21. Determine your level of involvement.
Some people intend to get involved in building their log home for the experience, the achievement or the savings.
Consider what’s involved, however. These aren’t weekend cabins in the woods. They’re full-blown, up-to-date homes with all the systems and features capable of supporting the life you already have or aspire to, including all the space and all the gadgetry. If you aren’t equipped to build an ordinary house, how could you possibly tackle a log home?
If you have the skills and can make the commitment, by all means go for it. If not, hire professionals and leave the job to them.
If you aren’t handy with tools, maybe you aspire to be your own general contractor. But the work is time consuming and detail oriented, plus you may not save as much as you think. A licensed contractor knows the good subs and can usually buy materials cheaper than you. Plus, many lenders disdain owner-builder financing, although you can get around this by hiring a general contractor to hire you as a builder—but then you have to pay the general contractor.
22. Expect delays.
Don’t schedule a big party for the day after your builder promises she’ll be done.
But consider this. It’s difficult to forecast a specific completion date before the project even begins. You certainly don’t want the job to drag on way beyond your target date, but you’ll gain little by pressuring your builder to hurry up. In the rush to meet the deadline, he might cut a few corners or not live up to the standards of the rest of the work. More important than getting your home done is getting it done right.
23. Don’t forget furniture and landscaping.
Allow money in your budget for the finishing touches. A picture-perfect setting and matching interior are what log homes are all about. Nothing’s more disappointing than a brand-new home with worn-out furniture and an outside that looks like construction is still under way.
24. Be aware that log homes aren’t just places to live. They’re a way of life.
Living in a log home may mean peace and quiet and easy access to outdoor recreation. Living in a log home may also mean moving to a remote area of the country without easy access to shopping, emergency services and many conveniences that you’re accustomed to. Before you make the ultimate commitment, understand what you’re giving up as well as what you’re gaining.
25. Have realistic expectations.
Don’t look for shortcuts or easy answers. Allow adequate time to plan your log home, from buying land, choosing a company, finalizing a design, hiring a builder and having the home built.
Accept that there will be rough spots along the way. You’ll be surprised to find that you don’t go off the deep end when they occur.
Log homes are custom homes, and the process of having one built isn’t really all that different from any other custom-home project with two exceptions. First, you have more control of the various steps leading to the home’s completion. Second, log homes are built with logs.
Logs are a natural material. They’re the only building material that people romanticize, rhapsodize and fantasize about. Wood’s variations are what give logs their mesmerizing character and result in the distinctive look of log homes. If you regard these characteristics as flaws or don’t regard wood as the ultimate choice for a home, maybe you should rethink living in a log home.
Otherwise, if you’re determined to live in a log home, make the commitment to buy and build yours as soon as you’re able. It’s easy to postpone the project, but the people who enjoy living in their log home say the rewards, the joy, the satisfaction are so great that they agree they wish they had built theirs sooner.
This article ran longer, in its entirety and with pictures in the 2008 Annual Buyer’s Directory issue of Log Homes Illustrated.