Custom design is a big appeal of log homes. Often, however, potential buyers feel frustrated because their budget won’t permit a total custom design. Not to worry. You can easily and inexpensively modify a standard log-home plan to give it a custom touch.
Many log-home companies offer standard plans, also called stock plans, either individually or in a catalog or plans book. Some even show these stock plans on a CD or DVD or on their website. You can find more than 300 of them on our website.
The plans represent a variety of styles and sizes that have proven popular with other buyers. Few actually order the plans as is. Working within the same footprint, buyers may move walls, switch rooms and otherwise change dimensions and configurations. Using computerized drafting equipment, log-home company designers can quickly adjust any standard plan to your liking—and even combine the most appealing features of several plans.
It’s easy to look at a stock plan and regard it as already perfect. That’s why it ended up being published in a plan book. The trick is to recognize a plan that has the potential to become perfect for you, then figure out exactly which changes to make.
It is often easier to make the floor plans and exterior design fit all of the factors and considerations than it is to modify something that appeared perfect for someone besides you and built somewhere other than on your property. Just because it is customized to meet your requirements doesn’t necessarily mean it will be more expensive.
On the other hand, many stock plans that are very fanciful and difficult to build can be made even more difficult and expensive by trying to force them onto sites that are not conducive to that plan. By the time you add 2 feet here and raise the log wall one course there, add a dormer or two and upgrade to a new log style, the cost savings of building a stock plan is gone. In this regard, a custom-designed home can actually save money and be more functional if all factors, criteria and considerations are analyzed and incorporated from scratch.
The most important aspect of any home design is the building site. It affects many other factors. Above all, the layout and shape of the house must conform to the site and its terrain. Log homes are generally built on larger parcels of land, and very seldom is that land flat.
When matching a building site to a particular stock plan, you need to consider three factors:
• The leach field and the well. Their locations will determine the specific spot on your lot for the home, thereby influencing its size and shape.
• Views. The best vantage points will determine positioning of the home and placement of rooms and windows.
• Roads and driveways. The approach route to the house will affect its configuration, as well as the location of the front door.
Each of these site factors may require or inspire you to modify the stock plan you like. The problem is that some changes can have serious repercussions on the construction of the house. And with all the other considerations given to size and function of rooms, orientation to the site and terrain, the views and southern exposures, it is very difficult to find a stock plan that meets those criteria, to say nothing about family size, age, entertaining family and friends, formally or informally. Add one more all-important consideration: personal expression.
The key to choosing an appropriate stock plan is affordability. Telling a log-home company not just what you need and want, but also how much you can pay, will help the company steer you toward plans in your price range. One way to ensure greater satisfaction if you’re on a limited budget it to find out how you can get more home for your dollar. For example, a story-and-a-half or two-story home costs less per square foot than a ranch style. Choosing a home up to 28 feet wide is more cost effective because it uses standard material sizes. Keeping a home shape square or rectangular lessens cost.
Another point is your lifestyle. Couples with children may want a bedroom for each child, as well as the convenience of a separate master bath, meaning perhaps a two-story home. An older couple, by contrast, might find a ranch-style home more to their liking. Looking at a variety of stock plans gives buyers with different circumstances the opportunity to determine the style and layout of a home that would best suit their needs.
Buyers contemplating changes to stock plans should consider the four major criteria identified above and ask two questions:
• What effect will the proposed changes have on the four criteria?
• Do the changes have a positive effect in regards to achieving the four criteria?
If you can answer yes to this last question, then you are one step closer to having your dream log home. Always keep in mind that the only limitations are your imagination and your budget.
Above all, do your homework. The more information you give the drafts-person, the easier it will be for her or him to do the job—and for the log-home company to produce the home you want. Some of the biggest problems that occur with a buyer’s design ideas are structural, getting all the bearing points to line up, making sure that you don’t draw something that cannot be built. This is vital.
This story featured photos and ran much longer in the 2007 Log Home Plans issue of Log Homes Illustrated.