Vacation Homes and Log Cabins

Vacation Homes and Log Cabins

by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
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Vacation Homes and Log Cabins by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Using five basic construction techniques: conventional wood-frame, A-frame, pole-frame, concrete masonry, and log cabin, here are 16 complete plans for cabins, vacation homes, and low-cost permanent homes.
Designed for economy of material and labor and for efficiency and usefulness, the buildings range from a 10' by 14' one-room cabin with front porch to a two-bedroom tenant house. Also included are plans for a three-room frame cabin, 14' by 18' frame cabin, 24' by 24' frame cabin, 24' by 24' concrete-block cabin, two-bedroom frame cabin with sleeping loft, 24' by 36' A-frame vacation home, all-purpose 24' by 24' A-frame cabin, two five-room log cabins, three-room log cabin, one-bedroom pole-frame cabin, one-room pole-frame cabin, and a two-bedroom frame vacation home.
Preceding each plan is a sketch of the finished building and a floor plan. Hints on construction, materials, location, and use are given as well as alternative floor plans, heating and plumbing systems, possible installments and additions, suggestions for roofing, siding, etc.
These sixteen plans were compiled by the Cooperative Farm Building Exchange. All of the plans and buildings have been tested and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486156279
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 12/26/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 261,525
File size: 21 MB
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Read an Excerpt

Vacation Homes and Log Cabins

16 Complete Plans Prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture

By Dover Publications

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1978 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15627-9



This low-cost, one-room cabin may be set on pressure-treated post foundations to reduce construction costs. Where termites are a problem, the floor can be made of concrete. If wood is used in such areas, joists and sills should be chemically treated.

Barn boards of random widths and half-round battens can be used for the exterior wall covering and can be painted. Other details of construction are shown on the illustrations.



This cabin is suitable for camping or could be utilized as a bunkhouse during the harvest season. It could also serve temporarily as living quarters for a family while a permanent farmhouse was being built. The cookstove would furnish heat. In cold climates the cabin should be insulated.



This economical building provides for Pullman-type berths. If a central heat source is not practical, a chimney should be added to provide for a heater. Space is also provided for a toilet, as shown on the plan.

The sill is steel-strapped to concrete posts that extend below frost line.

Floor joists are framed into the sill and securely anchored with metal fasteners.

Both floor joists and sill should be protected from termite attack.

This building is frame construction with the exterior surface covered with rough-sawn, random-width boards and 1¼-inch, half-round, wood battens.

Interior has tongue-and-groove flooring, with walls and ceiling covered with building board or sheathing.



The basic floor plan for this frame cabin is 24 by 24 feet, slab-on-grade construction. The exterior shell can be built and the plumbing roughed in at a reasonably low cost. Interior finish, storage walls, and an addition can be added later.

The simple interior arrangement is flexible and can be adapted to many uses—a beach house, lake or mountain cabin; a low-cost permanent home with one, two, or three bedrooms; or a temporary home. The outside may be rustic or of the finest modern siding. The inside may have rough framing and concrete floor exposed, or it may be highly finished. Thus, the design fits a wide variety of needs.

Alternate floor plans

Alternate plans for this cabin can be developed to obtain additional rental income in recreational areas. The basic building can be arranged in several ways, depending on the type of facility and on accommodations needed by vacationers. For example, a screened porch, a bunk room, and/or additional bedrooms can be added.

The working drawings show construction details for storage walls (2 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 8 feet high) which may be built from standard 4- by 8-feet sheets of material. The roof trusses eliminate any need for interior load-bearing walls, so the walls may be located wherever desired. If built lower than ceiling height, they can be moved easily.

If the cabin is to be used as a permanent dwelling, storage space is needed outside. The space should be large enough to accommodate paints, hand and garden tools, lawn mower, outboard motor, gasoline, and similar equipment and supplies. Also, the shed should be large enough to permit handyman activities.

Careful consideration should be given to the heating system. If expansion is planned, the system must be capable of heating the larger unit.

The alternate plan reproduced shows one arrangement that is possible for expansion. Although it has more living, sleeping, and storage space than the basic plan, it also requires outdoor storage if it is to be used as a permanent home. The working drawings show only the expanded building with storage walls.

The roof trusses used in the design are simple lap-nailed construction and have been load-tested. The truss members can be nailed together and trimmed later to eliminate precision marking and cutting. If the details of the working drawings are followed, a reliable roof support can be easily and quickly constructed.



Concrete masonry construction is suggested for this modern cabin because concrete is low-cost, durable, easy to maintain, and attractive.

Complete kitchen facilities in the cabin combine with the living-dining area to form a unified activities center for the family. Though the basic plan calls for one bedroom, the activities center is large enough for a family that would need three bedrooms. The two extra bedrooms may be added at the rear, as suggested in the working drawings, without alteration of the present rooms or equipment. A bath with shower, a space for a washer, and good storage facilities contribute to pleasant and convenient living in this cabin.

Suggestions for block selection, insulation, finishing materials, and paint are given. These ideas, along with personal preference for trim and for paint color combinations, can be used to give warmth and character to the cabin.

Block selection

The working drawings show 4- x 8- x 16-inch concrete block units, which give horizontal mortar lines at 4-inch intervals. These relatively close-spaced mortar joints have a pleasing appearance, but the finished cost is increased by one-third as compared with that of standard 8- x 8- x 16-inch units.

Properly tooled joints are very important for watertight walls and for overall good appearance. Concave or "v" joints are recommended.

When mortar in joints is "thumb print" hard, it should be firmly pressed into the concave or "v" formation with a tooling device that is wider than the joint and 24 to 36 inches long. This long tooling device makes straight, uniform horizontal joints.


Insulation above the ceiling is recommended for cabins built in any climate and for use in any season. Either loose fill or batt-type insulation may be used. Vermiculite fill in the cores of the blocks and foamed semirigid insulation about the perimeter of the floor slab are necessary for winter comfort. Lightweight-aggregate blocks are recommended because insulation is easier to apply to them than to the denser concrete blocks with sand and gravel aggregate. Lightweight blocks are also easier to handle, and nails can be driven into them.

Finishing material

Interior-wall, ceiling, and floor finishes can be applied before partitions are erected. This saves cutting and fitting labor. Ceiling tiles made of insulating board are popular for this type of building because no further finishing is required. Low-cost asphalt tiles serve well over a concrete floor slab.

A latex paint is recommended for the interior walls. Besides being economical and easy to apply, it is well suited for masonry and the other inside materials. The exterior masonry walls should have a base coat of portland cement paint (a special cement powder to be mixed with water) for watertightness. Apply this with a stiff-bristle scrub brush to fill the pores of the block. The second exterior coat should be an acrylic resin, outside latex paint.

Interior partitions

The clear span of the roof trusses permits free placement of interior partitions. If the partitions are not hindered by wiring or plumbing, they can be easily moved for remodeling. Partitions should be slightly less than ceiling height and wedged at the bottom to press them against the ceiling.

The working drawings show construction details of the storage room wall that separates the living area from the bedroom. Built from standard 4- x 8-foot sheets of material, the wall is 2 feet deep by 8 feet high.

Perforated hardboard is suggested for closet doors and backs, for ventilation as well as for its decorative quality. Brackets and hooks can be placed in the perforated board to make the storage space more usable.

Construction of the heater enclosure will depend on the type of heating unit to be installed.



This one-and-a-half-story cabin has two bedrooms and a loft sleeping area. The loft is over the first floor bedrooms and has clearances of 7 feet at the ridge beam and 3 feet at the outside wall.

An open-type ceiling gives a feeling of spaciousness to the kitchen and living area and cuts construction costs. A prefabricated fireplace is suggested on the plan.

Pole framing helps to make construction easy for the less-experienced builder and eliminates the need for expensive masonry foundations. A wood-frame floor is used in the structure shown and is most suitable for a sloping site. A concrete floor would be more economical when the house is built on a well-drained, level site. A pole-supported deck is suggested for more indoor-outdoor relaxation space.

Rough-sawn native material is used wherever possible. The choice of interior finishing material is left to the builder. Slight changes in the wall framing could be made if insulation and interior finish are to be added.



These two cabins are designed for recreational purposes in mountain areas or at a beach. They can be built by three or four people who have reasonable ability in the use of tools. Someone with a knowledge of concrete work may be required to place the footings. The frame itself should present no problems; nor should erection of the end walls, roof, and interior partitions. It is assumed that electricity will be available at the site to permit the use of power tools and to provide for lighting, heating, and cooking.

Each cabin is provided with a modern kitchen that contains a refrigerator, range, sink, and adequate cabinet space. Provision is made for a water heater under one corner of the floor cabinet arrangement. The bathroom contains a lavatory, toilet, and shower. A storage locker for linens is provided in the bathroom. The water supply would probably come from a well or spring; where the piping is exposed to the outside air it should be properly insulated and provided with drain valves so that all water can be drained from the system when the cabin is not occupied during winter weather.

See page 57 for additional information on construction of A-frame structures.

The 36-foot-long cabin contains three bedrooms, one on the first floor and two on the second floor. The front bedroom on the second floor is a balcony that overlooks the two-story living room. If sleeping space for more than six persons is required, cots can be placed in the living room.

The 24-foot-long cabin contains two bedrooms, both on the second floor. The living-dining area is smaller than that in the 36-foot cabin. The living room is only one story high.

Other features in both cabins

Ventilation in both cabins is good; the windows at each end provide excellent circulation of air.

Storage shelving is indicated adjacent to the "ship's ladder" that leads to the second floor.

If a fireplace is desired, a prefabricated unit may be installed. Wood may be stored under the cabin for use during winter or for cooking.

The working drawings of the smaller cabin show that the size of the rear bedroom can be increased by extending the second floor to include the rear balcony. The second floor can also be extended at the front of the cabin if desired. If this is done, the door shown on the plan should be replaced by a double-hung window.

View of section

This section gives some ideas for constructing the A-frame. After the footings have been placed, the lower half of the frame may be erected and the rough flooring nailed in place at the first- and second-floor levels. The second floor can be used as a work platform while the upper half of the frame is put in place. The roof sheathing should then be put on, followed by the finished roofing. The end walls may then be framed and completed and, finally, the interior partitions.

For added protection in cold climates the space under the first floor and in the end walls should be insulated. Additional insulation may be installed on the underside of the roof sheathing between the frames if the climate requires.



This 24- by 24-foot A-frame cabin, a recreational second home that is popular throughout the United States, has been built in mountain areas, at the shore from Maine to Florida, and across the country. Like the traditional cabins, this A-frame cabin provides quite comfortable living space for a family of four or five. Sleeping space for weekend visitors can be provided easily by rearranging the furniture in the large bedroom on the second floor.

The first floor of the cabin contains a living-dining room, a compact kitchen, a bathroom with shower, and adequate storage space. The living-dining room runs the full width of the building, with storage space on each side.

The locale and climatic conditions are major factors for the builder to consider when deciding if a heating system and insulation are needed.

The kitchen at the rear of the cabin contains space for a sink, a refrigerator, a range, and base and wall cabinets. A "ship's ladder" stairway leads to the second floor, and a dormer-type window extension in the roof ados light and ventilation to this area.

With some knowledge of carpentry and the ability to use ordinary hand tools, three or four men should have no serious problems building this cabin. Care should be taken in locating and setting the pressure-treated posts. The A-frames should be assembled flat on the ground, raised into position, and braced until the flooring is put in place. The roof sheathing should be placed, the ends cut to the shape of the overhang, then the roofing applied. The end walls and partitions may easily be installed and the kitchen and bathroom fixtures placed. Redwood or cypress lumber siding will take on a weathered finish and eliminate the need for periodic painting.


Use rough lumber for all structural framing. Lap rough, l-inch boards for end-wall siding. Other materials or methods may be substituted.

Rafters and floor beams are 24-feet long to facilitate construction of the A-frame on the ground. If some saving in intial cost is necessary, add the deck in the front later. Interior finish is left to builder's choice.



This cabin is designed principally for camping but would make a fairly comfortable house for a small family. A basement could be provided, with the entrance down a stairway from the back porch. Loft space could be reached from an open stair in the living room.



This cabin would be especially appropriate for a camp in the woods or on the lakeshore. The back of the fireplace in the living room gives heat to the bedrooms. The large porch is especially desirable if the house is to be used as a summer home. Porch posts of peeled logs are appropriate for this cabin.



In a well-wooded region, this rustic log cabin would be suitable for a small family starting farm life. Or, it might be used as a tenant house or a summer cottage. The grouping of doors and windows reduces the work that usually goes into log construction and provides good cross ventilation. The single, main-bearing partition and other partitions are easily framed. A circulator heater, large living-room fireplace, and the wood or coal kitchen range furnish heat.



This 24-foot x 24-foot one-bedroom structure, simply designed for comfort and economy, can be used as a vacation retreat or campsite. It features low-cost pole-frame construction, design simplicity, and flexibility of arrangement.

The use of poles permits rapid erection, minimum site preparation, and decreased foundation expenses. The poles also serve as the wall framework to which other members are fastened. The life expectancy of a pole-frame structure, with the commercial preservative-treating processes in use today, can be as long as 75 years. The structure can be made very attractive both inside and out, depending on materials available, taste, and cost.

Rough-sawn native lumber is used in the board-and-batten siding. Several kinds of material are available for use as coverings.

Location and type of windows are flexible.

With kitchen and bath as suggested, the interior is efficiently arranged for pleasant living. A prefabricated fireplace could be installed.



This structure was designed for builders having limited finances, time, and construction skills. Besides being used as campsite living quarters, it can be an auxiliary structure for such other uses as a concession stand or a storage shelter.

The use of pole framing is in keeping with the objectives of design simplicity, low cost, and flexibility of arrangement. Pole framing is not necessarily unattractive from either the exterior or the interior. Several kinds of covering materials can be used, depending on cost, desired appearance, and availability. This plan suggests using rough-sawn board-and-batten siding with 10- to 12-inch-wide boards and 2- to 3-inch-wide battens over cracks between the boards. Such siding is economical, attractive, and easily applied.

Though a wood-framed floor structure on a level site is shown here, this type of construction is also adaptable to a sloping site. A concrete floor slab could be substituted on a well-drained, level site.

The window treatment is quite flexible as to type and location.



Excerpted from Vacation Homes and Log Cabins by Dover Publications. Copyright © 1978 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 One-Room Frame Cabin
2 Three-Room Frame Cabin
3 14-Foot x 18-Foot Frame Cabin
4 24-Foot x 24-Foot Frame Cabin
5 24-Foot x 24-Foot Concrete-Block Cabin
6 Two-Bedroom Frame Cabin with Sleeping Loft
7And 8 24-Foot and 36-Foot A-Frame Vacation Homes
9 All-Purpose 24-Foot x 24-Foot A-Frame Cabin
10 Five-Room Log Cabin
11 Three-Room Log Cabin
12 Five-Room Log Cabin
13 One-Bedroom Pole-Frame Cabin
14 One-Room Pole-Frame Cabin
15 Two-Bedroom Frame Vacation Home
16 Two-Bedroom Tenant House

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Vacation Homes and Log Cabins 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My cabin the largest one for midnight gatherings and such. Two story. Nobody goes in the basement but me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Checks on Maisey.