Small Cabin

Small Cabin Forum
 - Forums - Register/Sign Up - Reply - Search - Statistics -

Small Cabin Forum / General Forum / How big is too big?!?
Author Message
# Posted: 25 Apr 2024 19:31

Planning on building a cabin in alaska this summer. Original plan is to build a well insulated 24x26 dry cabin with 12ft walls and half loft all built on helical piers. Wood stove heated with a Toyostove for those long cold winter night. This would be a weekend cabin and often we’ll just be spending one night there. My concern is the amount of time and energy to heat for short trips VS building something smaller. Say 16x20. We’ve stayed in many forest service cabins this size and find them comfortable enough. Just looking a validation and recommendations from those of you that have cabins in those size ranges. Thanks

# Posted: 25 Apr 2024 22:36

Our cabin is 300 sf. It’s perfect for the two of us. Our city house is 1,500, 4 bedroom, den, living room, kitchen, 2 bath. Of that we only use 1 bedroom, 1 bath and the kitchen, probly 300 sf.

We live at the cabin mostly. Everything right there in a quick glance around. Heats up quickly with central wood stove. LP heat backup rarely used.

# Posted: 25 Apr 2024 23:02

Had a self built 12x24 with a 12x12 stand up loft for 35ish yrs, was fine for the 2 of us.
Since 2020 we had a 16x24 with Cath ceiling, one big room. It was a nice size but a poorly built shack. We just tore it down and are having a prebuilt 12.5x28 milled log cabin delivered soon. Even though we don't have it yet I know from the 1st cabin experience that it will be fine.
Thing about heating is that if you don't have a stove idling along the core temp of Everything is Cold. Not only do you have to warm the air inside you also have to warm up everything. And that heat goes up have to kick it down and mix for the whole space to warm up. We found that using a ceiling fan pushing air upward kicked the warm air back down around the outside walls and felt no draft; worked far better than trying to push the high warm air down.

# Posted: 26 Apr 2024 06:01 - Edited by: Brettny

No one can tell you how big to build your cabin...just like interior layout and design it's all a opinion.

I can say that our 20x32 with a walk up 19x13 loft is just about as small as a family of 3 with 2 large dogs would want. It takes about 3hrs to really warm up from 25*f..but that's really dependant on BTU input, insulation, air sealing and window/door quality. I should note too that we wont have any skirting on our cabin as I want the insulation under the subfloor.

No matter how and what size you build, place every board and think like a mouse and how you could fit in the walls. Rodents are a big problem at weekend cabins and destroy things like insulation and wireing. They also keep people awake at night.

# Posted: 26 Apr 2024 09:53 - Edited by: paulz

Good points Brett as usual. I’ll add that age may play a factor. I’m a senior, don’t need a dance floor or play room. All physical activity, aside from working on the cabin itself, is done outside. Inside mainly for eating, sleeping and sitting around.

# Posted: 26 Apr 2024 22:01

24x26 seems large , to me, for a place for 1 to 2 nite stays for a couple. OTOH, it is your place and you need what will suit today and tomorrows needs.

Have you drawn out the plans to scale, with furniture, etc in place? We did that and then laid it all out in the machine shed. We frew lines on the floor in chalk, used assorted boxes, crates and lawn chairs to see what walking around would be like.

Lofts are very personal. I have never liked them as heat always goes up. We use two separate heat sources in our 472 sq ft cabin. Wood stove and propane direct vent wall heater. That helps warm up a cold cabin more quickly. The propane is also nice to give a quick warm up in 'shoulder' heating seasons. Nice to be able to get a quick warm up and then turn off.

# Posted: 26 Apr 2024 22:53 - Edited by: spencerin

Asuaviator, where will your cabin be located? Just asking for an idea of what winters and summers will be like.

Mine's 14' x 24', basically a studio with a 14' x 8' loft, kitchenette, and full bathroom. I'd say it's large enough to just get by. I did deliberately build it small to start, but for me to feel like there's truly enough room there, I'm eventually going to add a separate 14' x 12' structure for an actual bedroom, with the current structure to then function as a kitchen, dining/family room, and guest sleeping area. That's 504 total sq. ft..

As already stated, it's a matter of personal preference, which is a balance between the space you want vs. the space you truly need.....

# Posted: 27 Apr 2024 00:49

Our cabin is pretty close to what you originally described. We are 16X28 with a 2/3 loft. Walls are 10 feet and center of the gambrel roof is about 26ft.

We heat ours with wood in the dead of winter (cold Alberta winters). If you size your stove right its not an issue. We have arrived at -30C and from an ice cold cabin to removing your jacket is about 2-2.5 hours. At about 4 hours most things are heat soaked and we are damping the fire down.

However, I will say that fans are a must. We have 1 large ceiling fan and 2 box fans to move air around during the initial warm up. Otherwise you end up with a boiling hot loft and cold everywhere else.

Now with all that said. If it was just my wife and I, then I may have opted for a smaller cabin. Or maybe not, having the extra space is pretty nice.

# Posted: 27 Apr 2024 11:02

Is it a remote cabin ? Freighting materials takes a lot of time with a snogo. And a lot of work

# Posted: 8 May 2024 12:03

As someone who lives in the North I have a few thoughts to share about the build...

Keep in mind the shape/size of the structure.
You are better off building a "square" versus a rectangle because the more exposed (longer) walls will transfer heat in/out and make for cooler spots. In general if you can "square up" you can also save some cash on materials. Stick to standard dimensions divisible by 4 or 8 to reduce waste & cutting.

Be aware of the prevailing wind directions and the effect that will have on your building. If not properly located to deal with the winds & without windbreaks you could actually create a spot that causes a vortex and wraps around a corner or two causing cold spots again. You do not want the winds to hit a square flat wall, best to have it hit a corner & split. Windbreak trees/shrubs can be handy BUT if they are not there, planting & waiting will take ages. Now an "outbuilding" like a garage or shed can act as a break before the house. Sure that will take the brunt but you aren't "living" in it.

# Posted: 8 May 2024 14:32 - Edited by: Grizzlyman

22x20 here. 10ft walls with loft. Similar to yours but smaller. Surprisingly doing the math it’s about 1/2 the cubic footage.

We have a fairly small Vermont castings stove- intrepid. I learned my lesson on cheap stoves and good stove for me is a must.

Cabin is insulated well, but not great. I think I have R-16 on the roof and fiberglass batts in the walls. No floor insulation. Roof is less insulated than ideal because it’s vaulted- but holds heat well enough. Especially with a Snow load on the roof.

In MN winter around 0 degreesF it’ll take 3-4 ish hours to get the cabin comfortable enough to be in sweaters. Probably about 6+to get to 60 degrees.

Could have a bigger stove- but then It’ll cook you out in shoulder seasons (where we use the cabin way more than winter). It’s optimized for that.

Getting stove and room up to temp is a lot of work for a one-night trip.

I would ask yourself if you are going to spend more winter nights or shoulder season nights- and plan for that.

We only make a handful of winter trips- mostly just to check on stuff.

# Posted: 8 May 2024 17:55

I heat with a pellet stove and I get about a 10* temp rise per hour...definitely don't want to get there at 10pm in the winter.....

Can you come up with a design that easily allows for an addition? Start small and expand if you find yourself looking for more space..

Your reply
Bold Style  Italic Style  Underlined Style  Thumbnail Image Link  Large Image Link  URL Link           :) ;) :-( :confused: More smilies...

» Username  » Password 
Only registered users can post here. Please enter your login/password details before posting a message, or register here first.