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10 Most Common Planning Mistakes

Avoid the most common or egregious planning mistakes when building your log home.
by Heather B. Hayes
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An example of a floor plan layout

Designing and building a log home is fun. Discovering that you’ve made a mistake during the process isn’t, as homeowners are then forced to live with the consequences or spend additional dollars to remedy the problem. The following represents some of the most common or egregious errors that can occur during the home planning phase.

  1. Planning around wants rather than needs. A lot of homeowners have big ideas about building the “perfect” home and make a point of incorporating all their desires into the log home plan. But then reality hits, and they have to start taking away luxury items and accessories in order to keep from going over budget.
  2. Falling in love with a particular house design before you own property. Some people fall in love with a home with a walk-out basement, but the lot they purchase is flat, or the house plan calls for a view to the back but the lot will only accommodate a view to the side or the front.
  3. Not putting in necessary hallways. Hallways create a transition from one zone to another, so use them to separate the master bedroom from the great room, for example, or a bathroom from the dining room.
  4. Putting in too many hallways. By contrast, too many hallways eat up precious square footage and give the home the feel of being too cut up and chaotic.
  5. Believing that all square footage costs are equal. Construction costs are sometimes tallied based on a generalized, average square foot cost, but if that price is higher than a homeowner’s budget, they’ll often try to save money by cutting the size of low-cost rooms, like bedrooms or closets. Typically, they’ll be unhappy with the result.
  6. Failing to consider the cubic volume of a house. Some homeowners will override the floor plan with a three-story high cathedral ceiling in a relatively small room that results in excessive cubic footage in proportion to square footage. The effect? An expensive design and architectural mistake that makes the home feel off-balance and out of kilter.
  7. Designing a house in a non-rectangular shape for no good reason. A lot of homeowners go for an “L” or “T” shaped house or a home with lots of corners, without realizing that what they’re doing with their walls, they’ll also be doing with their roof, which can be an expensive proposition.
  8. Overloading the home with accessories. If you’re going to put in accessories like fireplaces and even bathrooms, make sure you plan to use them. Based on square footage costs, they’re excessively expensive.
  9. Assuming that you’ll be young forever. Sunken great rooms, an underground garage and planning to have all bedrooms on the second floor may fit your thirty-something lifestyle, or perhaps they’re pragmatic cost-cutting options, but none of us is getting younger.
  10. Overdoing the wood look. “Much as we love wood, a log home with a wood floor and a wood ceiling with wood beams and wood cabinets and wood furniture is not a pleasant environment,” says Allen Halcomb, president of MossCreek. “Make sure you have at least some contrast.”

This article ran longer and with more detail in the Country’s Best Log Homes 2009 Annual Buyer’s Guide.

Published in Country's Best Log Homes
Comment Feed

6 Responses

  1. I agree we are not getting younger when it comes to planning cabins. But as I look at articles and plans most are for huge /two story structures. I would like to see more single level plain cabins that can really be lived in.

    • Chuck: Be sure to use our floor plans tool, which will allow you to search by the size and number of floors you’re interested in.

  2. What floor plan tool are you refering too?

    Howard BurtonNovember 6, 2013 @ 11:45 amReply
  3. Also, you can take an existing exterior you like and design the one-floor option to your taste. Do understand that it costs more to go out than up with logs, though. This is not an issue if you are looking at a small footprint. This is a popular method that is less expensive than designing from scratch.

  4. There are some steps in the design phase that must not be overlooked:
    1. Design for at least 24 to 30 inch overhangs on the sides and 4 to 6 feet min. on the ends. All of this is designed to KEEP THE LOGS DRY !
    2. Keep first row of logs up off the ground at least 18 to 30 inches. KEEP THE LOGS DRY.
    3. Use Ice Shield at bottom and valleys of roof. Gutters are a must -KEEP THE LOGS DRY.
    4. Sand and clear coat the underside of the 2×6′s end matched that will be used for the loft sub floor. Finished side down. When they are screwed in place the 1st floor ceiling is DONE!
    5. Mark the sub-floor on the ground level showing where the receps are going to be located so the log setters with full logs can drill the vertical holes after the 2nd or 3rd course so the electrician can cut into the logs right at the vertical holes to mount the electrical recep boxes.
    6. Create a ‘race-way’ in the sides of the door jams on first floor so you have a place to run the wires to the second level.
    7. Use algae resistant AR shingles to prevent mold/mildew on the roof when done.
    8. Select the right exterior stains. I used TWP made by Gemini. Its an oil based semi transparent stain. You need to use oil based caulk ( Titebond sells it) when using oil based stain. DO NOT get talked into putting any clear coats on your exterior logs. You will trap the moisture and the logs will turn black and rot. If you use the right stain you will only need to restain every 5 or 6 years. Log prep before staining is very important. I strongly recommend using Timbor or Borada-D to treat the logs before staining. Be sure to check logs with moisture meter before staining. Keep the moisture below 15% WITH OIL BASED STAINS.
    9. Use spray foam insulation in the basement pockets for insulation. Fiberglass will trap moisture.
    10. Plan for an ingress/egress escape well for the basement. You will likely someday put beds down there-=make an escape route to protect lives.
    11. Consider using pre-stained tongue and grove end matched boards/car siding inside. When its up there’s no sanding, staining/clear coating- when its up its done. Ceiling and walls.
    These are just a few of many seemingly small but important details when planning to build.

    Terry TadysakJanuary 3, 2014 @ 12:59 amReply



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