|Log Home Planning Information
15 questions to prepare you for planning, buying and building a log home
Building a custom log house is an exciting adventure — from 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 these questions from the following categories when making your final decisions:
Only interested in a certain category? Jump around with the links below:
How much does a log home cost?
To get an idea of these expenditures, contact local builders and the municipality where you plan to build. Do, however, turn to the log producer for a ballpark estimate of building any package that interests you. They have years of experience in the field and can help you match the house you want with your budget.
How do I lower my costs?
Once construction is underway, try to stick to your original plan. Changing the design or the materials after you begin building delays the project and increases expenses. (back to: Log Home Planning 101)
Who makes log homes?
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. Whittle down your list by checking the companies’ reputations. A good way to begin is to get the names of recent customers and talking to them about their experience: Did the log producer do what he said he would? Was the work completed on schedule? Would you select that particular producer to build another house? If not, why? Be aware, however, that a company is unlikely to give you the name of a dissatisfied customer.
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.
Where do I find a floorplan that’s appropriate for me?
Second, supplement the must-haves with the amenities you want to include. You may prefer an open floorplan that combines the living and dining areas into one large room. 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?
What will my house look like?
Of course, the standard models some log producers offer may be perfect for you. Or, perhaps a slight tweaking of an existing design will do the trick. 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. (back to: Log Home Planning 101)
What type of wood goes into a log home?
Does the moisture content of logs matter?
Are the logs treated with chemicals? If so, what kind?
Do logs come already cut to size?
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.
What are log profiles?
What does my log package include?
Look for items such as:
* Wood species and grade for all structural components
* Type of log profile
* Degree of precutting
* Moisture content of the logs when they leave the plant
* Preservative treatment
* Type and number of fasteners
* Type, amount and quality of sealants
* Grading certificate for the logs, if applicable
* Quality, level or grade of all components in the package you select
* Number of sets of blueprints included
* Cost of delivery and whether it is part of the package price
* Cost of each item to compare them with the price of local materials
What are purchase agreements?
How are logs delivered?
Who builds log homes?
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.
Is one building system better than another?
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 (log) home. (back to: Log Home Planning 101)