Buying a Cabin in the Woods – Pros & Cons and How to Build One

Wouldn’t it be amazing to reconnect with nature and live in an environment that we were made for?

Moving from the fast-paced city into a cozy cabin in the woods is a dream and longing many people have.

Cottages and cabins have gained huge popularity over the last years and they continue to amaze young as well as old people from around the world.

At the end of this post, it will be much easier for you to make a sound decision whether you should be buying or building a cabin in the woods and all the difficulties that may appear.

Pros and Cons of Owning a Cabin

When it comes to owning a cabin, there are a lot of benefits and disadvantages that come with it.

Old cabins have a certain appeal to them that many people find aesthetically pleasing. Houses made completely of logs and wood radiate a level of coziness and warmth that is completely unique to them.

I personally adore the idea of cottage life and the rustic, natural cabin chic that comes with it.

As you have clicked on this post, you are probably a fan of this aesthetic too but going from plastered walls also comes with its disadvantages.

Wood is a natural material and “breathes” with its environment. Warmer temperatures will cause it to expand and cool weather will let it shrink.

This has a lot to do with humidity. Wood has a moisture content that varies depending on the season and location.

Fireplace in front of a cabin.

The (relative) humidity increases in the summer, causing the wood to expand and a decreased humidity in the winter leads to the opposite.

Relative humidity will also differ between the outdoors and indoors due to heating or air conditioning.

To make things even more difficult, wood doesn’t change equally in all directions. The continuous swelling and shrinking can also lead to cracks in the wood over time.

You simply cannot stop wood from moving and when you try to limit it, it will actually cause more cracks.

But cracks actually impart the walls with a nice texture and roughness which is part of the cottage charm. Just don’t expect wood walls to be perfect and smooth.

Depending on the style you are going with, like many exposed beams or rounded edges, it may be harder to hang up wall decorations or wall shelving.

You may have wondered about how well cabins are insulated as they don’t have any layers in between the logs.

Logs have a great heat storage capability which may result in better energy efficiency.

You won’t need as much heating in the winter as sunlight during the day heats up the logs (even if it’s cold outside) and this heat will be gradually released during the night.

Cabin insulation greatly depends on how well it’s sealed and what type of wood you are using.

Air leakage should be minimized by sealing gaps that have appeared due to the aforementioned movement of the wood. The roof should insulated as warm air rises to the ceiling.

Floors can also be heat sinks so make sure to properly insulate them. If you keep a few things in mind, log homes can offer a cost and energy-efficient alternative to “normal” homes.

If they are properly insulated and designed, they may even be 15-20% more efficient than homes made of modern materials.

Natural materials come with another disadvantage. Although all homes need to be maintained, cabins have significantly higher maintenance needs.

Once a year, the exterior walls should be washed to remove any pollen or debris and they should be regularly checked for mold and mildew.

You may also need to reseal your cottage every 3-4 years to maintain a healthy exterior. Wood also attracts some insects and pests such as termites or ants.

Infestations need to be dealt with as early as possible before they become a real problem.

On the other hand, wood also makes a home incredibly durable. Trees are made to withstand storms and other hazardous natural events.

There are log homes that are more than 500 years old and some were even built a thousand years ago.

One of my favorite parts of log homes is the amazing craftsmanship. If you are working with skilled builders or even if you are doing things yourself, every piece of the home will end up being unique.

Some even like to add personal details into the wood such as decorations on hand railings or favorite animals carved into posts.

Buying a Cabin in the Woods

Before buying a cabin, you should have a really clear picture off what you are exactly looking for in a home.

Will this be your permanent home or are just looking for a vacation estate?

Where would you like your cabin to be? Location mostly determines the price so make sure to choose an area that is within your budget.

Would you like an A-frame house or a log cabin? A-frame cabins with triangular ceilings are very affordable but you will have to make some cut downs on storage.

With a log cabin, you can really go as big as you want with different levels, plenty of bedrooms, a garage, and so on.

You can start your search on platforms like Zillow and you have the option to narrow down your search with filters.

Can You Just Build a Cabin in the Woods?

Technically, yes you can just build a cabin in the woods. However, you will first need to acquire some land and make sure that you adhere to local building codes.

Building your own home definitely isn’t easy but there a lot of super helpful videos online that will guide you through the process.

It will involve a lot of research and going back and forth between design decisions.

Also, keep in mind that there is not a lot of information out there about specific problems that you may face. And the information that you can find is often highly conflicting.

Not only the permission part but also the construction in itself will take a lot of time if you are not experienced.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Small Cabin?

How much your small cabin costs will depend greatly on the type of material you use, the home size, and the contractors. You can build a small cabin for $15,000 if you are resourceful or you can build one for $300,000 or more.

You may think that just buying an old cabin will be much more affordable than building one from scratch.

A-frame cabin in the woods.

But renovations especially of old material can be super expensive and may even end up costing more than a newly build cabin.

Most of the cost of a cabin build is labor. So if you can manage to do it yourself with the help of friends and family, you can save a lot of money.

Using reclaimed wood or even some material that would have been thrown away is a cheap alternative to buying everything from a hardware store.

But don’t cheap out on the materials too much as it will save you a lot of maintenance and heating costs in the future.

All building materials need tools to cut or transform them. Maybe you can rent some for cheap but you will definitely need to buy a few.

You will also need to add the cost of land to your calculations. The average value of land in the USA is about $10,000 per acre.

This will be much more expansive around cities or cheaper the further you move into rural or secluded areas.

Overall, for only your cabin you can expect an average cost of $100-$200 per square foot.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in a Cabin in the Woods?

As many cabins are located in a more secluded area, you may have to grow a lot of your own food.

This is an amazing skill to acquire and will not only make sure that you know exactly what goes into your produce but it’s also much cheaper.

Apart from that, living in a cabin won’t be much different, money wise, than what you are currently spending.

You may have to invest more money in maintenance but the off-grid lifestyle will probably turn you into a self maker pretty quickly.

Off-grid systems are costly to build but they are cheaper than running power and water lines up to your cabin.

Is Owning a Cabin Worth It?

Whether or not owning a cabin is worth it, is a very personal question. If you are really into that cottagecore, off-grid lifestyle that takes you out of the city and into nature then nothing should stop you from achieving that goal.

Log cabins have a unique appeal and are just as good as modern homes. They only need a bit more attention but will last you that much longer.

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