HOW IT’S MADE: DIY cabins

If a “little cabin in the woods” is on your bucket list, an Edmonton based company offers an easy way to make that happen.

Knotty Pine Cabins produces prefabricated wood homes ranging in size from a 12 x 12 ft. cabin all the way to a 2,000 sq. ft. home. The company specializes in user-friendly DIY kits that many customers put together themselves.

The kits consist of pine panels (sourced mainly in Alberta), ready for assembly. “It gives that rustic look,” says Alana Depelteau, co-owner of Knotty Pine Cabins along with her father Andre and fiancé Jeremy Comartin. “The great thing about pine, too, is it has that nice smell. And it keeps that nice smell, as long as you don’t seal your interior.”

The cabins have become a popular fit for folks wanting to downsize, or setting up a comfortable place to retire. They’ve been used for a whole range of purposes such as a craft shack, an office, or once, as a place for a massage therapist to set up shop. Some RV parks have even added them as rental options for guests.

“Probably about 75 per cent of our customers are farm people,” says  Depelteau. “It’s huge. We do a lot of secondary residences on farms like mother-in-law suites or guest cabins as well as primary homes.

“We did a large home in Grande Prairie this year, and the customer got all three of his sons small ones, so it’s kind of cool. He’s got a little Knotty Pine village on his land!”

So, how is a DIY cabin made?

The milled tongue-and-groove pine wall panels are put together with 2 x 6 studs and 3/8-inch plywood. Insulation is added once the panels are set up. The panels are formulated according to each customized plan with pre-cut openings for windows.

In addition to the panels, the kit comes with a door and two slider windows, roof trusses and a metal exterior roof. Add in the hardware, screws and bolts and the kit is ready to be shipped on a flat deck trailer to the customer’s site.

Many customers assemble the cabins themselves but Knotty Pine will put your new cabin together on request.

For the do-it-yourselfers, you basically follow a pattern, says Depelteau, “Everything is labelled, so each panel is marked A, B, C and so on. You follow the manual and go around your cabin and lift each wall based on the letter. It’s framed as per the way you’ve designed it with us.

“One nice thing about us is we’re a small business so if people have any questions they can always give us a call and we’ll answer and be able to guide them through their build,” she adds.

If Knotty Pine does the build, crews take the cabin to the lock-up stage. Plumbing, electrical and fixtures are all owner responsibilities. Usually the cabins are put on screw piles, about two and a half feet off the ground, with skirting to finish. But if other foundation options are chosen, like a basement, the cabin is engineered accordingly.

The combination of price point and quality for a solid wood home that offers winter warmth and a cool summer getaway has made Knotty Pine a busy place. The company has expanded several times in the last decade. Knotty Pine’s current 14,000 sq. ft. location allows for indoor assembly and serves customers from all over Western Canada.

If you’re anxious to check that “little cabin in the woods” off your bucket list, you’ll need to plan ahead. Depelteau says the season ramps up when the snow melts, so the sooner customers get their orders in, the more likely they can get a dream cabin in place by fall.