A Guide to Log Cabins

If you find you’re running out of space in your house or you need an extra room for a specific purpose, there is a cheaper alternative to building an extension or even selling your home. Garden log cabins are an economical and practical way of adding floor space to your house. Not only does a log cabin look attractive in your garden, it has a multitude of practical uses. Log cabins come in a wide range of sizes so can be used for anything from storage space to an office or summer house. They are relatively easy to assemble and maintain and are likely to add a small amount to the value of your house.

What is a log cabin?
A log cabin is a wooden structure built on a solid base. The logs are generally tongue and groove planks which slot together to create the cabin. The cabin can be small and windowless, similar to a shed, or can be larger with windows, verandahs, overhangs and anything else you can think of. The roof can be flat or peaked and is generally covered with rolled felt or felt tiles.

What could I use a log cabin for?
Most people build a log cabin in their garden to add an extra room to their house. It’s most commonly used as an office, a workshop, a gym, a studio, a hobby or games room, a home cinema room or a summer house but the cabins come in so many shapes and sizes and different wood thicknesses, the choice is yours. The log cabins are affordable and easy way to add some charm to your garden and add extra space for you daily needs.

Would I need planning permission?
In most cases, the answer is no. You would need planning permission if the roof was higher than 4m but this would be rare for a log cabin. If the roof was higher than 2.5m and the structure was less than 2m from a boundary you would need to apply to your council for planning permission but planning officials are unlikely to refuse. However, if you live in a protected area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or in a listed building the rules may be different so it’s worth checking with your local authority.

How can I buy a log cabin?
There are a number of specialist companies manufacturing and selling log cabins. Some of these will have retail space you can visit to see the log cabins on display and most will have a website. A simple Google search will bring up a list of companies offering log cabins for sale.
Before you buy, you will need to have some idea of the size of cabin you want and what it’s going to be used for. Different wood thicknesses are available so if you are intending to use the cabin all year round you will need thicker wood for better insulation whereas if it’s going to be used as a summer house the thinner wood will be adequate. Many companies offer bespoke cabins if the standard sizes or designs are not what you’re after. 

How much does a log cabin cost?
You should be able to buy a small, windowless log cabin for around £500. As the size gets larger and more features are added, the price will inevitably rise. A moderate-sized log cabin with windows is likely to set you back by more than £1,000 whilst the larger, more elaborate structures will cost you several thousand pounds. The bespoke or customizable design will add some cost to the price and it can vary based on the quality of the timber and the thickness of the walls too.

What do I need to do before the log cabin can be built?
You will need to have prepared a solid, level base in your garden before the log cabin can be constructed. Usually this would be made of solid concrete, although paving slabs may be adequate for smaller, lighter log cabins. You should allow at least 45cm of base around all the cabin sides to allow space for assembly and maintenance. If you’re not a DIY expert, tips on building a concrete base can be found online and the company you’re purchasing your log cabin from is likely to be able to offer advice.

Is a log cabin easy to assemble?
The cabin is constructed out of tongue and groove logs which should slot together relatively easily. The log cabin kits will come with full instructions but if you’re still unsure, most companies will offer an installation service for a fee.

What maintenance does a log cabin require?
Once the log cabin is assembled (and not before) you will need to apply an external wood treatment and the corner joints will need to be sealed to prevent water leaking into the cabin. The treatment and sealing will need to be done annually to maintain the cabin in good condition.
You will need to be aware that normally cabins are made of wood/commonly pine or cedar/and as it is a natural material reacts to weather conditions. It will tend to swell slightly in wet and damp conditions and shrink in hot and dry weather. If you’re experiencing a period of dry, sunny weather in the summer it’s worth ensuring that the windows and doors of the cabin are left open to prevent the interior from getting too hot. Some manufacturers recommend leaving a bucket of water inside the cabin to allow the wood to absorb some moisture to avoid too much shrinkage.

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