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Building on a Budget: Living Your Log Cabin Life at the Lowest Cost Possible

Scarlett Sinclair runs a small construction company. She also enjoys sharing her experiences by posting on various DIY and homeowner websites.

If you’ve ever wanted to build your own home far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but weren’t sure if you could afford it, a log cabin may just be your answer. Log cabins are durable, can provide all of the modern conveniences that you’ve grown accustomed to and, if done right, can be very affordable.

There are two main way for you to have a log cabin of your own. The first way is that traditional way, where you find a spot and either you or a professional team chop down the trees, shape them and build the cabin from scratch. This is a fine way, but it’s time-consuming. The other way is to use a log cabin “building system,” where the lumber is already prepared and the pieces are put together on site. If you’re thinking about building a log cabin, here’s a few things to know.


Log Cabin Kits

If you look through home building magazines and websites long enough, you’ll eventually come across companies that offer log cabin “kits,” where all of the lumber arrives at the home site ready to be put together. Then you, or a professional you hire, stack the lumber on top of each other to build the cabin, much like the popular Lincoln Logs toys of the past.

At first glance, this may seem like the best way to build a log cabin: everything is ready and all that is needed is for someone to put it all together. While this is true — it probably is the “easiest” way, it’s actually one of the most expensive ways to build a cabin. If you are looking to build a log cabin on a budget, you may end up paying just as much as you would for a brick-and-mortar house in a neighborhood if you go with a kit.

The Traditional Log Cabin

Log cabins have been built for centuries, especially in America as people settled the wilderness hundreds of years ago. Timber in many areas is a very abundant source, and those settlers would chop down trees, shape them to their desired specifications and build their homes right on site.

Today, you can do the same thing if you have the land or timber rights to do so. This is the most cost effective way to build a log cabin, as it will only require the tools and the patience to build the cabin.

The traditional method does, however, require time and knowledge. There are a lot of different tools and building methods that you need to learn before you can do it yourself. But if you want to build a cabin on a budget, a traditional log cabin is what you will want to build.

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What Tools Do You Need?

If you want to build a log cabin of you own from real trees that you shape to your needs, then there are some tools and equipment you’ll need to get the job done right.

First, you’ll need a few basic tools that you may even already have. You’ll need a chainsaw or some other tool to fell the lumber with (if you want to be a real traditionalist, there’s always an axe!), a drawknife, as well as shovels and cement mixing equipment. You will also need a few large pieces of equipment to move the lumber around, such as a truck and trailer and a tripod winch so you can lift the logs to place them while you’re building.

Sure, all of this equipment may take time to find and learn how to use, but if you want to stay within a small budget, it’ll help. Besides, building a log cabin is almost just as fun as living it!

Which Style Do You Choose?

There are two main styles of log cabins when you build them from scratch: the notch technique and the “butt and pass” method.

The notch technique is where you create notches near the end of each piece of wood so they fit on top of one another, just like those Lincoln Logs. The “butt and pass” method lets you keep each log whole and you have one end “butt up” against the other log so that it forms a tight fit. Both are good methods, but the notch style is more time-consuming.

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If the log cabin life sounds like something you’d like to try, you can do so even with a tight budget.