Building a log cabin base can appear somewhat daunting if you’ve never done any concreting. But its not that difficult and the satisfaction of doing it yourself is worth it.
However it is a very physical job – lots of lifting and barrowing required – so if you’re going to have a problem with that then get it done by a local builder or landscaper.
The log cabin retailers that you come across online all offer the service of constructing a base for your log cabin base. That’s to say they’ll arrange for a third party subcontracted trader to do it. Chances are, this third party will skimp and scamp on the job and generally try to knock up a vaguely acceptable base in as quick a time as humanly possible; you have been warned. Chances are, again, that whoever does the base will be doing the assembly of the cabin, and they will want to do the assembly as soon as they can get away with it and get on to the next job having had their cash thank you very much. It’s much preferable to allow the concrete base to ‘go off’ for as long as possible before putting a lot of weight on it. Concrete cures over time so better to leave it covered with wet sacking or a polythene sheet to keep the moisture in for a few weeks before the build. If you leave the fresh concrete exposed to the hot sun it will dry out too fast and will not be as strong.
If you build the log cabin base yourself, or, at a minimum, contract a trusted local builder to do it, you’ll know its done right and you’ll have far more control of the process and feel a greater sense of involvement and ownership at the end.
Which Type of Log Cabin Base?
The answer to which type of base you need for your log cabin depends primarily on the size of the cabin, what you will be using it for, and what the ground is like where it is to be sited.
For most of us, with relatively smallish town gardens, our log cabin will be sited within 2 metres of the boundary so needs to be under 2.5 metres ate the eves to comply with current planning regs. So, what’s needed is a cabin base that will help the final building sit as low as possible on the site. That means a concrete base.
If you site the cabin up on a wooden timber base this will add say 18 inches to the height at the eves – no good at all! Bear in mind if you do build your cabin too high, any neighbour could complain to the Planning Dept and you will have to take the cabin down to the required height at your expense, plus you will have difficulty selling your house and generally upset everyone around you.
All this will not necessarily stop the log cabin retailer from recommending a wooden log cabin base to you! In many ways its quicker and easier for them to install, and they will not necessarily care if the final build conforms to planning regulations – that will be your problem!
A wooden base should only be considered where a concrete base is impossible due to steeply sloping ground. A wooden base will not last as long; posts in the ground rot – go and check your fence posts! Vermin love the void under timber cabin bases; rats are far more difficult to get rid of than to prevent. Vegetation, weeds, oak trees etc will grow in the void under the cabin, which will get to be a nuisance!
If you really must have a timber base consider the synthetic plastic posts that some companies are now using, as these are very strong and will not suffer from rot.
If your cabin is quite small you may simply get away with siting it on a base of gravel. This option is the easiest, quickest and cheapest – maybe that’s why the log cabin companies rarely even mention it! Simply mark out an area say 12 inches larger that the cabin footprint, excavate to say 6 inches, tamp down with the end of a heavy timber, fill with shingle of a grade no more than say 20mm, tamp down again and level using a spirit level on a long board. Simple, quick, cheap!
But if you want a really durable log cabin base capable of supporting heavier loads a concrete base is essential. The concrete base should be the same size as the footprint of the cabin; this will assist in shedding rainwater to the surrounding ground and prevent rainwater splashing back onto the logs. When the sub base is complete you can surround it with gravel for better drainage and to prevent rainwater splashing back.
By far the best base for a log cabin is a concrete base.