Building a custom log house is an exciting adventurefrom the day you start planning to make your dream a reality, to your first night’s sleep surrounded by cozy log walls. There are many decisions to make along the way to ensure that the process runs smoothly. First and foremost, you must acquire knowledge about financing, design and construction. That way, you get the house that fits your needs, budget and preferences. Being informed also helps when your dream collides with reality, and you encounter the inevitable: compromise.
Once you have a clear picture of your financial resources, focus on getting information from the people who will design and build your log house. Then pose the following questions when making your final decisions.
2 How do I lower my costs?
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.
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 of this issue.
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?
5 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.
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.
Still others call for less maintenance over the years. Your choice often boils down to the type of wood your log producer offers or suggests.
Your choice of logs might have an impact on the selection of other building materials, as well as on the construction method. Ask the log producer to advise you on your particular project.
8 Are the logs treated with chemicals? If so, what kind?
Preservatives sometimes affect the selection of stains and caulking used to achieve a specific look. Ask the producer whether the logs for your home will be treated and how long the protection will last.
9 Do logs come already cut to size?
The second kind includes logs that must be cut to the correct length and notched at the building site. Within this second category, you have two options: a partially precut package or a random-length package. Partially precut logs require less preparation work onsite than the random-length variety.
One method is no better than the other. A prepared package is more expensive but quicker to construct, thus eliminating expensive onsite work. If you are planning to complete some of the work yourself, you may prefer to spend less money upfront and invest more time in hands-on work.
10 What are log profiles?
Ask to see examples of how the logs will look after they are stacked. This result is impacted by several factors: the height and width of the logs; the butt joints, which are the vertical intersections created where the ends of the logs meet; and the horizontal joints established by the intersection of the tops and bottoms of logs.
Structural differences between various profiles usually are not a concern. Log home producers tend to offer an array of log profiles to increase their product’s appeal to customers.
How far in advance does the log producer notify you of the date and time of delivery? Does the driver unload the package, or are you responsible for having the materials removed? Who supplies and pays for equipment to unload the truck? If the truck is late, who pays for the overtime fees and rental equipment? How much space does the truck require for onsite maneuverability?
14 Who builds log homes?
|(Click image to view full ad – 1.09MB)||Think of buying a log home package and its construction as two separate issues. Some log producers limit their work to making and selling the package. Others not only make and sell the package, but they also build it.Selecting someone to build your home may be a deciding factor in the log producer you choose. For example, if you already have a builder, or plan to build the house yourself, you may want a producer that only supplies the package. But, if you haven’t selected a builder, you may choose a producer that doubles as the general contractor.|
When talking to log producers, find out about the services they offer. If they don’t have a network of builders, will they assist your builder? For a fee, some will assemble the components. Others will consult with your builder to ensure the work is completed correctly. This is an important service for owner-builders to know about.
15 Is one building system better than another?
|(Click image to view full ad – 357KB)||No particular log construction method is sufficiently superior to persuade you to reject all others. Of all the log home producers in North America, it’s doubtful that any use the exact same combination of methods and materials. Their products have been incorporated into hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of homes.|
Instead of concentrating on the technical details of log home construction, focus on how the method complies with the building code in your area. Also, inquire about how the system accommodates settling and whether the logs are graded.
(Click image to view full ad – 375KB)
|After discussing these points with potential log producers, turn inward. You likely have received “vibes” or had gut feelings about the people you have talked to.Do they strike you as being straightforward, competent and honest? Do you feel comfortable talking with them? Can they communicate clearly? Would you trust them to be in your home when you aren’t there?Check references and interview former clients.|
Ask them directly-did the producers do what they said they would, when they said they would and in the way they said they would?
Though your relationship with your log producer and builder will be brief, it will be intense. And the result of your collaboration affects the way you live for years, even decades. So, take all the time necessary to make informed, intelligent decisions. Listen to experienced professionals, people who have built their own home as well as your own intuition. The result will be a beautiful, functional living environment that you can call home.