How to Build a Log Cabin from Scratch

by Joanna Stewart

Thu, Nov 22, 2018

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OK, I’m going to get right to the point - if you’ve been searching for tips online about how to build a log cabin, there’s a good chance you are missing the information you need to get started.

Yes, there are plenty of articles and videos with ambitious “survivalists” claiming you can build a log cabin by hand for less than $100 - seriously? My guess is that you don’t want to build a cheap cabin in the woods - you want to build your dream log home.

If this sounds like you, then I’ve got good news: building a log cabin from scratch is easier than it sounds.

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 manufacturer to source and cut the logs to size. Below I’ll dive deeper into each option and outline the pros and cons as well.

build log cabin guide

Option 1: Purchase a Log Home Kit

One of the most popular ways 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 cabins. 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 most 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 equipment 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 the pieces necessary to put together the exterior shell and roof. Sometimes these kits do not even include interior partition walls, doors or stairs.

You’ll also need to budget for all the necessary mechanical systems required for comfortable living like 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.

Custom design is typically more expensive but for most homeowners that want to design and build 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 ideas 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 complicated.

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 log must be properly peeled, dried and cut before it can be installed. Preparing logs for homebuilding takes special equipment, 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 exact specifications and even delivered to your construction site.

How to Build a Log Home - Next Steps

log home living room

In this article my goal was to give 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.

If you would like to learn more about building a log home I’d encourage you to sign up for my online course called the Log Home Master Class.

What questions do you have about log home construction? Please leave a comment below.


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