On The Hunt For A Log Cabin On A Budget ~ Zook Cabins Chime In
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
When you dream of owning a log cabin in the woods, your thoughts may turn to doing the build yourself from local logs that you fell from your own woodland property with great mastery, then deftly placed atop one another in a neat square with help from a kind friend who is naïve and unsuspecting as to the work involved. The roof is formed with smaller sized logs on top. The large gaps between these logs you plan to stuff with moss to keep the wind and water out. A quick handmade door from a few sheets of plywood you bring in on your ATV and you’re ready to go right? Well no. Let’s rewind. That’s not what you want.
Next cheapest option ~ a cabin kit that comes in manageable pieces with everything you need in a neat kit, with clear instructions on how to assemble all the parts with a suggested timeframe for the job that encourages you to make your purchase right away so you can get busy building. You know how to swing a hammer, have a few tools you can bring to the site and a tent that you can camp in until the structure is in place. This cabin kit will be the perfect, budget friendly solution to your need for a permanent shelter and a place to enjoy an idyllic peace and quiet lifestyle away from the madding crowd that you have always dreamed of enjoying on your piece of property in God’s country. Well no. Let’s examine this option a bit closer.
As none of us know what we don’t know it seemed wise to seek the advice of folks that actually have experience building all types of log cabins, from large luxury homes to modest one room settler cabins. Who better to ask than Zook Cabins of Atglen, PA, who have been in the business of log cabin homes for eons and know the industry from the top log to the bottom log.
“There is a lot more to assembling a log cabin kit than most people realize at the outset. It seems a quick and easy way to go, and the prices for factory made kits can be attractive on the surface, not so much when you look at the details of all that is not included such as labor time and cost, incomplete kits, errors in kit assembly due to lack of experience that cause major issues during construction, delivery of materials to the site, tools you’ll need to buy or rent, staining and finishing of the final product,” explained Zook Cabin’s Senior Project Manager, Matt Albrecht.
It is also true that many cabin kit buyers grossly underestimate the time and effort the build will take. This uses up valuable time that they could otherwise be enjoying with family and friends, or out hunting or fishing and enjoying the outdoor life they sought in the first place.
“ A cabin kit is not going to include such things as electric, so you can expect to be drilling through logs from exterior to interior yourself, not an easy task. There is no floor system, plumbing, foundation, insulation or interior finish included so these are expenses you need to include in your build budget. We only suggest a kit to folks whose proposed building site is very remote, “ said Albrecht.
So if a kit doesn’t make much sense then what about stick building the cabin yourself? Perhaps gather a group of friends together to help, secure the materials and orchestrate delivery to the site and get busy. Sounds easy enough, right?
You can customize the design of the build to your heart’s content, and it will have your own individual stamp on it once it is completed.
The first thing to realize is that the price of the building materials will be at a premium, as you will buy them retail. You will also be limited to the choice of materials at the local stores, and will still need to provide the time, the labor and the tools to put those materials together on site.
Time delays due to poor weather are probable, substitution of desired materials common and short orders entirely likely. You will need to be on site to take delivery of the varietal material orders, and will have to fund each order as it comes along. Your chance of finding a finance option for an unfinished final log cabin product is unlikely.
The site you have chosen will need to be accessible by large delivery equipment and as with the cabin kit, you’ll need a forklift or tractor with blades to take the materials off the delivery vehicle. Remember to count that every item is received as per the delivery order, or you will be out of pocket and don’t forget anything. You don’t want to spend valuable building time and expensive gas driving back and forth to the store or wait on special order replacements to arrive.
Speaking as someone that has actually built several pole horse barns hands-on (or should I say hammer and breaker bar and in later builds, nail gun in hand), and an outdoor solar pool that required reinforced steel girders be set exactly square to within a quarter of an inch over 24 feet x 16 feet for the rest of the construction including pool liner to go smoothly, I can attest to the skills and experience that successful execution of a building takes.
I joked in a recent interview with Horse Radio Network Alum Helena Harris,Listen in for advice "Keeping a Grand Prix Dressage Horse".
where I was talking about the life and times of my career with horses, that the first barn my husband and I built was actually fairly awful, but by barn number four we were getting pretty good at it. There is a learning curve to construction no matter how much experience you may have at other building projects. So if this is your first log cabin build, or indeed any cabin build, be aware that many surprises are in store for you and any error or shortcut will have severe repercussions later.
Your third choice for your dream log cabin lifestyle and simple but entirely useful log cabin is a prefabricated version such as the ones that Zook Cabins provides to customers all across the country. Offered in a variety of styles and price ranges, with financing options and quality workmanship and materials, your hunt for your budget friendly log cabin can end here.
The end price including delivery is a known factor, the actual outcome of the build and its quality is known, and the cabin appears as if by magic. Alongside the purchase come plans, permit advice, guidance in all things log cabin choices, connections in place for services to be added such as water and electric (if wanted), and a choice of wood and other materials that have proven longevity.
In our busy lives the romantic notion of getting together with friends and building that dream cabin may loom in your mind as the perfect way to spend your spare time. In reality, friends not showing up, poor weather, arguments over what to do and how to do it on site, unexpected costs of materials, costly mistakes during the build and even injuries falling off ladders or accidents with saws and equipment are all on the table. Unfortunately I can also attest to the chances of such accidents happening. During our last build my husband suffered two concussions, one from a fall from 15 feet to a concrete pad below and the other from being inadvertently clocked on the head with a sledgehammer by our 18 year old son. Said son managed to dice the end of his finger up fairly badly with the use of a wormdrive that required a visit to the ER but from which thankfully he recovered with just scarring. There are many more but you get the point! Obviously much worse can happen so be sure to take out a liability insurance policy if working with friends, paid or unpaid.
You could hire a contractor to do the build for you as an alternative. Naturally they will face similar issues and you’ll need to keep the build on track and on budget, with an iron-clad contract and anticipation of weather delays and excuses for over budget costs. Hopefully the final log cabin will come to fruition exactly as it was planned and the crew won’t leave the site a mess.
Humm. So on reflection what do you think? Sit in your armchair, select all the details of the build you need from your laptop or tablet, chat with some friendly and experienced staff at Zook Cabins, get a to the penny price that includes site delivery and set up and make an easy application for a bit of financial help. Then follow some simple site preparation directions provided by the Zook Cabins team (they’ll even help you find a contractor) and wait the scheduled delivery date and move right in. Sounds like a plan!