Plan Your Dream Home Now
18 strategies to realize your dream home in the next 12 months

Here are the first 6 strategies to help you realize your dream of building a log home.

1. Create a Planning Schedule
Don’t underestimate how much energy and research building a home will take, advises Sara Lamia, author of How to Enjoy Building Your Dream Home: A Workbook for Buyers and Builders. You can spend a year just on planning and design. Your first task is to make time in your busy schedule. Start small by setting aside a couple nights a week to peruse books, magazines and web sites. In the months to come, you’ll do more detailed research, such as visiting model homes, log raisings and log home companies’ facilities.

2. Perfect Your Home Site
Before you delve into design, make sure you have the right building site, advises Mathew Robbins, designer at Wind River Timberframes. Before you buy, ensure the lot is suitable for building in terms of the slope, soil conditions, accessibility, zoning, well water and the site’s ability to pass a "perc" test. (This test is used to determine whether the land will readily accept wastewater from a septic system.)

3. Know Thy Land
If you already own land, spend time on it to discover the ideal orientation for your new home. "Sketch the topographical features, map the directions of the prevailing winds and find the areas that will be shady and sunny during each season," says Brenda Baker with Riverbend Timber Framing. "Draw different size circles to represent rooms or spaces or make cutouts that can be moved around on the map to understand how the spaces will relate to each other and the site. Think of noise levels, the sun’s path, privacy and traffic flow. This process will eventually lead to understanding how your home will live."

4. Shop for Financing
Will this log home be a primary residence or a vacation retreat? How you’ll use this home can influence your financing strategy. Visit with mortgage companies that specialize in loans for timber homes to discover the options and develop an accurate budget. "We’ve had clients get in and out of the loan process in a month," says Tracy Keyser with the System Built division of M&T Mortgage, which offers special loan programs for log home buyers.

5. Listen to Yourself
Identify the top five to 10 things that frustrated you in past homes. You can fix them forever in your new design. "The time you spend on this is rarely wasted," says Iain Harrison with New Energy Works Timberframers.

6. Get it on Paper
Start with some general questions:

  • What size home do you want? (Use your present home as a guide.)
  • How many bedrooms? How many baths?
  • Do you need special areas such as a workshop or exercise room?
  • Do you prefer a traditional, rustic or modern look?
  • Will your home have a basement or crawl space, or will it be built on piers or a slab?
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