How To Plan And Build A Small Cabin From Start To Finish

A small cabin somewhere in a peaceful place surrounded by nature is something that many of us dream of and a lot of times dreams become reality. The objective of building such a cabin is often not only achievable but also very exciting because it means you get to plan the whole thing.

 Small Cabin

So how would you envision your own version of this project turning out? We found some interesting small cabin plans that we’d like to share with you today so let’s check them out together.

How Big Is a Small Cabin?

The size of a cabin can range from a tiny home that has between 100 and 400 square feet or less to a not-so-little cabin that can measure between 1,100 and 1,600 square feet. In the end, a little cabin is smaller than a typical 2,500-square-foot home. The precise size of your footprint is entirely up to you.

The Wooded Beardsman Tiny Forest Cabin
Log cabin by one man in the forest - youtube tutorials

What Are the Minimum Dimensions for a Cabin?

The smallest cabins usually measure around 100 to 400 square feet, but there even cabins that are a little bigger than that are often labeled as being “small”.

What Are the Minimum Dimensions for a Cabin

There are numerous little cabin styles available for easy customization within all of this. Avoid feeling constrained by starting with small cabin ideas; there are numerous options to extend and add on additional space to construct your ideal cabin. 

Indeed, starting with a tiny and snug cabin can be an excellent method for new cabin owners to gather experience before expanding the floor plan beyond the essentials and creating a dream retreat. 

Maintain flexibility in your small cabin ideas, and you can potentially add a big great room, extra bathrooms and bedrooms, or completely redesign your cabin.

Additionally, utilizing your external livable space by adding a fire pit, a porch, or a guest home to the property will maximize space and make it more delightful regardless of changes.

What to Expect From a Small Cabin

What to Expect From a Small Cabin

There are numerous compelling reasons why some people opt to live in homes under 500 square feet. These dwellings often consisted of simply a few rooms: a bedroom, a living area, and a kitchen. Alternatively, some tiny dwellings are totally open, similar to a studio.

No more clutter

Filling a tiny home with “things” is not an option, especially if you like to have some free space to move around. When your home is small, you must make some difficult decisions regarding what to keep and what to discard. This means that you cannot run out and purchase frivolous stuff anytime you are bored.

Utility savings

Living in a small space saves money in a variety of ways. You save money on heating, air conditioning, property taxes, and house upkeep.

Lower cleaning times

Cleaning a couple of tiny rooms takes a fraction of the time it takes to clean seven or eight large rooms. Cleaning also takes less time when there are no knick knacks that you have to keep gathering.

Better life quality

Numerous tiny homeowners report an increase in their general happiness and quality of life once they downsized their belongings and began living small. 

There are numerous reasons for this: they are no longer burdened by the frivolous objects they formerly had or by a large mortgage, and don’t spend that much money on house maintenance, freeing up time and money for recreational activities.

Log Cabin vs. Regular Cabin 

Log Cabin vs. Regular Cabin 


Conventional dwellings are frequently more time consuming to construct than log ones. In a traditional home, the construction crew must create each external wall before installing them. 

When constructing a log home, you stack the log walls which means they are built one on top of the other until the desired wall height is obtained. This can result in significant time savings during the construction process.


Oftentimes, log homes are referred to as “green homes.” One reason for this is that these homes are constructed entirely of logs, which are a renewable resource. 

Traditional cabins are likewise framed with wood, but their exteriors are often made of brick or vinyl, neither of which are renewable. Another reason log homes are viewed as more environmentally friendly is the logs’ inherent ability to absorb, store, and gradually release heat.

Noise blocking

According to a white paper published by the National Association of Home Builders Log and Timber Homes Council, log homes are frequently quieter than stick built homes, owing to the similar thermal mass that contributes to the sound deadening and energy efficiency properties of wood walls.

Heating Options for a Small Cabin 

Heating Options for a Small Cabin 

Electric heaters

Probably the simplest, cheapest method available at the moment, and fairly efficient at heating a place our size. We might survive the remainder of Vermont’s winter easily with our current electric heater, but it is unattractive and takes up valuable floor space. 

This alternative also needs to be connected to the grid; the majority of these heaters begin at 1,500 watts for approximately 5,000 BTUs and increase in size from there. With those types of electrical loads, you’d need an extremely expensive solar array to run them over the winter.

One of the reasons why you want to choose an electric heater is that they’re quite affordable; we found ours for roughly $45 at any large big box retailer. They are effective at heating a place, and there are two primary types: 

  • A forced air radiator is used to swiftly heat an area; the fan is frequently quite noisy, but it quickly heats the space, which is convenient when we return home from and are looking for ways to boost up the heat.
  • A radiant heater is ideal for when you have the time to allow a place to warm up naturally. These are frequently oil-filled radiator-style heaters that operate quietly and slowly heat the air around them.

Wood stove

There are a few factors to consider when installing a wood stove in your compact house. The first step is to find a stove that is small enough for your tiny house. 

If it is not properly sized, it can have a very high BTU output and leave your home feeling way too hot. This is what happens to the majority of people when they attempt to heat their small house with wood due to the difficulty of finding a small enough wood stove.

Following that is the amount of space it consumes. Wood stoves demand a great deal of space, not just in terms of size, but also in terms of clearances. Often, adequate space around the wood burner is required to ensure its safety and avoid igniting neighboring objects.

Finally, examine your lifestyle and the impact of a wood stove on it. Wood stoves require constant maintenance; wood must be chopped, stored, and transported in, followed by cleaning the stove. 

It’s a lot of effort, and it may get messy if soot escapes. Pellet wood stoves strike a balance between ease of use, ease of temperature control, and ease. While it is not possible to create your own pellets, there is a compelling case to be made for them.

Kerosene heaters

Numerous individuals have informed us that kerosene is worth the setup and fuel expenditure. It burns extremely hot and, if you are to believe the advertisements, it’s also 90 percent efficient. 

While kerosene outperforms propane in terms of BTU output, it does not burn as cleanly and is more harmful to the environment, however there are currently filters that minimize pollutants.

Propane heaters

Plenty of people choose the propane alternative because it’s clean burning, efficient, reasonably inexpensive, and readily available. 

A lot of people like the idea of propane because of how affordable it is. Additionally, you can replenish the tanks virtually everywhere, and 20-pound tanks are very common because they are easy to refill and carry. 

Heat pumps

This is an excellent alternative for grid-connected residents, as heat pumps continue to improve in efficiency. This should normally be avoided in really cold places because the system works by gathering any available heat from the air and using it for heating the home.

Once the temperature reaches around 30 degrees, most systems feature electric heating coils to supplement the system, however this returns you to conventional electric heating.

What Does Off-grid Mean and What Does It Entail?

What Does Off-grid Mean and What Does It Entail

Off-grid is a term that refers to buildings and a way of living that are self-sufficient and do not rely on one or more public services. The term “off-the-grid” generally refers to being disconnected from the electrical grid, but it can also apply to being disconnected from other utilities such as gas or water, and can range in scale from single-family residences to small cities. 

Off-the-grid living enables buildings and individuals to be self-sufficient, which is useful in remote areas where conventional utilities are inaccessible and appealing to those seeking to minimize their environmental effect and expense of living. 

In general, an off-grid building must be self-sufficient in terms of electricity and drinkable water, as well as food and wastewater management.

DIY Small Cabin Plans To Help You Spend More Time In Nature

1. Build a Log Cabin with the Classic Framework

How To Plan And Build A Small Cabin

Log cabins are amazing and so incredibly cozy-looking, especially when the overall design also follows the classic framework with small windows and a pitched roof. However, building a log cabin from scratch is no easy task. Check out this great YouTube video to see the entire process from start to finish.

2. Use Huge Logs to Build Your Own Cabin

Use Huge Logs to Build Your Own Cabin

You might also enjoy this YouTube video which lets you follow the progress of a DIY log cabin project, showing in more detail how the walls are built and how the whole structure is starting to take shape. As you can see, the logs used here are pretty massive.

3. A Three-Year Log Cabin Project

A Three-Year Log Cabin Project

Building a traditional log cabin can take a lot of time. This particular one, for example, was built over a period of 3 years. It turned out lovely, with small windows that let you see outside but don’t expose the interior and don’t steal the focus away from the log walls. The interior is almost entirely made of wood, with a lot of handmade furniture pieces and accessories. Check out this YouTube video to find out more about this project.

4. A Cabin in the Woods with a Small Platform

A Cabin in the Woods with a Small Platform

This is another small cabin in the woods project, this time with a platform that evens out the sloping ground and a tiny patio that frames the entrance. The cabin has a classic pitched roof and is clad in wood, with a cozy attic space and a minimal interior design. The chimney completes the look. Check out the YouTube video to see how it was all planned and built.

5. Use Pallet Wood to Build a Minimalist Cabin

Use Pallet Wood to Build a Minimalist Cabin

Building a small cabin doesn’t have to be a very expensive project. In fact, there are plenty of ways in which you can stay within the budget without necessarily making any big compromises. For starters, consider using pallet wood. Check out this adorable little cabin and its minimalist design. It was built out of reclaimed pallets and it’s a very inspiring project. Find out more about it in this YouTube video.

6. Find a Flat Site for Your Cabin

Find a Flat Site for Your Cabin

The main steps to follow when building a log cabin include finding a suitable site and making sure it’s flat, cutting down some logs, building the base and then the wall, adding the rafters, and then the roof. Of course, each step is more complicated than that and requires careful planning. Check out Instructables to find out a bit more about that.

7. A Cozy-Looking Cabin In The Wood Or In The Mountains

A Cozy-Looking Cabin In The Wood Or In The Mountains

Another cool tutorial that explains how to plan and build a log cabin step by step is featured on Instructables and offers a more in-depth look at how everything is put together and how all the elements interact with each other to eventually come together in the form of a cozy-looking cabin one might expect to see in the woods or in the mountains.

8. Consider Trying a Cabin Rental First

Consider Trying a Cabin Rental First

To better understand what it takes to build a small cabin and how living or spending time in one actually is it can be a good idea to rent such a structure for a short period of time and actually do some research. This can later give you ideas about how you want your cabin to look like or to be structured. Check the cabin rentals on bluemoonrising for example.

9. Use Small Cabin Plans For Your Project

Use Small Cabin Plans For Your Project

Naturally, every bit of help matters when taking on a big project such as building a cabin. We hope some of the projects on this list can serve as inspiration or point you in the right direction and if you’re looking for specifics perhaps you want to use these small cabin plans in your project. The PDF shows a small porch and a multifunctional indoor space. You can find more house plans here.

10. A Little Cabin With A Main Living Space

A Little Cabin With A Main Living Space

You can also find complete and detailed plans on cabinplans123 which will guide you through every step of the process. Follow them to build your own little cabin with a main living space at the bottom and a cozy loft which you can turn into a sleeping nook.

11. A Contemporary A-Frame Cabin

A Contemporary A-Frame Cabin

A-frame cabins have a contemporary allure and the design usually allows for large glass surfaces to be included which is really great if you want to frame a beautiful view or to bring the outdoors in. You can find plans for such a cabin on lsuagcenter.

12. A Traditional-Looking Cabin

A Traditional-Looking Cabin

You can also find plans for a more traditional-looking cabin on lsuagcenter. The design is simple with many familiar features reminiscent of rustic houses and mountain retreats. As always, there’s room for customization so don’t hesitate to add your own signature to the project.

13. A Cabin with a Symmetrical Frame

A lot of cabins have symmetrical frames which in some ways makes the project easier yet a slightly different approach can make a big difference and can give the cabin lots of character while also giving it the contemporary vibe you’re looking for. Assuming this is the case, we suggest checking out the cabin plans featured on lsuagcenter.

14. A Small Cabin With A Basement And A Loft

How about a small cabin with a basement and a loft? Such a structure should make it fun and easy to organize all the different functions even if the overall floor plan remains small. On todaysplans you can find detailed plans for the cabin and each floor section separately.

15. A Cabin Design With A Basement Level

Here’s another example of a cabin design that has a basement level, the main floor, and a loft area. The plans are similar to the ones shown above with a few structural differences. As you can see, these are detailed plans which reveal a design focused on functionality. The plans can be adapted and you can choose to repurpose some of the spaces to better suit your own lifestyle. Check out the details on todaysplans.

16. A Guest Cabin with an Adult-Sized Loft

Building a cabin is much simpler when you have detailed instructions to follow. Timber Mart provides this full PDF which details everything you would need to know about building a guest cabin. This cabin is ideal for a small family, and there’s an adult-sized loft as part of the design. You’ll find full instructions and a detailed materials list, as well as great plans to follow for your new cabin. The only issue with this plan is that it doesn’t have a bathroom or a kitchen area, so you’ll want to keep it nearby to your home so your guests can use your facilities.

17. A Lookout Cabin

If you are looking to take on a big challenge this year, you’ll love this lookout cabin from Today’s Plans. We believe this cabin is more like a small house than the traditional cabin style, thanks to the two-story design. The PDF will guide you through everything you need to know to get started and offers the plans and blueprints to get started. They’ll even help you out with electrics and plumbing, so you’ll be ready to move into your cabin as soon as it’s completed.

18. Build a Cozy Cabin in the Woods

Build a Cozy Cabin in the Woods

This 14 x 20 ft cabin includes a sleeping loft over the porch for you to enjoy spending time outdoors in nature. While it’s certainly not a quick or inexpensive project, it’s a stunning design that you’ll get years of use out of. Mother Earth News shares the plans to assemble this cabin and encourages you to work to the same standards as you would if you were building a full-size home.

It’s important to use durable and high-quality materials when building a cabin. This means that you’ll enjoy decades of use of your cabin, making all of the hard work and effort of building your cozy cabin well worth it.

19. Building a Cabin on a Budget

Building a Cabin on a Budget

After seeing some of the extravagant projects listed here today, it would be easy to assume that all of these projects would cost a small fortune to build. Instructables shows us that it’s entirely possible to build a small wood cabin on a budget this year. This 12 x 20 cabin cost around $2,200 to build, which is a significant saving in comparison to purchasing one from a company. The price of these products has increased in price in recent years, which is why so many families are opting to build their own. This simple cabin is ideal for any garden and has a sturdy door and windows to keep you safe and secure.

20. A Solar-Powered Cabin

A Solar-Powered Cabin

Solar-powered homes are becoming more popular than ever before, and there’s no reason this technology can’t be applied to your cabin project. Instructables shares this small off-grid cabin that you can enjoy living in even if you don’t have water or power.

This 8 x 8 cabin could be used as a bedroom, office, workshop, or anything else you need it for. They always recommend that you check the codes in your area before building anything of this size, as you should always ensure that you are allowed to complete any project you are going to put time and money into. This is certainly one of the smaller cabins on our list today, but it won’t attract too much attention wherever you place this cabin.

21. A Two-Story Contemporary Cabin Plan

A Two-Story Contemporary Cabin Plan

If you are looking for a contemporary cabin plan, consider purchasing this extravagant guide from Pin-Up Houses. The Yvonne cabin is a two-story family home that has a living room, a bedroom, and a balcony. It’s perfect for either all-year living or for use as a recreational cabin. It offers an eco-friendly yet modern cabin design, and you’ll enjoy the incredible views from the living room. The balcony can easily be turned into a porch if you prefer, and you’ll love sitting outside and enjoying the stunning views that surround you.

22. A Fancy Contemporary Cabin Plan

A Fancy Contemporary Cabin Plan

Drummond House Plans shows us how to make this small but fancy contemporary cabin with their detailed plan. This one-bedroom cabin has three or four-season options, which are included as part of the plans. You’ll make the most of the space available to you with these plans, building a bedroom and a shower room within the cabin. As with any DIY project, we always recommend using your imagination to make the most of any space available to you. You’ll find that you can sleep up to six people in this cabin if you are creative with your bed arrangements.

23. Plans For A Modern Small Cabin

Plans For A Modern Small Cabin

This small cabin from House Plans is more like a mini-cottage than a cabin. Inside, you’ll find it includes an L-shaped kitchenette and a full bathroom. Making the most of the space that’s available to you, the design combines the living and sleeping space into one.

As well as acting as a guest cottage in your backyard, this would be an excellent studio cabin or office for anyone who needs an extra room in their home. The great thing about these plans is that they can be fully customized to your needs. When taking on such a big project, we always recommend planning out everything well in advance to ensure you add all of the features you’ll want to use further down the line.

24. Build a Cabin in Just 55 Days

Many of the projects on our list today would take the average person a year or two to build. We love this feature from Field Mag, which shares how a cabin was built in just 55 days. It’s a 240 square ft cabin, which is 12 x 20 in size. It’s the perfect home office or extra outdoor space but could easily be transformed into a guest bedroom.

The tallest wall is 12 feet high, and it features a shed-style roof. While it doesn’t have a bathroom currently, you could add a composting toilet or shower to improve your experience while sleeping out in nature.

25. A Tiny Pallet Cabin

For anyone looking for a tiny cabin or shed for their garden, this DIY project from Easy Pallet Ideas is a great option. This is the perfect solution for anyone looking to add a workshop or office to their home, but it could also make a small guest bedroom.

You’ll save a lot of money by using pallet wood in the process, which is also a very sturdy and cozy solution. To get started, you’ll just need plenty of pallets and tools to clean off the wood. Ensure everything is looking clean and tidy before you get started, and you’ll create a stunning mini-cabin in your garden this year.


All of these small cabin plans make it much easier to tackle the project of building a small cabin in your garden or the woods this year. While this is certainly not a quick or easy project, with time and patience, you’ll find it’s one of the most fulfilling DIY projects you’ve ever completed.

Whichever one of these DIY small cabin plans you choose to use this year, we wish you the best of luck building your new home away from home.

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