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October 21, 2020

Should You Build or Buy a Log Cabin?

Written by

Daniel Wade

Should You Build or Buy a Log Cabin? | Today I'm Outside

Should You Build or Buy a Log Cabin?

Building a log house is not a small task, not even if you have building experience. However, you can save a huge amount of money if you build rather than buy.

Building a log house yourself can be a great idea - but only if you are serious about putting in the time and effort. It is not fast, easy, or even cheap to build a house yourself. You will have to buy land, pay for materials, rent heavy equipment, and perhaps pay for skilled workers if you are not going to do everything yourself.

While log cabins are not cheap to build, it is significantly cheaper to build a cabin than to buy one. If you want to save tens of thousands of dollars, you should consider building a log cabin yourself and not paying someone to build it all for you.

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How much does it cost to buy a log home?

A log home can be anywhere from a small cabin to something more like a palace, so there is a huge range of prices. The square footage largely determines the price.

Often, it can cost more than $200 per square foot to buy a log house. If you buy a 2000 square foot log house, it could cost you $400,000 or more than $500,000 dollars.

Sometimes, the price per square foot can be not much more than $100. You may also be building a cabin and not a large family home, so it may cost quite a lot less than that.

You can get a log cabin building kit for a few tens of thousands of dollars. If the kit costs $30,000, you should expect the total to be about $60,000 if you build it yourself (you will have expenses beyond what the kit costs) or $90,000 if you have someone build it for you. If you buy a log cabin that has already been built, the location will have as much to do with the price as the size of the cabin.

Can you build a log cabin for much less than $60000?

Yes, depending on how much work you want to do yourself and how basic what you want to build is, you can build a log cabin for $20,000 or less.

Some people might cut down trees on their land for the logs themselves, never buying a building kit. If you don't have to buy a kit, you can keep the price down to an even lower level. However, most of the cabins that people build are not very basic and cost a lot more than $20,000.

How much can you save if you build it yourself?

If you build a log home yourself, you can save roughly one-third of the cost of building it. For example, if you buy a log cabin kit for $50,000, and you pay people to do all of the building for you, it might cost $150,000. If you do as much of the work as possible yourself, it will only cost you $100,000 to build it.

Labor costs are about a third of the cost of building a log home, with each project being different. If the labor costs are going to be $50,000, the cost of the kit $50,000, and the total other costs another $50,000, then you can save at most a third of the total if you do all of the work yourself.

Sometimes, labor costs can be even more than a third of the total cost. A carpenter and a project manager put together might charge you 45% of the total cost of building your cabin. You have a lot to gain if you can build a house yourself.

None of this is taking the cost of land into consideration. Depending on where you want to build, land could be much of the total. If you are buying a log cabin that is already finished, it will be a lot more expensive if it is in a more desirable location.

How much does it cost to install the utilities if you are not doing any building yourself?

Utilities are reasonably cheap to install. Usually, it will cost less than $10,000, and it can often be more than a little under $5000. It is not very expensive to install gas, water, and electricity.

If you install everything yourself, it may not be an enormous task. If you are good at do-it-yourself projects you may be able to learn as you go and do it all yourself with little or no previous experience.

Should you build or buy a log cabin?

Building a cabin yourself is a great idea if you are confident that you can do it, and will look up how to do anything you haven't done before as you go. If you are less sure of your ability to learn these things as you go, you may find it much more difficult. It may not be a good idea to try to build a cabin if you doubt your skills and abilities.

Do many people that start building log cabins give up on them?

Yes, it is common for people to give up halfway through. Building a cabin is much more satisfying then and much cheaper than buying one, but some people make mistakes, get discouraged, and give up. If you are aware of some common reasons why people give up on their cabins, you will know what to watch out for and will be less likely to give up.

Plan as much out in advance as possible

If you have never built a log cabin before, you want to learn as much as possible. Know what you are getting yourself into. You might want to read a full-length book on the subject - that will take you through the whole process of building a cabin.

You don't want to end up running into anything unexpected while working on your cabin. If you run into a major challenge that you didn't know about in advance, you might get discouraged. This won't happen if you know all of the steps in advance.

Estimate the total cost

While you will almost certainly save money if you build a cabin instead of paying someone to build it for you, the total cost may be more than you expect. Take everything into consideration. If you are careful not to underestimate then the final cost might be lower than you estimated.

Pick the right location

It needs to be easy to get to your cabin, or else it isn't worth building. Not only do you need to be able to get a car and truck there, but you will need to get heavy equipment there to build the cabin. Make sure there is enough room to bring heavy equipment to that location.

You can also reduce wear and tear on your cabin by building it near a natural shelter that can protect it from the wind and snow. Also, make sure it is legal to build a cabin in that area. Depending on how you plan to power your cabin, you might need to know how far away the nearest power lines are.

Know how you want your cabin to look in advance

If you can imagine a great looking cabin, you can build it. If you start building with only a vague idea of what your cabin will look like when it's done, you might be disappointed.

Time your project out properly

You quite likely won't be working on your cabin during the winter if there's snow on the ground. It can take a few months to most of a year to build a cabin. Plan things out well enough in advance that your work isn't interrupted during the winter, or else you might get discouraged and give up.

The more of the work you can do yourself, the more you can save. However, you do not have to do 100% of the work yourself to save money. You might hire professionals to do a few parts of the job that you would find difficult to do yourself.

How long does a log cabin take to build?

It can take years to go from the beginning of the project to the end of it, even though the construction phase does not last long. By the time you are ready to build your cabin, most of the work is already done. The building phase is the shortest phase.

It might take you six months or a year just to get the land and do the planning. You will have to find a piece of land that you like at a fair price, figure out how much your cabin is going to cost, and prepare a complete design for your cabin.

If you are finding logs yourself rather than using a kit, it will take months to get all of the logs you need. Using a kit is much easier. After you have the land, the plan, and the materials, the rest is relatively fast.

You will have to clear the ground and build the foundation, which will take only two to six weeks in total. Once that is all finished, the rest of the project should only take another four or six weeks.

To build the log walls, build the roof and floors, and put the insulation and doors in is a relatively fast process. If you are serious about taking on a project like this, go for it - you can save a small fortune, and it is satisfying to build a house yourself.

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Should You Build or Buy a Log Cabin?

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