Are you planning on building a foundation for a cabin, but don’t know how to do it? Or maybe you’re wondering what’s the best base for a log cabin to be built on and are considering concrete as an option?
This guide is about how to build a concrete base for a log cabin so I’m considering concrete as the best base for a log cabin in most situations. It’s pretty much the same with other summer house base ideas as well.
The reason for that is that it’s not that different from other building. If it’s good for a house, it can be good for a log cabin as well.
The slab should actually be around the same thickness even, 4 inches, for this project so it’s a good match. For this kind of job, you can use concrete base laying service or DIY.
Why do I think it’s the best option in most situations? Concrete slab foundations are common in warm climates, but you can do them with proper insulation in colder climates as well.
Concrete can last without problems for decades if build correctly, so a log cabin could stand on it for a life cycle. It also provides some protection from pests and insects on the ground level which can be a selling point for a log cabin.
Pests can still get through the walls, but then it wouldn’t be a log cabin anymore, but a concrete cube. There has to be some lines drawn.
There are guides on this website for pouring a DIY concrete slab so we won’t go into detail about it here. But we will be more specific about log cabins over here.
Log cabin foundation options
For being fair, I’m including some other types of foundations in this article so you can do some comparison. It’s good to have some alternatives as well as my purpose is to provide help and as stated before, there are situations where the slab is not the best option.
The foundation has to be the kind you can install a timber base for a log cabin into. So basically it has to provide enough support points for the timber base or it has to have a level surface to install the base into.
Basic requirements from the foundation so to say.
Log home foundation types
These two options are here for comparison. Why I choose slab over these ones is that there is no space under the slab for anything else. No rodents and no insects to be worried about.
Only thing you do need to consider is how the land is sloped around. You don’t want to make a concrete slab in a future water puddle.
Option 1: Concrete pier foundations.
These have been on this site before. There is a guide on building a shed on concrete pier foundations on this site. When are concrete piers good?
I find them good log cabin base on uneven ground, moist or sloped ground. You can lift the floor to the level that you want and it will be off the ground so if the water drainage can’t be handled well, it won’t harm your log cabin with proper ventilation installed.
You still need to care for your wooden floors not to rot. These are a bit like log cabin base pads that you see used on even ground. They are placed under the timber frame and support it off the ground.
Option 2: Crawl space foundation.
This is another common foundation you see used that can lift your log cabin off the ground. Like piers, you need to ventilate the space so the moisture won’t get your floors. It’s a common theme here.
You can also install pipes and such under the crawl space so if you want comfortable things, those are possible with this kind of solution. It can also serve as a small storage space.
The problem with ventilation can be that if it provides opening for animals and insects, they can be a problem here as it’s nice closed space to spent time on.
Log cabin base construction
Time to move on to constructing a concrete base for a summerhouse or log cabin. What do we need for the project is the materials for building the concrete foundation and also the materials for the timber base for the log cabin.
There was a DIY concrete pouring guide linked that had detailed information on building forms and pouring concrete so I’m not going to write that here. I’ll just write the process.
Step 1: This kind of project starts with excavation of the ground. You mark where your log cabin will be located and start removing the soil.
You need to remove enough that you can install gravel and proper drainage for the slab. You don’t want any problems with water.
Step 2: Filling the ground with gravel and compacting it and the ground. This step is for making proper base for the slab so it won’t sink.
Step 3: Build the forms where the slab would be located. You need to build them to proper height from the ground so the slab won’t be underground level and also strong enough to hold the concrete weight and pressure. Here is a guide on building forms for more details.
Step 4: Add rebar on the forms if you want to. It is said pretty often that 4 inch slab don’t need rebar, but there is pros and cons for it.
It will make the concrete stronger, but if it’s not well placed or gets the moisture it will start to rust and cracks the concrete. So you need to think about how big is your cabin etc.
There is a 1/8 rule that the rebar should be 1/8 of the slab thickness. For 4 inch slab it would be 4 divided with 8 so ½ inch in other words.
Step 5: Pour the concrete. Follow the DIY guide linked earlier if you want. You pour the concrete, vibrate the air out of it. Then you screed the surface level with the form and float it.
Step 6: Let it cure for 4 weeks. Concrete gets ¾ of its strength in the first week, but for maximum capacity, it needs the other three. You can start a slight building after the first week.
Step 7: If you got a log cabin base kit, It’s time to start assembling. If not, it’s a moment for inner builder to shine.
You should now have a concrete base for log cabin as promised at the beginning and the frame to start building from on top of that.
Cost of concrete base for log cabin
Now concrete is the best base for log cabin also because it’s quite an affordable way to build. I’ve written about the cost of concrete on this site and it applies here as well.
For 4 inch slab, I can think of something like around $5 for square feet with labor included, but you should check the math for concrete cost and count the labor yourself.
You can also compare the prices of different log cabin base systems by counting the slab, then how many piers you would have to install for that size of a slab how much it would cost to make it with a crawl space.
This is a good way to calculate the concrete cabin cost before you build it. If you have some kind of ready kit ordered, you can combine it with that price to get the total or you have to calculate the other parts piece by piece.
After all of that, you should have your cabin foundation cost and the log cabin added to that.
You should have a rough idea now how to build concrete base for a log cabin. After this, it’s only a matter of building it to get started.
There are many kinds of building kits available in this world. It’s good to check what the building will weigh and what kind of foundation can hold its weight. If it’s any respectable supplier, they can provide this information.
When you know the basics, you can start building the base. It’s good to choose a supplier that has proper instruction on how to build the kits. You would not be the first who gets their kit delivered with only a list of parts involved.
That being said, if you’re an able builder. It might be best to plan the whole project yourself and build it yourself from start to end. That way you don’t have to turn instructions in your hand, but can just concentrate on building.
If you’re not a builder, consider asking around if you have one near you that would like to do a short project with you. You can search online and look for reviews and such and if you find one, ask for some references.
A good builder should be able to show you his previous projects and you can see if it matches your standard.