What You Should Know Before Buying Cheap Log Cabin Kits
Over the years I have heard from so many people who dream of having their own log cabin, but they tell me they absolutely don’t want to build it from scratch.
If you are one of these people, then this article is for you.
You want the convenience of approaching a log cabin manufacturer who designs, makes, and assembles log cabin kits.
Perhaps you will piece the log cabin together once the kit arrives, or perhaps you will have a contractor build the cabin for you.
Either way, choosing a log cabin kit will take a lot of the hard work out of building a log cabin.
With thousands of different log cabin kits available, it’s easy to be drawn into the ones with the low price tags.
There is always a danger when you opt for a lower-priced item in anything you buy however, cheap doesn’t always mean bad quality.
To help you determine if you should purchase a log cabin kit this article provides detailed and thorough advice about why you should choose a log cabin kit, buyers’ advice, and what to look out for.
Why Choose A Log Cabin Kit?
To start with, log cabins are energy efficient, they bring us closer to nature, and they are attractive and versatile.
If you are put off owning a log cabin home by the thought of building it with your own hands, then the log cabin kit is for you.
You might choose a log cabin kit if:
- You don’t have any building experience and/or carpentry knowledge
- You want to build a log cabin but don’t want to fell the trees and notch logs
- You don’t have spare time to build your log cabin from scratch
- You don’t have the budget to build a custom log home
- You want an affordable and flexible log cabin
- You want some input into the design and build but are happy to use an existing kit as your starting point.
Once you have decided a log cabin kit is the correct option. You will want to do a quick sanity check:
- Is the company reputable?
Are they registered with the international log builder’s association?
- Do they use correct notching techniques?
Do they use Scandinavian Saddle, Full Dovetail, Butt and Pass or Corner Post Notches
- Are all the materials you need included?
Be sure to understand the difference between log wall systems, roofing systems and interior fixtures. What’s included with your kit?
If you need more specific advice regarding kit manufacturers then read what you need to know.
The remainder of this article will now discuss finding the cheapest option for your kit and how to save money without cutting corners and affecting the quality of your final build.
Finding the cheapest log cabin kit
What should you know before buying a cheap log cabin kit?
You get what you pay for.
So, how can you get the most bang for your buck when you purchase your log cabin kit?
One of the first things to consider is what exactly comes with your kit.
You can’t start comparing kit costs if they are not like for like.
Kits typically come in three different completion stages:
- Shell Only(Logs Package/ Log Wall System)
- Dry-In Package(Shell Only and Exterior Finish)
- Turn Key Package(Shell Only, Dry-In Package and Fixtures and Fittings)
The completion stage you select will be based on the price you want to pay and the amount of work you want to put in yourself.
A shell package includes only the logs for your log cabin.
This is also known as a log wall system.
This will comprise all the logs, beams, and timbers that you will need to construct the shell of your log cabin.
This means you will have to source your own windows, doors, roof, floor, and all other exterior and interior finishes.
If you’re looking for the cheapest option, it is possible that this can work out as the best overall choice if you are savvy with your other material choices.
If you don’t know where to look for materials or don’t do your research properly though, it can quite easily become very expensive.
The average cost of a shell kit is $50-$80 per square foot.
This is the most popular choice for people choosing a cheap log cabin kit.
This option includes the log shell and all the exterior finishing that you will need to complete your build.
At the very least, this option should include doors, windows, floors, and the roof; all of which are not included with a shell-only option.
This option allows you to keep the cost down by completing all of the interior finishes yourself.
The average cost of a dry-in kit is $70-$130 per square foot.
Turn Key Package
The turn-key cost is the overall cost of building your log cabin, from the shell and the exterior finishes, to the interior finishes.
This option will provide you with everything you need to build a log home that is ready to move into.
It is unusual for any of the packages to include labor costs to construct your home for you.
The beauty and main purposes of a kit build are that the hard part in milling and notching all the logs is already done and that you will build it or use contractors.
The average cost of a complete turn-key kit is $130-$180 per square foot.
Which package is cheapest?
Ultimately, the only cost that actually matters; if you want to spend as little as possible on your log cabin kit is the overall or the ‘turn -key’ cost.
For the shell or dry-in package to be worth your while, and cheaper than buying a turn-key package, you need to be sure that you can source materials cheaper than the difference of the turn-key pack.
You should make a list of all the different components offered in the turn-key pack and the shell only pack, and decide how much each of the individual components will cost you.
Only when you have done this thorough analysis will you be able to find out which one is the most cost-effective for you.
As a golden ratio, you should allow two times the cost of your kit for the remaining costs.
For example if your shell kit costs $40,000, allow an extra $80,000 to finish the kit.
It’s YOUR job to make sure that everything is included in the price so you can keep it as low as possible.
What prices are hidden?
While the materials of the log home are pretty standard in what companies include, some things are not included by companies and are often forgotten about until you receive a final bill.
These costs include delivery costs and sales tax.
Some companies include delivery costs in their initial kit quote and others don’t. Some allow free delivery within a certain radius or area, others charge a per-mile set price.
Some states also charge a sales tax which can add up to 10% onto the cost of your log cabin kit.
This can quite easily add a few thousand dollars so make sure you check with your state whether there is a sales tax.
How to save money on a log cabin kit
Once you have ordered your kit, schedule time to put it together yourself.
Paying contractors can drastically increase the cost of your build and it is really not necessary if you have time.
Experience is not a must, all reputable companies will be on hand to provide advice if you get stuck, and log cabin kits are quite straightforward to erect.
If you haven’t already heard of Becky from Becky’s Homestead, at age 42, she bought a log cabin kit and built it entirely on her own. You can check out more of her story in the video below.
Choose a Simple Design
It stands to reason that a square or rectangular-shaped log cabin will be cheaper and easier to build than a more complex design.
The main reasoning behind this, is the fewer walls you have, the fewer amount of notches your logs will need.
Another important factor that can make your price vary is the roof.
If you design a simple building, the roof will be easy and straightforward to design and therefore the cost will be less.
If the roof has to follow a uniquely shaped building, it will need lots of different angles and slopes and the cost will be higher.
Go Small and Tiny!
Another consideration to reduce the cost of your log cabin kit is to start small.
Buy exactly what you need for now, not for what you’re planning in a few years.
If you only need two bedrooms, buy a two-bedroom kit and you can add on at a later point.
Log cabins are very modular and can easily be modified retrospectively once you have them.
By making this decision you only build what you really need and you might find that actually, smaller is often better.
Where to buy a cheap log cabin kit?
Now we have covered the factors that will increase or reduce your log cabin kit cost; let’s take a look at some examples of cheap but quality log cabin kits.
We provide our expertise completely free of charge because we think whoever wants to build a log cabin should be able to do so.
We are in no way affiliated with any of the log cabin companies listed below.
We have kept all the examples around 1,500 square foot so you can compare like-for-like sizes.
Having read this article, you will now have a good understanding of what to look for in a log cabin kit and the important considerations to abide by when choosing a cheap log cabin kit:
- The different options available,
- Other costs to consider
- How to keep costs to a minimum
I hope you find the log cabin kit you’re looking for; we’d love to hear from you if you do. Feel free to send us a message or comment below.