Should you build your new log cabin yourself, or have the supplier assemble it for you?
At first glance it may seem easy, convenient and quicker to purchase a log cabin and have it installed by the retailer as part of the package. You might also reasonably assume that the ‘professional’ installer would make a better job of the installation than you would. But is this really the case?
In reality the big log cabin manufacturers almost exclusively use relatively small third party retailers to sell direct to the public. These retailers will offer to assemble the cabin themselves by using their own employees, or much more commonly, subcontract the job to third party contractors to build the cabin. The retailer may suggest or imply that the sub-contractor is to varying degrees directly employed; they are not. If you buy a log cabin your contract will be with the retailer only. This means that if anything goes wrong during the cabin build it will be potentialy extremely difficult to get it put right.
Now your installers may do a brilliant job building the log cabin, and that’s fine. However, they may not. Don’t forget, the installer’s priority is to get the log cabin erected as fast as possible. Plainly, a quick job is not usually a good job. If things do go wrong the log cabin retailer can state that it’s not their responsibility to put it right, but down to the third party assemblers. You are then into a complex contractual dispute with little hope of a positive outcome, and, in any case, the damage to your new log cabin and peace of mind will already have been done.
When it is delivered to you from the manufacturer, the log cabin arrives (or should arrive – check it before signing) in pristine condition stacked in its constituent parts sealed in plastic wrap on a pallet or pallets. The manufaturer will supply a long list of recommendations and instructions on how to install the cabin; failure to follow these may result in the manufacturer’s guarantee becoming invalid. However, as has been stated, the priority of the installer will be to knock up the cabin as quickly as possible and get onto the next job.
The fastest way to build a log cabin is to put to one side the manufacturer’s screws and work instead with a nail gun – no pre-drilling and careful screwing, just fire and blast away with the nail gun. ‘Professional’ builders just love to use nail guns for speed and ease. Firing nails into soft wood splinters and punctures the logs and timbers making the final finish a splintered, smashed mess which looks bad and will cause the cabin wood to deteriorate faster. If you pre-drill pilot holes and screw the timbers with precision it will take longer but the finish will be far superior, the cabin will last longer, the floor will not creak, children will not get splinters and you will actually be able to dis-assemble the cabin, eg to make modifications, repairs, or to re-site it. Put a cabin together with a nail gun and you’ll never get it apart undamaged.
Caution: log cabin retailers don’t tell you the above! Their desire is to offer a cheap (fast) assembly service. This is not the same as a good assembly.
Also bear in mind, log cabin supply is a one shot deal; they won’t be relying on repeat business – who buys a second cabin? Will they even care what you think of the final finish? They’ve had your money and move on to the next punter. Its easy to mistakenly think that by getting a log cabin ‘professionally’ installed the result will be better than if you ‘the amateur’ did it yourself.
This brings us to the other option which is self assembly. A large part of the joy of log cabins is that it is fairly straightforward to build one yourself. No great DIY skills are required, just plenty of time, someone to help here and there, and lots of diligence. In fact building the log cabin yourself has lots of advantages.
For a start, you can build the cabin exactly as you want it. You can take the time to think about every detail and get it right. You don’t have to finish it in one morning. You can pre-drill holes and make sure screws fit flush. You can treat any cut surfaces with wood preserver as the build progresses so that at the end you know the cabin is well built and built to last. You get the satisfaction of having completed it yourself and the peace of mind in knowing that the log cabin build is weathertight and will stand the test of time.
If you lack confidence or time to do the base you can always get a local builder or landscaper to do that job. Same with the electrics; get a local sparky to do that last bit. The rest is easy enough with the logs just stacking together much like a giant lego set. It is far easier with two people on the build, if not impossible to do it on your own. Quite honestly, from experience, it really is something any half-competent diyer can do without fuss. You will find lots of advice and tips to help you build your own log cabin throughout this site.
Conclusion: Unless you simply do not have the time, do it right and enjoy building your own log cabin.