Scale Models, the Secret to Great Homestead Construction


Steve's scale model houseIf you’re setting out to build a cabin or building a shed, take the time to create a scale model first. It’s the single biggest advantage you can give yourself when it comes to saving money and getting a great finished result.

The purpose of scale modeling is three-fold. First, it makes it easy to visualize the shape of the cabin, shed or barn you’ll end up with. Second, building a small version of your project lets you figure out the framing details and construction challenges you’ll face. And finally, scale models reduce the stress and uncertainty you might feel as you invest the time, money and energy into a full-size building. Scale models deliver real piece of mind.

I built my first scale model in 1988. It helped me settle on the design details of the 3000 sq.ft. home my wife and I built and live in now. I’ve also used scale models to design sheds and cabins, and helped others do the same.

There are two main approaches to building a scale model. If your finished building will have a wood frame, take the trouble to cut and build your model with scale lumber. The details you face building the model are a dress rehearsal for your work on the full-size building. If you’re working with SIPs, ICFs masonry or any other non-frame construction system, then 1/4” foam board available at any office supply outlet is the ideal model building material.

To learn more about scale model methods that might help you, check out Steve Maxwell’s video at

Contributing Editor Steve Maxwell has been helping people renovate, build and maintain their homes for more than two decades. “Canada’s Handiest Man” is an award-winning home improvement authority and woodworking expert. Contact him by visiting his website and the blog, Maxwell’s House. You also can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and find him on . 

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