Building a Log Cabin With Woman Power

With the right design concept and a bit of gumption, two women are indeed capable of building a log cabin.

| September/October 1979

The warnings of an army of skeptical acquaintances didn't stop my friend, Cynthia Hill, and me from building a log cabin that's sturdy, economical, and—thanks to a few commonsense innovations—a cinch to construct! Despite the "prophets of doom" (who chuckled, "That's an awfully big job. You'll never get it done by winter), we armed ourselves with determination, woman power, and forged ahead.

Cyn and I understood that we knew nothing about building methods, and that we lacked any training in the skills necessary to construct a home. However, we read all the books on log cabin "technology" that we could find and—after creating a miniature model out of toothpicks—felt confident enough to have at it.

The Foundation

Our single biggest home-building expense was the cost of a contractor to pour a full cement basement 28 feet long, 14 feet wide, and 8 feet deep. We gathered all the estimates we could and were very fortunate to find a young, aspiring builder who had constructed homes and concrete block foundations but who'd never poured a basement. The "professional" felt it would be worth his while to do the work—just for the experience—at virtually no profit. So we trustingly gave him $1,000 for the cost of his materials, which was less than half the price all the other contractors had estimated for the job!

Of course, we could have constructed a pier foundation for almost nothing, but time was of the essence. We felt that—considering the low cost of the rest of our dwelling—we could afford to have the best possible understructure.

We were also lucky to run across a local man who had a stand of giant cedars growing right in the way of a planned access road to his property. The fellow cut and stacked the cedar logs for the even sum of $500. (From the start, we had hoped to build with cedar; it's resistant to decay, easy to peel, and comparatively light in weight.)

The cut logs sat for two months—long enough to dry considerably, but not enough time for them to bend. They ranged from 8 to 12 inches in diameter and were beautifully straight. Full of knots, but straight.

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