A cabin’s a fine domicile. No fantasy of a simple backwoods existence is complete without one, billowing woodsmoke in a gently falling snow. Abraham lived in one that he built. Look how he turned out. Henry David Thoreau built one and lived the ultimate self-sufficient story for his time. If you want do it yourself, building one takes a lot of work, but the simplicity in the process (and hopefully a simple design), will get you a long way. It gets harder if you’re cutting down logs with an axe, but we’ll get to that.
This particular plan is a chestnut and it comes in at under $4,000, (2006 prices here). It comes to us via Mother Earth News (MEN). The cabin’s 14”x20.” You will need some basic carpentry skills and some tools.
First is the foundation. You’ll want to figure out the best kind for you. Shallow concrete pads work okay for warmer climates, but you’ll need something more if you’re in a cooler climate. MEN suggests pouring concrete piers into round cardboard tubes which extend below the frost line and will raise your cabin off the ground. You’ll need one on each corner, one in the middle of each long wall, three for the porch and one in the middle of the rear wall. MEN gives us good guidelines for measuring and marking off your frame.
Next you’ll build a timber-rimmed, load-bearing frame. This cabin is only held up at ten points, so MEN recommends this type of construction.
You’ll do stud-frame construction for the walls. MEN suggests 2×6′s, but 2×4′s will save you money. Details abound in the article. You’ll need some friends to help raise the wall frames.
A roof comes next, which you’ll build as a frame as well. The roof here will be a 12:12 ratio. For every 12 inches the roof rises, it has 12 inches of run, making a 90-degree angle at the peak and 45 degree angles of slope. This is an exacting process and precision is key. The article goes into some detail concerning this. After the roof is raised, you’ll shingle the roof, install windows and doors and do an exterior treatment for the walls.
You’ll have many options for exterior treatments, cedar shingles being the most rustic option and long-lasting. You can choose to lay bricks, if that sounds appealing and you actually know how.
The best thing to living in a cabin is simplicity. The aforementioned plan features a sleeping loft and some one room, manageable, cozy space for one or two.