Build A Cabin Homestead

The number of homestead cabin designs is almost limitless — lean-to-shacks, treehouses, yurts and even lighthouses could qualify. The project should take about one week, especially if you can recruit friends to help. Use native materials from the land or buy a prefabricated or previously cut cabin that can be made to your specifications and delivered to your site. Does this Spark an idea?



1. Survey any piece of land before purchasing to make sure it contains an appropriate cabin site. Get the latest aerial photograph of the property along with detailed topographical maps to see what is around you and to understand the terrain you will be building on. Walk around the property and designate your cabin site. Talk to neighbors. Look for any indicators of past pollution or other disturbances. Look at past ownership records and the property’s history.

2. Check with the local lumberyard to see which type of cabins it stocks. Fly-ins and other modes of material transportation to remote areas are expensive, so find what you need as close to your site as possible. Ask for discounts and special services — ask to borrow special equipment if you buy exclusively from the vendor. Ask to see other homes like yours built in the area. Choose pay on delivery (with a cashier’s check on their bank) and make sure that full payment hinges on your materials being delivered on time.

3. Determine how much help you will need. Build the cabin by yourself, or form work crews with friends and neighbors, especially if you know skilled tradesmen like electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. When creating work schedules, take comfort into consideration. For example, Canadians do most of their manual labor in the winter to avoid heat and black flies.

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Building the Shell

4. Build from the ground up, even if you are assembling a previously cut cabin. Place concrete slabs and blocks in position as piers for cabin floor. Build the floor perimeter on top of piers with floor joists. Lay out and cut to size 4-foot-by-8-foot deck flooring and nail in place.

5. Build side walls. If you are not working with prefab materials, plan for and cut and frame fror windows and doors. Erect side wall frames on deck and nail in place. Add temporary braces as needed to stabilize.

6. Have an experienced carpenter cut roof joists; getting the correct angles for roof pitch takes some expertise. Make sure he is satisfied with the pitch before adding roof boards on cut joists. Add extra reinforcing as the roof must bear the weight of heavy snow. Nail roof joists and boards firmly in place. Add in roof vents.

7. Add felt paper and rolled roofing to your non-boarded roof. While one crew is working on the roof, engage another crew on the siding. The white cedar wavy siding will fill in the cabin exterior walls and give a rustic look. Cedar shakes can be added on the roof to complete the look. Hang the doors and windows. Trim to fit. Remember to use a little silicone lubricant to keep windows and doors from sticking.

Building the Interior and Supporting Items

8. Add interior wood frames and insulation. Use 8-inch (or more) fiberglass insulation in the ceiling and 4-inch insulation on the sidewalls between the studs. Also insulate under the floor between the floor joists as the cabin is built on piers and will get a good draft under it. Build bunk beds and furniture on site, especially when the weather is bad. Salvage rustic materials from the area if possible; for example, tables can be artistically fashioned from felled tree trunks.

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9. Select and install your preferred method of cooking and heating. Classic wood-burning stoves hold the most natural appeal for outdoor cabins. You may prefer to rely on on propane tanks for heating and cooking and a small motor/generator for lighting and small electrical appliances and tools.

10. Find a potable water source. Many cabins near lakes use a simple driven sand point well. with an old fashioned hand pump attached fro exercise. Solar heating can be used to warm shower water and warm cooking water before heating.