There’s something adventurous and romantic about the idea of a log cabin. The rise of the tiny homes trend has made it easier and more affordable than ever to find prebuilt cabins.
These prefabricated (prefab) dwellings look great and are an easy way to add living space to your cottage, your home, or your campsite at an affordable price.
Where can you use a log cabin?
Little log cabins are great for a variety of places. You can use them for things like:
- Your residence on your cottage property
- An in-law suite at your home or cottage
- A guest house
- An at-home office space
- A workshop
- A temporary cottage
- A glamping upgrade at your lakefront lot
- A fishing hut on the lake in winter
Whether your cabin is a place to get away from it all, a place to focus up and work, or an extra living area for guests at your home or cottage, there are options for all sorts of budgets and needs.
How much does it cost to build a prefab cabin?
Small prefab cabins begin from just under $10,000 and soar well over $100,000. The cost will depend on what amenities you want. Features like insulation, locking windows, storage, and aesthetic trim all cost more. Some luxury prebuilt cabins are every bit as luxurious as any other modern home.
The costs of installing one on your property will depend on factors including:
- Land tax or land fees
- Transport costs to get the cabin to your property
- Local labor costs
You may also need to pay to connect your prefab cabin to electrical, gas, or plumbing infrastructure at the site.
Is it cheaper to build or buy a cabin?
There are three ways to put a log cabin or tiny home on your property:
- Build from scratch
- Use a tiny home kit or prefab cabin kit
- Buy a prebuilt cabin
If you have the right skills you can build a cabin from scratch, but one of the best ways to get into a log cabin or prefab tiny home is to buy a kit. Prefab cabin kits usually include all of the main structure including the framing, panels, roofing system, and floor structure. There are a variety of different floor plans and features to choose from.
You can add or remove options like floor coverings and countertops to your tiny house kit depending on your budget and your needs.
Can I build a log cabin in the middle of nowhere if I own the land?
Sometimes it’s tempting to just move out to the desert and build your own full-time off-grid cabin to getaway in. Whether or not you can build log homes in the area you’ve purchased land will depend on zoning. Every municipality and region has its own zoning laws. This zoning map from the town of Monument in Colorado is one example of the sort of document you need to check to see if modular cabins are allowed.
If you’re building an off-grid home or a weekend getaway you’ll have to deal with more restrictions and permits than if you’re only building a shed or workspace.
In many cases, it’s easier to put a prefab log cabin on your existing residential property—especially if it can be classed as a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit or DADU. Zoning rules in Tennessee, for example, allow tiny homes less than 700 square feet, which are “subordinate in size, height, and purpose to the principal dwelling”.
What’s the difference between a tiny home on wheels and a prefab cabin?
A full-size prefab cabin is similar to any stick-built home – only built offsite and moved into position. The construction is similar to normal homes, with wooden framing, exterior and interior cladding, plumbing, and electrical.
Smaller prefab cabins are built in the same way, but you might not get plumbing or electrical integrated.
A tiny home on wheels used this same concept, only scaled down to less than 400 square feet and mounted on a towable platform.
There are lots of variations within these categories. Some prefab cabins have a charming Amish look with wood accents, others are genuine log cabins in prebuilt sections. Others are more utilitarian.
What are the carrying costs of owning a log cabin?
A log cabin or a prefab tiny home will have similar ongoing costs. Some of these vary widely, and include:
- Land tax
- Municipal fees
- Lot rental
The good news is that most of these costs are relatively small. You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for land tax, council fees, and insurance combined. If your rent the land your log cabin is on, you may not have to pay the land tax or council fees but will have to pay rent. Rent is more expensive in desirable areas but cheaper in more remote areas.
Log cabins under $10,000
It is possible to buy prefab homes for less than $10K. You’ll need to do a fair amount of DIY work to fit out the interior, and will usually have to do some assembly onsite, but it is possible. Another option is to buy a pre-owned log cabin and move it to your new site. Small cabins are less expensive than larger ones, and the features and fitout options change the pricing. In short, if you don’t mind a smaller space, or if you’re happy to do a lot of work yourself, you can find a little cabin for not a lot of money.
Here are some prebuilt structures that come in under 10K.
1. A simple cabin kit for your cottage
The Allwood Mayflower Base 117 Square foot studio kit cabin is a popular and elegant prefab hut. It includes flooring, walls, roofing, and exterior cladding. You’ll only need a handful of basic household tools to assemble this system, but you will need a friend to help. Expect to take about two days to build the cabin. The images show a painted version but the Mayflower comes unpainted, sealed in a crate.
This kit is also available as a tiny home on wheels for a few hundred dollars more.
2. A prebuilt and installed cabin for under 10K
The medium-sized Canmore prebuilt cabin from Summerwood is another sub-10K option with plenty of space and a great-looking, rustic design. The cedar cabin with eight-foot walls and a gable roof is available as a kit, a prebuilt unit, or fully installed on your property. Framed with 2×6 spruce and 2×10 spruce ceiling joists and rafters, this is a robust unit perfect for a temporary cottage or guest house.
Options include insulation, an additional loft space, and interior cedar cladding. All Summerwood cabins are built to make it easy for DIYers to add electrical, plumbing, or extra insulation before finishing. You can also have Summerwood install those options for you during the build process. However, all of these extras will cost more.
3. An inspirational getaway cabin for writers
This Amish-style pre-cut log cabin kit from Jamaica Cottage Shop is a stylish A-frame hideaway. It measures 13’2″W x15’2″L x10’6″H with a footprint of 168 square feet and a 36 square-foot porch. Jamaica Cottage Shop includes flooring in the kit, and it can be positioned on a simple gravel pad.
The kit includes plenty of window space for natural light to flood in. With the right interior design, this could be an inspiring artist’s workshop or studio. Two people can assemble this pre-cut log cabin in about 56 hours, so budget at least a week to get your Writer’s Haven up and ready.
4. A cute preowned cabin with minimalist interior
The 10×14-ft Ranch Cabin from Esh’s is one example of a unit you can take home for well under $10,000. This tiny cabin features high-quality exterior trim and a small front porch. The vinyl siding and metal roof all clad on heavy wood framing make this a robust and durable prebuilt cabin that will withstand the elements.
The interior is very bare, but that just means there’s room to make this prefab unit your own. With a little resourcefulness and not a lot of budget you can easily find the items you need to make this a great cottage sleeper, a hunting cabin, or a home office studio.
5. Amazon has prefab cabins
You can even buy prebuilt time homes and small cabins from Amazon and have them shipped to your door. There are a few options out there, including this impressively outfitted container home from Puzhong with a generous 200 square feet of living space, and even a bathroom.
If you’re looking for something slightly smaller and more minimalist, without sacrificing style, this outdoor storage and work cabin from Windemere boasts:
- Functioning windows
- Two arched vents
- Roof overhangs
The interior design includes one shelf, one workstation, and a loft for storage. Peak height is 10ft and the walls are 7ft high, making this a roomy option – especially at this low cost. The building materials are robust and supported by a limited material warranty.
6. Special Mention — Canadian log cabins under $10k
If you’re looking for a prebuilt cabin in Canada, check out Algonquin Pod Company. These arched cabins offer plenty of affordable space, a fun and charming look, and a wide range of upgrades and options to make yourself a cozy cabin in the woods.
These cabin homes are covered in shingles that protect the arched cabin from the elements and are easy to maintain.
The standard pod sleeps two adults and two children in 68 square feet of space and starts at $9,000 Canadian. There’s also the customizable Mini Pod or the family pod, which starts at $10,000 Canadian and sleeps four adults in 129 square feet of living space.
Inexpensive ways to upgrade your prefab cabin
Log cabins and prefab kits are minimalist in nature. That means there are limitless options for people who want to upgrade their interior design or even change the way the cabin is built to suit their needs.
One simple upgrade you can do if you’re building a kit home is insulation. Spray-foam insulation, wool bats, or polystyrene foam blocks can all help keep your cabin from growing too hot in summer or too cold in winter. You can buy them cheaply from your local hardware or building supply store, and use them between the walls while you’re putting your kit together.
2. Add storage
Storage can be as simple as installing some adhesive hooks for hanging small canvas bags or cargo nets to keep things in check inside your home.
You can also pick up some pre-owned cabinets and shelving from salvage yards or marketplace websites. Look for discarded items from home renovations to add to your cabin.
3. Install windows
If you’re handy with your hands, you can install better windows in your cabin. Many come with plexiglass panes instead of true glass. Prebuilt cabin builders do this to keep costs down and also save weight. You can replace these openings with glass panes or even functioning windows, so long as the exterior wall can handle the extra weight.
Make your cabin your castle
The great joy of prebuilt cabins is that they are simple, light, and offer plenty of opportunities for owners to customize and personalize their home. Whether you want to make it more practical, prettier, or just make sure you have the conveniences and comforts you need in your studio or weekend getaway, it’s easy to buy an inexpensive log cabin of your own and make it suit your family.