Building a Cabin: Kit or Scratch?

interior cabin

David Bryce is an online publisher for Branson Cabins. He blogs on the topics of golf, travel, and vacations.

Who doesn’t love a cabin? They’re the home away from home, a place to get away from it all, and for those considering investing in a cabin, compared to traditional suburban homes, they’re quite inexpensive.

Of course, the cost of building depends on how you go about doing it, as well as what you want to get out of it. There are several companies that produce cabin kits at relatively low cost. Alternatively, you can buy the lumber yourself and build a cabin to your exacting specifications. Either way you do it, there are advantages and disadvantages for both types of cabin.

The Cabin Kit

Advantages:

Since most cabin kits come with all the wood you’ll need, you shouldn’t’ have to worry about not having that “right” piece. It keeps things organized and can be less stressful, especially if it’s your first time building a cabin.

It’s relatively affordable versus going à la carte on timber and miscellaneous wood products. Of course, affordability is dependent on the size of kit you choose. A smaller cabin kit may run a few thousand dollars, while larger, more intricate kits may run tens of thousands of dollars. Regardless, it still a frugal choice.

It’s accessible. Building a cabin is much easier that building a typical suburban home. Yes, you can make your cabin more complex, but for the average person who doesn’t want to complicate things, a cabin can be one of the easiest large structures to build.

cabin

Disadvantages:

Kit cabins are generally on the small side. If you need space, you may have to look elsewhere. Or, you could purchase several kit cabins and interconnect them, but that may stretch the practicality of buying a kit cabin in the first place.

Kit cabins are designed to specification. They’re commonly four walls and a roof, meaning if you want more, you’ll have to put in the work.

You’re cabin will look identical to someone else’s. However, chances are the home you currently live in looks identical to someone else’s anyway (unless it was custom built), so this likely isn’t a big deal.

cabin kit

The Conventional Cabin

Advantages:

Build it as you like. You’re only limited by your imagination and your budget. You can build a more complex structure than a kit and imbue it with subtle characteristics and charm and make it truly your own.

You are in control of the materials. You get to choose every piece of wood used in the project. You are quality control. If something doesn’t work, it can be easily swapped out during the construction process.

cabin

Disadvantages:

It can get very expensive. Unless you adhere very strictly to your plans, even small changes can rack up bills. On that note, you’ll need to develop a plan, a blue print and design. This can be a time consuming process, and in some areas, it may need approval before construction can begin.

Building from scratch is more complicated in general, as well, and can prove to be a stressful experience. However, the results tend to make it worth it.

Of course, there are a plenty of issues log cabin owners will encounter regardless of if they build with a kit or not. If not properly maintain, the wood will deteriorate over time. The less maintenance, the quicker they tend to degrade. Many factors contribute to degradation, from moisture in the air to wood eating insects.

These issues shouldn’t serve as a deterrent, rather, they should be considered before investing in a cabin. Though the initial cabin construction costs are relatively low, the maintenance cost can be high, if improperly done. Essentially, you’ll get out of it what you put in.

cabin

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Gail M - November 3, 2013 Reply

I ordered mine already built (since I’m an older lady & cant exactly carry stuff up onto the roof, lol ) I drew a “to scale” drawing indicating where I wanted my doors & windows…I ordered it from WeatherKing…they have a website. Built with wood by Mennonites. They have a variety of styles & sizes from about 8 x 10 to 12 x 33 or perhaps larger. I was very pleased…no leaks or drafts & all I need to do is finish the interior. I’m having fun with that! I get ideas from all you other guys on this site!

    June - November 3, 2013 Reply

    Hi Gail — your cabin sounds divine! We’re expecting land to come into our space very soon and want to put up a cabin. What was the cost you experienced with yours?

    Thomas - November 3, 2013 Reply

    Hello Gail… What a joy, reading your blog. You are the reason we started Eagle Log Cabins! Sharing our passion for Non-Toxic simple to build structures that are… well, “Darn Cute”. Thanks for your post! Enjoy – Blessings!

Norma M. - November 3, 2013 Reply

What kind of maintenance is needed for log cabins?

    Vivian - November 3, 2013 Reply

    Hi Norma – This is a great question and we will have a free webinar available in a couple of weeks on our website – http://www.eaglelogcabins.com – Please go to our web site, go to “contact” and get your name and info to us to sign up for the webinar. Blessings – Vivian

AL Mercier - November 3, 2013 Reply

I’m getting ready to buy some land in New Mexico. It’s dirt cheap. $700- $900 an acher. It’s very flat land with few trees. So I’ll be buying one of those sheds that look like a log cabin and putting that on there. You can get them dirt cheap if you don’t mind finnishing the inside yourself. I plan to live off the grid with my own well and solar pannels and maybe even a windmill. plus a septic tank and drain field. Even if you have limited funds you can afford to do this. anyone can.

    Yoli Flanagan - November 3, 2013 Reply

    My husband and I plan to do the same thing. We have not found land for less than $4-5,ooo an acre–in what county in New Mexico did you find such reasonable land prices, if you don’t mind me asking?
    Thanks!

    Thomas - November 3, 2013 Reply

    Please check out our selection… we did a lot of research before taking the step to becoming our own company – http://www.eaglelogcabins.com – We have many designs and styles to fit your needs… We are proud of the product we offer… our motto is Quality Products @ Affordable Prices! We practice 7 Generations thinking… buy build something to just discard… Green is good for us, and for our planet! Oh, and we have a new web site coming called Freedom-2-Thrive which will have off grid friendly products too! Feel free to ask any questions you might have – email or phone… both are on the web site. Blessings – Thomas

James Callas - November 3, 2013 Reply

I am anxious to research WeatherKing. Sounds really neat.
Hello Mr. Mercier…I worked at my friends Earthship outside of Taos about a year ago. Will be heading back in the spring. Cost of well where he was, was not practical. There have tanks and cisterns for water. Earthships are off the grid and very efficient. Suggest you visit the Earthship Institute in Taos, NM. You will learn lots and lots and also they have internships and classes. Good Luck with All. JC

Lynn Tatum - May 1, 2017 Reply

Yes, Cabin can be totally a great thing to invest into! I mean you can either live there or only visit there once in awhile for some kind of getaway or some short. I think it doesn’t really matter that your cabin looks like someone else’s from the outside. but I am sure everyone and each of the individual can make the inside of the cabin be totally different from one another. Personalized it can get you some kind of homey vibe. Cabin kit is a good option because it can be a totally quick built and wouldn’t cost as much as the custom one. But anyhow, both have its advantages and disadvantages. Building a cost-efficient house can be quite challenging, which is why we need some experts and great developers to help us with that matter. Visit www,biesterbos.nl for you to meet amazing developers with all the quality you’d ever looking for! Please do check their works and you’ll fall in love with them! Thank you.

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