The primary variables that will determine the cost of a small log cabin are whether you have access to trees for logs on your own land, and whether you will hire people to do some or all of the work. If you use trees from your own land and do all the work yourself, a small log cabin can be built for almost nothing.
The cost of a log is primarily in the substantial labor that is required to cut down a tree, remove the bark and branches and transport it to a site for sale or building. If you buy all the logs for your home, expect to pay prices that are equivalent to or even higher than conventional building materials. In many parts of the country, the huge logs that were used for log cabins in the 19th century are a thing of the past. Most log cabins today are built of smaller logs, so you need more of them to complete a cabin.
How much your log cabin costs depends on how fancy you want to make it. Some modern log houses have all the conveniences of conventional houses and cost just as much. If you build a small, rustic log cabin, you may only need some windows, tar paper or shingles for the roof and some incidental lumber and nails. If you salvage these things from other jobs, you could build a log cabin for less than $500, along with a lot of labor. In 2011, it would be a challenge to build any structure for $100, as Bill Sullivan claims to have done in 1981.
Hiring other people to build your log cabin will cost you a lot of money. You could hire friends or students on vacation to be your laborers for $10 or $12 an hour, but even this would add up quickly. If you hire professional builders, be prepared to pay at least $20 an hour for their labor and expertise. Even a small log cabin is likely to take a month or two to build, meaning that you could spend more than $10,000 for your cabin.
Some companies take the guesswork out of log cabin building by offering kits. These kits can be delivered to your building site complete with everything you need. All you have to do is put it all together. This convenience doesn't come cheaply. You can easily spend $100,000 for a log house kit. Another option is to buy a log home plan that will help you build efficiently and minimize mistakes.