The Most Important Stages of Your Log Cabin Build
The most important stage of your log cabin is building it right?
If your plan isn’t up to scratch; your build process will be a nightmare.
Planning is by far the most time consuming, but important stage of building your home. Don’t skip over this step, the more time you spend planning and organising, the more successful your build will be.
This article looks at all the aspects of designing your log cabin to make sure your process runs smoothly, including many things that are often overlooked such as setting initial goals, how to establish a realistic budget and timeline.
Don’t let poor planning be the failure of your log cabin build. Follow our bulletproof steps to set up a reliable and detailed plan:
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible – Tony Robbins.
Setting goals will help you establish exactly what you want, and how you are going to achieve it.
To help you set your goals – consider the following questions. I find it useful to actually write down my thoughts to each question – it will then become apparent what the goals should be.
Your goals should be based on both practical yet personal thoughts – the build needs to work, but it also needs to include personal touches that are important to you and your family.
- Why do you want to build a log cabin?
- What will its purpose be, what do you want to achieve?
- Do you want to build the cabin yourself or hire builders and contractors?
- Do you want it to be single storey, 2 storey?
- How many do you want it to sleep, what square footage do you want?
- What is your end vision?
Don’t just stop there – brainstorm with your family, or anyone else involved to think about what you want to achieve.
By writing your goals down, and making sure they are detailed you; will have clear vision of what you want to achieve.
Once you have your goals, you can prioritise them and move onto the next step in the planning process…
Research (research… and more research!)
Before you can even begin to start thinking about the design of your home you need to do your research – you have started that process already by reading this blog!
Reading professional blogs and drawing on other people’s experiences is a great way to get insight into how to build your log cabin. This article on beginner mistakes that cause log cabin projects to fail’ is a great place to start.
Go and look at log cabins in your area, speak with the owners about their experiences.
Visit local log cabin pre-build companies and ask for their recommendations. Even if you don’t end up buying from them and choose to build your own, you will usually be able to separate the useful advice from the sales pitch!
- Read articles and books on log cabins
- Talk to people who have built log cabins
- Visit log cabin companies
Where do you want it to be located? What is the purpose of your log cabin – do you want to be able to relax in the middle of nowhere, with natural beauty surrounding you, do you want to be close to ski slopes or hiking trails?
Does the area you are looking in have any legalities, regulations or permits that you will need to consider? Are there resources and utility lines available to connect to, or do you want to live off grid?
These questions only skim the surface of the questions you need to think about prior to purchasing land for your build.
Take a look at our in-depth article on finding the perfect log cabin location to make sure your thoroughly consider this point of your planning stage.
- Determine your area (purpose, natural beauty, accessibility, type of land)
- Legalities (code restrictions, zoning, development restrictions, future development plans and other legal considerations)
- Practicalities (Structural foundation, soil types, boundaries, slopes and grades.)
- Where to site (orientation, shelter, views, sun)
Establish your budget
You may be in a fortunate enough position to not to have to take a loan to build your log cabin, even if this is the case, it is still a wise decision to set a budget.
If you do need to use a lending institution, getting ‘prequalified’ is the first step. This entails supplying the lender with an overview of your financial situation, including income, debt and assets. They will then be able to give you an idea of how much you will be able to borrow.
Once you have an idea of how much you can borrow, you will need to do a thorough budget to make sure you are able to complete you cabin build within that cost.
Things that you will need to include in your budget include:
- Purchase of your land (This may not be necessary for some of you – especially if you already own the land you want to build on)
- Site preparation and foundations
- Utilities and Services
- Lumber and Roof
- Interior, Windows, Door and Fixings
- Tools and Equipment
- Legal Fees (Solicitors costs, permits, surveys etc.)
I would always recommend adding a 10% contingency fee on top of your total amount. It is also useful to make sure your budget is written down – a spreadsheet programme such as Excel is a great tool for inputting your finances.
Establish your timeline
Setting a deadline to move into your log cabin is a great idea. It gives you a date to work towards and an end target which you can work backwards from in your planning.
However, you need to make sure your goal is realistic, or you could be left with all sorts of problems; for example if you only have builders scheduled in for a certain period, or if you only have your current accommodation until that specific date.
Stripped right back to the very basics, there are three main steps in your log cabin build.
Each of the time periods for these stages will vary depending on many factors, such as location, whether you decide to buy your own logs, or have a lumber mill do it for you, the weather, location of building site, the square footage and complexity of the build and the size and experience of your team.
The Planning and Design Process
(Researching, setting budgets and timelines, finding land, designing the cabin etc.)
The timeline for the design process is entirely down to each individual – some people like to spend a year or more thoroughly going through every aspect of the process and researching every available option. I would recommend spending a minimum of 6 months on the planning and designing stage.
The Preparation Stage
(Sourcing and preparing logs and other building materials, preparing your site.)
The preparation stage will depend greatly on whether you are cutting and preparing your own logs of having a lumber mill do it for you.
If you cut your own logs, you will need to allow plenty of time to let them dry properly, time to cut them and to treat and prepare them.
Most logs will take a minimum of one year to thoroughly dry, unless you use a kiln. Have a look at our blog on preparing logs for a detailed understanding of how long this stage will take you.
If you are having your logs sawn to size at a lumber yard – I would recommend leaving a couple months for this. You will get a better idea by phoning about local yards and asking for time estimates.
Erecting Your Log Cabin
The building stage is probably going to be the quickest stage in the process.
Once your foundation is in place and all your logs are notched, it is just a case of building your walls and roof. Unlike a conventional house, your wall is built in one go – the logs act as both the outside wall, the insulation, the inside wall, the plaster and the paint!
Depending on how many people you have helping, and your DIY experience, the cabin could take anywhere from a few days, to a couple of months to build.
Assemble your team
You may be happy designing and building your log cabin as a lone trooper, in that case you can skip straight past this section!
Most of us though, will require input at some stage along the way. This is a complete list of people you may wish to get involved in your log cabin build:
- Interior Designer
- Civil Engineer
I would recommend interviewing each professional to see if they meet your expectations and share your vision; allow 4-6 weeks to interview, check references, and receive estimates.
Design your log cabin
This is where the real fun starts!
You will probably have thought a lot about what you want, when you considered your initial goals. But now you can really start thinking about the detail… the cabin plans!
Is there anything in your current house that you want to replicate? Is there anything that you are certain you don’t want? Think about your furniture, what will you take with you, where will it go in your log cabin – make sure your rooms are big enough for what you have.
Do you want your cabin sprawled over a few floors or all on one floor? How do you want to have your sleeping arrangements? Do you want all your bedrooms together to do you want separate sleeping areas in case of visiting guests?
There is lots to think about during the design process, and sometimes you can have so many ideas that it is hard to keep up with them all.
I would recommend keeping a journal, folder, word document or Pinterest board – whatever suits you so that you can keep track of all your ideas.
When designing your log cabin, you can use this checklist as a guide to ensure you think about all the aspects you need to:
- Square footage
- How many people will live there?
- What is the purpose of the log cabin?
- Do you want space for additional guests?
- Will the size be restricted by your land?
- Floor plan
- List all the rooms you want to include
- Think about the practicality of how room placement will work
- Think about your daily routine – how can you create space that will help keep your life organised?
- Consider access into the cabin/out into the garden
- Do you work from home – do you need office space?
- How many do you need?
- Do you want them all together or in separate areas?
- Do you want an ensuite?
- Think about the practicalities of them
- Do you all get ready at the same time in the morning, would having two be best?
- How many do you want?
- Could you have a full 3 piece bathroom and an extra room downstairs with just a toilet and basin?
- Living Space
- Open planned or separate rooms?
- Do you need space to entertain?
- Do the kids need a space of their own?
- Do you want the dining table in the kitchen, or do you want a separate dining room?
- How much storage space do you need?
- Where will all your appliances go?
- Think about the practicalities of how you cook – do you want your preparation space close to the cupboard or the sink?
- Do you want a centre island?
- Windows and Doors
- Placing your windows right can affect how visually pleasing a room is, how well it functions in terms of energy conservation and how light or dark your room is.
- Think about the views you want
- Remember large windows can be appealing to get great views, but you will lose a lot of heat through them.
- Interior Design
- Think about what ‘feel’ you are trying to create – rustic, western, modern?
- It is useful to think about your furnishings whilst designing your home and floor plan in case you have any large, custom made unique pieces that require a specific place.
- Where will plug sockets and light fittings be placed?
- Which logs do you want to use?
- What style or construction method do you want?
- Outdoor Space
- Having a well-planned outdoor space can extend your living space
- What will the garden be used for – growing food/aesthetics/entertaining space?
This is a very thorough checklist to consider every aspect of your design.
So let’s do a quick recap. Once you have worked your way through each of these seven steps, you should feel confident in knowing exactly what you want and have a solid plan of how you are going to achieve this:
- Set Goals
- Research (research…and more research!)
- Find Land
- Establish your Budget
- Establish your timeline
- Assemble your team
- Design your log cabin
Let me know if there is anything else you want to know about the planning process of building your log cabin. I would love to hear your personal experiences – leave a comment below!
Enter your email address on the right hand side to get updates of the rest of our design series which we have coming up; find out how to bring the outside in, how to create the perfect floor plan and how to make you log cabin look like you hired an interior designer!