Do you stress about having guests come to stay? I sure do. My husband and I share our home with six dogs, four of which are large and exuberant. My friends usually travel with their dogs, which I LOVE, but mixing several dogs in a small house can be challenging. Or disastrous.
My wonderful family does their best to understand my dog-crazy life, but don’t necessarily feel the same. They love dogs and have had/do have their own sweet dog, but at no point have they considered having six (or more) dogs. They can find my house, well, overwhelming.
We do not have a large home. At one time, our house would have had four (small) bedrooms. At some point, the two on the main floor were joined into one. I made this extended bedroom into an epic dog room. That leaves two rooms upstairs, our bedroom and my office. No guest room.
We wanted a place where our guests could feel welcome and enjoy their own space. Somewhere they could retreat. Somewhere they could bring their own dogs and not have to worry about interactions with my dogs. Or somewhere they could escape from the dogs. Hence… Guest cabin!
What You’ll Need to Build a Cabin
- Cabin kit
- Massive tarp
- Materials to build a small deck
- Posts for foundation and shovel to dig holes
- Crushed rock
If you are heaps handier than I am, you could definitely design and build your own guesthouse. This would also require a pretty robust budget. We decided to take the quicker, easier, and (somewhat) cheaper method. We bought a guest cabin kit.
You can get a lot of cabin and tiny house plans online to make building a cabin or tiny house easier. My favorite website is Tom and Shaye’s DIY House Building. They offer a range of plans for tiny houses, from Henry the Cob Studio to Lucy the Tiny Trailer House. Check them out if you want to build a cabin without a kit.
(Shaye has recently built a new website. I believe her new address is here – Shaye’s Tiny Homes. She was building tiny homes and mini cabins before they were trendy!)
Read More – Building an Off-Grid Cabin on a Budget!
Our cabin kit included all of the pieces to build and finish the cabin. It did not include anything for a foundation, which made sense, as the proper foundation will change depending on your climate and location. It also did not have any roofing material. It came with a wooden roof, but nothing to weather-proof. It did, however, include windows, doors, and the door handle.
Step 1: Organize and Plan
We spread out a massive tarp then unpacked the cabin kit. We sorted and checked the pieces as we went, stacking them for easy use.
We plotted out the cabin size, plus the size of the small front deck we envisioned. Then we marked where we would need holes for the foundation.
Step 2: Deck and Foundation
We still can’t afford a tractor, so holes were dug by hand. Occasionally, we had to shift our plans to accommodate massive rocks that couldn’t be moved.
We sunk the posts 3 feet deep and filled in the hole with crushed rocks to make them very sturdy. We built a 3ft by 3ft deck for the front of the cabin and made a platform to build the cabin on. We insulated beneath the platform which will help out a ton keeping the cabin warm come winter.
Want a straightforward DIY cabin kit that you can build during a weekend? Then the Summerlight cabin kit by Allwood is one of our favorites. It has large windows, gets lots of interior light, and the floor is roughly 150 square feet. It also has a five-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.
Step 3: Assemble the Kit
We started to build the cabin, assembling the different kit pieces from the floor up. The kit is super clever, no nails required for assembly, everything interlocks. We used mallets to firmly bash the pieces into place. Most parts locked smoothly, some gave us some trouble, requiring a text to our only nearby neighbor to apologize for all the noise.
The kit came together quite quickly. With two of us assembling, we were done with the basic structure in about eight hours. We had run out of daylight by this time, so we decided to wait to add the finishing pieces (small baseboards, window casings, etc.) the following day.
Read More – Free Log Bench Plans! Easy and DIY!
Step 4: Finishing Touches
We were pleased to see the cabin still standing the next morning :).
The front windows did not fit quite right, so we had to mess around with shims to get them level and snug. We added a layer of roofing cloth to the outside of the roof. We will still need to add something permanent, but that should keep it safe and waterproof until we have time/budget to do the roof properly.
We added in the baseboard pieces and all of the casings. Standing in the cabin and looking out at my favorite view was amazing. The rich smell of fresh wood and fresh air. This cabin was going to be awesome for our guests!
The cabin has a loft bed area. We chose this design to get the maximum amount of useable space and still have a decent-sized bed. Frequent guests will be our closest friends, Nick and Greg, who are both tall, one of them being 6’3’’. A queen-sized bed is the minimum size we could expect them to stay in.
In the 100 sq feet on the main floor, we were able to fit a double futon (to provide a second bed if need be) a coffee table, a small chest of drawers, and an antique chest. I wanted some space for people to be able to unpack. With the cabin, I am hoping people can plan longer trips and settle in to enjoy Bedlam Acres.
I also wanted to be able to have storage space for my Mum, who will be visiting from across the country. She can leave some things behind to make her future packing and travel easier. The antique chest will store her things between visits.
We Love Our Guest Cabin
If you have a busy house, are low on space, or have guests who travel with their pets (or maybe all three!), a guest cabin might suit your needs. All told, we invested about $12,000 in this project. It has been one of the more expensive single projects we have done, but I do think we will be happy with the investment.
If you have enjoyed this, please share it with your friends. We would love to hear any comments, thoughts, or questions you have!
Here's another beautiful cabin kit from Allwood. The materials are a dense grain and Nordic Spruce. The cabin takes a few days to assemble with the help of a friend or two. The interior size is 123 square feet, and the wall height is 92-inches.