Among the most popular dream home fantasies is that of living in a cozy log cabin in the woods. After all, who can resist the idea of snuggling up on a sofa next to a roaring fire under soaring exposed beams? Answer: no one!
Log cabins are as beautiful as they are durable, almost weatherproof and energy efficient. (The thermal mass of wood is a natural heating material.) So if you really want to make your log cabin dreams a reality, you might be wondering if it’s cheaper to buy a log cabin. existing one or to build one from scratch.
Before you pull out your jigsaw, take a step back and consider the “buy or build” question to see which choice makes more economic sense. Here’s everything you need to know.
Buy a log cabin
The median cost of an existing home is around $375,000. Still, the average cost of log cabins — being the specialty homes that they are — can be harder to pin down. A sample of cottages that have recently hit the real estate market range from simple structures selling for $132,000 to luxury getaways priced in the millions.
And like any home for sale, the asking price of a log cabin depends on location, recent home sales in the area, and the general state of the real estate market.
“A log home in California will cost more than one in Oklahoma,” says Donna’s Woodpeckereditor of Log Home Living.
Another factor in determining how much you will pay for a cabin is its size. Do you want a small and charming log home or a big and glamorous one?
“The cost of buying a log cabin depends on the square footage of the property,” explains Keith Sant of Kind House Buyers in Tacoma, WA. “However, if you shop around, you might be able to get one for $100 a square foot.”
Build a log cabin
So how much does it cost to build a log cabin? According to HomeAdvisor, building a 500 square foot cabin costs an average of around $75,000. And if you want a full-time home rather than a cozy, rustic getaway, you’re looking at an average of $300,000 to build a 2,000 square foot cabin.
“Building a log cabin could cost as little as $100 per square foot and as high as $300 per square foot,” explains Nick StoddardCEO of KC Property Connection in Overland Park, KS.
Here are the main expenses you will encounter:
Earth: Land prices vary across the United States depending on land development and other factors.
But to give you a ballpark figure, an acre of land costs an average of $3,100, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2020 Land Values Summary. And once you’ve purchased land, you’ll need building permits, which average $5,086 nationwide.
Kits, prefabs and construction: The design of a log cabin includes the hull, interior finishes, kitchen and bathrooms, and mechanical elements (i.e. plumbing and heating), each of which can fluctuate by several thousand of dollars. Here’s how the options break down:
- Log cabin sets: “A DIY kit for a log cabin can cost you between $50 and $80 per square foot,” says Ron Wysocarski, broker and CEO of Wyse Home Realty in Port Orange, FL. A kit is usually a bare frame and includes walls, roof, doors and windows. Things like a foundation, floors, and a bathroom will all cost more.
- Prefabricated cabins: “A prefab log cabin will cost anywhere from $80 to $230 per square foot,” says Wysocarski. It is usually built in a factory and delivered to your land. The assembly of the cabin and its connection to utilities will cost more.
- Custom cabins: If you want to design and build a custom log cabin, the construction costs alone will cost you between $100,000 and $150,000, depending on Stephen Keighery, CEO and Founder of Home Buyer Louisiana. And according to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 per square foot for any custom home.
Labor: If you decide to buy a log cabin kit, you can save money by assembling it yourself, that is, if you have the time and skills.
“For example, if you buy a log cabin kit for $60,000 and pay other people to build it, the cost can be as high as $180,000,” explains Erik NilssonCEO and Founder of Rentola.
If you’re not prepared to spend your weekends hauling logs, make sure your budget has some wiggle room for labor costs. And delays due to weather or unforeseen construction issues can add hours of labor to a quote.
Wood: According to the National Association of Home Builders, supply chain issues during the COVID-19 pandemic caused lumber costs to triple in 2021. As a result, lumber that once cost builders about $350 per 1 000 board feet now costs $1,200, a spike of 250%. in the price.
Beyond the fluctuating cost of lumber, the type of logs you choose will greatly affect your bottom line.
“Different types of wood come at different prices,” says Peak. “You could build the same house out of southern yellow pine or Douglas fir and get two very different prices. Another cost factor is the size and diameter of the logs.
If you are buying an existing log cabin: Electrics and plumbing are probably good unless the log house is seriously dated. Otherwise, an inspection will reveal any issues, giving you the opportunity to negotiate the sale price.
If you are building a new log cabin: “Most pre-built cabins have insulation between the walls,” explains Jason Simard, owner of the Sims real estate group. “It makes cabins much more energy efficient. As these cabins keep the heat inside the cabin, they can save up to 30% of your energy bill.
But depending on where you decide to build, you may need to install a well for water or run electricity to the property.
“Installing utilities can cost around $10,000,” says Nilsson.