How to Build a Tiny Cabin

For centuries, small cabins have provided shelter and warmth.
Family CabinFamily Cabin
Often located beside a body of water (stream, lake or ocean shore) a family cabin becomes a family treasure. A valley cabin or a mountain shelter can be a favorite family retreat from the fast pace of city life. A tiny cabin can contain everything a person requires to be comfortable. With a bit of planning and basic carpentry skills, building a small cabin is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project.

Step 1

Old Cabin

Select a building site and obtain required construction permits. Choose a fairly elevated, well drained site to avoid flooding or water drainage issues. Situate the cabin to take advantage of sunlight or desired shade. Clear the building location of trees, if needed, and remove rocks and any other construction obstacles. Level the site.

Step 2

Building Plans

Sketch out a building plan. Position windows and doors to allow for cross ventilation. Consider how you and your family will use the cabin and what sleeping accommodations will be required. Determine if your cabin will have electricity or indoor plumbing. Will a stove be required? These items can be added at a later date, but their placement and location should be planned prior to cabin construction.

Step 3

Cabin Foundation

Build a foundation using 4-way deck blocks, concrete blocks or stone set on a 4 to 6 inch layer of compacted gravel.

Step 4

Floor

Construct the floor joists from pressure treated lumber. Nail the joists together with joist hangers. Cover the floor joists with 5/8" pressure treated plywood.

Step 5

Wall Frames

Build the wall frames with 2" x 4" spruce lumber, on 16" spacing. Once the wall frames are constructed, raise them one by one, nailing them to the floor joists. (The frames are bulky and unyielding. It helps to have a second person to help raise and position wall frames.)

Step 6

Cabin Metal Roof

Build a roof frame by nailing roof joists to the cabin wall studs. Use 16" inch spacing, positioning joists to match the wall studs. When the roof frame is complete, cover with 5/8" pressure treated plywood. Cover the roof with plastic sheeting or tar paper. Nail or staple the roof covering in place. Cover with shingles or metal roofing material. Enjoy your cabin.

Things You Will Need

  • Lumber or logs
  • Roofing material
  • Insulation
  • Concrete blocks or rocks
  • Hand saw
  • Table saw (circular)
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Nails

Tip

  • If working in a remote location without electricity, a small power generator can be rented or purchased to supply power for tools and light. Consider how you and your family will use the cabin and what sleeping accommodations will be required. Determine if your cabin will have electricity or indoor plumbing. Will a stove be required? These items can be added at a later date, but their placement and location should be planned prior to cabin construction.

Warning

  • Always be sure to use eye and ear protection when working with power tools.

About the Author

A passionate writer for more than 30 years, Marlene Affeld writes of her love of all things natural. Affeld's passion for the environment inspires her to write informative articles to assist others in living a green lifestyle. She writes for a prominent website as a nature travel writer and contributes articles to other online outlets covering wildlife, travel destinations and the beauty of nature.