Should You Build Your Dream Small Cabin Or Buy A Customized Shed?

Building a small cabin could be a daunting task, and you might be thinking about just buying a customized shed as an alternative to fit out as a cabin. Which option makes more sense? You might be surprised by what the best option is and why it makes more sense.

Your Options

The two clear options for building a small cabin are to either build a cabin (from a prefabricated custom-designed kit or from scratch) and buying a customized shed and fitting it out as a cabin.

Building a small cabin you can design and build it yourself or with a builder on site. This way you can do any design you want. You can also get a shed designed and semi-assembled by a remote company and then just complete the assembly on site. 

Another option that keeps popping up online is to buy a customized shed and then turn it into a cabin. This seemingly should be easy. You specify the shed with a door (or two) and windows, and you are almost there. The rest of the work should be lining the interior and making it a proper cabin. 

Fit For Living

A cabin can be designed and built to be fit for purpose. In this case fit for human living. A shed is designed and manufactured to store goods, vehicles, or other items, but not for living in. It can easily be as expensive (or more expensive)  and take more time to convert a shed into a cabin than to just build a cabin. 

If the idea is just to have a space to work, perform a hobby, or store stuff, then a shed is the best and most cost-effective solution. Our go to site for sheds is a company that only manufactures custom-designed sheds and doesn’t have any standard models. This makes it easy to customize for any use except as a cabin. As soon as you need to make it work for human habitation then you need to skin the inside and have insulation and that is where building a real cabin will be better. 

Comparing The Extent Of Work

It is clear that getting a cabin manufactured off-site and then just assembling it on-site is going to be the fastest way to accomplish your dream of owning a cabin. Now comparing building a cabin from scratch on-site to converting a customized shed on-site to a cabin is a bit more complex. 

It might seem that just lining a custom shed to be used as a cabin should be faster than building a cabin from scratch on-site. The problem though is that sheds are not designed to be lined. Sheds will flex in wind. This means that if you don’t want the inside of your cabin to break and crack, you will need extensive changes to the inside of the shed to support the lining. You will almost end up building a cabin inside the shed, which is obviously not a great idea. 

Flooring is another issue you will run into when trying to convert a shed into a cabin. A floor is easy to add when constructing a cabin, but a lot harder to fix inside a shed as again it is not designed to have a floor other than the cast concrete slab.

Comparing Costs

Building a cabin from scratch will be more expensive than buying a customized shed. The problem is the cost of turning a shed into a livable cabin. Because you need internal structural support for the inside of the cabin when you are converting a shed it can be costly. You are in fact trying to build a rigid lining inside a shed that is not rigid but can flex.

A simplistic way of looking at it is that for the end product you have a shed as outer cladding for the shed converted into a cabin, and you have normal outer cladding on the cabin. Everything inside is going to be similar, except it is harder to fit the lining, floor, and ceiling inside the shed as the shed is inherently more flexible. 

Quality And Longevity

You can use the same outside cladding materials and roofing materials building a cabin that might be used in a shed if you prefer. That would make the quality and longevity of the outside shell the same. You can also use the same materials inside, but because of the flexibility of the shed, you will see more cracks develop over time in the converted shed.

In summary, it is going to be more cost-effective to get either a cabin made or build one on-site than trying to convert a shed into a cabin. You will also end up with a structure that is of higher quality and will last longer this way. Surprised? Yes, we were as well.