1. Make smart decisions, not cheap ones. Skimping on your log package so you can afford more amenities will only come back to haunt you. Remember: Upgrading to hardwood floors or custom cabinetry in the future is a lot easier than building a whole new addition.
2. Don’t choose a manufacturer because of one floorplan. Most companies can customize any of their plans to suit your needs. When choosing your provider, check out their quality of service, log species and styles before deciding who would best complete your homebuilding project.
3. Make sure the features you want are included in the package you choose. Some packages include just the log shell, whereas others come with roofing materials, cabinetry, doors, windows—you name it. Also, be sure your package comes with the level of construction help you want. A lower price often excludes labor, so take this into account when you’re shopping from company to company.
4. If you have to make a choice, opt for comfort over looks. Above everything else, design your log home to fit your lifestyle. If you’re planning to retire in your home, think about opting for a first-floor master bedroom. Love to host guests? Plan for plenty of sleeping space. And if you enjoy playing outdoors, consider incorporating a rear entry into your design. It’s the perfect place to drop off wet snow gear, dirty boots and bags.
5. Keep design changes to a minimum once construction starts. If you’re not careful, structural changes can add up fast, blowing your budget before you know it. Instead, take your time during the initial design phase. Most designers recommend working on your floorplan for at least a year before breaking ground. More time will only give you the opportunity to come up with all of the design elements you’d like to incorporate before you finalize your plan.
6. Check that your plans conform to local building codes. Codes regarding height limits, seismic zones and snow or wind loads vary from area to area. Some communities even have guidelines concerning the color and materials you’re allowed to use. Ask for details before you buy property or select a log producer.
7. Don’t be afraid to fire a builder or contractor if you don’t like their work. Even with careful research, you may not enjoy a positive working relationship once you get started. Visit your building site often to check on the progress and ask questions. Above all, follow your gut. If your builder is never available or onsite because he’s too busy, you may need to consider looking for another one.
8. Don’t start building if you’re going through significant life changes. Building a dream home is stressful enough without having a new baby, caring for an ailing family member or coping with your own health issues. You’ll need as much energy and free time as you can spare to pull everything together. Even if you have to wait a while, it’s better to start building when you’ll be able to focus on the project.
9. Keep your sense of humor. It’s inevitable that you’ll run into obstacles. Instead of getting overwhelmed, focus on the big picture and rely on your builder or log producer to offer smart suggestions to get you back on track. Happy building!
Read the full story in the March 2007 issue of Log Home Design.