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Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin for $500

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This man built a tiny log cabin with the help of friends for only $500 in the northern woods of Canada on a private plot of land.

He did it with no building codes because the land is privately owned and there are no permits required in his area for structures that are 10′ x 10′ or less. The front door used to be a coffee table. This is his first log cabin build and he’s already working on his second one.

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Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin for $500


Images © OutsideFun1

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Images © OutsideFun1

Video: Man Builds Tiny Log Cabin for $500


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    January 9, 2015, 11:20 am

    Interesting but loooooooooooooooooong, drawn out video that easily could have been trimmed by 10 minutes.

    Nice concept that the unnamed man built this on his church’s property as a youth retreat. I am curious, however, as to WHY he felt compelled to build it when there was snow everywhere. I come from pioneer stock and they never would have built a structure in such weather. I guess it’s because he knew that at the end of the day there was a warm, cozy shelter awaiting for him.

    Cool concept. I liked Charlie the Crow. 😀 BTW, crows can remember human faces their entire lives and will imprint on over 100 human faces and pass that knowledge of Who’s Kind and Who Isn’t to their crow children and friends.

  • Lisa E.
    January 9, 2015, 12:15 pm

    Not only is the cost of the build amazing, but it was built in the dead of winter!
    (You wouldn’t get me out there in that kind of weather… brrrrrrr!)

  • Martha
    January 9, 2015, 12:36 pm

    Amazing! I had all sorts of questions watching the video that didn’t matter when he explained why he built the cabin. Since he wasn’t building it as his permanent dwelling, the answers to those questions don’t matter and I can look at it with different eyes. I imagine it would be a wonderful place to kick back in the summer.

  • Lannette
    January 9, 2015, 12:49 pm

    I didn’t get the impression that he built in winter. The partially constructed pictures appeared to be in warmer weather, but maybe I missed something.
    The video was long but I liked it. I wish more people who share their tiny homes would provide more details.

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 9, 2015, 4:18 pm

    Really cool cabin! I know your youth group loves it! Some sort of deck or ground pavers would ve nice to ward off mud inside, but the thing .i was going to suggest is that you make some sort of supporting metal pieces to wrap around the ends of those diagonal brackets and the ends of the logs on which they are attached that would allow you to put some long screws at a 90 degree angles to the the diagonal supports. This would make them very sturdy, and that front part of the attic would probably never sag. But all in all, it’s a great build! You have major skills, my man! Be proud!

  • Linda
    January 9, 2015, 8:24 pm

    Speaking from personal BEAR experience, REPLACE THAT DOOR!!! You’ll never regret it. And the cabin will be warmer. In some shots, it looks like a sieve.

  • PJ
    January 10, 2015, 6:36 pm

    You can see daylight through the freaking front door! Place must be freezing all the time!!

    • Cahow
      January 10, 2015, 7:09 pm

      PJ: no one lives there. The man is a Youth Pastor who got permission to build it on his church’s land. He used the youth under his care to help construct it as a “bonding” experience. (I’m gathering that the photo of all the guys is part of that group.)

      For the most part, the cabin is abandoned; the pastor hadn’t been at the place in over a year when he filmed that video. Even he said that shortcuts were made all over the place, like the coffee table door and the logs not being peeled. So, instead of the cabin lasting 100 years, he forecasts that it will last 25 years. Seems a shame that a bit more care in construction could have yielded his church a long term place for a retreat.

  • Ben
    January 11, 2015, 5:53 pm

    Ok I would like to get a bit serious about living in a real tiny house. I think it’s time to start a discussion about reality. While I think it’s really cool that someone can build a “living” space for a few hundred or thousand dollars, it honestly is not really a place you can actually live. We should possibly split tiny houses into 2 categories, ones that are simple and provide crude shelter and ones that are fully appointed an are just a smaller version of a “normal” home. I designed and build my tiny home (200 square feet on a trailer) with 2 simple charter points, it must be fully inhabitable year round and it must be fully self sustaining. Pretty simple, but fairly hard to achieve.

    My house has a full queen sized bedroom with closets and dresser, full sized kitchen with 4 burner stove, double sink and half sized fridge/freezer, living area with 6′ couch/table combo and a full bath with vanity, shower and composting toilet. In addition the home is fully off grid with a 750 watt solar system with 2000 watt battery storage system that provides all the power I will ever need. A solar water heater that keeps the hot water tank at 140 degrees most every day. The house water system is on-board 200 gal pressurized system so all I have to do is add water once a week or so and all the water discharged (including from the toilet) goes into the 50 state legal grey water to the garden. Oh and I heat the house with a wood stove.

    So no utilities, no hookup, so no utility bills! And best yet I don’t have to rely on a friend or RV park to supply or dump any resources. (I do use about $30 a year in propane for my stove and I hand pump water from a well to fill
    my on-board water tank)
    So I spent about $30k on all the materials, trailer, solar and appliances to build this house. I think that is about an avarage one will spend to get a house that you can actually live in for real. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that folks can build a place with very little money, but I think it can confuse those that have this romantic idea that you can live in this space for so little and expect to have the same amenities that folks are accustomed to. Folks are shocked that I would suggest that if you want a house built like mine it would be in the $60k range ready to move in…well that is reality if you want something that you can actually live in and have the comfort, amenities and freedom tiny house living can actually provide!

    • Tom
      January 11, 2015, 9:26 pm

      Ben, I tend to agree with you, but I also think these stories add spice and variety when sometimes, the “news is slow”… I would really like to see pictures and plans of your place! It sounds like you’ve done a great job designing and building something realistic and liveable!

    • Cahow
      January 12, 2015, 10:56 am

      GREAT post, Ben. Very well written, presented, and thought out.

      I despise “Pigeon-Holing” with every core of my being but I DO agree with you about classifying micro/tiny/small houses as either “3 season” or “Full Time.” Again, I’m very reticent about “labels”; I’ve read too many comments on these blogs when a house that is presented is bashed to smithereens for NOT meeting the strict standards that the poster subscribes to. I’ve seen 600 sq.ft. homes blasted by some for being TOO large; I’ve seen tiny homes with flush toilets blasted for water waste; I’ve seen tiny homes blasted for their cost (whatever it is). This is MY “Take-Away” from most of Alex’s postings: Find SOMETHING that you can ‘take away’ and enjoy from each article. Maybe an interesting paint choice or a unique way to hang spices. Perhaps they did a counter treatment that you’ve never seen before or recycled a ‘whatnot’ that is unique. There are many blog postings where I disagree with 100% of what I see/read; with those, I simply delete the email and don’t comment. So what if the house costs $100,000? NO ONE is asking ANY of us to buy it! For the couple that can afford $100,000, perhaps that price is 1/10th of the money that their house they are downsizing from costs, so for them, the price is CHEAP! Just find something that you can benefit from and move on.

      But, getting back to your original comment: I truly agree with you that I wish the person sharing their Tiny House with us would at least be HONEST and state in the article: “We ONLY live in this tiny house during FAIR WEATHER and then move back into town in a REGULAR house with heat/running water/flush toilets and XYZ amount of sq.ft.”

      As you said, that acknowledgement of honesty would go a long way towards debunking the uber-romantic Disney-esque life style of living off the land, in the woods/desert, with bluebirds and sunny skies overhead. If future tiny house owners read that “We live in our tiny house from late Spring until early Autumn”, then they can make the choice when it comes THEIR turn to do tiny, as to whether they want a “Glamping Experience” or a true “Live Year-round” experience such as yourself.

      Sidebar: I know it’s Tres Chic to be living in a tiny house during fair weather but Folks….people have been doing THIS as long as people have roamed the Earth. YOU.ARE.NOT.UNIQUE.AND.SPECIAL!!!! You did NOT “invent” either the wheel or tiny seasonal houses!

      Nomadic tribes around the globe moved their portable shelters with the weather and food sources. Then, when civilization came around, people who could afford it would have an Urban House but “Summer” by the lake or sea shore where it was cooler and less congested than the city. I grew up in Minnesota and 100% of the people I grew up with had access to a “Summer Home”: they either had a log cabin passed down in the family from homesteading days or they built a 3-season shanty by one of our 20,000 lakes or they knew someone who had one. I spent every single Summer in one or more of these places and they were IDENTICAL to the tiny houses show-cased today.

      Usually one room with only a well-placed curtain for privacy, there was a wood stove to heat/cook food and warm the shelter, no insulation at all, no screens, water was gotten through sweat and hard work by pumping from the well, and the bathroom was an outhouse, out back. We used bedpans at night because of the bears and wolves in the area…NO LIE!

      We had an “outdoor” kitchen if you can call a camp fire with a grill over the flames a “kitchen”; our counter top would be one of several picnic tables scattered around the site that the owner bought or made. No shower/no bath: you got clean either by jumping in the lake or taking a sponge bath behind the curtains. The cabins were usually “opened” for the Memorial Weekend and “closed up” on Labor Day weekend. That’s for many reasons: NO HEAT! NO access to the cabin because of DEEP snow and NO insulation. When people said they had a “cabin”, we all knew what that meant: no one lived there full-time and it was just an escape during good weather. No one pretended that it was their full time home.

      Ben: your home sounds ideal and exceptionally well-thought out for YEAR-ROUND living. Your last paragraph said it all. Thanks for sharing all the great details of how you accomplished your dream. 😀

    • Conrad Scott
      March 15, 2015, 8:29 pm

      I agree with you about reality, and the real cost to build a bona fide “Home”! Not a cabin or part time shack to camp and hunt in but a real “Home” that a couple or small family can live in, year round, and have all, or most of the features you would expect in a full size home. With the exception; a tiny home is designed with everything condensed, with space uniquely designed to contain places to store, and cleverly utilize furniture, items and rooms for multiple tasks. I like seeing these unique ideas; clever designs that all contribute to the goal of Tiny living!

      What is sad to me is I got a few calls from young women who are single mothers that read these stories about someone salvaging old wood, windows and doors to be reused and claim they have built a wonderful 500 Sq Ft. home, for only $1,500 total! People read these stories and believe the claims because they see this as an answer to their independence from monthly rent and most associated costs. Most of us know that the claims of building a home so cheap, even if that story is true, only happens in very rare occasions by long term savings of materials or salvaging over a long period to reclaim some of the items you would otherwise purchase!

      I volunteer my time to help anyone reasonably near Scottsdale, Arizona that want or need a few technical/carpenter skills so they can build a home. I show them “how to” things so they can do this work correctly. I am a semi-retired builder, carpenter and licensed general contractor, and I like helping people who want to save money, or stay out of mortgage bondage! I advise those that call me for help and planning to build a Tiny home but have little or no money, that they must have, or save (or find someone to give it to you) a minimum of $5,000 to $10,000 just to start “seriously” on a “Tiny Home” on wheels! You also must have a “Place” to build, and securely store/protect your home and associated materials for the construction duration. I like helping I really do, but claiming you built a nice home for pennies on the dollar, is misleading to others that can’t possibly accomplish the same task as you claim, in their personal attempt to build a “Tiny” Home.

      “Poppy” (Conrad Scott)

    • Eric
      March 7, 2016, 6:51 pm

      Ben… you said… it honestly is not really a place you can actually live.

      I suggest you try convincing a homeless person who “lives” in a cardboard carton for a house.

      While I agree with most of your sentiments, for many people (who probably don’t have access to sites like these) this would be a Godsend!

  • jennilee
    January 18, 2015, 11:00 am

    Beautifully done! I really like the log work. Looks like a cozy place to hang out and go for a ski…cheers

  • Daniel
    March 15, 2015, 3:24 pm

    This house looks amazing. Would love to be able to build something like this one.

  • Susanne
    March 15, 2015, 11:33 pm

    Well stated, Ben and Scott!

  • Lisa
    March 16, 2015, 10:59 am

    Yay! something Canadian. My dad built a long cabin 20×20 for our family. One year my parents lived there right up to the Christmas season, when they’re house was being renovated.

  • Kopperrose
    March 27, 2015, 12:30 am

    I love it! At some point, I’ll be posting pics of my cozy little tiny cabin. It cost about $6500 but it’s a work in progress. It’s secretly off-grid in the city and I live in it full- time, except when I’m out in the country at my even tinier off-grid cabin.

    • Alex
      March 27, 2015, 12:01 pm

      I can’t wait to see it! Whenever you want you can send it in at [email protected] and I’ll get your story up asap 🙂 Have a great day!!

  • Gordon Deisting
    April 8, 2015, 10:40 pm

    LOVE IT.as FOR THE WEATHER well that also.It seperates country folk from the poluting (city) folks.if you don’t like the weather stay in the crappy city,That is the WORDS that i told my city kids.I love it, Out where wildlife lives and clean air without the noise to hear.Hey so many neg thoughts to bad.Cause country folk love it and don’t like the city.Enough said the little cabin in the woods is the best thing forget about tech necks and noise.A million thumbs up here.

  • Suzie@Suzie'sView
    March 7, 2016, 6:17 pm

    I had seen this one before some where else on the web. I think it is cool what he did 🙂

  • Ricky
    March 7, 2016, 9:40 pm

    I am wondering why the brag about not having to permit or follow codes.
    As a youth minister, what does that teach the youth he is trying to reach. Try to find ways to get around the laws.
    Also, in the photos of the roof framing it is dangerous where the rafters attach to the ridge board. It could collapse at any strong wind or fail under a snow load.
    Building Codes are only a minimum and are for safety or people in the structure.
    Most Tiny Homes are build to safe standards. This one is not. I would not allow my child to spend time here.

    • Doug
      March 14, 2016, 10:38 am

      There may not be any building codes to comply with in that area or they may have been waved for this non profit project.

      • Ricky
        March 14, 2016, 10:09 pm

        He stated there are codes but a 10 x 10 structure did not require a permit. However, I believe that would apply to storage structures if looked at. I stand by what I said, a church should not try to get around regulations and the pictures show it is not built structurally sound. By any standards.

  • vee
    October 15, 2019, 3:13 pm

    hope he filled the open spaces in the door and walls. brr. always nice when someone has someone to let them build on their land.

  • e.a.f.
    November 29, 2019, 2:33 am

    I enjoy all of the articles about tiny, small, semi small etc houses. you can take away ideas from all of them and even incorporate them into larger homes. Different things work for different people in different climates. a small house where people live a great deal of their time outside, works wonderfully well. live on your own small might work very well. if you look at people in other parts of the world, they frequently live in small apartments. land is too costly.

    400 sq. ft. isn’t considered all that small any more. if you live in Vancouver, Victoria B.C. or Seattle washington that 400 sq ft.can cost you $1,500 a month on rent and they don[t have a full kitchen. to purchase a 400 sq. ft. condo in Vancouver , it could cost you any where from $480,000 to half a million or more.

    If you look in old sections of some cities you’ll see people lived in fairly small homes. Old mining towns, the company rented out homes with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, living room and bathroom adn that was it. Kids in one bedroom and parents in the other and those places were perhaps 700 sq. ft. it isn’t really until the 1950s that we start to see larger homes of 1000 sq. ft. in sub divisions for working people. In the 1950s and earlier it wasn’t unknown for people to live in small apartments if they couldn’t afford to purchase a house.

    the houses we see here meet a variety of people’s needs at various times in their lives. all are creative.

  • Peggy McCauley
    January 16, 2020, 2:47 pm

    I have a warm place in my heart for this beautiful log cabin. My great-grandparents lived in a very small log house they built themselves in North Georgia which at the time was referred to as “Indian country””. Your cabin is not meant to be a primary home. For those who require amenities it doesn’t provide, build what you want but there is no need to point out this cabin’s lack of them. The beautiful Swedish Cope corners can hardly be appreciated by someone unfamiliar with the types of log joinery. Your estimate of 25 years longevity may be too conservative. Many similar log structures from the 19th century may no longer be habitable but still stand.
    I spent 19 days in Edmonton in January where the temperature got no higher than -35 degrees and for this southern girl that was unbelievably cold.
    I have two woodstoves in my house which is way bigger than tiny and they really give off a lot of heat.
    It was a pleasant surprise to see a real sofa in the cabin where many tiny housebuilders think a seat of wood and. upholstered foam counts as a place to sit.
    I liked the comment that a homeless person or a person of limited means would be thrilled to live in this cabin. When you have nothing, having something is a blessing.
    It is easy to point out this cabin’s deficiencies. But where nowadays can you find true silence, crackling pure air, and a heartstoppong view of a night sky full of stars.
    Did I mention that my great-grandparents reared 13 children in their tiny cabin?
    The fact that crows recognize and remember kind or unkind faces is true. And they do indeed pass that knowledge to their young before they even see a human face.

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