1. Keep it simple with a small footprint. And stick to the stock floor plan — customizing a cabin can add costs in a hurry.
2. Keep your finishes consistent. Skimping on window quality to spend more on a fireplace, for example, can result in big bucks on heating bills down the road — if you need to stay in budget, use fewer windows but don’t compromise the quality.
3. Live by the 4 Ps. “Ponder, prioritize, plan, and process,” says Bill Keller Jr., CEO of Conestoga Log Cabins. “Each one of these steps will save you money in the long run. People who don’t thoroughly plan ahead may have to go back and spend more time and money on a part of the home they had not considered, such as kitchen amenities or the utilities.” To that end, understand that your log cabin will need maintenance and stick to the recommended guidelines for protective overhangs and clutter-free landscaping.
4. Use cost-effective foundation solutions. Although a slab or a crawl space is the simplest foundation for a cabin, you do have other options, especially if your cabin is 150 square feet or smaller. “You may want to consider using patio stones, super spikes, cinder blocks, tubes, or concrete piers with small outdoor structures,” says John Hickey, sales rep for Summerwood Products.
5. Stick to the package and purchase everything else locally. Not only will your new cabin meet your budget, but it will meet your local specifications as well.
6. Build at least some of it yourself. That savings comes in the form of your own time and labor. If you have some background and understanding of basic construction, then you can realize notable savings. Many kits come with detailed instructions, so a few handymen may be able to get a small cabin built over several weekends.
7. Look for specialty financing. Your cabin producer should be able to point you in the right direction to find financing. They can recommend a mortgage company that specializes in these projects or may even finance it themselves.
8. Go off the grid. As part of your planning, consider alternative energy options and toilet facilities. Research Products offers the Incinolet electric incinerating toilet that runs on 120 or 240 volts of electricity. Panel Concepts produces a couple of products: The Excel compost toilet for cottage use as the primary facility in your cabin, and the PowerWagon self-contained electricity source that uses roof-mounted solar panels on a trailer for charging built-in batteries.