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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Need help - many questions.
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# Posted: 27 Sep 2010 18:07

I hope this is the right forum for this. I plan on building a cabin, not really a small one, but something like 30x47 two stories.

My questions really are...

How long would it take to build the cabin with 4 or 5 men working on it 8 hours a day?

How much in materials including windows, doors, wood, foundation and anything else that is included in making the cabin(s)?

Are cabins cheaper to build than normal housing?

Would I actually need to buy a kit or is it a lot cheaper to make the lumber from lowes or a lumber yard or something?

Also any advice on keeping costs down would be greatly appreciated. thank you!

# Posted: 27 Sep 2010 20:57

Wow, you've covered an enormous amount of territory there. I'll take a stab at part of it.

The length of time it takes to build includes many factors beyond just men and hours. Will the site need to be excavated and trees removed? Will you have a slab foundation or piers? Is the site remote or in town? Can you receive deliveries on short notice, or do you have to bring materials in yourself? Will you have ready access to power and water, or will you be limited in those items? There are hundreds of questions like this that affect your project and make it unique, and we haven't even talked about the local weather conditions yet, another major factor.

Materials are much the same. Will you be using single pane vinyl windows or will you be using custom double or triple pane specially order windows? There is a big difference between the low end and the high end of materials.

Cabins, especially one that you build yourself or at least contribute a substantial amount of your own labor to, can be significantly less expensive to build than a "normal" stick built house in a city or the suburbs but again, there are many factors that go into this.

You can go the route of a kit, however you won't usually save money on the materials. All that a kit manufacturer is doing is taking a bill of materials and then cutting lumber to specific sizes and gathering the materials into one container. Whoever is putting together the kit is making a profit and you can certainly do what the kit maker is doing for less money.

If you are going to place an order for framing lumber, you should present Lowes, Home Depot, and a couple of local lumber yards with bid requests and let them compete against each other. In most cases, the local lumber yard is going to be cheaper on large orders of framing lumber and lowes and home depot or other vendors will be cheaper for other items like plumbing fixtures. If you build your own home and you're looking to save on materials, then you'll probably end up buying from many vendors and you should consider buying used whenever possible.

There are lots of ways to keep costs down. The first is to downsize your floorplan. Our ancestors lived comfortably in sub-1000 s.f. homes with lots of children and they thrived in these homes. The second way to significantly reduce cost is to perform as much of the labor yourself as possible. Another way to reduce costs is to plan, plan, plan and plan some more. Fixing mistakes is costly.

There are lots of other ways to save money but probably too specific for this response given that we don't know enough about your project. For instance, do you want to build super insulated? If so, the cost of the building will be more, but you're energy consumption will be reduced significantly. So you'll either pay more upfront to build with insulation or more later to heat and cool so the cost depends on your perspective.

Gary O
# Posted: 27 Sep 2010 21:19


First off, you must understand that my reply, is only my personal opinion. K?

"How long would it take to build the cabin with 4 or 5 men working on it 8 hours a day?"
Ans; Depends on their knowledge, the tools available, and how finished you want it to be. In other words (again in my opinion) this is unanswerable with the lack of info supplied.

"How much in materials including windows, doors, wood, foundation and anything else that is included in making the cabin(s)?"

Ans; I'm going to assume you mean in US dollars, correct?
Again it depends on how finished you want it. 'Cabins' as a rule are kept a bit rough and a bit small. Othewise we'd call them something else, like a chalet, or a bungalow....
The cost per sq ft is somewhere around half what a conventional house costs, simply due to the unfinished (rough) features.
However, if you've perused this sight and others, there are real craftsmen on these sights that can take a pile of weathered boards and turn it into a thing of aesthetic beauty. These is no price for that.

I think I just answered your third question...

"Would I actually need to buy a kit or is it a lot cheaper to make the lumber from lowes or a lumber yard or something?"

It is always 'cheaper' to build from scratch as opposed to a kit (material vs material). However, it all depends on the tools and knowhow you and your 4 or 5 other men have. If you're lacking in experience, you can waste a lot of money ruining materials.
Again, peruse this sight. There are some sweet little structures made from kits, with personal touches added.

A final thought for you;
Attempt something less daunting at first, like a simple leanto tool shed.

Happy Building

Gary O'

# Posted: 27 Sep 2010 22:05

well, 30x47 two story? not much of a cabin, more like a house. something of that size will be hard to fly under the radar. that will bring a number of problems, one of which will be building codes and to build a structure to code gets pricey as well as a pain in the ass. then there will be sewage, that's a whole other issue.. Just my opinion but a great many of the members here build small structures that are well built and structurally sound but most would never pass code for one reason or another. they are built this way for cost savings and ease of construction. sorry to be so doom and gloom. good luck with the project.

# Posted: 28 Sep 2010 09:14

Almost 3000 square foot and a team of builders, that isn't a cabin.

Cabin's are cheaper than normal houses, but are so for a few reasons that you'll be entirely skipping. They are generally smaller, not just to to save money in materials but to keep the engineering to a level that a common man can grasp. At that size, you'll need a certified architect to insure the building can support it's own weight. Because of their size, and often lack of normal utilites, cabin's are built without building codes, often illegally, and without the expensive inspections. At this size and investment, you're not going to get away with that. I can't imagine you would want a cabin of this size without running water, electricity, and city style climate control.

Again, a project of this size is going to require more than full time attention just to keep the materials flowing in, the people orginized, and the county inspectors happy. You most likely don't have the time, and will need to hire a general contractor. Can you take of the 3 to 6 months it will take to complete?

In short, at this size, you're building a "house" and you need to treat it like such.

# Posted: 28 Sep 2010 10:28

Ajjn, if you havent visited I advise that you do, It might be geared a little more to what you are trying to achieve

# Posted: 28 Sep 2010 19:24


Methinks you should be asking these questions to engineers, architects and builders. Your vision sounds like a mega project.

But good luck with it.

# Posted: 29 Sep 2010 15:49

Wow, Thank you all for your great responses, I didn't think I would receive so many.

I would have a slab foundation most likely unless where ever I would be building requires me to have a basement foundation.

I would be using Single pane windows.

I like your idea about taking the bids to local lumber yard and lowes/home depot, didn't know they did that. But how do I know how much wood I need beforehand?

I won't be wanting to go under the radar. I would like to have it to where it meets all inspection standards. How expensive could that get?

I would like it to have running water and electricity, but not sure if it would at first. I think it'd have to be built then inspected before we could turn anything on.

Would using 1/2 half log cut down on the price at all?

I might try something smaller at first, like a 24X24, so I can get some experience and understand how they are built.

Thank you all again for responding, and if I left any of your questions out feel free to let me know. Thank you all. :)

# Posted: 29 Sep 2010 21:28

Start at the beginning, find out what the local municipality allows and requires.

The county I will be building in requires a driveway permit, septic permit, building permit, electrical permit and water permit be approved - In that order - before construction can start on anything bigger than 120 ft^2. I'm trying to figure out how to side-step the procedures so I can get a temporary pole set up for site lighting and electricity for my trailer cabin

Gary O
# Posted: 29 Sep 2010 22:01

Quoting: AJJN
I would have a slab foundation most likely unless where ever I would be building requires me to have a basement foundation

It apears that you have yet to secure some property, so I'd assume you're going with a package deal with a lender (?), or you have a pile of money for both......
In any event, you're doing the right thing right now by asking many questions.
One thing I'd like to advise, find your property, and design according to lay of the land.
You've got a lot to do.
Take it slow.
General contrators can give you some rough figures, and permit data, for the area you are interested in.

Happy Trails

Gary O'

# Posted: 1 Oct 2010 11:28

I'm going to be building a 38x26 sometime next year. I'm getting a prefabricated model (i.e. the walls are already built). Mine is a shell only package, so I get the walls, siding, roof (with shingles) doors and windows and unfinished floor. For the shell only, your looking at around $25000. On top of that you add your insulation, drywall, electrical, plumbing, flooring, cabinets, etc. I'm doing mine on a concrete grade beam with a 3ft wood pony wall foundation, which I've been quoted $3500 to do.

For what your looking for, I'm thinking at least $55K for just the shell if you are buying a kit like mine.

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