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Cabin Plans versus Cabin Kits - Advantages and Disadvantages

Small cabin and trees covered in snow

As you begin to think about your dream cabin, you may encounter the inevitable debate that occurs with building nearly any structure these days. Should you construct it from scratch using small cabin plans, buy a pre-made cabin kit or have someone build the cabin for you? Each form of constructing your ideal cabin with have pros and cons.

At the bottom of the debate, you have to decide exactly how much help you want and how comfortable you are with building your own cabin. If you don't have a lot of skill building things you can still be very successful if you have knowledgeable friends or you use a pre-fabricated kit.


  • Using plans are very economical because you can build with the material you want and you might also be able to get help from your friends.
  • Kits are more expensive to purchase but they are easier to put up and they are cheaper than having someone build it for you. You can also call the maker of the kit if you run into any problems while you are building it.
  • Getting a person to build the cabin will cost even more, but you are getting a professional to build your small cabin and you don't have to lift a hammer.

If you do it yourself using raw, non-finished materials, however, you are going to end up saving a lot of money, even if you have to redo a couple of things because of the large price disparity between raw materials and finished pieces

The other nice thing about building your own cabin is the feeling you get when you finish the project and you can enjoy your new structure.  A big part of building something like a cabin is the feeling of pride you can have in it, and when you have built it through your own sweat equity, every time you use it to get away from it all you are going to be able to enjoy it with a larger amount of pride.


  • It is more work to construct something yourself than it is to hire someone else to do the job. If you pick a good builder you will also get their years of experience and knowledge on building cabins or sheds.
  • If you purchase a kit a lot of the work is already completed and you just need to put it together. If you are purchasing a kit it is a good idea to review with the store exactly what is necessary to complete the kit. Some may have prefab walls and some may show up with the wood pre-cut but you still need to hammer it together.

If you’re in the market for a cabin, carefully weigh the different sides of the arguments before you make your decision. Look at the raw material costs and the kit costs, then factor in the labor costs. While it may be more fun to build it without a kit, it may be a better product to work with a kit.

This really comes down to your comfort level with building a structure or at least the amount of knowledge you can tap into. I build my first wooden shed with a kit and I learned a lot on building outdoor structures from my friends that showed up to help. They really enjoyed helping out an almost every year we are at someone's house building something. The picture in the top right is a garage that we built for a friend a few years ago.

For more information on building cabins and sheds, please read these articles:

Different shed plans available for download

How to select shed building plans



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