The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-11-2012, 01:02 PM
Zjestika Zjestika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Realistic Cost of Building a Cabin

Me and my best girlfriend were idly daydreaming about buying property together in Minnesota, somewhere between the Twin Cities and Duluth, and we looked online and found several 5 acre properties between 15-25K. Between our two families that seems totally do-able, and all the sudden our daydreams seem like they might be possible. But we don't know thing one about building a livable building.

How much would a rustic cabin with a well cost to build? How much does it cost to maintain something like that? We are not very wealthy people, and we're thinking to buy the land now and work on clearing it and using it for camping for like 3 years before building. What kinds of stuff should be taken into consideration when doing something like this?

Last edited by Zjestika; 09-11-2012 at 01:03 PM.. Reason: Can i just post without editing once? No.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 09-11-2012, 01:14 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Hub of the sports world
Posts: 14,812
Rustic cabin can mean very different things to different people. I've built log cabins that are basically four walls and a roof, and others that have indoor plumbing, heating systems, and electricity. Also, construction materials and styles (log vs lumber, cut on site vs delivered, frame vs post and beam) can change things dramatically. Do you want electricity, plumbing, phone, etc? Or just some lanterns, a wood stove, and an outhouse?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-11-2012, 01:47 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
We live in a log cabin/home in the middle of 15 acres. Here's a pic. We've lived here since 2001.

A log home is an absolute pain in the ass. I so wish it was a standard brick home. Just my two cents.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-11-2012, 02:26 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Hub of the sports world
Posts: 14,812
Foundation is another big cost driver - do you want a slab, sono tubes, or a full basement? Are you planning on living there year round or just as a second home?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-11-2012, 02:34 PM
Erdosain Erdosain is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
We live in a log cabin/home in the middle of 15 acres. Here's a pic. We've lived here since 2001.

A log home is an absolute pain in the ass. I so wish it was a standard brick home. Just my two cents.
Just curious, but what makes the logs such a pain?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-11-2012, 02:49 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
Just curious, but what makes the logs such a pain?
It may be just due to the type of log house we have (pine + chink). But I spend many weekends every summer caulking, painting the chink, applying stain and sealer, power washing, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-11-2012, 02:50 PM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
Just curious, but what makes the logs such a pain?
The splinters.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-11-2012, 02:55 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
It totally depends how big you're looking to go. A small one-room prefab cabin can be cheaper than a mobile home (depending on the distance it needs to be shipped, or if you "need" to build it yourself on-site, etc). If you want to design a custom blueprint for a 2-bedroom 2-bath with a loft and attached garage, it's going to be much more expensive.

I would check out this link. He doesn't say outright what the prices are like, but you could pick a few floorplans and contact him for a quote. He appears to be on the west coast. This is another website that has some very reasonable prices listed, although the place is in Texas and I don't know how much it would cost to truck a house to MN. Here's another, this is a log cabin manufacturer who's actually in Minnesota. It doesn't list their prices, but might be worth paying more for a local company to build the thing since shipping will be substantially cheaper.

With a pre-fab cabin, you'll have a quality product and probably a warranty. I understand cost being a concern, but you gotta live in the thing. Also, have you investigated other kinds of small homes? Small homes, cabins included, don't have to be expensive. I remember seeing some really adorable portable homes (I dearly wish I could remember what they're called) that look almost like wooden wigwams. They're very sturdy and waterproof and come with electricity and all that jazz. You could safely assemble one of those yourself with a few friends in under a day.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-11-2012, 03:09 PM
phreesh phreesh is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
If you're willing to live in a VERY small space, I love the idea of a tumbleweed tiny home:

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/

You'll see several homes on trailers, but they can be built on foundations as well. I've seen several made 'off grid' with solar power and an outhouse.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-11-2012, 03:10 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 17,365
I can't help with the cabin, but drilling a well (and putting in a liner, pump, etc.) will run you somewhere around $10-$15 per foot. During this summer's drought, well owners around here (where the water table is actually fairly shallow) were re-drilling down to 600 feet. So right there you're looking at $6,000-$9,000.

If the site doesn't have electrical service available, you'll need to either have the power lines extended or get yourself a pretty fancy generator (and the fuel to power it.)

And if the area doesn't have sewer service, you'll need to install a septic tank.

Building a cabin is only part of it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-11-2012, 03:23 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
I love my log cabin. It's at least 75 years old I've done plenty of maintenance since I got here 15 years ago. The first couple of years was a lot of work to rehab, but since then it hasn't been bad at all. A lot depends on the wood that it's made out of. Mine is made of White Cedar, and it's highly rot resistant. I don't have to rush to get the logs oiled all the time, the wood is fine after 75 years, it'll be here for another 75.

You can find some small low cost cabin kits online. You can find kits for small cabins with a materials price of around $25,000. That wouldn't include a foundation, but usually all the materials you'll need to make a weather sealed cabin. These are fairly small, and there may still be tiny cabin kits available for less. But lowest price isn't always best. The better logs will be materials like cedar, cypress, and hardwoods that can get very expensive. Cabins are easy to build, it's like stacking up lincoln logs. But that's just the walls. All the windows, doors, stairs, trim, roof, floors, and every other piece is as time consuming and difficult to build as with any other construction type. Sometime moreso. But it's easy to expand a small cabin. You can cut new doors with a chain saw and attach more log rooms, or use other construction techniques.

If the property you're looking at has a lot of rocks around, I'd consider building with those. Stone walls are long lasting, inexpensive, rot resistant, and can be left half finished without big problems. If you're pouring a concrete foundation anyway you could walls made then and later faced with stones. Save the wood for the construction away from the ground. So at least a half wall of concrete stone or block, then up some more with logs, and traditional wood frame roof. Or skip log walls altogether and just go with the stone and a wood roof.

The sites for log cabins online are full of info. There are kits, builders, suppliers, and plans. You can count on the places that have been in business for a long time, and you'll see that their prices are higher too. Like everything else, they cut corners to offer things at the lowest price. But you can easily price out the materials yourself from materials suppliers and see whether you're getting a good deal if you buy a kit.

It's all doable. It's usually faster construction than conventional stick frame buildings that can be done by a few healthy people in reasonable time, but other than that I haven't seen any real price advantage. The larger log cabins often cost more to erect than a conventional house of comparable size.

One thing I love about living in a log cabin, if I want to hang something on the wall, I just hammer in a nail where I want it.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-11-2012, 03:26 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Another important thing to consider - the woods is not suburbia. Strange people wander around, and know there is no surveillance or passing law enforcement, or good samaritans to observe and call them. before you buy a piece of land, see what small communities are nearby and whether the other cabin folk have break-in or vandalism problems. (I recall a news item where kids from a local group home escaped, broke into the isolated cabins, found a shotgun and ammunition, and proceeded to put a big round hole in every window, door, roof panel and floor panel. Major repairs) Do you want to be hauling the TV, DVD player, microwave, etc up and down every weekend?

On the same vein, you will be hauling a truckload of tools and supplies up and down each weekend... Maybe look into small prefabs that can be hauled up there.

The big question, as mentioned, is footings. Concrete work is expensive, and mixing your own in volume sounds like work and expensive. Paying a concrete truck to drive all the way out there will be expensive too.

If you've never built a house, better get some practice first.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-11-2012, 04:10 PM
Zjestika Zjestika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
I'm interested, honestly, in the cheapest way to have to do the least. Rustic can mean super rustic- I don't need flush toilets, I'm cool with an outhouse, and my friend was getting all excited about being off the grid, so that's even a possibility at first. I was even considering a trailer that we could haul up when we went.

My fantasy image of the place is more like slightly better than camping. I want to be able to drink beer and play board games on the weekends in the spring-summer-fall. I'm fine with using lamps and a woodstove and a cooler for my hot dogs. A tiny log cabin would be great, we were thinking we'd start with one with the plan of adding another after a couple of years. Presumably we'd improve as our lives improved... or wind up living there and roughing it if things went bad.

It's all pie in the sky right now, of course. And md2000, that's true about wandering miscreants. It does freak me out some for sure.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09-11-2012, 04:12 PM
August West August West is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Farmington, WI
Posts: 3,499
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
It may be just due to the type of log house we have (pine + chink). But I spend many weekends every summer caulking, painting the chink, applying stain and sealer, power washing, etc.
Our log home has a type of chinking that is flexible and quite durable, I'll have to look up the brand name, but it's been in place for 12 years or so with no issues. DO you have the plaster-based type?
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 09-11-2012, 04:22 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 22,190
The Mother Earth News archives has articles on building log cabins based on people that did what you want to do. Some of them are old articles but I don't think it matters when it comes to this subject.

I may not have found all of them so you can try another search if you want.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/searc...ch=log%20cabin
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 09-11-2012, 04:42 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 15,280
Please do check the zoning, in many rural areas it is now *required* by law to put in septic system, and unless the outhouse is grandfathered in out of the question.

Plus, with an outhouse, you periodically have to dig a new pit and move it, they get spiders and other creepie crawlies, and other issues.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 09-11-2012, 05:07 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: slightly north of center
Posts: 4,255
Quote:
Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
Plus, with an outhouse, you periodically have to dig a new pit and move it, they get spiders and other creepie crawlies, and other issues.
That totally depends on the build and the amount of use. My parents' cabin has an outhouse that hasn't had to be moved/redug in the last 35 years, but it has a large, well designed pit, and is only lightly used.

Another idea - look into a a fancied up trailer. In southern Minnesota, some people are getting around paying property taxes on a cabin by moving a large travel trailer onto the sight instead of building. Because it's not technically permanent, it's not considered a building, so it's not taxes as a cabin. Add a screen porch and a deck, and the building expenses are kept down while increasing the usable space.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 09-11-2012, 05:13 PM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Have you considered doing something like building a foundation and floor and putting a large tent over it the first year? Then, having spent time there, you will have a better idea of things like what amenities you can't do without, where you want the windows, what the neighbors are like, etc. In other words, start out with the minimum and add to it over time.

You can always make the floor larger later.

Having known many owner builders and being one myself, I can attest that the surest road to failure is to dream too big. Dream small, then add.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 09-12-2012, 08:29 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastes of Chocolate View Post
Another idea - look into a a fancied up trailer. In southern Minnesota, some people are getting around paying property taxes on a cabin by moving a large travel trailer onto the sight instead of building. Because it's not technically permanent, it's not considered a building, so it's not taxes as a cabin.
In this economy, County tax assessors are fast catching onto that scam. And using criteria like 'if it hasn't been moved in 3 years, it is a permanent structure', and taxing it accordingly. You can contest that, of course -- go before the assessment appeals board, made up of locals who are paying their property taxes, or even appeal it in court before a judge who is paid from those property taxes. Good luck with that!
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 09-12-2012, 10:42 PM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
You should really consider buying a kit. Everything is pre cut and pre drilled. You just put it together.

Here's some prices.

http://www.conestogalogcabins.com/pricelist.html
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 09-13-2012, 12:40 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Yeah, I wasn't suggesting you need to worry about "sqeal like a pig" problems; but locals, that is - anyone with a pickup truck within 100 miles - knows there is unattended stuff just waiting to be taken and used or simply smashed if they are bored.

Last edited by md2000; 09-13-2012 at 12:40 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:37 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Yeah, I wasn't suggesting you need to worry about "sqeal like a pig" problems; but locals, that is - anyone with a pickup truck within 100 miles - knows there is unattended stuff just waiting to be taken and used or simply smashed if they are bored.
Minnesotans are polite, they will leave a thank you note.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:42 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Zjestika, ignore all of these horror stories. Very few houses cost more than 3 times the initial estimate, or took more than 4 times the predicted amount of time to build. Nothing could go wrong.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:45 AM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
What about strawbale construction? You might find that better than logs, and they are wonderful homes(at least the ones I have been in). A good deal of the labor can be Do-It-Yourself.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 09-13-2012, 08:58 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
The other problem might be transport. There's a reason why 2x4 or 2x6 construction is convenient. You can haul a decent amount of supplies to get the frame up with a pickup and/or utility trailer. Also - a lot of places (if they are like Canada) sell "garage packages". All the material to put up a framed building about, say, 16' x 22' including walls, trusses, sheet covering, usually shingles. You can modify the basic shape to include more windows, and maybe turn the 2-car door area in a bay window. Buy windows "off the shelf" and they are pretty cheap all things onsidered, you can frame the building during construction to hold the size you selected. Insulate, frame interior "rooms", etc. after the shell is up. It will give you something to do the first year or five. Usually these packages are designed to fit onto a concrete pad the size of the exterior.

At least, that will giev you a rough idea what a basic building will cost.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 09-13-2012, 09:46 AM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Owner-builder basic advice:

1. if you have very little experience, ANYTHING you build will be a big and laborious adventure. Choosing any "alternative" like straw bale is going to increase the size of the adventure and labor substantially, and is also going to decrease the amount of knowledgeable help available to an even greater degree. In your position, you really don't want to encounter blank stares from the lumber store guy, the electrician, the plumber, and most of all, the building inspector. There are very good reasons why stick framing with plywood sheathing is so popular. Think twice about using anything other than techniques and materials that your local construction community is familiar with.

2. If you are thinking of going with a kit, do a lot of research about that company first. What are other new builders' experiences like, and how much support does the co. give? I've heard plenty of depressing stories about kits.

ps: vandalism is a big issue. Leaving a site unattended for even one day is risky.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 09-13-2012 at 09:49 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 09-13-2012, 03:14 PM
Zjestika Zjestika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Ok, I'm beginning to realize that building is much more of an undertaking than Im comfortable with. We've expanded our search to acerage with buildings already there. It's still mostly a dream, though.

However, damn, cabins are cheap if there in nowheresville and not on a lake. There's one 2 hours from the twin cities in NW Wisconsin, 8 acres, 4 bedroom hunting cabin... $30K.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 09-13-2012, 03:22 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
We had a trailer (mobile home) at our lake property. Bought it used and had it moved & set up down there. Eventually we built a front porch onto it. We had a well drilled and septic installed.

Thats about the cheapest way to go. Check zoning laws first. Some places won't allow trailers.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-13-2012 at 03:24 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 09-13-2012, 03:36 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Break ins are a concern at any remote property.

The best you can do is to limit whats there to take. Furnish with old, cast off furniture. Minimal pots, dishes and plastic glasses. Never leave guns in a cabin. We even took our Evinrude outboard motor back and forth to the lake. We did leave our jon boat chained to a tree.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-13-2012 at 03:37 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 09-13-2012, 04:44 PM
I Love Me, Vol. I I Love Me, Vol. I is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Amoral a Roma
Posts: 3,159
Here are some rather haphazard and somewhat random recollections of a cabin my family once owned in the north woods of Minnesota. I didn't do much correcting or editing of this--it's all rather stream-of-conciseness... please forgive my typos, errors, and wordiness.


Building A Cabin

My family owned a cabin in northern Minnesota, about 40 miles north of Duluth, for 30-some years. We just sold it a couple years ago to help pay for my mother's care.

We had it built in 1975 by a couple local contractors. If I remember correctly it cost about $2500 to build (supplies and labor, in 1975 $). Those guys erected the frame and put some clad-wood (particle board-like stuff) on the outside of it. The whole thing sat atop concrete block "pillars" so it had a crawlspace underneath. It had a nice porch and 3 big picture windows--all facing the little lake about 30 feet downhill. The woods surrounding it were full of pine, birch, and aspens.

Our intention was always to gradually add more amenities as we could afford them. For instance, we had spaces set aside to be a kitchen and a bathroom but we were never able to install the plumbing or the septic tank. We did finally get electrical wiring put in but we never hooked it up to the power lines because our neighbor wouldn't let us run off their spur and it cost an arm and a leg to get a line brought in from the county road.


Cabin Camping

We called it "cabin camping" because we never got beyond using a Coleman lantern and an ice chest, along with a Coleman stove and a Weber grill outside. At one point we finally put in a well. We didn't drill it per se but rather pounded down piping with a "point" on the end. We hit water at about 30 feet. It was the tastiest, coldest stuff! But when we had the mandatory impurities test done by the county there was some microscopic trace of some mildly bothersome organism and we never did get to use the well-water. We had to fetch water in 5 gallon jugs from a neighbor.

We had an outhouse (dubbed "The Gopher Hole") and hauled our garbage to a dump a mile away. We sometimes had to keep our garbage cans hanging from trees to keep the bears out of it. It was exciting, but kinda scary at the time, having bears come by every now and again. We sometimes heard wolves calling in the distance but never saw any. Plenty of Canada geese, loons, and other water fowl, as well as a myriad of other birds.

The stars were amazing. I remember nights of incredible sky-shows where you could see the Milky Way, hundreds of shooting stars, and the Northern Lights--all at the same time. The mosquitoes were often thicker than the stars.

A big part of the reason we never fully improved the place was because we lived 700 miles away and as time went on, we were less and less able to get the time to go up there. Well, there was the money thing too.

But simply roughing it and "camping" in our cabin was a lovely retreat from civilization. I sort of resented the lack of facilities at the time, but in retrospect, it was very charming and probably a lot nicer the way we had it.


On Hooligans and Gun Rights

I think the main reason I'm writing all of this is to touch on the "wandering havoc-wreakers" issue. We never had any problems with anyone--not when we were there and not when we were away for most of the year. But, the situation of being away from police and many other people did lead me to think about getting a firearm to protect the place.

No one in my family has ever owned a firearm and I never really brought this up with anyone else. We were all from a big city and things are different there but this seemed like a situation the called for having firearms around.

Point is--I had never thought about "right to bear arms" issues in this light before. I think this was the basis of my changing my position on gun rights from outright banning of handguns (when I was a lot younger) to a position far more sympathetic to gun owners.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 09-13-2012, 04:55 PM
sitchensis sitchensis is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
Do a google image search for "park model cabin" a lot of those are under 50g's. You could have a contractor give you an estimate for building just a pad with water and sewer hookups.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 09-14-2012, 04:45 PM
ouryL ouryL is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: 21 20' N 157 55' W
Posts: 6,470
One question to ask is "How can you legally build a log cabin?" Building regs. here would make building such impermissible.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 09-14-2012, 04:50 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by ouryL View Post
One question to ask is "How can you legally build a log cabin?" Building regs. here would make building such impermissible.
You seem to be in Honolulu. Why wouldn't they allow a log cabin?
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 09-14-2012, 05:01 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Springfield, IL
Posts: 17,767
Quote:
Originally Posted by phreesh View Post
If you're willing to live in a VERY small space, I love the idea of a tumbleweed tiny home:

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/
If you're willing to live in a VERY small space...
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 09-14-2012, 05:24 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Reading the OP, am I the only person amazed that in this economy, raw land in that area of Minnesota is $3-5K/acre?
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 09-14-2012, 05:57 PM
Trom Trom is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saint Cad View Post
Reading the OP, am I the only person amazed that in this economy, raw land in that area of Minnesota is $3-5K/acre?
There's quite a variation depending on the property. Here's a listing for 80 acres for $45,000. Road access, water access, etc. makes a huge difference.

I grew up in the area the OP is looking at. There are a huuuuuge amount of properties in foreclosure in Cambridge/Princeton/Pine City area. It'd be worth checking out the foreclosure listing for Isanti County and surrounding counties. There's some ridiculous stuff out there- 3 bedroom house, 5 acres, private lake/pond for ~$125,000, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 09-17-2012, 08:04 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
You seem to be in Honolulu. Why wouldn't they allow a log cabin?
Not enough logs on the island?
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 09-17-2012, 10:07 PM
andyleonard andyleonard is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
My first $3500 would be for a used but sound Airstream trailer. Go live on the property or near it before you buy it. See how much you're actually prepared to put up with or do without. If you decide to buy the land, you can live in the trailer while building. If you change your mind, you can resell the trailer and the land. You will never resell a half-built cabin.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 09-17-2012, 11:46 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 14,371
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulfreida View Post
Have you considered doing something like building a foundation and floor and putting a large tent over it the first year? Then, having spent time there, you will have a better idea of things like what amenities you can't do without, where you want the windows, what the neighbors are like, etc. In other words, start out with the minimum and add to it over time.
The OP might look into Yurts.

http://www.coloradoyurt.com/
http://sicarius.typepad.com/althouse...urt-homes.html
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 09-18-2012, 01:20 AM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by andyleonard View Post
My first $3500 would be for a used but sound Airstream trailer. Go live on the property or near it before you buy it. See how much you're actually prepared to put up with or do without. If you decide to buy the land, you can live in the trailer while building. If you change your mind, you can resell the trailer and the land. You will never resell a half-built cabin.
Really excellent advice.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 09-18-2012, 08:04 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
if money is tight get a pickup truck and put a topper on it and camp with that as your bad weather shelter. you won't get through the construction experience without it.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 09-18-2012, 10:00 PM
drachillix drachillix is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Seconding the yurt or even a good quality heavy duty canvas tent with a steel pipe frame. Well anchored, they can survive some truly insane weather conditions. Such a tent can easily be had for around $150 for 20'x20'.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 08-23-2013, 11:01 PM
shgibby61981 shgibby61981 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Another important thing to consider - the woods is not suburbia. Strange people wander around, and know there is no surveillance or passing law enforcement, or good samaritans to observe and call them. before you buy a piece of land, see what small communities are nearby and whether the other cabin folk have break-in or vandalism problems. (I recall a news item where kids from a local group home escaped, broke into the isolated cabins, found a shotgun and ammunition, and proceeded to put a big round hole in every window, door, roof panel and floor panel. Major repairs) Do you want to be hauling the TV, DVD player, microwave, etc up and down every weekend?

On the same vein, you will be hauling a truckload of tools and supplies up and down each weekend... Maybe look into small prefabs that can be hauled up there.

The big question, as mentioned, is footings. Concrete work is expensive, and mixing your own in volume sounds like work and expensive. Paying a concrete truck to drive all the way out there will be expensive too.

If you've never built a house, better get some practice first.
Depends where you live. No one dares break in any where near our property (in Montana) as they know everyone is armed). If you build in Liberal land, you may have a problem as people see that they "have to call for authorities" rather than protect themselves. NO ONE DARES BREAK IN WHERE I AM, AS EVERYONE IS ARMED>
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 08-23-2013, 11:14 PM
shgibby61981 shgibby61981 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Self Sufficiency is the answer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zjestika View Post
I'm interested, honestly, in the cheapest way to have to do the least. Rustic can mean super rustic- I don't need flush toilets, I'm cool with an outhouse, and my friend was getting all excited about being off the grid, so that's even a possibility at first. I was even considering a trailer that we could haul up when we went.

My fantasy image of the place is more like slightly better than camping. I want to be able to drink beer and play board games on the weekends in the spring-summer-fall. I'm fine with using lamps and a woodstove and a cooler for my hot dogs. A tiny log cabin would be great, we were thinking we'd start with one with the plan of adding another after a couple of years. Presumably we'd improve as our lives improved... or wind up living there and roughing it if things went bad.

It's all pie in the sky right now, of course. And md2000, that's true about wandering miscreants. It does freak me out some for sure.
Doesn't have to be pie in the sky. All you need is the land. That is the hard part. My dad just gave me 10 acres in Montana, and I am going for off the grid cabin ( with solar panels on the roof.

Im not wanting it on the grid, as I want to live off the grid. I have to pay for a well but for the mean time, I can use my dads well, and make an outhouse. I want enough power for LED lights, a high efficiency freezer ( For the meat I kill, the fish I catch< the berries I pick in the summer). I can build my 20X20 cabin with loft for around $3000 as I already have the land. The Solar panels will be more. The costliest part will be the foundatiuon, then the pannels. If you happen to be cool and are near Montana, maybe we can work something out, just saying.

I think living like it was 1813 would make me a healthier person. Own garden, Own Meat, Own construction. This society is going to HELL fast, and I want OUT. I know how to survive, and am willing to help those who would like to know how to do so as well. If interested ( Male or Female, Email me At shgibby61981@gmail.com
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 08-23-2013, 11:29 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Shgibby,

I'd like to hear more about your point of view and how you plan to prepare. Do you think you could start a thread about your efforts inthe In My Humble Opinion section of this forum?
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 08-24-2013, 12:32 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by shgibby61981 View Post
Depends where you live. No one dares break in any where near our property (in Montana) as they know everyone is armed). If you build in Liberal land, you may have a problem as people see that they "have to call for authorities" rather than protect themselves. NO ONE DARES BREAK IN WHERE I AM, AS EVERYONE IS ARMED>
The whole problem with cabins is weekdays and winters they tend to be deserted. In cabin territory, so do the neighbours.

If someone drives up to your door and knocks on it, you'd have a hard time justifying shooting them. Plus, they live in the area, know what you drive, and if you have a garage to hide the vehicle in, you probably have some tempting fixin's inside the cabin to take. You'd have a hard time arguing, even in Montana, that a guy not carrying a gun, knocking on your door or peeking in the window of the garage, was threatening enough that you had to shoot him.

Of course, while you're down at the police station justifying your actions, who's watching the cabin?
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 08-24-2013, 08:49 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
I have a friend who helped build his own log cabin. As a student, he had spent a summer working for a logging company. So, after buying the property, he spent a summer cutting down trees where he wanted his "cabin". He stripped and debarked them, cut them into 25' lengths and built a trough 26' long which he filled with a preservative solution and left for a couple years. Then he hired a couple of local people who were used to building log cabins and acted as their helper for another year or so. The house they built had a basement and a second story (with sides sloped at 5:12 as I will explain later). At first, they used a wood stove (one of the efficient ones) with a chimney that went through and warmed the whole place, but after a couple years they gave up and installed electric heat throughout. This was maybe 25 or 30 years ago and it cost over $50,000. On the other hand, it is suitable for year round living and he certainly doesn't spend the summer caulking. The one headache is water. At first he had a well, but it wasn't very productive. Eventually, he abandoned the well and started taking water from the lake 50' from the house for flushing, washing clothes, showering, etc., while getting large carboys of water from a nearby town (to whom he pays real estate taxes and has the right to get water). There is of course, a septic tank, but there are indoor toilets.

One amusing anecdote. When the builders were putting on the roof, the center beam was 5' above the top of the walls and the total span was 24' (12' each way). The builders were about to cut the logs to 16' or 17' and cut after. No, he told them 14' will do (including a foot overhang). They didn't believe him, but it was his nickel so they tried it. They were absolutely amazed when he turned out to be right on. Pythagoras lives! (My friend is a mathematician.)
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 08-24-2013, 09:41 AM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by shgibby61981 View Post
Doesn't have to be pie in the sky. All you need is the land. That is the hard part. My dad just gave me 10 acres in Montana, and I am going for off the grid cabin ( with solar panels on the roof.
I live out in Montana and I've met many people who claim to be "off the grid", but I've never met anyone who actually was in any meaningful way. Sure there's lots of survivalist types who might grow some of their own food, heat with wood they cut themselves, have the fancy-pants solar systems and such, but every single one is completely and utterly dependent on thirsty power equipment. If the proverbial shit hits the fan, unless the gas stations are still open those guys are just as fucked as the rest of us. I actually got in a bit of an argument with one of those guys in a bar once when I asked him how off the grid he really could be when every year he easily puts over 1000 gallons of diesel in his pickup truck alone to maintain his backwoods lifestyle, to say nothing of his generator, tractor, log splitter, chainsaw, etc.

Living truly off the grid might be possible in other parts of the country, but it definitely isn't in a place with a climate like Montana. At least not even remotely comfortably or even safely. This is definitely a fun place to play make-believe backwoodsman, but realistically communities are how people survived back in the pioneer times and they're the only way people are going to survive come the whatever vaguely defined catastrophe you think is coming.

Last edited by GreasyJack; 08-24-2013 at 09:42 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:35 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.