What makes a great log cabin kit?

The tiny house movement is growing in popularity year on year, and it’s no surprise when the average cost to build your own is $23,000 compared to the average cost of a standard house of $272,000.

Most tiny homes are in between 100 and 400 square foot, and one of the beauties of building a house of this size is that people can afford high-quality materials.

One of the more premium material choices for building a tiny home are logs. Logs provide a rustic feel as well as their own insulation. Another reason people choose tiny home living, is to feel closer to nature, and what a better way to do this than be surrounded by logs?

There are plenty of log cabin kits available to model a tiny home on, but what should you look for when you’re choosing a kit?
There are 5 main things to bear in mind if you’re buying a log cabin kit; notch type (i.e. how the cabin is joined at the corners), wood type, supplier, cost, and what’s included.

Notch Type

There are 5 main different types of techniques used to join log cabin corners; saddle notch, full dovetail, butt and pass, tongue and groove and corner post.

The most popular is the saddle notch. The notch type you choose will usually depend on what you find most visually appealing.

Log Type and Profile

The type of wood you choose is completely down to personal preference. The most popular choices are; pine, white cedar, cypress and spruce.

Cedar is considered the premium log, and you will pay a premium price for it.

You’ll then also need to choose the log profile; d-log, round log, half log and square log. The most common and energy efficient log is the D-Log.

Supplier

With hundreds of suppliers to choose from, how do you know where to buy a log cabin kit from?

The most important things to check are:

Is the supplier reputable? The quickest way to check this is to see which associations they are registered with. Most quality suppliers will be registered with the Log Builders’ Association or the Home Builders’ Association.

Do they offer on-site assistance and an installation service? Any reputable company will offer these things – if they don’t, be wary. You should also ensure the kit comes with a minimum 10-year warranty.

Are the logs and materials quality? To answer this question, you should always check that the logs are grade stamped and the blueprints are stamped.

Cost

One of the big reasons people choose to live in a tiny home is for the cost and it usually allows you to be mortgage free.
It’s important not to forget that the cost of the kit is not the only cost involved in building a tiny log cabin. Other costs include laying foundations, interior finishes, and taxes.

If you’re putting the kit together yourself, you can generally use the ratio 1:2 to find out the complete finished cost of the home. For example, if the kit has cost you $20,000, the overall cost would be $40,000. If you are paying someone to build it for you, use the ratio 1:3, so the same completed kit would cost $60,000.

Always ask whether the cost includes delivery fees and taxes. This can easily add another 10% to the cost.

What’s Included?

One of the most important questions you need to ask when buying a tiny log cabin kit, is what is included?

Suppliers usually offer their kits in different forms of completion. For example, shell only, dry-in package and turn-key package.
The shell only kits usually only include the logs you need to construct the shell, you’ll need to source your own windows, doors and all the interior finishes. The average cost of a shell kit is $50-80 per square foot.

A dry-in package usually includes all the external parts you need to build a kit. You’ll then just need to source the interior finishes. You can expect to pay between $70-$130 per square foot for a dry-in kit.

The turn-key package usually includes all the components you need for your cabin to be ready to move in. The average cost for the is $130-$180 per square foot.

Always make sure you know exactly what is included in your kit so you don’t have any hidden costs.

And there you have it –the most important things to consider if you want to buy a tiny home kit from a supplier.

If you only take away two things from this article, they should be, firstly, to ensure that whoever you buy your kit from is reputable, both in terms of them as a company, and the materials they use, and secondly, to ensure the final price you are given, includes all the components you are expecting.

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Gary in Ohio - March 18, 2018 Reply

Regardless of the different types, all log cabins use enough wood to build 4 or 5 “stick built” houses. Even with the renew ability of wood, this is an extremely wasteful and expensive option. (Not covered is woods shrinkage affecting windows and doors and chinking, all requiring expensive updates and maintenance.) SIPs are the future of building.

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