Log Home Planning 101
Three design questions to prepare you for the main event
by: Log Home Living editorial staff


1. Who makes log homes?
These are companies collectively known as log home producers; there are more than 400 producers throughout the United States and Canada. The services they provide vary. Some design and build houses, while others only supply the logs necessary for a design by an independent architect or builder. In addition, some companies are nationwide enterprises, usually working via a network of distributors, while others confine their business to certain geographic locals.

Finding the producer that’s right for you is a great educational experience. Begin by gathering recommendations of both producers and local building contractors from friends who live in log homes. Research the topic by looking at magazines and producers’ web sites and call for brochures. Then tour model houses or recently completed homes built by local companies. Whittle down your list by checking the companies’ reputations. A good way to begin is to get the names of recent customers and talking to them about their experience: Did the log producer do what he said he would? Was the work completed on schedule? Would you select that particular producer to build another house? If not, why? Be aware, however, that a company is unlikely to give you the name of a dissatisfied customer.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, contact the Better Business Bureau or the attorney general’s office in your state regarding complaints and legal action brought against the log producer you’re considering. The Log Homes Council, made up of log home producers and suppliers, is another resource for names of companies in your area. Also, see the Marketplace {need link} of this issue.

2. Where do I find a floorplan that’s appropriate for me?

Some people have a fairly good idea of the look and layout they prefer. Others may have only a vague notion. Wherever you fall on that scale, start by compiling a list of features you must have in your new home; for example, the number of bedrooms and baths.

Second, supplement the must-haves with the amenities you want to include. You may prefer an open floorplan that combines the living and dining areas into one large room. Even more open is a great room, which unites the living and dining areas with the kitchen into one space. On the other hand, you may go the traditional route of keeping these rooms separate and distinct. What about a family room in place of, or in addition to, a living-dining area? Do you want a den or a study? A bathroom for every bedroom? What about a home office? Also, reflect on the design of your current home. What do you like about the layout? What don’t you like?

3. What will my house look like?

The design of your home depends on what it will include, as well as your preferences, budget and the limitations of your building site. Regarding appearance, is your heart set on a two-story home? Are you limited to one story because of local building restrictions or health limitations? Do building setbacks on your plot affect the configuration of your house? Questions along this line of thinking let you separate your needs and wants. You’re also establishing a hierarchy, outlining what’s most important to you so when you contact an architect or log producer, the process of designing the house is underway already.

Of course, the standard models some log producers offer may be perfect for you. Or, perhaps a slight tweaking of an existing design will do the trick. If you don’t already own land, look at available sites that appeal to you and your wallet-flat, rolling or on a hillside. Narrow the sites down to two or three; then, if possible, have your architect or designer visit them with you. This gives them the opportunity to mesh the building site and the design of the house seamlessly.

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