Is there an advantage to hiring a builder before I start talking to architects or log-home companies?

It helps to have the builder involved early on, especially if he or she has little or no experience with log construction, because the builder has the ultimate responsibility for the successful completion of your log home. But many builders strive for simplicity, and this inclination may be at odds with your desire for creativity and flair. Builders usually need a drawing or design to react to, so a reasonable approach is to make an architect or your log-home company the first step in the process, then bring in the builder after the preliminaries are concluded.

How tricky is installing wiring in a log home? Ductwork? Lighting? Plumbing?
The main difference between installing mechanical systems, electricity and plumbing in log homes is planning. Holes for electrical wiring can be pre-drilled, although some decisions can be made as the logs are being erected. Wiring around doors or within interior partitions and subfloors can be done after the logs are assembled.

Ductwork and plumbing need to be thought out in advance and locations indicated on construction drawings. Also, pipes usually require a slip joint so they won’t resist log movement as the home settles.