Log Cabin Kits vs. a “Real” Log Cabin
“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.”
– George S. Patton
There are plenty of opposing opinions in the discussion on do-it-yourself log cabin kits vs building a log cabin from scratch. When we first started exploring our options, I thought the only way to build a log cabin was to get a bunch of somewhat similar-sized logs and a chainsaw and try to make them fit together. It seemed overwhelming. Then I started hearing about do-it-yourself log cabin kits. That seemed to like a much better option for our situation.
What is a do-it-yourself log cabin kit
As you can see in the photo further down this page, a log cabin kit is a complete package of logs and wood and hardware that arrives on a flat-bed truck (or two) with a notebook of instructions on how to put “Part A” in with “Part B”. When our do-it-yourself log cabin kit arrived, a representative from the log cabin company was there to help us take a complete count of each piece of wood and all bags of bolts and nuts. Before that occurs, the log company went through a description of the complete kit — what was included and what was not. We had ordered a deck off the back so all that wood was included. All the windows and exterior doors were included except for the giant glass that we wanted looking out over the lake. We understood that we needed to order those separately from a local glass company. Make sure if you get a do-it-yourself log cabin kit that the company selling it to you is willing to take the time to spell out what you are expected to provide yourself outside of the kit. We knew that we needed to buy the subfloor wood and hardware including all the joists for the floor.
Our Findings on Log Cabin Kits vs. “Real” Log CabinsWe spoke with a log cabin kit company at a home show and they patiently explained how their kits could be assembled and how to cope with the issue of logs settling as they dried and when they got cold in the winter and got hot in the summer. Everything that they told us seemed very logical and well thought out.
Months later we were on vacation and ran into a retired log cabin kit company salesman. We started prying him for info and found his method of bolting logs together also seemed very logical but ran completely contrary to the other company.
Then we ran into a guy who built log cabins from scratch. He ridiculed log cabin kits and assured us the only way to build a “real” log cabin was to get raw logs, spread them out in our yard for a year to dry in the sun (while turning them periodically), and then to hand hewn (trim) them to fit snuggly together. He was almost religious in his fervor but his logic also seemed flawless. By that time, we were very perplexed on what was the “right way” to build a log cabin.
If you’ve been through similar tribulations (or if not, you likely will), I will tell you what we finally discovered. We found that each of those styles were good in their own way. We talked with people who had log cabins built in various ways and all of them said their structure was sound and solid. No one complained of windows shattering from settling logs (we later found out that is usually a scare tactic that would only happen from a very poorly built cabin). No one had any complaints but rather each talked about how solid their structure was and how much they liked it.
Why We Opted For a Do-It-Yourself Log Cabin Kit
We decided to build a DIY log cabin from a kit but your needs and desires may lead you in a different direction. We are handy at DIY projects and wanted to have the satisfaction of doing much of the busy work ourselves. But we had no desire to build a legacy-worthy hand-hewn natural log home completely from scratch. And as ambitious as we were about building a log cabin, stacking the logs and tying them together seemed like a very stressful hard task so we opted to hire a builder recommended by the log cabin company to do that. He built the log walls and made the structure water-tight (with windows and roof) and then turned it back over to use to complete it. We took care of the interior walls and doors, all the plumbing, electrical, and everything else that entails. I got to build rustic looking interior doors and my wife got to put her decorating skills together with all the finishing touches.
Now that we have built our log cabin, we are like the other owners we talked with — we love our own log cabin and the techniques that were used for the construction. So as George Patton said, you don’t need to think like everyone else. Ask a bunch of questions to solidify what will be best for your needs, make sure the company you are working with is reputable (check those references!), and make your own decisions based upon your own discoveries. When you do that, I’m sure it will be fine!
Use the comments section below to share your own ideas or to ask questions.