6 Things to Know About Small Cabin Kits—And the Best Ones You Can Buy
Offering rustic or cottage appeal, small cabin kits provide a welcome escape from fast-paced living.
Small cabin kits—the sort designed to install in a backyard or on a wooded lot—serve multiple purposes: pool houses, she-sheds, man caves, home offices, and even craft studios. These cabin kits are often DIY-friendly, but some professional guidance may be necessary.
While a cabin kit won’t replace a professionally built post-and-beam log cabin, it might be just the ticket for expanding your living and entertaining space or for achieving a bit of welcome solitude. Ahead, learn the ins and outs of shopping for a cabin kit, and check out three small cabin models that might be good options for your property.
The Actual Cost of Small Cabin Kits
Small cabin kits start around $5,500 and go up from there as they increase in size and amenities, but you should also expect to incur other costs. The final cost of an installed cabin kit depends on whether you can do all the work yourself, or if you’ll need to hire professionals to complete some of it. Depending on what you intend to use the small cabin for, you could pay two to three times more than the kit’s cost by the time it’s all said and done.
Assembling some kits require more construction knowledge than others. With some brands, you’ll receive standard framing, siding, and roofing materials, and you’ll need some construction knowledge to put the kit together. With others, such as BZB Cabin Kits, the materials come pre-cut and notched, so assembly is more straightforward. The following expenses could add to the final cost of the cabin.
- Site preparation: This includes excavation to level the site and may involve hiring a contractor or renting a skid steer.
- Foundation: This could include the price of sand, gravel, concrete, steel reinforcement, or cinder blocks, depending on the type of foundation you choose for the cabin.
- Roofing: Unless specified, your small cabin kit may not come with shingles or metal roofing, which could pose an additional expense.
- Mechanical elements: If you want to have lights, water, and plumbing in the cabin, these will come at additional cost.
- Insulation: You may not need insulation if you’re only planning to use the cabin during the warm seasons, but if you plan to use it year-round, factor in the cost of it.
- Interior furnishings: Things like curtains and carpeting are paid for by the cabin’s owner.
- Exterior finishes: Plan on paying more to paint the cabin’s exterior or add a porch, walkway, or deck.
Small Cabin Kit Contents
It’s vital to know what comes with a cabin kit to understand what you need to purchase elsewhere. While kits vary by brand, model, and manufacturer, you’ll typically receive the materials you need to build the cabin’s exterior shell (including windows and doors), as well as the materials necessary to construct the interior floor or subfloor. You may also receive the fasteners required to build the cabin’s frame, but in some cases, you’ll need to purchase those separately. You should also receive a detailed construction or assembly diagram.
Regulations, Restrictions, and Permits
This is where it all starts: with the rules in your community and neighborhood. Before even thinking about buying a small cabin kit, contact your local building authority to determine what regulations could impact your decision. Some of the more common obstacles include:
- Setbacks: A setback is a minimum distance from the side of a house or a lot’s property lines; you cannot place the cabin within the setback area(s).
- Easements: Like setbacks, you can’t locate the cabin in an easement—an area of your lot that you maintain, but which is reserved for buried water, sewer, and other service lines. Easements often run along the fronts or backs of lots.
- Utility lines: Some communities do not allow the placement of a structure over buried lines that carry gas or electricity to your home. You probably wouldn’t want to, anyway, because if the utility company has to dig up the line, you’d have to relocate the cabin.
- HOA regulations: If you live in a homeowners association (HOA), the HOA board will have to approve both the cabin you choose and its location on your property.
- Covenants: These are rules that govern a whole subdivision and may contain clauses that do not permit backyard structures.
- Permits: In many communities, you’ll have to get a permit from the building authority before you can put up the cabin.
DIY Vs. Professional Contractor
Local building codes determine how much of the cabin you can build and how much it requires a professional’s services. If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural area where there are few building codes, you may be able to finish the entire cabin, including the wiring, plumbing, and roofing. However, if you live in a larger town or community, you’ll likely have to hire licensed professionals to complete wiring and plumbing—perhaps the roofing, as well. When you apply for a permit, you’ll find what you can and can’t do yourself.
Even if you’re not subject to restrictive building codes, you might want to consider having a contractor install the cabin’s foundation. Your cabin will only be as sound as the foundation on which it sits, so this is not the place to cut corners. If the foundation is even slightly out of level, it will throw off the rest of the assembly.
Some cabin kits come with the ability to choose additional windows or beefier wall panels if you’re looking to create a custom look or add stability. You may also be able to order an attached deck or porch or choose a siding color. Other than those options, you’ll probably have to do additional customizing yourself by adding shelving, a closet, a bathroom, a kitchenette, or any other amenities you’d like.
Timeframe for Building a Cabin Kit
Allow ample time to get your permit and scope out the best possible location before ordering a cabin kit. Depending on the type of foundation you choose, getting it ready to support the cabin could take anywhere from a couple of days for a gravel and cinderblock foundation to a week or longer to have a concrete slab installed. Once you begin assembling the cabin, allow a few days to complete the shell if it’s a small kit (under 120 square feet). It could take a few days longer to complete the shell of larger cabins, and if you’re planning to install mechanical elements, such as wiring and plumbing, it could add additional days or even weeks.
Top Picks in Small Cabin Kits
The following three small cabin kits from BZB Cabins are durable, attractive, and easy to assemble. Whether you’re looking for a she-shed where you can enjoy some peace and solitude, or you’re looking for a pool house or guest quarters, one of the following cabin kits is sure to be the right choice for your yard.
1. BEST FOR UNWINDING: Allwood Escape Cabin Kit
If you’re looking to create an out-of-the-way spot where you can relax, meditate, or curl up privately with a good book, consider the Allwood Escape Cabin Kit that provides 113 square feet of quiet living space. This diminutive cabin kit comes with everything you need to build your private getaway, featuring a spacious, 12-feet-5-inch by 9-feet-1-inch single room where you can arrange chairs, a sofa, rugs, bookcases, or any other furnishings that suit your style. The Allwood cabin comes with one window, but buyers have the option of adding up to two more windows, and the interlocking wall logs can be doubled or tripled in thickness for added durability and wind resistance. Optional shutters are also available. The Allwood cabin kit comes ready to assemble, and detailed instructions are included.
2. BEST FOR POOL OR PLAY: Pinecrest Prefab Pool House Kit
The roof of the Pinecrest Prefab Pool House Kit features side gables and a front gable dormer that gives the cabin a timeless cottage look. This 123-square-foot cabin comes with four double-pane windows and a full-glass double door to let in as much natural light as possible. The interior floor measures 13-feet by 9-feet-10-inches, so there’s plenty of room to set up daybeds and shelves to hold books, or you can construct a couple of changing rooms for swimming pool users. The Pinecrest Cabin Kit would also make a great hobby room or art gallery for displaying your work. You’ll get everything you need to assemble the cabin, minus the foundation and shingles, although you can add shingles to the package if desired. With its abundant natural lighting, the Pinecrest will soon become the favorite spot for family and friends.
3. BEST FOR GARDENING OR CRAFTING: Lakeview Cabin Kit
If you’re looking for ample room to hold gardening supplies or crafting tables, plus room for shelving to stow related supplies, look no further than the Lakeview Cabin Kit that offers 209 square feet of floor space. The interior measures a whopping 17 feet by 12-feet-6 inches. This larger cabin is just as simple to assemble as the smaller ones, and you can position it on a concrete slab, a cinder block foundation, or even an existing wood deck. You can order optional shingles or choose your own from a local home improvement center for a custom look. The Lakeview Cabin comes with eight windows and a double glass entry door, so you’ll have all the natural light you could want. This attractive cabin is also suitable for entertaining—there’s plenty of interior floor space to add an optional kitchenette and bathroom if desired.
This content has been brought to you by BZB Cabins. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.