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small cabin
Is that a power drill he’s holding?

If you have land, either rented, purchased or borrowed. You can build a small cabin of less than 100 square feet without needing a building permit in most cases.

The timber-framed off-grid, small cabin in the picture would cost more than $2000. The small cabin whose materials are detailed below was built for $1250, according to the anonymous author of the small cabin web site, but that does not include tools, or other extras such as transport and ladder rental.

And it is very much a summer cabin – the price does not include a wood stove or insulation. Any cabin experts are welcome to add comments at the end of this article.

The small cabin in the picture was a “logistical nightmare”according to the designer’s web site. It makes use of variable materials bought at different times, transported by hand at huge effort, and battery driven power tools were essential.

For a year round cabin, you would need to add another $1000 for insulation materials and a wood-burning stove, and you might also wish to add window shutters for extra warmth and security.


There is an article you can buy from Amazon whihc has some very useful details. Build this cabin in three weeks for under $2,000!: An article from: Countryside & Small Stock Journal

Here is a summary estimate of the building costs, based on the following assumptions:

8×12′ cabin size
24″ cabin frame spacing
Foundation – concrete deck blocks
Smart Panel siding
Asphalt shingles roofing
Decorative interior finishing panels
One Second-hand door and 3 windows
Cost of small cabin construction tools (hammer, saw, pliers, paint brush, ladder etc.) is estimated at $400.

Small Cabin Materials Estimates from Small Cabin web site

Item Description Qty Cost$ Price

Concrete deck blocks, 4-way 8 7.00 56.00

Floor Frame
2×4″ x12′ PT spruce 2 16.20 32.40
2×4″ x8′ PT spruce 7 10.80 75.60
5/8″ 4×8′ PT plywood 3 45.00 135.00
Joist Hangers 14 0.80 11.20

Wall Frame
2×4″ x8′ spruce 35 3.50 122.50
2×4″ x12′ spruce 4 5.50 22.00

Wall Siding
Typar wrapping (rolls) 2 16.00 32.00
3/8″ 4×8′ Smart Panels 10 30.00 300.00
1×3″ 8′ spruce planks 12 1.20 14.40

2×4″ x10′ spruce 8 4.70 37.60
2×4″ x14′ spruce 2 6.50 13.00
3/8″ 4×8′ plywood / OSB 5 15.00 75.00
Asphalt shingles (pack) 5 14.00 70.00

Interior Finishing
4×8′ decorative LP panels 10 16.00 160.00
1×2″ 8′ spruce planks 12 0.80 9.60

Nails, various (box) 10 4.00 40.00
Paint, (1G pail) 2 25.00 50.00

Est. Total: $1256.00

Additional Items
Tools etc 400.00
Door and windows (2nd hand) 300.00

TOTAL $1956.00

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the web site

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