Build This Cozy Cabin

Anyone with basic carpentry skills can construct this classic one-room cozy cabin for about $6,050.


| June/July 2006


Rays of early-morning sunlight gently peek through the windows, easing you awake. Looking down from the sleeping loft, you see everything you need: a pine table; a box piled with hardwood, split and ready for the woodstove; and a compact kitchen in the corner. This is the cabin dream.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build a 14-by-20-foot cozy cabin featuring a sleeping loft over the porch for about $6,050. Who can resist it?

My own cabin adventure began in 1986, when I built one as an inexpensive place to stay while constructing my house — that’s when I began learning what makes cabin design and construction successful. (I’ve always had a debt-free approach to developing my property.) The four years I lived in this cabin were a good time in my life — perhaps one of the best. I fondly recall the simplicity of waking each morning with the sole purpose of building my own house, working well into the evening.

What follows is a cabin plan (I've included a full Cabin Assembly Diagram) with the hands-on know-how I wish I had 20 years ago. It won’t replace the need for basic carpentry skills, but it will alert you to the main challenges of framing a cabin and how to clear the most important hurdles. And even if you never build a cabin of your own, these basic instructions will be useful anytime you need to build a garage, shed or other outbuilding. (For more on the author’s cabin experience, see Our Life in a One-room Cabin)

I believe in building for the long haul. When it comes to cabins (and everything else for that matter), this means working to the same standards of durability and beauty that you’d apply to a full-size house, even though the style, size and soul of a good cabin are entirely different. I’m sold on durability because it takes such small amounts of extra care, materials and money to yield a huge increase in longevity. Although a cabin certainly can be framed less stoutly than the design I’ll show you here, I’m convinced the wisest use of resources often means going beyond what’s merely good enough.

A Firm Foundation

Every well-built structure begins with the foundation. In regions where frost isn’t an issue, site-poured, 6-by-16-by-16-inch shallow-depth concrete pads work just fine. If this is similar to the approach used on new houses in your area, then it’s OK for use under your cabin.

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