6. Anticipate the unexpected.
It’s impossible to predict how your project will unfold. Delays are so common, for instance, that they are the norm. So are cost overruns. The three biggest budget-busters are site preparation (you’re usually dealing with raw, often remote sites); changes to the design after construction begins; and upgrades once project is under way.

Allow at least 10 to 15 percent for overrun. If you don’t need the money, you can use it for furniture and landscaping when you’re done. If you do, you won’t have to borrow additional money, inevitably at a higher interest rate.

7. Buyer your land before you design your house.
Good design flows from its surroundings. Views, natural features (terrain, vegetation) all influence the form of your home.

8. Make sure you can build on your land.
Typically, you’ll need a well and a septic system. Your land will have to pass a perc test to ensure proper drainage. Some communities have covenants that restrict the type of homes that can be built, such as no rustic-style homes. A few specify no log homes. Environmental restrictions might prohibit building any kind of home, especially in wetlands areas; these restrictions are tightening, not slackening.

9. Assemble your dream team early.
Having a designer, builder, log producer, interior designer and landscape architect on board before you begin planning and building your log home will make the process go smoother and allow members to benefit from each other’s experience, different viewpoints and requirements. Always remember that the final decision is yours.

10. Design for yourself and your lifestyle.
Don’t let your designer dictate to you. Professionals are trained to solve problems creatively, but their solution might not be the best for you. Don’t be intimidated by credentials. The way we live in a house is usually a response to the way the house is. A log home is a custom design that can be lived in any way you decide. That decision will largely dictate your design.

Go to Part III.

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