Log Homes Illustrated’s Annual Buyer’s Directory is a compilation of advice for people who are getting started in the planning of their log home.

The best people to tell what it takes to make that happen are those who succeeded in making their log-home dream come true. It didn’t just happen. They followed a series of steps to make it happen. Here’s what successful log-home owners say worked for them. Parts 6-25 will run in future issues of Log & Timber Homes Network News.

1. Do your homework.

The one piece of advice successful log-home owners emphasize above all else is the importance of research. Finding out all that’s involved and all your options will smooth your path.

Some people disdain the way log homes are sold and built—the whole kit concept, having to find a builder, having different people handle different aspects of the project. This breakdown has a big advantage, however: It lets you control every aspect to give you the best choice.

Having lots of choices isn’t a bad thing. Choice is why people buy log homes.

2. Gather ideas.

Read and clip magazines. Not just the log-home magazines, but any magazines that explain custom-home planning and show pictures of room layouts, features and furnishings that appeal to you. But know what you’re looking for. Learn to look for details within the bigger picture. Don’t look for your pictures of your home. Your home hasn’t been built yet.

The Internet can lead you to specific information. Browsing can be time consuming, however, so know what you’re searching for before you log on.

Attend log-home shows and open houses. Log-home shows are great for finding out what’s involved in log-home design and construction and comparing different log styles. Open houses familiarize you with what a finished log home can look like.

As you gather ideas, examine why log homes appeal to you. The reason most people give is this: “I like the way they look!”

3. Decide on the look.

The look of a log home is distinctive. And yet all log homes do not look alike. As you refine your idea of what style log home you prefer from the ones you visit and the photos you save, try to identify what is it about their look that most appeals to you.

The biggest distinctions are round or square logs, milled or handcrafted, chinking or not. Handcrafted logs can be peeled to resemble the tree or hewn to give a flat, finished appearance. Milled logs are shaped with precision machinery. They have a uniformity that implies a tight fit. But logs can be milled to produce a handcrafted look.

Corners are a signature feature of log homes. They are overlapping, interlocking and intersecting. Familiarize yourself with the different corners and decide which you prefer.

4. Calculate how much house you can afford.

Your cash on hand (savings plus equity) plus the amount you can or want to borrow equals your budget. You cannot exceed this amount.

Related to this prime directive, however, is:

5. Know when and how to compromise.

You can simplify your design (fewer corners equals lower cost; cheaper to build up or down than out) or reduce the size of your house.

You can substitute carpeting over a subfloor for hardwood floors, a wood-burning stove instead of a masonry fireplace and stock rather than custom cabinets.

You can also mix full-log and framed construction, especially in a two-story house, and use log siding to match your full-log look. Also, interior partition walls can be framed instead of log.

The ultimate compromise: You can postpone building until you have saved or can borrow more.


This article ran longer, in its entirety and with pictures in the 2008 Annual Buyer’s Directory issue of Log Homes Illustrated.

Go to Part II.