How to build a log cabin foundation

Updated July 20, 2017

Log cabins are one of the earliest forms of American housing, as the design is fairly simple and structures can be hand-built in a matter of days. Today's log cabins range from basic to elaborate, providing a quaint and cosy home atmosphere. Log cabins can be built by professionals or do-it-yourselfers. At the heart of every log home is the foundation. While the earliest log cabins were built without foundations, living quarters today are best equipped with a proper foundation. One of the simplest foundations is a concrete border and slab.

Determine the dimensions of your log cabin based on your floor plan. Traditional cabins are rectangular or square, and a small cabin is at least 20-by-30-feet. Level pieces of land on a slightly elevated piece of property are ideal. A concrete slab foundation works well on flat terrain.

Clear the perimeter, including brush and rocks. Outline the building with string and marker pegs.

Dig a trench about 12 inches deep and 12 inches wider than the marked perimeter. Add an underlying layer of compacted gravel under the concrete foundation.

Construct a mould for the log cabin base using 1-inch timber planks. The width should equal the depth of the concrete, which should be at least 6 inches. Cut two planks to a length equal to the shorter sides of the cabin (if rectangular and not square), minus 3/4 inch, and two planks for the longer sides, adding 2 inches.

Use the electric drill to screw together the planks, forming a box.

Mix your concrete with water using your dry cement mix and cement mixer. You can calculate the amount with the following formula: (Inches) Depth multiplied by short length multiplied by long length multiplied by 4/3 divided by 15,552 cubic yards.

Pour the concrete into the mould, compacting the mix as much as possible. The concrete will take several days to dry, and will form the border for the concrete slab floor. Unscrew the moulding timbers and remove to reveal your foundation border.


Check your local building codes before starting construction.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Marker pegs
  • Compacted gravel
  • Shovel
  • Electric drill
  • Screws
  • 2-inch timber planks, at least 10, with a width of at least 6 inches.
  • Tape measure
  • Cement mixer
  • Dry concrete cement mix
  • Wheelbarrow
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