When you’ve searched online for a Colorado cabin property for sale, have you noticed that you can’t filter your search for a cabin specifically? You can filter your search by property types such as Apartments/Condos, Manufactured Homes, Lots/Land, Townhouses, and Single-Family Homes, but there’s no checkbox for “cabin.”

Technically, a cabin falls under one of the other property type categories. Not all houses are considered cabins, but all cabins that meet residential building requirements are considered houses. Further, those cabins that don’t meet residential building requirements (i.e., no running water or electricity) are considered non-habitable structures on a piece of land.

As a real estate broker in Western Colorado, I sell plenty of properties that, by subjective definition, fit the mold of a Colorado cabin. However, “cabin” means different things to different buyers. What one buyer considers a cabin, another may consider a lodge, cottage, or chalet instead.

Let’s go over some technical definitions of these common Western Colorado properties for sale, so you know what keywords in the listing description indicate it’s the kind of property you desire.

What’s The Difference Between a Cabin and a House?

A cabin is a house in a rural area near a mountain or a lake. To fully encompass the modern cabin market, we have to broaden the original definition. Traditionally, a rustic house with frontier characteristics and a log exterior would be considered a cabin. While many modern cabins still resemble this build, there are plenty of massive and fancy Colorado cabins on the market too.

What is a Lodge?

More closely resembling the original definition of a cabin, a lodge is a temporary or seasonal shelter or the main building at a camp. Typically, a lodge is a simple dwelling that offers shelter during the occupant’s recreational activities. That’s why you often see hunting lodges, fishing lodges, and even resort lodges. If you intend to use your cabin (even a fancy one) as a seasonal hunting cabin, it would technically function as a lodge too.

What is a Cottage and a Chalet?

A cottage is a small house in the countryside. However, people liberally use the term “cottage” to describe a small, one-story home with traditional country architecture.

Chalets originated in the Swiss Alps and featured steep roofs and wide eaves to prevent snow buildup. Now, like a cottage, the term “chalet” is used to describe the architectural style of low houses with overhanging eaves.

Finding a Colorado Cabin

There’s a lot of overlap in the definitions of a cabin, lodge, cottage, and chalet. That makes it easier for you to find a cabin that fits your needs. Checking a “cabin” box online would show you such a vast array of properties, that you’d still have to sift through thousands of cabins that fit someone else’s definition before you found one that fits yours.

The key to finding your ideal cabin in Colorado isn’t filtering by property type but rather understanding the features you want in your cabin and its location. How many bedrooms do you need? Would you rather have a fancy lakefront cabin or a hunting lodge on Colorado National Forest inholding land? Do you prefer a chalet-style or traditional log home?

Know what features you need, and, as far as the technical definitions are concerned, leave those up to your real estate broker.