August 24, 2018

Cabin Foundation Options Uncovered

Have you made the big decision to place a cabin or bunkhouse on your lot? Do you find yourself wondering what type of foundation would be best for your new addition? If so, you’ve come to the right place! With over ten years’ experience building cabins, cottages, bunkhouses, and sheds, Knotty Pine Cabins has built on nearly every type of foundation imaginable. Let us help you weigh the pros and cons of the four most common types of cabin foundations that our customers use today.

Basement Foundations –

A basement foundation is a type of cabin foundation that allows the lower level of your cabin to be fully or partially below ground level. It typically consists of a concrete pad on the bottom and concrete walls that extend from the pad to the desired above ground level. A basement foundation is commonly used by individuals looking to create additional living space without expanding their cabin footprint.

yellow wooden house


  1. Provides additional living space at a relatively low cost
  2. Can be used on a sloped lot, creating a beautiful walk out basement
  3. Offers a cool living space in the summer and a warm living space in the winter


  1. More costly than the foundations options listed below
  2. Longer construction time due to excavation and dry time
  3. Seasonal installation

Crawl Space Foundations –

Crawl space foundations consist of concrete perimeter walls that extend 2-4 feet above the ground level – just high enough for someone to crawl underneath. A crawl space foundation will typically have a layer of 6-mil polyethylene plastic spread over the floor to prevent moisture from entering from below.

Aside from elevating your home off the ground, crawl space foundations offer a convenient location for you to hide the guts of your cabin – plumbing, electrical wiring, duct work, heating, air conditioning, etc.

a wooden house


  1. Less costly than a basement foundation
  2. Better moisture protection than screw piles
  3. Can be placed on a sloped lot


  1. Possible moisture issues in vented crawl spaces – a sealed crawl space may offer better moisture protection
  2. Seasonal installation

Screw Piles –

Screw piles or helical piles are large tubular steel screws that are wound deep into the ground using a hydraulic motor, typically mounted to a skid-steer or excavator. They’re installed below the frost line; therefore, they’re unaffected by temperature fluctuations and ground movements. For that reason, screw piles offer superior stability in areas with poor soil quality and on sloped lots.

a wooden cabin on screw piles


  1. Less costly than a basement foundation or crawl space foundation
  2. Quick installation time with minimal site disturbance
  3. No set time – you can start building your cabin immediately after the piles are installed
  4. Simple solution for uneven lots
  5. Year-round installation


  1. Cannot be used in certain soil conditions and are unsuitable for rocky terrain

On-Grade Skids –

On-grade skids are pressure treated timbers placed directly on the ground. The ground below the skids must be properly compacted and leveled in order for the skids, and ultimately the structure, to sit level. While on-grade skids may be a suitable option for a small cabin, bunkhouse, or shed, they are not ideal for structures over 400 square feet.

a wooden bunkhouse on skids


  1. Allows you to move your cabin, bunkhouse, or shed in the future
  2. The least costly option for small structures


  1. Not suitable for structures over 400 square feet
  2. Not acceptable in certain counties
  3. Far less durable than other foundation options

Looking to use a type of foundation that you don’t see listed above? No problem – we can install cabins on whatever foundation you feel is most suitable for your lot! Give us a call at 780-484-2224 to learn more about our quality prefabricated cabins. Feel free to ask us what type of foundation we would recommend for your lot, cabin, or location.