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Lakefront Log Home Project: Log Home Diary Entry #5, Choosing the Builder

They've got their land. They've got their log-home company. But who will build this couple's dream log home?
by George and Marlyn Curnow

Choosing the Builder

Log Home Diary Entry # 5
Southwestern Virginia log home project | Open SpaceAlthough we have lived in nine different homes over the course of our marriage, we have never built a home. In one, we were able to choose cabinetry and floor coverings, but for all practical purposes, it was a finished home. The point of saying this is to establish that we knew absolutely nothing about choosing a builder.

Our instinct told us we wanted a very experienced builder with good references and local knowledge. But when you don’t know the area or have limited contacts where you are going to be building, it’s hard to know where to start. This is where the selection of Southland Log Homes as our log-home producer began to really benefit us.

As mentioned in a prior blog entry, it’s important to know yourself and where you need help. In our case, our salesperson was a huge help in the ability to refer us to qualified builders. Now, we believe some log-home companies provide their own builders, which seemingly would reduce the risk in the building process even more. Nevertheless, Southland historically has an “A” list and a “B” list of builders. It’s our understanding that the A list is more experienced. The B list is totally qualified but perhaps hasn’t been associated with the company for as long of a time period. Regardless, this is our understanding. During robust home-building periods — it’s getting hard to remember, isn’t it? — both lists of builders are kept busy. In economic periods such the one we have been experiencing for the past few years, our understanding is the A list builders are getting a lion’s share of the work, with the B list builders getting smaller jobs.

In the Smith Mountain Lake area in southwest Virginia, our salesman recommended the best A-list builder in the area. The builder is a general contractor with years of experience in building conventional homes and in building many log homes, specifically Southland Log Homes. Our salesman made arrangements to meet his recommended builder at our home site. We met at a local restaurant near our property where we were introduced to the builder and his wife. We drove down to the property site, walked the property and went back to the restaurant to view laptop pictures of recent work the builder had completed. We had a lot of discussion at the property site about the particular model of home we were interested in building. The builder had great insight and thought-provoking comments about what would work best on our land.

We returned to North Carolina, and for a short period of time, we reflected on what the builder had said and our impression of him and his work. He sold us (as did his wife) as being the right person to work with us on our home. There was good chemistry, and we suspect that will come in handy over time.

The decision that followed surprised us both. But more about that next time.

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