Step 1 – Check the Plan
Ask if the cabin is framed to an engineered plan. Ensure you are getting quality that an engineer backs.
Easy to do Step 1. When you call, email, or stop in to check out a company advertising to build a cabin shell, one of the first questions to ask is if the company follows engineered plans for its builds.
This means that they have a ‘guide,’ the plan, backed by an engineer saying that the building being built is built to that plan and is built to the codes needed for that build. Even if it is the same bare cabin shell that the builder has built multiple times, it should still be backed by an engineered plan.
Step 2 – Check the Code
Are you planning to finish out your shell to live in or store stuff? Ask your salesperson what code the shell is built to…
Factory-built wood framed construction shells need to be built to residential codes since the purpose of your purchase is to finish out the cabin shell to live in, not store tires or other random items.
Ask what codes are being followed. While there is not a label or sticker from a modular program that would go on a cabin shell, your builder should be able to tell you, without hesitation, that your shell is built to local residential codes or the codes for your area and should be able to provide a list of the codes, this should be top of mind for any builder!
Step 3 – Fact Check
Most quality cabin companies will sell both finished cabins and shells. Check with your state and see if they are certified on finished-out cabins so you have confidence in your shell construction.
Step 3 in your conversation with a prospective cabin company that you are interviewing for the possibility of you exchanging your hard-earned money for them to build you a cabin shell is a quick fact check!
Factory cabin companies generally offer two products – their main line of quality finished cabins with interiors completed by their craftsman, generally with durable ponderosa pine and built-to-order cabinets. The second product offering would be cabin shells.
Check and ask the cabin builder about their finished cabins, also classified as closed construction, are they certified modular builders?
Cabin shells, since they are open wall construction and not complete, do not fall under the same finished cabin certification process for modular homes. You, the buyer, are responsible for the permits and getting the inspections lined up with your county or municipality to get your final certificate of occupancy.
If the builder skips on finished out certifications, which is a way for builders to ensure that they build to approved engineered plans and follow approved building codes, then why would you trust them on a cabin shell?
If your builder or salesperson is skirting around this issue, find another builder to look at.
Step 4 – Options
Even Shells have options from Cabin builders.. pick out what will help you save time – electrical and plumbing rough-in, interior wall frame-out, and spray foam insulation are good shell options.
Take advantage of a range of shell options that are offered by the cabin company you are looking at purchasing your cabin shell from.
Even with it being a shell and you completing the finish, most cabin companies will frame the interior walls for you! This is a fantastic option to help you get your house started sooner.