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schmoe147

Best way to go about building cabin

16 posts in this topic

I'm looking to build a 24x28 cabin with a loft. The upstairs or loft will be made from the rafters it that makes since. I have a good idea how I'm doing everything except the foundation. Do I go with a slab or crawl space ?Wood foundation or concrete? How deep do I have to go for the foundation ? I dont think it will be heated year around unless alot of people tell me thats they way to go. Looking for any advice on this topic. The cabin will be used year around mostly spring through the hunting season.

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About four years back, I built a 30X40 cabin. I went with a floating concrete slab. The guy who poured it went two feet wide and twelve inches deep around the perimeter for the "footing".

On the lower level, 2/3rds is garage and the other 1/3rd is living space (kitchen/dining area/living room and bath). I used room-in-attic trusses so the whole upstairs is a 14X30 room.

During the summer, the place feels like it has air conditioning grin since the concrete stays cool. After about three days in temps around upper 90's I do put in a window air unit upstairs for sleeping. Last year, we didn't need air conditioning at all.

During winter, the concrete floor was cold on our feet until I carpeted the whole floor. It's much better on the feet. I heat it through hunting season and use a force-air furnace; just like home. And, during winter I heat only when we're there. Takes about 5-6 hours to heat the place up to 70. It usually stays about 35 inside during the winter without heat.

Some people said I should put in Wirsbo (in-floor) heating but, they wouldn't pay for it cry so, I didn't.

I'm happy with the place and my decisions. Back then, it cost me about $6200 for the slab and that was with excavating and fill brought in.

Also, go steel roof. You won't regret it grin

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Dave; did you plumb it normally (well, septic) and then drain the water system in the winter?

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I'd like the floating slab myself but if your going to use it in the winter the floor will be like an ice cube.

Like Dave said, Wirsbo In floor heat would be nice for that fact.

I'd imagine though it'll take a very long time to get the slab warmed. I don't think that is very practical for a weekend trip.

The 2' wide x 12" around the perimeter with two rows of rebar plus a pad at any load points inside. Say a post will get 2'x2'x 12" pad.

The price of the slab, excavating, and fill might sound high BUT, If you need and excavating like site prep, driveway or what ever that can be done by the same contractor. Figure what footings will cost, floor joists or floor trusses, floor deck, skirting, site prep, and so on. Then compare that to the cost of the slab. If you want the floor insulated add that, along with a vapor a barrier, and rodent proof covering on the exterior. I mentioned skirting, personally I'd leave it wide open.

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I built one a few years ago with the floating slab with floor heat in the entire building. 1/3 garage and 2/3 living. We added a woodstove for the primary heat source when at the cabin.

My only advice is keep it as maintenance free as possible.

The outside has a metal roof and siding. Remember to get as many bids as possible for the work you plan on not doing. Contractors are very hungry for work and you may be suprised by the huge swings in prices. Good luck...

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Why not insulate the slab in the living area with some high density foam? Put down some 2X2's on 16 or 24 inch centers, foam in between and top it off with some 1/2 inch cdx plywood and then some modest priced carpet? It would be a bit expensive but not as much as a heated floor wouldn't it?

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Just built a 28 x 28 with the loft like you are talking about. I have a slab and deep footings around the perimeter similiar to whats been mentioned. I have in floor heat and leave it on all year. It does not cost that much to run. I am in Cass county and the floor is heated on what they call a dual fuel electric rate. I pay 4.3 cents per kilowatt, that about half the standard rate of electricity. I love the in floor heat. It's draw back is that it take a long time to warm up because it has to warm up the slab. It would not work well to go up in the winter and turn it on and expect it to warm the building up. The system cost me $4700 installed. It is worth it and I would heat the building year around.

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Different thing, but I built a 1200 sq ft cabin with same sized walkout basement. Put Wirsbo in basement slab. Cost me much like Boneheads, $1700 for the tubing and installation of tubing and insulation under slab, and $3000 for the electrician and plumber and the cost of boiler and valves/pump/manifold, etc.

I had a malfunction with the thermostat, so it was pretty much just blasting full speed, for 2 months, so not sure what my real electric bill will be. But while it was on, it kept the gas furnace from running hardly at all, and that was roughly 2400 feet of space on two floors.

I am sure it would not cost much to keep your place heated all winter with in-floor, and just have a small auxillary heater to help raise temp quicker when you get there, if you turn it down when you leave (say to 55).

If the funds are there, I recommend putting insulation down and the Wirsbo tubing in when you pour slab, just in case you would want it in the future. Everybody who has come up has been amazed at how nice the warm basement floor feels...

Good luck, takes pics of your progress, of course smile

edit - FYI - here is a pic of what my boiler looks like, with the wirsbo tubes entering the manifold. I have 4 zones, but I just use it as one big one, so only one pump and one t-stat. I was pretty surprised at how small it is.

In floor heat boiler pics

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We built ours on a floating slab with in-foundation heat and love it. We decided not to go with a crawl-space because it wasn't really functional. We figured if we did that, we might as well have a basement, which we didn't want, and wasn't in the budget.

Concrete vs. wood was a toss-up. We were assured that wood foundations hold up, even in colder climates, but it came down to personal preference.

We keep ours at a constant temp when we're not there, mostly to keep things from freezing. When we need an extra boost, we just fire up the wood stove. This is a must-have - for the true cabin feel if nothing else - Highly recommend it.

With a smaller space like you're talking about, it wouldn't take long to warm it up with a stove. Especially if you're looking at Spring through hunting season.

Like others have said, the in-foundation heat is not something that you say "it's cold in here, I'll crank up the thermostat". It just doesn't work that way. We use it to keep the cabin at a constant temperature while we're not there to prevent freezing of pipes etc. The wood stove will provide that boost much faster.

For your situation, you maybe don't want the in-floor heat. You could just as easily fire up the wood stove and turn on an electric baseboard when you arrive. Like I said, a smaller space won't take very long to heat up.

Add in a ceiling fan or two to keep the air circulating and there won't be any hot or cold spots.

Lastly - I highly recommend using SIP panel construction. It is incredibly insulated and efficient, really helps retain the heat and creates a really "tight" cabin. For example, our thermostat is set at 60 degrees. The boiler never runs when we're there because it'll be above that the whole time. If it's 72 degrees in the cabin when we leave, it may take 2-3 days for the temperature to go below 62 degrees, which would cause our boiler to kick in. If it's a nice sunny day, it'll be 65 in there even without the wood stove going. Even in the coldest of Winter months, our boiler won't run more than 2-3 days per week. Saves on labor costs too.

Have fun whatever you decide - Cabins are a great project!

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Dave; did you plumb it normally (well, septic) and then drain the water system in the winter?

I plumbed the drain system before the cement but I have not put in the well or septic yet. It's already for it though.

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We've got an A-frame with a loft, heated with a wood stove only. It's nice not having to worry about anything. It does take several hours to heat up in the dead of winter, but I usually spend that time outside shoveling the stairs or unpacking gear. It's never a big deal.

My father-in-law has the heated floor deal. This past fall, they flipped off a few circuit breakers and hit one extra one by mistake. It turned off the heat and all of the heated floor pipes/tubes froze. I believe that it was a $60k fix to rip out all of the floors and fix everything. That was luckily covered by insurance but I like not having to worry about those things. Simple does it and nothing feels better than standing next to a warm fire.

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My father-in-law has the heated floor deal. This past fall, they flipped off a few circuit breakers and hit one extra one by mistake. It turned off the heat and all of the heated floor pipes/tubes froze.

Our plumber put in the anti-freeze. Specially made for it, said it costs a bunch extra but would not have to worry about it freezing.

You are right, that would be horrible having to redo it... an understatement of "stink"... That is one reason I didn't even consider the hot water heater method of heating it.

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My father-in-law has the heated floor deal. This past fall, they flipped off a few circuit breakers and hit one extra one by mistake. It turned off the heat and all of the heated floor pipes/tubes froze. I believe that it was a $60k fix to rip out all of the floors and fix everything. That was luckily covered by insurance but I like not having to worry about those things. Simple does it and nothing feels better than standing next to a warm fire.

Wow - What a nightmare/mess. Yeah, our in-floor is a glycol mix, won't freeze.

I agree - The fire, whether in a stove or fireplace, makes a cabin.

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We are in the process of finishing the Cabin side of our "Cabage" (Cabin/Garage).

It's a 36X48, 2 X 6 framed shed with steel roof and sides, and we're finishing off 16 X 48 of it, leaving us a 20 X 48 shed. Have the floating slab with floor heat in the finished part, and a Hot Dawg 45K ceiling mount furnace for quick heat. We did the well and septic right away, had to rough in the plumbing and install floor heat tubing before the concrete went in. I winterize it after Deer hunting, takes less than an hour to drain water heater, blow out water lines and put anti- freeze in the drain traps/toilet. I'd rather winterize than pay for heat while I'm not there. I'm really glad we made it big enough to have covered storage (the shed part). Sometimes a man needs to "escape to his shed"!

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Putting antifreeze in infloor heat reduces efficency, but worth it if it frezes up

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