Build an Off-Grid Cabin

by Arslan Hassan

In today’s busy life, where technology has taken over every aspect of our lives, don’t you ever wish that you could just go somewhere in the woods and live independently? Live away from all the hustle and bustle of the practical and digital world?

I know that just like me, many others would love to just go off the grid somewhere for some time. And let me tell you, people do that! Many people who need a break from their corporate or high demanding jobs, or need a break for mental peace go to their off-grid cabins and enjoy the ultimate freedom from all worldly affairs.

I know, now you are probably thinking you don’t have the money to have a cabin of your own! Let me tell you making a cabin is not that expensive if you build it yourself. Yes, it requires a lot of hard work and material but it’s possible to build an off-grid cabin and have your freedom.

In this article, we will tell you how to step by step build an off-grid cabin by yourself.

Step 1: Planning Phase

To build anything you will need to make a plan first. This is the first and most important step to start building your cabin. Think of it as first you have to build it on paper and then take it from there.

With the help of this planning out each and everything, you will save yourself from risks and surprises which might incur when you build the cabin and you can be well-prepared to face the challenges.

The following are a few elements that you would need to address when building an off-grid cabin:

  • Plan your budget. You don’t want to spend your life saving on this cabin. So you should allot a certain budget for this project of yours. The Budget should include costs related to site preparations, off-grid utilities, interiors, logs, roofing, and other tools, etc.
  • Next, you need to figure out a location for your cabin. Now since you will be working out on your water supply and electricity, you must choose a spot where there is water nearby and you also have access to trees.
  • You also need to know about the laws of the land that you are building on. For example, do you need any approvals from respective authorities? Or are you required by law to have a gas safety certificate for your cabin? Are there any other requirements? Read on these laws to get a more specific idea about rules and regulations.
  • Have a Design and a floor plan ready for your cabin. You need to make sure the land you are building your cabin on is suitable for it as well. If you don’t have a plan, you can always search the internet for free floor and design plans for your cabin.
  • Next, the important thing that you need to think off ahead is what source of power generation will you be using for your cabin? Will you be working with solar energy, wind turbine or micro hydroelectricity, etc? Whatever you decide, you need to plan for your resources accordingly.

Step 2: Start Building Your Cabin – Select the logs you will be using to build your cabin

Now let us get to the exciting part, which is how do you start building the cabin? Once you are done with all the planning and you have all the material ready with you, it’s now time to roll up your sleeve and get to it.

The first thing you need to do is get yourself logs, you can get them from a local timber yard. Second, you need to decide on the size of your cabin, so you can pick the log that is approximately the size of your cabin, we suggest getting a 4-foot extra log from the actual length of your required cabin and 10 inches in diameter.

If you are building this cabin from scratch and using logs right from the trees, you would need to debark them and then wait 6 months to make sure they are completely straight and dried out. If you are someone who knows a lot about trees and the kind of wood you prefer, you would need to prepare your logs accordingly.

Step 3: Lay Down the Foundation

Next, you need to start working on your foundation. There are three kinds of foundations that you can choose from; strip, pad, and raft foundations. All three foundations have different benefits and use. You need to choose the foundation the works best for your cabin type and look.

Step 4: Time to Raise those Log Walls

After planning out and taking care of all the steps mentioned above, it is now time to raise those logs and build yourself a wall. You can use the butt and pass method or the saddle and notch method to make those walls for your cabin.

Step 4: Lay the foundation logs and keep laying the wall

To ensure a flat base you need to cut the first two logs halfway. You need to lay the log parallel to each other. Once done with this time to put the sleeper log and this way you will be able to complete the first layer of the cabin.

Next, you need to keep laying the logs till you have achieved the desired height of your cabin.

Step 5: Fit the Windows and Doors

A common misconception is that you build the cabin and then cut the window and doors out. Wrong! The right way to do it is to build the windows and doors as you are building the wall of your cabin.

When building the walls, you reach the height of the door or window you want, you take the chainsaw you remove the log accordingly from the required place. You can then use a door and window frame or any lintel log to give your cabin the window/door structure.

Step 6: Build the Gable walls and Roof

When you are done with all the initial steps, it is now time to build two gable walls and a roof. Keep raising the logs until you have achieved half the height of gable walls and then attach the purlin logs parallel to each other.

Build the walls until you get the triangular shape and then use the ridge log to join the two peaks. Once you are done with this, it’s time to fix the rafters to the purlin and ridge log and build yourself a roof!

You can additionally use roofing boards and materials to get a more refined look according to your personal preferences.

Building a log is not that difficult now that you have read this article, but you might want to ask for help from someone if you have no idea how to work with woods and chainsaws, etc. Because, when working with a sharp object that you have never worked with before accidents might happen.

While a lot of hard work is involved in this, trust me when I say it will be all worth it in the end.




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