How To Build A Log Cabin From Scratch
I have always wanted to build a log cabin. As a child in fifth grade I literally dreamed of going to a remote wooded wilderness and carving a cabin from the woods and living off the land. Needless to say that has just been a childhood fantasy until recently. Last spring I bought a Logmaster portable sawmill as an investment to use dring retirement. It had to be fabricated and that took about 4 months. During this time I purchased a tree shear for may skid loader, an old international log truck, a Logasol planer molder and some additional related equipement.
The log cabin idea was in the back of my mind as I bought the equipement, but mostly I was looking at it just as an investment business. After 4 months, I finally got the sawmill. It is sweet. I did a couple of custom sawing jobs, then started cutting wood for a shed in my spare time. Everything worked as advertised.
In this article I'm going to cover the two main ways to build a log home to help you better understand what it takes to build your dream home.
The first option is to buy a log cabin kit from a builder. The second option is to design your own floor plans and find a log manafacturer to source and cut the logs to size. Below I'll dive deeper into each option and outline the pros and cons as well.
Option 1: Purchase A Log Home Kit
- One of the mose popular way to build a log cabin is with a kit. These kits are produced by log home manufacturers with decades of experience designing and building log cabin. When you purchase a kit, you'll be able to sleep well at night knowing all the pieces will fit together easily and without any major complications.
- In a recent article I covered the total cost of buying and building a log cabin using a kit. If you don't get a chance to read that article, here is the mose important point you should write down:
"Generally speaking, the cost to build a complete log home is three times the cost of the ‘turn-key’ kit price.”
For example, if your total construction budget is $360,000 then you will need look at log cabin kits in the $120,000 price range.
Want To Save Money And Build It Yourself?
The general consensus is that it will still cost you about three times the cost of the kit to build. That's due to the fact that you'll need to rent heavy-duty equipement to unload and position the logs. Not to mention hiring the additional laborers needed to help you get the logs into place and safely secured to each other.
I also want to point out something that most people miss: a "log home kit" is not a complete house. These kits include partition walls, doors or stairs.
You'll also need to budget for all the necessary mechanical systems required for comfortable living the HVAC plumbing and electrical - these are not included in log home kits.
Option 2: Design House Plans And Source Your Own Logs
The second option is to design your own floor plans (either yourself or with the help of an architect) and source your own logs. Going this route will give many more options for customization, like taking advantage of views on your property or modifying each room to suit your needs. Custion design is typically more expensive. But for most homeowners that want to design and buid their dream home, cost is the least of their worries.
- If you don't fancy yourself as a designer, you can start by searching for log home plans online. These will give you a few days to start with and allow you to narrow down your design priorities.
- In the event that you can't find a house plan that you love, there is always the option to have these plans modified by a local architect.
- After you have your home design set in stone, you'll need to find high-quality logs to build your dream cabin with. Here's where things can get compicated.
- Many of the articles you'll read online on how to build a log cabin will tell you to cut down trees and start building. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. This is especially true if you don't have any home building experience.
- Each must be properly peeled, dried and cut before it can be installed. Preparing logs for home building takes special equipements, time and knowledge.
Instead of cutting down all of the trees in your backyard, a better option is to visit a log home manufacturer or producer. They will be able to source and cut the logs per your house plans. Going this route will guarantee you will get high-quality lumber, cut to your extract specifications and even delivered to your construction site.
How To Build A Log Home - Next Steps
In this article my goal was to give a you a starting point before you decide to build your own log cabin. As you can see there are many steps I've left out such as financing, permits and construction schedules. Plus, I didn't even mention the wide variety of log notch styles - which are a heated issue among log home builders.
My first impression is that the log cabin siding doesn't look rustic enough, but I intend to stain the wood darker and use a light grout between the "logs". I may do something like use slabs off the sawmill that still have the edge of the logs for the siding on the peak to rough it up a little. I intend to add a porch on the front with a small deck under it. I switched from the dovetail corners to butted corners because they are easier to do, but the other wise the cabin is progressing as planned, except that it's been a longer birthing process than I intended. My son and I started loggin right after I started the cabin, and that got first priority.