How do I choose the right log cabin for me?
A very good way of finding the right log cabin is by browsing the websites of the actual log cabin manufacturers.
This way you can compare the specifications of log cabin kits offered by competing log cabin companies.
You will find that all third party log cabin sellers on the internet, or offline, are agents of specific manufacturers earning a mark up by promoting their products.
Your virtual log cabin supplier will not necessarily be sporting a stetson, but if, after installing a poorly erected shed with knobs on that would leave the planning inspector in tears, don’t be too surprised when he rides off into the sunset having trousered your hard-earned, thank you very much!
Let’s be clear, any decision about which log cabin to choose must be carefully considered and start from what you actually want to use the cabin for. Is it going to be a log cabin home office? Will the log cabin be used as a garden room, a gym, a studio, or a workshop?
A very good way is to begin with a blank piece of paper and draw out your log cabin; you’ll have a rough idea of what you want your cabin to look like. Draw front and side elevations with window and doors and, if you’ll be wanting more than one room, also draw a plan of the interior. If you have access to your kids lego set why not build a lego model so you can see it in 3D? Try to imagine how it will look in the setting you want it to go. Maybe even take some photos and photoshop it in there; it will all help visualise the log cabin in its final location. After all, it might look great on paper, but ridiculous for its place in the garden. Tip: there’s no point waiting till the cabin is built to decide that actually it’s not right for the site. Advice: check now to see what local planning regulations govern what you can and cannot build in your garden.
Once you have a good idea of what you want have a look what’s out there and see if you can find a cabin to match your dreams. All the large diy sheds and most of the big supermarkets offer log cabins for sale from their websites and catalogues; although you may not find what you want here this search will give you a good idea of competitive log cabin prices.
If you want a company that will both supply and assemble your log cabin a quick search on the net will reveal a forest of them. Find a local showroom or garden centre where you can see several types of log cabins assembled. It is important to see what you are buying; do not rely on the catalogues or internet pictures. You have to try the doors and experience the cabin to appreciate the importance of cabin height, log thickness and overall quality of doors and windows.
Decide early if you are going to assemble the cabin yourself (highly recommended) or have it installed (buyer beware!). If you are looking to have it installed the quality of the workmanship will be absolutely vital to ensure at this stage. You may purchase a wonderful cabin kit, but if the installers put it up in a hurry (as they do), will you be happy with a less than wonderful finish? Some log cabin companies do have actual employees who fit their cabins; check their competency and qualifications and ask to see an example of their work. Find out exactly who will be doing the build. If it’s a third party contractor, beware. The Consumer Protection Act provides that works should be carried out with reasonable care and skill; this becomes more difficult to enforce if you have no written contract should things go wrong.
Advice: if you are having the cabin installed choose a company that directly employs (not as subcontractors) the assemblers. Check that the assemblers are carpenters, joiners by trade or competent general builders. This is the only way to ensure a reasonable quality of finish.
All the log cabin suppliers are agents for the same few large manufacturers so the cabins they sell are either exactly the same or very very similar. In log cabins there’s really no such thing as an ‘exclusive’ design because there’s nothing to stop the consumer taking that design to another supplier and asking for a cheaper quote, and indeed, why wouldn’t you? Where suppliers can compete on price is assembly and this is where the consumer has to watch out. One log cabin supplier might undercut another on price by incorporating a cheaper installation in the quote; suppliers are unfortunately, and somewhat disgracefully, not always that bothered about final finish because log cabin sales are ‘one shot’ and don’t offer repeat business. For us, the consumer, the final finish of the log cabin is of the greatest importance; we want a good finish not a quick, cheap finish. So as has been said make sure, if you are getting the cabin installed, it is being done by directly employed craftsmen and for that be prepared to pay a little extra.
Another important decision to make early on is which log thickness will be appropriate. Most cabin ranges start of with log cabins made of logs 28mm thick; this, in general terms, is fine for summer houses and storage sheds. The greater the log thickness the more solid the final structure and the greater the insulation factor. So a log cabin home office or garden studio will require say a 44mm or above log thickness so that the building will be warm enough to work in year round.
A further crucial early decision is whether to have the log cabin you are ordering pre-treated and/or pre-painted by the manufacturer; some log cabin manufacturers offer this option and some don’t. If you want your log cabin pre-treated – and this process may be referred to as ‘tanalisation’ or ‘impregnation’ – protective chemicals will be forced into the top layer of the logs under pressure to preserve the timber. A limited range of colour options might be offered such as green and brown for example. Choosing pre-treatment of all logs, windows, doors as well as floor and ceiling packs will save a lot of time. The extra cost needs to be offset against the cost you will in any case have to incur in buying expensive 5 litre cans of wood preserver; even for a small cabin you’ll need a minimum of two of these and the final result will not be as good. Not all manufacturers offer to pre-apply base and top coats of paint at the factory, some such as the Dutch company Tuin do. So deciding on this option will effect which log cabin manufacturer you can select your final design from.
Once you have selected a basic design bear in mind that log cabin manufacturers actually make each cabin to order. In practice this means that they can cut the logs exactly to the dimensions you the customer specify. Certain units like doors and windows have fixed sizes, everything else is variable. So work out exactly what size and height of log cabin you want; this should cost you not a penny more than the ‘off the peg’ designs you will see, and indeed if you want a smaller cabin it will cost you less. This is important because a lot of the standard log cabin designs are way too big for the average small UK town garden.
Once the basic log cabin design is decided upon, you will now have to make a series of more specific choices about roof types, choices of materials, double glazing, insulation and electrics. Use the pages of this site to help with these choices, all of which outline the options and make recommendations based on experience.
To review any of the main log cabin manufacturers click any of the links below.