Frequently Asked Questions
We approach designing all our cabins to balance features, square footage, and cost. Nothing is truly custom in our cabins, which keeps the building cost low. All the windows and doors are available as standard catalog items from major manufacturers. The cabinetry is designed to make use of readily available catalog items from big retailers like Ikea. We designed this purposefully to enable you to achieve a beautiful, modern outcome without breaking the bank and without the headaches of ordering custom components.
We encourage our customers to plan for a construction cost of at least $153 per square foot (the national average), including labor. So, a 168 square foot cabin will cost roughly $25,704 to build (168*153=25,704). This cost assumes the use of labor, and that you’ll be working with a team of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to build your cabin. While it could be less expensive than this if you put some sweat equity into the project, and do some of the work yourself, $153/sqft is a good benchmark to start your planning process with. Keep in mind that if you work with a more premium builder or use more premium materials this number could go up.
Here's a few other considerations:
— The benchmark we represent is a national average and doesn't reflect specific localized pricing. For example, if you were to build anything in Malibu CA, it would be more than nearly anywhere in Texas.
— We don't dynamically reflect the daily and weekly fluctuations in materials cost. For example, since COVID began the cost of lumber has increased as much as 60% in some localities.
— The forecasted pricing also EXCLUDES two main cost categories. Land and Land prep/site fees (driveway, clearing, well and septic), and FFE (Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment). This exclusion is traditional in all housing pricing models.
— The best way to understand the DIY/materials cost this is to buy a plan and show it to a local building supply store and request what's called a "take-off" (a free service) and they will give you an estimate of materials and costs for everything they have in inventory that will enable your build.
Yes, where listed as a product option (Complete Package), we offer a comprehensive materials list that is an invaluable asset to save you time and effort in figuring out what you’ll need to buy to build your small house.
At Den, we’ve put together such a list to bring to any hardware store and lumber yard and easily purchase everything at once. This convenience gives you a sense of what’s involved and the cost of the materials. You can also use this to check contractors on their own materials estimates if you’re hiring a team, which we encourage.
Having a set of plans in hand enables you to start the conversation with your local building department to ensure your build is compliant with all local regulations. Applying for a permit is as easy as filling out a form, appending a set of plans to your submission, and indicating who will contribute to the project, i.e. general contractor, plumber, etc. You will also have to have your building plans approved by a few other parties before you start building, so make sure you’re planning for that as well.
Some of the plans Den provides don’t require a building permit in some municipalities, however, others do. As you approach building your cabin, we encourage you to consult with an experienced local engineer to review the plans, the conditions where you intend to build, and all local building requirements.
All Den cabin plans are designed to make use of standard available catalog items from the major window and door manufacturers like Andersen, Marvin, and Velux. For the triangular or trapezoidal windows featured in our A-Frame plans, these also conform to standard tolerances of most manufacturing processes.
All of our cabin plans contain a precise “Window and Door Schedule,” which is really just a fancy way of saying a list of all the windows and doors you’ll need to support the design.
We deliver our plans with an incredible amount of detail to make a DIY or professional builder succeed in delivering a structural sound, high performing, and lasting home. Though Den plans vary between models depending on the detail required, generally they're around 12 pages and contain the following drawings: floor plans(s), foundation plan, roof framing plan, building elevations, build section(s), construction details (like specific flashing installation), window and door schedules, interior elevations and details (like cabinetry installation), fastener schedules, and a code compliant electrical plan + HVAC.
Yes, we’ve designed all of our plans to make use of standard cabinetry sizes from major retailers like Ikea. All of our cabins feature combinations of cabinets that are either 24”, 30”, or 36” wide. Additionally, we indicate sinks, stoves, stovetops, and refrigerators in all of our kitchen designs.
Yes, we include a code-compliant electrical design that includes the descriptions and locations of the breaker box, wiring paths, wall outlets, and overhead lighting. Always consult with a licensed electrician before installing any electrical system.
You can build a Den cabin nearly anywhere on Earth! We’ve designed the cabins to withstand gale for winds on the side of the mountain top, and they do equally well in a backyard in New Jersey. As you approach building your cabin, consult with your local building department to ensure that your build is compliant to all local zoning and code requirements.
Most Den cabins are designed with standard concrete pier or helical pile based foundations to make it easy for the DIY builder to set their own foundation in a variety of site conditions. Using these types of foundation systems also limit the impact to the land Den cabins sit on.
The Modern Loft Barnhouse and Modern Cottage both feature an insulated slab foundation.
Yes, all of our plans feature floor, wall, and ceiling cavities that will enable you to add insulation to match your local R-value requirements.
Den cabins are fairly small which makes heating and cooling them easy and energy efficient. We encourage our customers to consider installing a zoned or single zone ductless mini split system. In most cases a mini split offers both heating and cooling, so be on the look out for models that list a heat pump as a feature. For our plans that feature a wood or pellet stove, installing these units will provide supplemental heat in the winter time to keep you cozy.
Yes, all of our plans are compliant to the latest International Residential Code (IRC)—The 2018 International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings.
IRC is the rulebook that informs all international, state, and local building codes. If your plan isn't IRC compatible, it might not get approved for building and you should be dubious about its design and engineering.
While any building plans won’t directly replace an architect, Den plans are designed to get you all the way there with accessible high design. Think about plans from an architect as a custom-tailored suit. Den plans are like buying a high-end outfit off the rack at your favorite store. Either route will impress your inlaws or boss.
Den plans are provided to you only after countless hours of research, development, and testing. In order to deliver on our promise of the perfect blend of architecture, simplicity of design, and cost we stand behind every plan as is.
While the Den team doesn't provide customization services in house, we have now included Architectural Packages for all our designs which enable you, an engineer, or architect to quickly and easily modify your Den design.
You can read more about the Architectural Packages here.
Not yet, but we will. All of our plans are currently available only in the English/Imperial system.
Den building plans provide a non-transferable license to the purchaser to build one, single cabin depicted in the plans in a residential context. What this means is that one plan purchase allows you to build one cabin of this type. If you’d like to build two of this same cabin, you will need to purchase two licenses. This license supports residential implementations for use with short term rentals, however, this standard license does not extend to commercial entities like hotels or real estate developers.