Things to know BEFORE building your cabin!

By The Petite Plantation - February 11, 2020

If you are new here you may not know we recently built a 16x20 sustainable cabin ourselves for under $6000 and we are absolutely smitten about accomplishing our dreams! We are absolutely in love with our little home and have met so many people who have expressed their interest and dreams of doing the same. We LOVE to encourage these people to go after their dreams! In this post, we are sharing things we feel everyone should know before building their own cabin!

Things to know before building your cabin!

It will be hard...

This may seem obvious but I'm going to drop it here anyway.. Building your own cabin isn't too physically hard but depending on you outlook, mindset or attitude while working on your project, it could feel like torture day in and day out until your cabin is complete.

Your mindset is everything and can influence how difficult your cabin build feels like. You can choose to be frustrated when things don't work out, take more time than you thought, or with your progress each day or you can be grateful for everyday of work towards your finished cabin. Having an attitude of gratitude is clearly the more enjoyable way to build a cabin!

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Timeline of our Cabin Build!

You kind of need to be technically inclined...

If you don’t know how to frame a wall, window or door, these tasks may seem impossible to complete but these are all essential to building the foundation or bones of your cabin. Unless you have a support system to help guide you, or build it for you, you aren't going to get very far if you aren't familiar with the tools and how to complete all these little projects.

But don’t let the lack of building know-how stop you from accomplishing your dream! There is a wealth of knowledge out there waiting to be absorbed if you are willing to take the initiative to educate yourself. Check out building or carpentry books from the library or watch this playlist of YouTube videos I’ve created which will give you all the information I used to build my cabin!

Things to know before building your cabin!

Things will cost more than you think...

Although you can try your hardest, it is nearly impossible to budget your build to the dollar. Materials will vary in price from each retailer or supplier, in each season and the quality of the materials you wish to use in your cabin build. You may find yourself dishing out hundreds more than budgeted especially when you need more supplies than you allotted for your build or don’t include different aspects of your build, like drywall, framing in a loft, interior flooring or even future additions!

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How we built our cabin, debt free!

Quality trumps saving cash.

You can find several ways to save hundreds of dollars on your cabin build but it can determine the quality of your cabin. We were able to build our cabin for under $6000 partly because we found all our gently used windows for free and we did all the labour ourselves. If we were to use older, less desirable windows we would likely have to replace them before long to keep our cabin warm and dry. Building a cabin using 2x4 walls may be suitable for your budget, but if you live in a temperate or winter climate, you may want to invest in 2x6 walls so when your cabin is finished you are able to enjoy the warmth for years to come. Keep this in mind when you have the choice between quality and savings!

Things to know before building your cabin!

Be sure of your layout and design before building your cabin to avoid disappointment. 

Try laying tape on your floor or sticks on a lawn to the size and layout of your potential cabin build to ensure it has the right dimensions. There would be nothing worse than building your cabin only to find there isn't enough room for a bed, or sink! Also take into consideration any future additions or projects you may want to add onto your cabin. The placement of solar panels, a loft, or an additional bedroom need to be taken into consideration before you build your initial cabin to ensure there is enough space or structure for your add ons. 

You are 100% subject to the weather. 

Mother Nature is fickle and if you are building a cabin, your schedule will have to be flexible and keep the weather in mind. There may be days, weeks or seasons that building a cabin will not be possible due to the weather. Also keep in mind to protect your materials when working in the rain or cold weather.

The rhythm of building a cabin!

I just made that up but listen..

Once you have your subfloor on your floor joists, you need to put a roof up to protect that floor from rain or snow. (it totally rained on our OSB subfloor and now have a squeaky floor, which I totally love, anyway)

Before you can build that roof, you need the walls up. Once the walls are up, you are going to want to keep them dry by wrapping your cabin in house wrap.

Once the roof is up, you'll want to make it waterproof because if the rain gets through the roof and the floor gets wet, it will be more difficult to dry out. Once you have the roof paper on, you'll soon want a roof to protect your cabin from rain and snow.

Once you start insulating, you'll want to close up those fibres with vapour barrier. But once you have vapour barrier up, you'll want to put the drywall up because condensation with still form if it's cold outside and warm inside and you are breathing.

It's the rhythm of the build. There is always another step to complete, always progress to be made until it is complete! Find the rhythm and try not to get overwhelmed or discouraged because it's raining inside. (yes, that really happened because we waited so long to put up our ceiling inside!)

Things you need to know before building a cabin!

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