16. Know what’s in your package—and what isn’t.
Understand how log homes are sold. You buy the logs, then hire someone to assemble them. The log-home kit, or materials package, is the basic ingredient of your log home. Packages comprise a variety of contents, from just the basic log walls to most everything you need to complete the home. Logs can be pre-cut or random lengths. Whatever your package contains, everything it doesn’t, you will have to buy yourself.

17. Understand what a log home costs.
The kit or package price bears little relationship to the total cost of the finished home. Too often, however, buyers are misled or mislead themselves into thinking they can ballpark the unknown from the known.

There is no magic multiplier. Kit contents differ, as do the levels of quality of the materials added to the kit that have no relationship to the kit contents.

Cost per square foot is also unreliable, again because of the amenities, volume, complexity of design, upgrades, whether interior walls are log or drywall and countless other variables. A 3,000-square-foot box, for instance, is much cheaper to build than a 2,500-square-foot home with bumpouts, turns, multiple roof pitches and dormers.

As with everything else involved in buying and building a log home, there are no shortcuts. The only way you can even guess the total cost is to get bids on the materials and labor involved.

18. Get to know your dealer.
Dealers represent log-home producers, usually within designated territories. A good dealer can help you with locating land, designing your home, financing and finding a good builder. A dealer will also help you with the cost-estimate of your log home.

A few companies don’t have dealers but have sales representatives that work out of the national or a regional office. They provide the same services as dealers but are employees of the company.

19. Visit several actual homes by producers and builders you’re considering.
The company that makes your logs and engineers how they will be assembled is, obviously, crucial to the outcome. The log-home company you choose will provide the bulk of the building material and define the look of your home.

You want a company that can deliver what you want and what it says it can. The best way to tell if any you’re considering does both is to see its homes. Try to see several that are at least three to five years old, when most manufacturing defects will have shown themselves but problems caused by the homeowner’s neglect won’t.

As for builders, they’re more crucial because the home must be assembled correctly, and that’s their job. Most work independently of the log-home companies, so you have to evaluate their credentials separately. If you’re buying your log home from a dealer for your log-home company, ask that person to recommend several builders who have built that company’s homes nearby.

20. Hire the best builder, not the cheapest.
Don’t seek shortcuts. A good log-home builder is worth paying and waiting for. A bad one can ruin the best-designed, best-engineered home.

Most complaints against log-home companies turn out to be the fault of builders who didn’t build the home the way it was supposed to be built.

As a rule, hire a builder who has built log homes—and inspect these homes. Look for a builder with experience not just building log homes, but also with the type construction of your log-home company and with the size and scope of your log home.

Go to Part V.

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