Building a Log Cabin

The log cabin is a fantastic addition to any garden and home. Log cabins can be converted into a fully functioning and versatile living space to suit you and your family’s needs. Desperate for more room for the kids? A log cabin can provide you with the extra breathing space. Got relatives coming to stay for a vacation? A log cabin would be the ideal solution, as they can double as an additional temporary living area, just like a home from home.

Planning Permission

Building a log cabin can be a relatively straightforward undertaking. However, if you’re considering building your own log cabin you should first make sure that you won’t need to apply for planning permission. You should bear in mind that if you plan to build your log cabin less than 5 metres. As a rough guide, you would only need apply for planning permission in the following circumstances:

  • If the log cabin was going to be more than 4 metres high with a pitched roof, or 3 metres high with a flat roof
  • If the building is going to be used for business purposes. This might include running a business from the building, or using the building to store goods relating to the business.
  • If more than 50% of the area of land around the original house was going to be covered by further buildings.
  • If your log cabin was going to be sited closer to any highway (e.g. path, bridleway, footpath, road or byway) than the nearest part of the original house – the exception usually being that there would have to be at least 20 metres between the new building and any public highway.

Occupants of listed buildings will also be subject to certain restrictions relating to planning permission. Any additional structures or buildings that will have a volume of more than 10 cubic metres will need to apply for planning permission. This also applies to buildings or structures located in a National Park, a Conservation Area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Broads.

However, regulations can vary according to your local planning authority. For this reason it’s best to double check with your local planning officer before commencing your log cabin build.

Log Cabin Foundations

Log cabins can typically be bought in self-build home kits, delivered to your home straight from the manufacturer or seller. This is a less expensive alternative, as you don’t have to dish out the additional cost of having someone else erect the structure for you. You can also purchase log cabin build plans online or from a DIY store, and buy in the materials yourself. Whichever method you chose, you’ll have to make sure that your log cabin is built on a strong, level base that has been well prepared. This will not only ensure that the cabin is built on a solid foundation and won’t sink or absorb moisture from the earth below. The area of the foundations should span at least the area of the floor, in line with the cabin walls and finish around one inch above ground level. This is why opting for a traditional square or rectangular shaped log cabin is preferable, as laying down a base for these shapes will be a much simpler affair!

As far as base material is concerned, concrete foundations are most common. However, you can also create a strong, level base by laying down a layer of hardcore and then use other materials such as railway sleepers or paving slabs.

You should take into account the issue of drainage, especially if your garden is host to a moisture-retaining soil type such as clay. Laying a semi-porous weed oppressing membrane underneath concrete strip foundations (at right angles to the bearers) is one such solution. This will stop any unwanted plants growing up through the floor of your log cabin.

After the Build – Wood Treatments

Self-build log cabins come with unique and specific instructions for assembly. As long as these are complied with, and you have all the right tools to hand and are relatively au fait with DIY, the assembly should be straightforward. Once the log cabin has been erected, your work does not end!

To extend the ‘life’ of your log cabin, it would be advisable to first felt shingle the roof. Gardening and DIY-enthusiasts will also be familiar with the need to apply a wood preservative to the untreated wood. This will help to protect the wood from the relentless weathering that all the seasons bring, and if undertaken every few years will guarantee that your log cabin will be a firm feature in the garden for decades to come.