5 Ideas for Building a Cheap Hunting Cabin Under $10,000


Hunting cabins have become more and more popular over the years. They provide a shelter for you to hunt during the winter seasons without breaking bank. They are often rustic and small, but they are totally worth it.

How can you build a hunting cabin for under $10,000? A lot of the dollar cost is going to be tied up in size, so if you just build a small cabin, you should be able to spend well under $10,000 dollars. Besides that, there are other alternatives:

  • Yurt
  • Shipping Container Cabins
  • Prefabricated Cabins
  • Pole Barns

These options are good ways to get your dream hunting cabin without having to blow through your life savings. Below, we’re going to go into more detail about each option.

1. Small Cabins

Small cabins are just like small houses. They are just a step up from tiny houses. Instead of being on wheels, the small cabin is set on a foundation, though it still retains its small stature.

You can build a seriously bare bones cabin for just about $500. No, I’m serious, you can. You’re going to have to rely a lot on donations of things like door, stoves, and windows, as well as using reclaimed wood. But it can be done.

A $500 cabins is a little spartan, but hunting cabins are the very definition of spartan. Everything in it is going to be the bare minimum. If you’re building it yourself, and you have no previous experience, it’s going to take you about 8 months to build.

For $500, you can build a 16 foot by 10 foot cabin. This is rather small, but for hunting, it should be about to give you everything you need.

For of cabin of this caliber, you’re going to need to build it out of logs. Logs provide the best happy medium between being cheap as well as effective. Build it just like you would a Lincoln Log Cabin. I’m not kidding. All that work you put in as a kid is going to pay off.

You can cut the logs yourself, especially if you live in a place like Colorado or Idaho and your property includes some forest acreage. Then put the logs together using a square cut, just like you see in Lincoln Logs. If you want to splurge a little, you can get your wood treated to protect it from weather and parasites.

There are going to be gaps in between the logs, so fill that you can keep the bugs and the cold out. This also will preserve the integrity of your logs for longer.  You can seal the cracks with rope caulk or log check sealant

Even on a $500 budget, you can include a loft. The loft adds a lot of floor space without adding cost. You can just extend the loft out of one side and build a ladder into your wall. Make sure to brace your loft against the sides of your cabin.

For a roof, you don’t need to do much more than build some tresses at a 45-degree angle, and then secure a heavy duty tarp around it all. This probably won’t hold up against severe weather or determined, very large birds of prey. You can spend a little extra money on shingling the roof if you want to.

You’re not going to be able to include a bathroom on this budget. The woods are nature’s toilet in this case, and the rivers are nature’s showers. Cooking is also going to be sparse. Campfires and prepared meals are going to be your friends.

On that same train of thought, you’re not going to have a very good heating or insulation system. You can install a wood stove for an extra expense, or rely on a donation for one. Propane and used motor fuel are good power sources. The caulk you used to fill the gaps in the logs will help with insulation, but that’s definitely not the same as proper insulation or heating.

The floor is going to be the trickiest part. You could pour a concrete slab foundation, but that is going to add more cost. The cheapest way to lay a floor is to dig beneath your cabin and lay down cinder blocks. Then lay the floor on top of that, making sure it’s all level. 

This process leads to a “floating floor” because it’s not actually attached to the cabin. This could lead to burrowing animals and warping. However, it does get your floor off of the dirt, and that is one of the most important things when building a cabin.

Alright, there you go. That is the cheapest way to build a cabin. It’ll be small, cold, and might not last as long, but it is cheap and definitely fulfills its job.

2. Yurts

Yurts are what you get when you mix hippies and mountain men. Both like to rough it, but hippies are more inclined to “glamping.”

A yurt is basically just a more stable version of a tent. It is set up on a wooden platform, so it is above ground and has a wooden floor. These are both good for insulation and preventing flooding, warping, and little critters. A yurt is also portable, so if the hunting season changes, so can your location.

Despite being portable, a yurt is portable in the same way that tiny houses are portable. Sure, you can feasibly move it, but it isn’t really meant for frequent relocation. That’s why it’s built on a wooden platform.

You can get the bare minimum yurt for roughly $5,000. However, you can still include some upgrades while staying well south of $10,000. I just did an estimate and it came out to around $8,500.

I picked out a small yurt that was 12 feet in diameter. I even got to pick out my own color, so that was exciting. I added a screen door, a deadbolt, and a door awning. This awning will prevent snow from piling up right in front of the door, and significantly decreases the chance of me getting snowed in. I also added gutters to prevent rainwater pooling up.

Each yurt comes with two windows already. I added window covers and insulation, as well as roof insulation. Insulation will help keep you warm and prevent condensation buildup, which would lead to mold and other problems. 

I also added a stove flashing. If you want to put a wood stove in your yurt, you’re going to need a place for the pipe to exit your tent. Adding a wood stove adds to the cost and makes it harder to move your yurt from place to place. However, if you are hunting in really cold climate, it might really be worth it. 

Yurts are made out of high-tech architectural fabric and the dome is acrylic. These materials can even withstand extreme temperatures, thus making them extremely popular in places like Alaska. Center posts can even be added to increase the snow load capacity.

Yurts have a customizabily that our cabin above didn’t have. You can add circulating ceiling fans, lights, modern appliances, and furniture that wouldn’t have fit in the rustic DIY hunting cabin.

When it comes to power and plumbing, you have a few options when it comes to yurts. You can install solar panels and run them through a generator. Because a yurt is so small, solar panels aren’t such a crazy investment. You can also hook up a gasoline powered generator or propane tanks.

You can hook up some running water and a water heater, as long as you make sure to fill up your water tank every so often. Self composting toilets are getting pretty popular. They take human waste and turn it into fertilizer. So you can even have a garden in front of you yurt if you want.

So as yurt is definitely a step up from our $500 small cabin. It does cost more, but it will last longer, is portable, and more comfortable. There is more insulation and a little more room.

3. Shipping Containers

Lots of shipping companies will sell their old shipping containers at a discounted price. Other times, you can often find a shipping container for sale on sites like craigslist.com. Shipping containers come in two sizes: 20x8x8 ft and 40x8x8 ft containers. The former usually costs around $2,000 while the later usually costs around $4,000.

When you buy a shipping container from a company, usually the biggest expense is shipping the container to where ever you need it. If you buy from a site like craigslist.com, you’ll be buying local, so you wont have to worry about shipping. Plus you’ll be able to inspect the container before you buy it, and it is usually cheaper. The catch is that the container will probably be in worse condition that if you got one from a company.

You can buy an already built shipping container homes from sites like etsy.com and craigslist.com. Some people will build homes or cabins out of shipping containers as their source of income, and you can usually find somebody who either already has one, or is willing to be commissioned to build one.

The trouble with building a cabin out of shipping containers is the lack of square footage. While they are long, they are very narrow, which makes it hard to install things like closets that could hold your hunting supplies. 

Shipping containers are the easiest of this list to install. The companies that transport these containers to your land sometimes have swing trucks that can lift your shipping container onto your foundation. Cranes are the easiest way to install your containers. If you don’t have access to a swing truck or a crane, you can rent a rough terrain fork lift. Once you have the container placed, small adjustments can be made with a large crowbar.

If you are going to do the whole thing by yourself, you have your work cut out for you. You have two options when it comes to laying a foundation for your shipping container. You can either pour a slab concrete foundation or you can set up a pier foundation.

Concrete foundations are the best if you want a permanent place for your shipping container, and are more stable for your container. I would recommend embedding steel posts into the corners of your foundation so you can weld your container to the posts.

Pier foundations are cheaper, though less stable, and allow you to move your container if you want. To build a pier foundation, you’re going to have to dig two troughs to place large cinder blocks, one on each end of the long side of your container. You’re also going to have to place some blocks at intervals down the center of your container. Make sure they are level.

Concrete foundations impact your land more, while pier foundations are typically less invasive. Concrete also make it hard to check things like pipes and wires. Pier foundations get your cabin off the ground, so you have access under the cabin, and you can even install exterior insulation underneath your cabin if you have a pier foundation.

You’re going to need to install doors and windows, which means you’re going to have to cut through some of the walls. Plasma cutters work really well for that, and jigsaws work really well for cutting small sections.

The floors of shipping containers are treated with heavy pesticides, so you’re going to want to solvent wash it in isopropyl alcohol and treat it with epoxy. You can also just replace the floor.

It is a smart idea to install insulation, and then frame in the interior. This will prevent condensation build up and help keep you warm (or cold, depending on the season I suppose). Wrap the foam insulation with steel wool to discourage mice from chewing on it. While your installing the insulation, now is the time to seal up any and all cracks.

Before you frame in your container, take the opportunity to wire your electricity and install plumbing.

You can use a solar powered or gasoline generator to power any light fixtures and outlets. You can also use propane to power things like stoves and water heaters.

For plumbing, you actually have room to include a full bathroom. You’re going to need a water tank if you plan on doing that, and make sure you regularly empty your grey water and fill your drinking water. For black water, you can either hook it up to an on site septic tank, or you can get a self composting toilet.

You can frame in your container with a few different options. If you choose to use steel studs, you will save space, but sacrifice structural integrity. Steel studs have a hard time holding up drywall. To compensate for this, you can either set the studs closer together, or you can use plywood instead. Plywood is not the best thing to use, but if you’re not going to be in extreme conditions, it should work.

If you want the best structural integrity possible, use wood studs. Woods studs take up a little more room, but they are stronger, so you don’t have to use as many of them. They can also take the weight of drywall, which is the best material to use when framing your container.

You don’t have to build a roof, but if you are going to be placing your shipping container in a place that has a lot of snow fall, I suggest you do. A simple shed style roof is sufficient. If you are smart, moderately skilled, can use YouTube, and have a few willing friends, it shouldn’t take you more than a few days to build the roof.

In the end, shipping container cabins have the easiest installation, but they require the most work. They also cost the most out of this list, ending up at about $10,000. Shipping containers require walling in, sealing, roofs, plumbing, electrical, a foundation, windows, doors, and insulation. That’s a lot, but it just might be worth it.

4. Prefabricated Cabins

Prefabricated cabins require the least work for you. You don’t even have to set them up on site like a yurt. 

Prefabricated buildings are building that are built off site and then transported to the site after they are already completed. They are built in warehouses, which is actually a good thing because it keeps the cabin out of the weather during construction, meaning it is in the best shape possible when you get it. 

You can completely customize your cabin to your needs, and you can add anything you want. Prefab cabins cost about $150 per square foot, so if you want to stay under $10,000, just keep that in mind.

Really the only work you have to do is prepare your land for the cabin. Clear a site and set a foundation. Talk to the company you are employing to build the cabin to see what they think is best for you to do in preparation. Prefab cabins usually only take about eight weeks to complete.

5. Pole Barns

Pole barns are a good option if you have vehicles to park for your hunting adventures, like four wheelers and the like. Pole barns also have to be built on site.

Pole barns are basically shops. They have a garage door, a concrete floor, and can have a space walled in in the back for an apartment. That’s where you can sleep and cook. The shop is really nice because you can store your hunting gear and vehicles there. 

You can get a kit for pole barns and build it yourself or you can hire the company to come out and built it for you. 

You can get a bare bones 24x32x10 foot pole barn for about $7,000. From there, your final cost will just depend on whatever you add to the barn.

I did a trial estimate and ended up with a pole barn that would cost me roughly $9,000. I added windows, doors, rot protection, insulation, a simple roof, and wall and roof sheathing. That’s pretty much all you need to be sure that your pole barn will be able to withstand any weather you might run into while hunting.

Related Questions?

What is a hunting cabin? A hunting cabin is a cabin that has the bare minimum. Basically, it’s only there as a shelter and sleeping place so you can stay up in the mountains while you hunt. It has simple cooking, heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, if at all. Some people like to rough it, and really rough it.

Can you move your hunting cabin? It depends on what kind of hunting cabin you chose to go with. If you build a log cabin, you won’t be able to move it. There are some options, like yurts, that can be moved but are not easy to move. If you have a rig set up on a trailer, then you can pull it behind your truck whenever you go on a hunting trip.

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