How to Build a Little Cabin

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Building a small cabin requires the appropriate planning and materials.
Building a small cabin requires the appropriate planning and materials. (Image: cabin image by Jim Dubois from Fotolia.com)

Cabins provide a comfortable and secluded atmosphere to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Building a little cabin is an excellent way to demonstrate your construction skills while simultaneously creating a comfortable and relaxing refuge. Add creature comforts to your cabin such as electricity and plumbing depending upon your personal preferences, or keep it sparse and basic. With the right planning and materials, building a small cabin can be a relatively quick and easy construction project.

Things You'll Need

  • 38 pressure-treated boards, 12 feet long, 2 inch by 8 inch
  • 14 pressure-treated boards, 8 feet long, 2 inch by 6 inch
  • 28 pieces of pressure-treated plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet long, 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 pressure-treated posts, 12 feet long, 4 inch by 4 inch
  • Waterproof siding, 900 square feet
  • Moisture repellent fabric, 900 square feet
  • 2 prefabricated, pressure-treated roof frames, 8 foot by four foot
  • 80 asphalt shingles, 1 foot by 1 foot
  • 1 door, 7 feet tall
  • 2 windows, 2 foot by 3 foot
  • 72 bags of concrete, 80 pound
  • 4 pre-fabricated, 4-way dek-blocks
  • Fiberglass insulation, 900 square feet
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Saw

Select the property on which you would like to build your cabin. The ground should be level, relatively free of rocks and clay, and easily accessible to construction vehicles.

Secure a building permit. Depending on the location, you may need permits from your local township, county or state.

Prepare your site by removing all trees, stumps, rocks and other debris from the building area.

Plan your build by mapping out the location of walls, doors, rooms, porches and steps with paint or tape. The materials listed will build an 8 foot by 8 foot perimeter cabin with a 12-foot-tall ceiling and a roof apex of 16 feet with some additional materials. It will have one exterior door, two windows and an unfinished interior with no utilities.

Lay the foundation. Depending on how rustic you want the cabin to appear, you can use materials such as poured concrete, stone or prefabricated concrete blocks. The materials listed will provide an 8-inch-thick concrete slab that measures 8 feet by 8 feet. Place the four-way dek-blocks on each of the four corners.

Cut 4 inches off eight of the 2 inch by 6 inch boards.

Construct the flooring frame. Lay the two uncut 2-by-6 boards on opposing sides of the foundation slab. Nail the shortened 2-by-6 boards perpendicularly to the original boards at an interval of every one foot.

Secure each 4 inch by 4 inch post to the floor framing at each corner of the foundation.

Secure the four remaining 2-by-6 boards across the top of each 4 inch by 4 inch post.

Nail each 2-by-8 board to the bottom edge and top edge of the framing at an interval of 1 foot. Leave a space of 3 feet between two boards on the side of the house in which you wish to install your exterior door. Leave a space of 2 feet between two boards on the side or sides of the house in which you wish to install your windows.

Install doors and windows by nailing them to the wall studs on the raised frame. Support the tops and bottoms of the doors with the extra 2-by-8 boards.

Attach the pre-fabricated triangular roof frames to opposing sides of the top of the cabin's frame.

Add supporting 2-by-6 boards across the slanted edges of the roof frames at an interval of 1 foot.

Add exterior siding to the cabin by nailing the 4 foot by 8 foot plywood across the exterior walls and roof.

Cut the remaining pieces of plywood so they fit into the two triangular spaces that remain uncovered by exterior siding, then attach the pieces.

Add insulation between the wall studs, windows and door frames. This will protect the cabin from extreme temperature changes.

Cover the exterior and roof of the house with water-repellent fabric.

Cover the water-repellent fabric on the exterior of the house with waterproof aluminum siding.

Nail asphalt shingles to the roof in an overlay to provide waterproofing for the top of your cabin.

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