Building Your Own Log Cabin: Do-It-Yourself to the Max!

by Paul and Mary Paxton


Before I begin, I'd like to say that we are just regular, middle aged, people. We don't have any special talents. If anything qualified us to build our own home, it was the desire to have a home without going in debt.

Five years ago, we had been on the road for over two years, looking for "The Promised Land". We managed an RV Park in the Southern Rocky Mountains in New Mexico. We realized we'd found the place we wanted to be, when the season ended and we didn't want to leave!

We found a 3 acre plot...the stuff that dreams are made of. The land had large Ponderosa Pines on it. Since we were in an RV, and it was fall, we had to make arrangements to stay warm. We built a rustic room, the length of the trailer, and attached it to the trailer. We installed a wood heating stove in it and opened the doors and windows on that side of the trailer. We were toasty warm all winter and had a, much needed, living room!

That winter we brought the trees down, skinned them, cataloged them and drew our plans. We could hardly wait for Spring to come! As soon as the weather allowed, we poured concrete piers and began the cabin. We had no help, so had to devise a way to position the logs. We used our trusty old "come-along" and a pick-up to pull them into place.

As the walls came up, we used poles, positioned at an angle to pull the logs on top of each other. We left a large open space on the North side of the house for...you guess it..the room we built down by the trailer!

When the log portion of the house was done, we pulled the room up the road with our pick-up and five pulleys. We attached it to the cabin and had our same living room..just in a different place.

We made all our own doors and windows. The fixtures came from varied, interesting places. Most of them were donated. The interior of the cabin is finished in the rough cut that came from our excess logs. A neighbor had a saw mill and two mules to move the logs with. The cabin is solar powered.

When we started the project, we had a total of $20,000. to buy land and construct the cabin. At the end of the project we had money left! (We already had the solar set up, so that is not included in what we spent.) We were living in the cabin nine months after the constuction started and had no help at all.

The next summer we collected rocks and built a rock foundation, which gave us a wonderful cellar. The house is just under 1,000 sq.ft. It consists of a living room, a bedroom (could be divided into two), a kitchen and a bathroom. All of the rooms are large. It is heated with a wood heating stove and has a wood cook stove, which we love.

This was probably the hardest thing we've ever attempted to do. There were some discouraging developments and still our dream of having a home lived on. We learned much about ourselves. I believe that we are much more mature because of this challenge. I must say that our faith kept the dream alive and allowed us to continue. We are happy to answer any construction questions and be an encouragement to others, who have our same dream. Please feel free to contact us.

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Editor's note: If you have an interesting do-it-yourself project, we'd like to hear about it. Not only your successes, but you're failures, too. After all, that's how we all learn. Please send them to tips@stretcher.com.

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