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Building a cabin yourself is much more economical than buying a prefab storage shed. The cost of materials for this build, including doors and windows, was around $2,200, which was about the same price as the install would have been on one of this large size if I’d purchased it from a hardware store. I know this for a fact because six years ago I bought a 12x16 shed from a well-known company close to where I live and it cost $2,000 for them to build it and drop it off. Today that same building would cost $4,200. With such a big price increase I decided that if I wanted to add a cabin to my property I had to build it myself.

If you decide to do the same, remember to check with your local authorities to make sure you don’t need a permit. It’s not likely that it’s required for a building of this size, but you never know.

If you would like to see the finished inside of the cabin please click here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-finish-the-inside-of-a-12-x-20-cabin-on-a-b/.

If you would like to see the matching modern outhouse please check this out: http://www.instructables.com/id/modern-outhouse/.

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Step 1: Floor Illustration

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Here is the 12x20 floor plan showing where the 4x4s and the floor joists would be located.

Step 2: Drilling and planting the posts

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1st picture: shows my ford tractor and my neighbors post hole digger he let me borrow.

2nd picture: shows the posts planted and the bottom 2x10 stringers.

3rd & 4th pictures: show the upper 2x10x12 and the 2x10x16 upper stringers being nailed in at 7 feet 8 inches.

Step 3: Setting the center rafter board

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This picture shows the center rafter board. I measured over 6 feet to the center. The roof is going to be a 5/12 pitch roof so the rafter board had to be 30 inches to the top of the board.

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megnwayn2 years ago
Don't try building this in New Zealand! It does not comply with the Building Code and you also risk a substantial fine if it is constructed without a Building Consent.

Technically you could build it in NZ if it was less than 10sqm and not connected to the ground (classed as mobile building). However in saying that, it looks like it would not last well due to the way its built (see reasons below in NZ building code).

Better to keep the wood well away from the ground, and do the roof right so it doesn't push the walls apart.

This would also not pass building codes in Canada and most other countries with decent building regs :)

I guess NZ is another place I would never live. Who wants more bureacracy?

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  megnwayn2 years ago
What are your building codes ? Why doesnt this work

Building in New Zealand is governed by the Building Code and by NZS 3604:2011 (Timber-framed building standard.)

This instructable infringes the NZ standard in so many ways that it would not pass initial scrutiny by a Local Authority if a Building Consent application was to be lodged.

A few points -

1) The joists are too close to the ground, are attached to the boundary "bearer" with nails in shear and have no approved metal hangers.
2) Foundations can be either a concrete slab with footings and steel reinforcing to suit the site or piles (set in concrete) which support bearers which in turn support the joists. A "pole" building such as this does not comply.
3) Wall framing must be by way of studs (size and spacing to NZS 3604) - a building of this sizs would need guaged 100mm x 50mm studs. Walings fixed to posts to support cladding is not acceptable for a habitable building. The entire floor, walls,roof and cladding on this instructable are supported by coach screws in shear.
4) The rafters are not connected be either ceiling joists or collar ties to prevent the walls being forced apart under live roof loads.
5) There are no moisture barriers in floor, walls or roof.
6) There appears to be no head flashings to the joinery.
7) Bracing, under the code, is inadequate for wind and earthquake.

I do not suggest that the building causes danger to its occupants - just that the NZ viewer was thinking of building it in their yard and by doing so would cause much trouble for themselves.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  megnwayn2 years ago
Sounds like a head ache for you guys
No - not really. It just means that tried and tested building methods are used -, which perform well in our local conditions. In addition a structure which requires a Building Consent can only be built by a Licensed Building Practitioner (tradesman carpenter).

I'm sure glad I don't live there!

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  megnwayn2 years ago
Yikes you mean you cant build it yourself?
That's correct - you can't build yourself. You can assist a Licensed Building Practitioner who oversees your work and who must sign off all the works before a Code of Compliance Certificate is issued at job completion by the Local Authority which issued the Building Consent

The idea is to protect subsequent building owners by having property records show that the building was constructed to the Building Code by proper use of the Standard..

Not entirely correct. The same building code states that if the floor area is less than 10 square metres, has no sanitary features (shower, toilet, sink) and built the same distance from the boundary as the building is high, then an unlicensed home owner can construct their own building. As megnwayn has stated, the building has to conform to NZ building standards, and if you want to add electricity and water, then you'll need licensed practioners.

The building in this constructable has a floor area of about 22.5 sq metres so you would need a builder to oversee and sign off on the construction.

Well I am not a licensed building practitioner here the USA, But I could build this as good or better than a Licensed Practitioner

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  megnwayn2 years ago
Jeeez That kinda bad for the consumer trying to same money

I did enough construction in NYC to understand the "why" of building codes, but if I call it a shed does it still need to pass code?

Additionally what if my house /structure was built before codes existed.

In the US building codes are up to the state, although there is a national electric code, a very wimpy set of regulations, I don't know if there is a plumbing or general building code.

One thing is certain, if there is a code and you do not follow it to the letter and it is destroyed by anything, or someone trips and falls, your insurance company WILL take 3 steps back from you in court. If you have a mortgage and the bank finds out they can make you either remove it or get it passed the zoning/building departments of who ever is in loco-parentus of your area.

Where I am if you build a shed over a certain size you need a permit, to build and pay for all the inspections. A premade MUST comply with the code and will be inspected asd well....And then there are the taxes. Under a certain size (pitifully small), no tax over that size size you will pay for outdoor, non livable structure rate.

Nice job though, looks like a KOA cabin. I enjoyed it, but would like a close up of the hurricane reinforcement.

I would add 1 thing to it Solar electric and water panels, if you are in the right part of the US. And you need NOT put them on the roof, you could build an awning for picnicing. I have seen an entire buildings worth of solar panels set on a roof on Long Island about 10 feet high and length of the property. In a storm they sustain no damage. Underneath you can use for parties. Snow can be squeegied off the panels or they can be covered in case of storms.

oops I saw the studs in place I would love a picture pulled back , but it is built! and a lovely build it was!

Lovely little cabin! I could spend my whole summer there: }

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  CharlineCaisse16 days ago

thank you very much

TomV42 months ago

Better add rafter ties, if you haven't already. The walls will begin to bow outward as the weight of the roof exerts a lateral force at the tops of the walls. I had a serious problem to address in this regard. I added cables and turnbuckles to resolve it.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  TomV42 months ago

yes I did if your look for the finished inside cabin instructable. It's shows in there

litchke2 months ago

looks exactly like what we are looking for. Can you post a complete list of materials?

chuckmadere3 months ago

Great looking cabin. Very good pictures.


coolbeansbaby68 (author)  chuckmadere3 months ago

thank you

A Potts3 months ago

Forgive my ignorance, but I haven't ever built a structure like this from the ground up before. What is a hurricane stud, and what's it for? I don't recall seeing anything like that on the buildings I have worked on, and the name implies that it's something someone living in MN might not come across.

I think it's just a DIY hurricane tie. It helps stop the roof lifting up during high winds.

wildrosepines4 months ago

We have been looking into the pre-built sheds (for an actual shed, not cabin), they are 4-5K in my area here in Wisconsin for a 12x16. This gives me hope that my husband & I can build something like this as a 12x24 for around $3000-$3500. A couple of roll-up doors and we would have plenty of storage. Thank you for posting - it gives me hope!

rick.long.565 months ago

would this pass the building standard in tf. myers florida ?

LexiM5 months ago

Looks good

milesnorth6 months ago

Nice little cabin with nice little explanations of things along the way. I for one am all for gorilla cabin making! Thanks for the ideas.

bigdogpete436 months ago

As I read the comments, the whole idea is to build something like this WITHOUT any consent. It is your land. It is your building. It is not their business. And you don't need their permission to do with it what you please.

coolbeansbaby68 (author)  bigdogpete436 months ago

well put

From the pictures, I note that the upright 4x4's are a different color than the rest of the lumber--they were pressure treated lumber. (possibly CCA, or if more recent, ACQ) I did not see if there was any concrete or quickrete in the footing holes. As far as short term residency is concerned, the cabin structure pictured is quite strong. I live in the Midwestern US, and the roof structure shown will hold up to normal snow loading for an area as far north as Iowa. As far as wood rot and insect infestation, I personally have camped in Boy Scout camps with cabins built in the 1930's to 1950's that were only recently being removed and replaced.

whini.hohepa6 months ago

I want to build some cabins with lofts high enough to stand in so I want to know what post to use and maybe a basement I want a 10m by 7m cabin so need about 8 posts what do you call those post are they pressure treated

Can give me the material cost for inside an out. Thanks ilovegto9@gmail.com
teri.jo.99 months ago

My land, my time, my money. If I want to build a fun little cabin in the back to hang out in quietly, then I will. :)

teri.jo.99 months ago

My land, my time, my money. If I want to build a fun little cabin in the back to hang out in quietly, then I will. :)

I enjoyed this article. Looks like you have a nice comfortable retreat. I recently built a 16x16 cabin in my backyard that I've grown pretty fond of. I just started putting up some pictures online if anyone is interested in seeing how I built mine.


I really like that one do you still have the plans for that cabin? I love the pitch on the roof and the shaded area you have it in and that would allow it to stay cool

I love your cabin! Do you still have the plans or can you tell me where I can get the plans? I am seriously considering building this as my hunting club cabin.

Thank You H Lawrence whatsyour911@aol.com

You have done a great job also,I like the shade,bet it helps keep your cabin nice and cool.

thank you very much! The shade definitely helps a ton. I only have to cool the cabin with a small window a/c on super hot days
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