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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Sharing my cabin costs
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Nate R
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 10:30
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I’ve been careful to keep track of all my cabin-specific spending. All too often, theoretical costs are discussed, but I don’t feel enough people share their actual costs after the fact. Sometimes that’s just because it’s difficult to track it all over several years!

We don’t have a fixed budget, so I’m just tracking as we go. We also are spending more than the bare minimum where we feel the benefit is worth it, to us. So one could EASILY spend MUCH less than we have. For example, one could have easily spent $6k less on windows and doors than we did. Or bought some more items more cheaply and/or used. (like a $600 wood stove instead of the $1600 one we got.)

Also, I’m tracking items that are often beyond the scope of other builds, like cost of furniture, or bedding, etc. So, this is just my example, and of course, your mileage and costs WILL vary.

Some general specs: Northern Wisconsin.
20x30 thickened edge, insulated slab on grade.
Covered porch about 90 SF and ~510 SF finished interior space. One main room and a separated bedroom. NO plumbing, just on-grid electric so far (And maybe internet later this year, I hear they’re putting it in our road!…)
2x6 24oc walls, with 3/6:12 scissor trusses, 40 psf ground snow load. ½” Plywood wall sheathing, 5/8” plywood roof sheathing. Asphalt shingle roof with one skylight.
Black fiberglass windows and patio door from Marvin, and a black fiberglass entry door.
R21ish walls, R38 ceiling + R4 foam in ceiling.
Wood stove heat and a 3KW electric heater.

This is today’s cost so far. I do NOT have any siding or trim accounted for, but DO have soffits and a porch ceiling installed. I have the interior mostly insulated, but no drywall yet. Keep in mind, I DO have some things purchased that are not installed yet, like fans and light fixtures. Again, I’ll update this as we go.
Also, I’ve used Menards 11% rebate where I can, so some items have been free or the costs offset for me. The skylight was free with a rebate, insulation discounted, etc.

Feel free to ask any questions.





-Nate

jhp
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 12:31
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Great details. If you'd like to share, how many doors and how many windows? Size on the windows?

As one spreadsheet guy to another (again if you're willing to share) breaking out the doors vs windows under the $10,061 helps give an idea of where the costs went. Was it 4 $2000 windows, or 8 $500 windows?

Thanks for sharing. Looking at each item its easy to see how little changes here and there can really lead to cost overrun if you're not paying attention.

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 13:30 - Edited by: Nate R
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Fair point!
I do have a build thread here: https://www.small-cabin.com/forum/6_9981_0.html

I didn't break that all out as it gets complex...I have a 9' wide x 6' tall opening with 3 double-hungs mulled together as one unit...is that 1 window or 3?


Doors: 72x80 patio door, Marvin Black Fiberglass, about $1650, IIRC.

36x80 Entry door (Thermatru), about $850.

Temporary entry door I used in 2020 at first was about $300. Removed, will be reused in a shed later.

Also got a used old entry door to create our bedroom door for $60

Windows: Marvin Black Essential with various options, and specific glass/coatings for some...AND this was in late 2020, and I've spent a lot of money with this dealer for my main house....at least 2 price increases since from what I've heard.....

Window prices w/o tax, delivery, etc:

2 36x60 DHs $540/ea
1 42x60 DH $580
1 24x36 casement $475
1 48x36 double casement $910
1 108x72 triple DH, $1940
1 42x24 awning, $570

So, about $500 per window "unit" at that time. I'd think it's closer to 550-600 now.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 13:51
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The big ticket items are not so hard to track as such... it is the <$500 items that swamp your wallet in no time. All the little bits add up to a pretty significant cost in very short order.

Then of course there is all the ancillary bits like specialty tools or even just the general basic ones. But it does not "cost against the house as such because Tools can be used as long as they are serviceable & one has projects to do (like that ever ends).

Best "tool bundle" I ever bought was the "full Load" DeWalt Cordless set with the drill, Circ & Reciprocating saws etc... Built all my buildings using that ONE SET and still going strong, although the batteries are starting to "grump" a bit. Lord Knows how many hours is on them, it is a LOT !

KelVarnsen
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 14:31 - Edited by: KelVarnsen
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Nate, you and I are neck and neck for expenses. My spreadsheet is a bit more detailed. I've attached a picture of my reno purchases (Canadian dollars). I'm going to be working on my deck, a new outhouse, and a new bunkie this year, so it'll definitely be continuing.

Here's a post of some of the results.
Reno Expenses
Reno Expenses


Grizzlyman
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 20:02 - Edited by: Grizzlyman
Reply 


I have been diligent about tracking as well. I’ve spent right around 37K on my build.

Thanks for sharing!

MJH
Member
# Posted: 27 Jan 2022 22:16
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I"m curious who did your trusses? I got prices from a few places in northern wisconsin (including the company Menards uses) and the cost of the trusses was pretty high everywhere I went. Your framing and trusses cost doesn't look too terrible...

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 28 Jan 2022 06:14
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Nate how much and what did you do your self?

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 28 Jan 2022 08:10
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Well, between the land, all improvements includes decorations, accessories, commercial thinning, I know I am in mine $250,000 or better.
Mine is not just a play area for myself and friends, its also a passion, hobby etc. I could of certainly done it for way less, but this is the way I wanted it.

Its probably never fully done, but the real big projects have slowed down, I will fence back 20 acres, build a log swingset for grandkids and just keep it maintained.

I absolutely love the place and look forward to getting over there. Lots of real good friends who enjoy it as much come over and volunteer. Its an absolute blast.

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 28 Jan 2022 08:30 - Edited by: Nate R
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Quoting: Brettny
Nate how much and what did you do your self?


Good question.
I paid someone else to do some drawings based off plans I came up with (not the entire design from scratch by someone else.)
I also paid someone else to do the site prep, driveway install as part of that, and a concrete guy to do the form and pour of the slab.
Had to, by law, pay someone else to do the electrical service drop/install/rough.
And the gutters...well worth the $600 to have someone else do two 34 ft seamless black gutters.
Other than the roof being trusses, everything else was myself so far.


Quoting: MJH
I"m curious who did your trusses? I got prices from a few places in northern wisconsin (including the company Menards uses) and the cost of the trusses was pretty high everywhere I went. Your framing and trusses cost doesn't look too terrible...


I got them through Menards. I got 2 end trusses and 14 field trusses, weird/custom span and overhang lengths, and paid ~$3400 for those in Aug 2020. But, it looks like sheet goods and framing lumber are more expensive at this moment than they were in Aug 2020.

MJH
Member
# Posted: 28 Jan 2022 14:47
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Quoting: Nate R
I got them through Menards. I got 2 end trusses and 14 field trusses, weird/custom span and overhang lengths, and paid ~$3400 for those in Aug 2020. But, it looks like sheet goods and framing lumber are more expensive at this moment than they were in Aug 2020.


Thanks for the info. The process of getting an estimate and working through Menards was actually fairly easy, and I regret not going with them.

snobdds
Member
# Posted: 28 Jan 2022 16:18
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I never tracked mine, but I don't think I'm too far off in my estimate. I have done the plumbing and wiring, but have not started to do any interior finishing work. I want to finish making my property fire "tolerant". I did the initial 100 yard parameter 10 years ago, but now I am thinning and cleaning up the 300 yards beyond that. No sense to build a nice place to only have it burn down.

I have 28x36 under roof, including porches.

I'm around 28k for materials.

I don't know how you expense my mini ex, skid loader and all the other tools and things needed to build. Add all those things in and I'm probably around 55-60K. It will probably around 80K once done.

I think that is reasonable.
20190825_121521.jpg
20190825_121521.jpg


Brettny
Member
# Posted: 29 Jan 2022 04:41
Reply 


Quoting: snobdds
don't know how you expense my mini ex, skid loader and all the other tools and things needed to build. Add all those things in and I'm probably around 55-60K. It will probably around 80K once done.

Tracking expenses to me wouldnt include these things. Nor would they include decorations or cutlery and plates. The only reason I would really want to track expenses is for resale...the rest is what it is. Your machines will actualy have value when your done with them.

snobdds
Member
# Posted: 29 Jan 2022 10:45
Reply 


I know you should not apply the entire cost of the machines on to the build, however I did move a small mountain to get enough level surface to build on. I spent an entire summer moving dirt. On a normal house, excavation would be included and I wanted flat ground..there is non of it in my mountains. So there was an expense there.

otherwise i agree, furnishings i would not count.

fred_d
Member
# Posted: 26 May 2022 09:22
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Hi Nate, We purchased some land in Washburn WI recently, and are looking to build on it soon. I'm aiming to do as much as legally possible myself on this build, but have noticed the requirement for a licensed plumber and electrician.

Our house will be 300 feet from the road, and at $7/ft plus connection fees, the electric company will charge around $2500 just to bring power to the pedestal.

Could you break down what you paid to the electric company, and what you paid to the electrician? Also, were you able to do any of the electrical work, or did the electrician have to do it all?

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 26 May 2022 11:00 - Edited by: gcrank1
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Fwiw, I talked to a couple of fellows near our sc WI place who put in their own peds. They had to get the town permit and do the elec co form, get the specs, build to specs and have an inspection prior to the elec co running the line and hooking up and installing the meter.
Based on talking to them I calc'ed the 300ish feet to our cabin at about $3k.
But, Ive heard that some elec co's 'give you' x number of feet for the initial run, you pay for the balance.
I tried to get the elec co here to 'ballpark' me a number to consider if I should go grid or not and they wouldnt even talk to me without the permit and application for power. HARUMPH
Maybe you can have better luck if you have a building permit?

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 26 May 2022 12:40
Reply 


Congrats on the land, Fred!

We're in WPS service area, and I see your provider is different, so costs will vary. WPS offered I think 125 feet from the POLE for free.... So that pushed us to the pedestal, as a meter on the cabin would've been beyond that and would've restricted us a bit more.

So WPS got almost $0 to put in the power to the pedestal There may have been some small application fee, I don't recall. The electrician's 3K went to putting in the pedestal, outdoor panel, indoor panel, digging the trench between the pedestal and the cabin, running conduit and wire between them, and then adding 2 or 3 simple circuits of the bare minimum outlets and lighting for code. (With no kitchen, no bathroom, no laundry, our code minimums were pretty low.) The other electrical costs are for outlets, lights, switches that got added or moved since then.

And yes, some electricians WILL let you do the work and then they look at it and sign off on it..... I think ours was willing to do that if I wanted.


After buying some stuff for off-grid, and living without grid power for several years, and now having power for a while, I'd pay the $2500 to get power to the pedestal if I were you..... worth it to not have to maintain panels, batteries, hope I sized things right, not have a frige, have a generator, etc, etc.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

-Nate

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 27 May 2022 09:18
Reply 


Quoting: fred_d
I'm aiming to do as much as legally possible myself on this build, but have noticed the requirement for a licensed plumber and electrician.


Alot of this also depends on the BI for your area. Fortunately the BI for where Nate and I are is very, very lenient which enabled me to do everything myself.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 9 Aug 2022 15:54
Reply 


Fwiw, mistakes with diy plumbing arent nearly as bad as they can be with electrical.
Just messing about with a flakey receptical can kill ya!

MJH
Member
# Posted: 9 Aug 2022 19:25
Reply 


Quoting: WILL1E
Alot of this also depends on the BI for your area. Fortunately the BI for where Nate and I are is very, very lenient which enabled me to do everything myself.



Did you find that out by asking bluntly? I'm not terribly far from you, the inspector here covers a lot of counties... and I've seen no real indication that things are going to be lenient on plumbing.

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 9 Aug 2022 21:34
Reply 


Ime you find it out by being friendly, cooperative and interested in compliance; ie, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
And fwiw, once they catch you trying to get away with something you will be watched double close.

MJH
Member
# Posted: 9 Aug 2022 21:35
Reply 


Quoting: gcrank1
Ime you find it out by being friendly, cooperative and interested in compliance; ie, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.


I've been all that. Unfortunately I've called the inspector a couple of times already and he hasn't even come out.

WILL1E
Moderator
# Posted: 10 Aug 2022 08:21
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MJH Where abouts are you if you don't mind me asking?

The inspector for my county has a reputation for being lenient so there was no need to ask and I haven't been disappointed since i've been working with them.

Since you said "he" that tells me your not in my county, and based on your lack of help thus far i'm almost willing to gamble and say you are in Oconto County?!

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2023 10:38 - Edited by: gcrank1
Reply 


Bounce this off you guys?
Ive become too 'compromised' to do more than little mods and upkeep anymore, so rather than diy a new build to replace our poorly built 16x24 shack we are looking at a prebuilt log cabin (Star Log Cabins, our close dealer is in Sparta, WI). Btw, this is all ok'ed by our BI.
We have worked out that a 12.5 x 32 will give us comparable space, though we could do ok with the 28'.
One big room, cath ceiling, no plumbing or elec; ie, an interior finished off grid cabin with lots of windows.
Bring it in, move our stuff into it and tear the shack down.
I can do the ground prep and have a load of gravel brought in to set it on (one of their approved methods).
My calcs put us all in for under $40k. Wadayathink, is the pricing decent enough?

ICC
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2023 13:38
Reply 


I like the idea of one big room. That is how I built our 16x30 cabin. With a small room in one back corner to house the composting toilet (bucket) and a shower pan.

I don't blame you for not wanting to be the contractor and the laborer and building from scratch.

Those are attractive looking. I think the price is reasonable for a pre-built, finished, delivered, and placed/leveled on your building site. A metal roof is good.

The logs are white pine which is good as white pine is a stable species. Once kiln dried they do not usually twist or warp like some other woods. White pine has an R-value of about 1.3 per inch. So if those are true 4" the R = 5.2; if 3.5" then R= 4.55.

I see the bottom edge has a milled-out wide groove. Do they use a foam strip to help air-seal the joints? The exterior edge is chamfered and then chinked or caulked. That should be nice and draft-free. What material is used for the chinking/caulking? Warranty?

Just speaking for myself, personally, I like or want more R-value in walls, ceilings, and floors. But that is me and I know not everyone else thinks the same. (My cabin has R-23 walls which is more than many people's full-time homes and I have received funny looks from some folks). R-45 ceiling, R-25 floor. All that cost me extra, so I know not everyone else can do it. No drafts will help make it feel nice.

Are there butt-end splices in some of the long log runs? In one of the interior photos it appears there may be some. (photo section cropped and shown below) If there are butt splices how are those ends air sealed?

How will you heat? Wood stove or not? I'd be tempted to use a wall-mounted direct vent propane heater (or two) and skip the wood burning as wood stoves use up floor space. If I had electrical power and the finances I'd also look into a mini-split heat/cool unit. No wood stove means no expensive chimney so that money can be used elsewhere. But then I also like wood heat as I have more timber available than I'll ever be able to use.

Oh, another thing is that 12' wide is okay if you are okay with 12' wide. Some folks would find 12 wide and 28+ long too much of a tunnel. Windows can make that feel better and you did state 'lots of windows'.

-izzy
wall
wall


gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2023 14:11
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I should ask about those butt ends/splices and what, of anything between the tongue & groove run.
The chinking is a product called Log Jam; they have been using it for maybe 20ish years and 'say' No issues.
I wanted wider, but this 12.5 is as wide as they go. We did our '83-'84 build as a 12x24 c/w 12x12 stand up loft and were good with it for 30+ years (with loft reservations) and from doing scale box and furnishings all ours fit comfortably in this 12.5 x 28. Hey, it certainly fits the 'Small Cabin' catagory!
For us '3-season recreational use' is it even though Id have more insul if building. The airtightness and insul used in this Star will be better than we have now.
No wood stove. Yes, footprint/clearances and Chimney are all issues as well as my COPD. LP wall furnace it is!
The shock and dismay of the pricing took me by surprise, a good $10k more than I anticipated, yet....this would be pretty much turn-key for me without having to do a floor, insul and interior finish as with other type 'shells'. BUT, Im getting a feel for it now and considering a friend here just spent $20k for a DECK last year! maybe this aint so bad?
I think Im looking for some input if Im being foolish by considering this. The costs you all have posted up here dont have a $/sf so kinda hard to compare, and unless something is hired out no labor included (I used to work cheap for myself, now I cant much so I Gotta Pay).

ICC
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2023 16:11
Reply 


Quoting: gcrank1
this 12.5 is as wide as they go

Because of width limits while transporting it, I'm sure.


Quoting: gcrank1
Id have more insul if building

You could double the wall R-value with 1" of foam applied inside and cover that with T&G or sheetrock, whatever. Small loss of interior space.Triple the R-valiue with 2 inches. But that would be more cash and still leave the roof where it is. Will they do any extra roof insulation (for a fee)?


My brother (contractor) built an almost 500 sq ft cabin in the woods here for some people this past summer. It was $70K ($140 sq ft) but was wired and the power company service was extra. Not fancy but materials and transportation distance added up.

-izzy

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 25 Nov 2023 17:46
Reply 


Wow, $140/sf, Im sure it is nice(er) but the $100ish for 'mine' is sounding not bad now.
I got a no about more in the top, something about the factory is set up to do it this way....; ie, iffn ya want a custom build....

Nate R
Member
# Posted: 28 Nov 2023 08:19
Reply 


Quoting: gcrank1
Wow, $140/sf, Im sure it is nice(er) but the $100ish for 'mine' is sounding not bad now.


FWIW, INCLUDING the interior stuff, I'm over 74K now for my 520 SF interior, 600 SF under roof cabin.... And that's doing nearly everything myself. I think the 40k for what you're talking sounds reasonable in this market. I'll have to update this post next month with where I'm at.

-Nate

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 28 Nov 2023 09:08
Reply 


Goodness Gracious... This thread made me look at our spreadsheet on costs when building the majority between 2014-2019 and a quick view of prices "today" and Holy Macaroni simply put 300% increase on most of it.

So what's this business of Governments & Group want "Affordable Housing" at these material costs ? A ludicrous disconnect there... regular normal working or just retiring folks won't see "affordable" like millionaires do.

Funny how they can 3D print a 2 Bed Home in Latin America or Africa's for <$25K USD but the exact same thing done in US / Canada / EU by the SAME companies no less, cost $250K. (that is full shell & standard fitting out, no specialities included).

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