primary facility in your cabin, and the PowerWagon self-contained electricity source that uses roof-mounted solar panels on a trailer for charging built-in batteries.

 

 

More questions and answers about building a cabin from Log Home Living:

 
  • How much does it cost to build a small cabin?

Every log home is unique as its owner. Even if a home is built from the same floor plan, invariably there are custom touches that make each version of that design delightfully personalized. Because of this, answering the question, “What does a log home cost?” is nearly impossible. But we can help you plan. According lenders, builders and manufacturers in the log homes industry, a historical analysis of their loans for log home buyers reveals average percentages devoted to specific materials and labor costs. Use these percentages to allocate your budget. Read more...
 
  • Can I live in a log cabin on my own land?

We don’t want to put a damper on your cabin-in-the-woods dream, but your perfect home has to be paired with some practical considerations, too. Proximity to medical care, fire/rescue facilities, schools and shopping, not to mention access to public utilities (unless your dream is to live off the grid), should all be evaluated when you’re making your selection. Read more...
 
  • How much does it cost to build a cabin kit?

A dry-in package includes everything from the shell only package and all of the components required to finish the exterior of the cabin. This kit costs around $70-$139 per square foot. A turn-key package includes everything you need to complete your cabin to be move-in ready. The cost of this package can range in between $130-$180 per square foot. Read more...

 

 

See also: What it Takes to Build Your Own Log Home