Cabins in the United States cost about $75,000 on average. The overall cost of a cabin depends on the size, location (off-grid, flat land, etc.), the complexity of the design, and the owner's taste. Larger cabins above 1,500 square feet may exceed $200,000.
A cabin is an amazing option whether you're looking to build your main home, hunting cabin, or a getaway place in a rustic or rural area. Whatever your goals, there are cabins in various styles and design types to meet your needs.
Furthermore, there are different approaches you can use to build your cabin. The construction method also has a significant effect on the project's total cost.
It is necessary to know the potential total cost of a cabin and the breakdown of that cost across many areas, such as land, cabin construction, finishing, and much more. It will help you to plan, budget, make realistic time projections, and help you negotiate with artisans and other professionals.
In this article, we will dive into how much it costs to build a cabin, the cost based on type, if and why you should do it yourself or hire professionals, and much more.
Building a cabin with a modular log cabin kit will cost you between $100 and $300 per square foot, while a prefab cabin will cost around $150 to $300 per square foot. However, building from scratch may cost around $150 to $400 per square foot.
The total cost of building a cabin yourself can vary significantly depending on the size, quality of materials, expertise sought and labor, utilities, and much more. The location also plays a role in the average cost of these items.
The cost breakdown of your total expenses will be split across these items: land cost, site preparation and foundations, building materials, utilities and services, interior and exterior decor and finishing, labor cost, and maintenance cost.
Land costs vary significantly across states. Even within states, land in some cities is more expensive than in others. For example, the average cost per acre in Wyoming is just over $1,500 but closer to $7,542 in Texas.
That said, merely using location doesn’t tell the true story. Other factors in and around the land itself influence the land cost.
A parcel of land far from hospitals, fast internet, emergency services, phone coverage, gas, highways and airports, grocery, and unavailable water supply would cost immensely less than land with closer proximity to these amenities and infrastructure.
While striking a good deal for land is good, there are certain things you shouldn’t overlook. At the very least, be aware of them and know that you must spend extra money to bridge the gap.
For example, you may need to drill a well if water supply is unavailable. Adding this utility may set you back another extra thousand dollars.
Therefore, in appraising the value of land, ensure you do not overlook or underestimate what comes with the land and what doesn’t.
Ask yourself if you can afford to construct a road from your cabin to the main road where none exists. Road construction may cost closer to six figures. These are some of the costs people underestimate that balloon the overall cost of building cabins.
Lastly, ensure that you pay all proper and required land permits, especially if you’re building on your own. If you’re using a professional firm, they typically take care of this for you.
Your local city hall will have more information on the fee and other requirements. Permits typically range from $200 to $2,000, depending on location.
After purchasing land and sorting the permits, here's where the real work begins. Site preparation is about clearing, digging, and getting the place ready to receive construction materials.
How much you spend on-site preparations depends on many factors. The first is the terrain. If the ground is uneven, especially the sloppy ones, you'll spend more to make the building site even. If the land has many trees, you'll also spend more.
You'll better understand the building site by doing a land survey. The cost of land surveys ranges from $1,000 to $2,000.
You're more likely to encounter complex terrains in more remote locations. Another factor is creating an access road for large vehicles that will deliver some of the machines needed on the building site.
The average cost of clearing land is around $3,000, but mostly between $2,500 and $5,000. That said, in some instances, you may even pay as low as $250 or as high as $15,000, depending on the site's topography and terrain.
Additionally, excavation costs may be moderate if you're only digging a foundation. However, if you want to include a basement or wine cellar, the excavators will give you a higher quote.
Companies handling excavations typically quote per cubic yard of dirt they move. This cost can range between $50 and $200. You also have to factor in the cost of clearing all the junk after clearing and excavating the ground.
There could be other expenses in this phase, such as soil testing, which costs between $700 to $1,800 per acre. Building sites with peat soil will require piling below the damp levels, which costs more.
After clearing the ground, the next step is to lay the foundation. The type of foundation needed is one of the things a land surveyor will recommend to you.
You may also need the expertise of a structural engineer when making the foundation. Overall, foundations may cost anywhere between $7,000 and $19,000.
A large part of how much you spend on building materials will depend on your taste. It’ll also depend on the size of the project and material prices in your location.
In total, there are about seven categories of building materials you must purchase when building your own cabin. They include concrete, lumber, insulation, flooring, drywall, siding, and roofing.
Concrete comes in different pounds per square inch (PSI) ratings, mostly between 2,500 to 5,000 PSI. The higher the PSI rating, the more expensive it is. Concrete can set you back $100 to $150 per cubic yard. But note that this cost is inclusive of both delivery and materials.
Also, the more concrete you buy, the lower your average cost is. That said, for most projects, expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000 on concrete, depending on your log cabin design.
Lumber or timber contributes the greatest to the overall cost of building a log cabin. You can go the route of buying soft timber logs and taking them to a sawmill for processing. You could also purchase the timber already processed.
But remember that if you're using the former method, there's an additional cost of transporting the timber to the sawmill and then to the building site. There's also the need to weather-proof the logs, too.
If you're purchasing timber directly, you must also ensure they've been properly treated and weather-proofed.
Buying lumber for framing alone may add between $25,000 to $65,000 to your overall cost. On a per square foot basis, lumber may cost between $1 and $5.
Insulation is necessary to improve the cabin’s energy efficiency. There are about five different types of insulation, including fiberglass batting, blown-in, spray foam, radiant, and rigid.
Spray foam insulation costs more than other options, but it has a higher return on investment because of its high energy efficiency. You can budget $1 to $5 per square foot of insulation required.
The cost of flooring will vary depending on the materials you use and cabin size. Vinyl or linoleum are cheaper options at $0.50 per square foot. Hardwood is perhaps the priciest option at $14 per square foot.
Most people spend between $1 and $5 per square foot of flooring. This range should get you soft carpeting at approximately $4.50 per square foot.
Some contractors may charge you per the number of sheets installed or the time required to complete the installation. The cost of drywall may range from $12 to $20 for the 4-foot-by-8-foot panels, the most common size for most products.
However, note that some drywall products are extremely expensive. A prime example is lead-lined drywalls, also called sheetrock. These premium products cost between $200 and $500 for 4-foot-by-8-foot panels.
The type of materials you purchase for siding can take the price higher than normal. Options such as engineered and aluminum sidings are more affordable at $1 to $6 per square foot.
However, stone and real brick siding are the most expensive options, with the former's price getting as high as $30 per square foot.
Asphalt shingles are the most popular material used for roofing. One of the reasons for this is that they are not heavy and are easy to install.
Other roofing options include metal, cedar shakes, and slate. Whichever material you choose, ensure the trusses and roof structure can support the weight.
Asphalt shingles cost between $5,750 and $12,200, while metal roof costs can range from $5,700 to $16,200. Cedar costs around $12,000 to $30,000, and synthetic slate costs between $12,000–$30,000.
One of the ways you can reduce the overall cost of your log cabin is to buy a plot of land that’s already connected to the utility grid.
Otherwise, you’ll need to create space in your budget for these utilities - gas, drainage, plumbing septic tank, electricity, HVAC system, and water.
The overall cost of these utilities and services for log cabins is dependent on the location and the size of the house.
Overall, setting up a gas line, plumbing, HVAC system, septic tank, and other services may cost between $55,000 to $105,000.
The cost of a septic tank alone can run from $10,000–$25,000.
After the construction phase, you must make it your own cabin and add your imprints through the interior decor and other features like windows, doors, and fixings.
These include interior and exterior paintings, lighting, custom cabinets, countertop, appliances, home furnishings, fencing, a fireplace, driveway, patio, solar panels, landscaping, and other potential additions. It’s hard to estimate the total cost because it’s highly subjective and based on your taste.
You may prefer a 32’’ TV, and someone else would prefer a 64” variant. Sometimes this is dependent on the size of the log cabin. A large cabin home may require a double oven, whereas a small cabin may not. Overall, expect interior work alone to cost about $50,000 to $90,000.
Of course, if you’re building a stripped-down off-grid cabin that does not require anything elaborate, your budget would be significantly smaller than this. We are talking about no major appliances, no fancy gadgets or lighting, just a place to sleep.
Building from scratch means you must account for labor costs from start to finish. Labor costs should cover the land surveyor, an architect, cabin builders, plumbers, electricians, project managers (if it's a big project), landscaper, carpenter, and much more.
Some will charge you per hour, while some have special charges. For example, an architect may charge between 5% and 20% of the log cabin project, and a project manager may charge from 5-10% of the cabin's total cost.
Log homes require even more regular maintenance than traditional homes. Ultimately, maintenance frequency is dependent on the materials used, the type of log cabin, and the prevailing weather and climate of the cabin's location.
It's best practice to schedule exterior maintenance at least twice per year. During the maintenance checks, also schedule for the cabin to be hosed down to remove dirt.
Every maintenance check should include examining the roof for leakages, cleaning the gutters, checking for potential leaks through the windows and doors, resealing cracks, removing weeds and gathering dry leaves, and much more.
Some maintenance is necessary only once in a blue moon, like staining the exterior, which you may carry out once every ten years.
There are three construction methods you may use to build your cabin, including the traditional method, otherwise known as stick-building, modular log cabin kits, and prefabricated construction. Modular log cabin kits are currently the most popular method of building cabins.
This is the construction method used when building a log cabin from scratch. It involves layering every piece on top of the foundation one after the other.
You can construct all types (scribe, A-frame, post and beam, and chink) of cabins with this method. The traditional construction method is best suited to areas with no or limited access roads.
No part of this log cabin is constructed off-site and requires paying for a lot of labor. It’s one of the reasons they are not as popular as using modular log cabin kits. Inclusive of all labor costs, traditional log cabins can cost anywhere between $150 to $400 per square foot.
Modular construction has been the most common method of building log cabins in recent years. They require less labor as the kits are easy to assemble and hence, are cheaper.
The major difference between a modular cabin kit and prefab cabins is that in the latter, the whole cabin is assembled off-site and then transported to the building site. Whereas when building using the modular method, materials arrive ready for assembly at the building site without extra fabrication needs.
You can either assemble the kit yourself or hire cabin builders to do it for you. Expect to spend anywhere between $100 to $300 (labor inclusive) per square foot using this construction method.
A log cabin built offsite and then transported to the building site is known as a prefab log cabin. Smaller prefab log cabins are transported in one piece, while the larger ones are split into smaller preassembled bits and then coupled on-site.
A prefab cabin costs between $150 and $300 per square foot. Prefab log cabins come in limited styles. They typically come in post and beam or A-frame styles.
Hybrid log cabin homes combine prefabricated sections with sections built on-site. That is, some sections are preassembled in the factory and then shipped to the building site, where the remaining sections are made from scratch using stick building.
Most cabins are two stories and below, with the most popular being 1½ stories. While two-story cabin homes cost more than single-story and 1½ stories, they have a lower cost per square footage.
Cabins with 1½ stories make great use of space without any drastic cost increase. The second story is typically not a full story but usually a loft.
The average cost of prefabricated one-story cabins ranges from $120,000 to $300,000, $180,000 to $450,000 for 1½ stories, and $300,000 to $900,000 for two stories.
The average cost of using a modular cabin kit for building a 1-story cabin ranges from $80K to $300K, $120K to $450K for 1½ stories, and $200K to $900K for two stories.
If you’re building from scratch with traditional method/stick-building, a 1-story cabin with 800 to 1,000 sq. ft. can cost you between $120,000 and $400,000. For 1½ stories cabin with 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, the cost jumps to about $180,000 to $600,000. A 2,000 to 3,000 sq. ft. for a 2-story cabin built traditionally may cost between $300,000 and $1.2 million.
Note that the cabin sizes used to estimate the cost of building cabins with stick-building applies to the costs provided for prefabricated and modular building methods.
A-frame cabins cost between $80,000 and $300,000, while post and beam cabins cost between $200,000 and $600,000. Scribe cabins cost around $300,000 and above, while chink cabins cost between $100,000 and $400,000.
The most popular cabins are the traditional log cabins. There are four main styles of log cabins. These are post and beam, chink, scribe, and A-frame.
Of the aforementioned methods, post and beam is the most common choice amongst cabin owners. A particular reason for that is that this method incorporates many methods from traditional house building.
Log cabins built by this method are shaped like the letter A. The roof on these cabins extends almost to the ground on both sides. They are simple and often no more than 1,000 sq. ft. Their small nature makes them easier to maintain.
A-frame log cabins built from modular kits and prefab construction cost $80,000 to $200,000 and $100,000 to $200,000, respectively. Using stick building, expect a range of $100,000 to $300,000.
This style is the most common. They are common because you have more flexibility when designing the living space layout of the cabin. They are much easier to build than scribe cabins. If you want to construct a big log home, 2,000 sq. ft and above, this is the cabin style we recommend.
When using a modular kit, post and beam cabins can cost you between $200,000 and $600,000. When built with stick building, the cost ranges from $300,000 to $600,000, while the cost of using prefab cabin construction is about $300,000 to $600,000.
This style is the least popular cabin style. In chink style cabins, builders use mortar to bind the logs together. Because of the mortar used, they are air- and water-tight.
They are often built using stick construction, which costs between $150,000 and $400,000. While they can be built using modular kits, this is not a popular option. Chink log cabins built using modular kits costs about $100,000 to $300,000.
You cannot build chink log cabins using prefab construction. Lastly, they rarely average more than 1,000 sq. ft in size.
In scribe log cabins, each log overlaps one another at the end. You can build tiny homes in scribe style. They are built without timber frames. You cannot make them using prefab construction.
When built with a modular kit, a scribe log cabin costs about $300,000 to $900,000. Scribe log cabins cost around $400,000 to $1,200,000 using traditional construction.
Like chink cabins, they are not also that popular because they require high technical skills to build. They also need lots of maintenance over time and are expensive to build.
Log cabin kits typically cost between $50 and $80 per square foot. Their prices vary depending on the size, number of stories, and details.
The overall cost of building with cabin kits is in three folds. The first is the cost of buying the kit. Then, there’s the cost of purchasing other materials like bathroom finishes or building features like the foundation.
Lastly, there’s the cost of labor. The total labor costs include paying to assemble the kit and other needs like clearing the land.
The 578 sq. ft Bear View log cabin kit by Battle Creek costs about $65,000 and comes with two stories, including one sleeping loft.
On the other hand, a similarly priced ($62,000) Mountain King kit by Conestoga Log Cabin only has two beds and one bath despite being bigger at 1,080 sq. ft.
Building a log cabin yourself has its advantages but is also fraught with many risks. The same applies to hiring professionals.
Let’s examine this topic across many factors, including cost, time, durability, ease of use, location, and building codes and regulations.
The total project cost is an important factor in deciding if you want to hire a professional or not. Building from scratch may eventually cost more than buying a kit or a prefab cabin.
That said, if you’re buying a modular log cabin kit and assembling it yourself, you’ll save money. So it also depends on the level of involvement you want.
If you’re doing it yourself in any way, you have to buy tools and equipment too. All these extra costs add up eventually. Hiring a professional can remove some of these extra costs.
How much time do you have? Some projects take longer than others, especially if you’re building off-grid or working on a big log cabin home.
Can you take time off work for the entirety of the project? Limited time may cause you to rush the project, which could cause you to make compromises that may affect the durability and quality of the log home.
Additionally, permits are not that straightforward to get. They may take as much as weeks and sometimes even months. In such cases, you may have to halt the project till you’re issued the necessary permits.
How confident are you that you’ll use the right materials and tools? How much do you know about building cabins?
Although you can learn from the plethora of resources online, you must consider the time investment and the uncertainty around doing a quality job.
For example, you may end up building a cabin that’s not energy efficient, costing you more in the long run. For the most part, you can guarantee the durability and energy efficiency of prefab and modular cabin kits.
Another potential problem with building yourself is that you may complicate the cabin’s layout and design.
This can manifest in simple things like where you place certain rooms or utilities. Prefab cabins or modular kits rarely have these sorts of problems.
If you’re building off-grid or in a place where there is no access road, then building yourself may be the best option.
For example, a place with no access roads makes it tough to transport a prefabricated cabin to the building site. Except you want to spend extra money to build an access road.
Additionally, labor costs in some areas are cheaper than in others. So may be able to afford a professional in one location but not in others.
You must build your cabin and all surrounding areas according to local codes and ordinances. One common mistake is to build your outdoor retreat in a way that violates the local codes. That’s just one of the extra things to keep in mind if you decide to DIY.
Building a cabin yourself without professional help is fraught with risks and could be dangerous.
Ultimately, which option you choose depends on the time you have, your experience with similar projects, the complexity of the project, and your budget.
That said, you are guaranteed a higher return on investment (ROI) in terms of quality and time/energy saved.
At the very least, involve professionals in the planning and design phase to ensure the cabin is structurally sound and well-designed.
Log cabin homes have comparable overall costs to traditional homes in terms of construction alone. Building a traditional home will cost around $100 to $200 per sq. ft, while a log cabin home may cost $125 to $175 per square foot.
But note that peculiarities such as location and size can take the cost of log cabins to over $300 per square foot.
That said, log cabins are typically smaller than traditional homes and hence have cheaper overall costs, compared to traditional homes, but higher per square foot cost.
Log cabins also require regular exterior maintenance more than traditional homes, which may make them more expensive in the long run.
Many factors determine how much cabins cost in the United States.
These factors include the size of the cabin, how many stories it has, the construction method, the complexity of the design, the location, and if you’re building yourself or hiring a professional.
A minimalist basic cabin design can cost less than $25,000, while a luxurious 2-story cabin can exceed a million dollars.
The average cost of building a log cabin in the United States is $75,000.
If you’re planning on building a cabin and considering investing in a cabin kit, you may want to read Are Cabin Kits Worth It? (Answered!) first.
Find answers — straight from the author — for the most common questions about this article.