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That, of course, is the million-dollar question for any prospective cabin owner. It's usually followed up with an inquiry on the cost per square foot. The problem with trying to quote flat numbers in regard to custom-home building is exactly that — it's a custom project, which means it's susceptible to any number of variables, from the design you chose to the finishing touches you select.

I had the opportunity to chat with a number of company representatives at the Log & Timber Home Show in Lakeland, Florida, this past weekend. They will all likely tell you the same thing: Cost depends on your choices. Most cabins start at about $150 per square foot. This is usually for your basic rectangular design and your standard no-name appliances and materials. Start adding on bump-outs, creating a more expansive floor plan or tacking on features such as granite countertops, and your per-square-foot price tag begins to increase because of additional variables such as more complex rooflines, additional foundation requirements and material cost.

Instead of marrying yourself to a specific design only to find out halfway through your research that it's completely out of the question, figure out your budget first — how much you really want to spend, not just what you may qualify for — and ask different companies what options are available to you based on that number. That way, you don't overextend yourself, nor do you have to grapple with unnecessary disappointment.

Stay tuned for more information from our various show discussions.

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