The average couple planning on building a log home has been researching floor plans and log home producers for at least two years prior to making their final choice, according to a 2007 Country’s Best Log Homes reader survey. Once they have settled on a company, there are six important steps that a log home sales representative will work through to make the log home dream a reality.

1. Do your “home” work

Just like you’d research a car, its background, and the dealership, do the same for your home. Meet with the log-home producers and be ready with questions and ideas; you should also have a solid grasp of where you can place the home on your site and what your budget will be. And having some flexibility in your design — knowing what can be sacrificed to afford the wraparound deck or a larger kitchen — makes the process much smoother and more productive.

“Many people come to this initial meeting armed with a folder full of magazine clippings and brochures from log home shows and open houses,” says Denny Nelson, building estimator for Bridger Mountain Log Homes.

2. Assessment
“We do a thorough assessment of the buyer’s lifestyle during our initial contact,” says Nelson. “We have them make side-by-side lists to separate the ‘needs’ from the ‘wants’ and begin to create their plan.”

As part of the producer’s assessments, prospective buyers will be asked questions such as:

  • Will this be full-time or a second home?
  • How many people will live in the home?
  • Will it be used as a getaway or for family reunions?
  • Will the home require one level for retirement living?
  • Will the family spend more time indoors or outdoors?

3. Budget

“After this assessment we then discuss budget,” says Nelson. “For a true determination, a prospective buyer should contact a mortgage company for prequalification. It’s best to get an idea right away if this project will be reachable. Based on if the couple has land or not and where the home could be placed, we will then suggest what size home they should consider.”

4. Site and Style

The site must then be taken into account when the log home floorplan is being put together. Is the home on a slope? Is there a view? Are there large trees you want to preserve? All these site considerations will dictate whether it will have an exposed lower level, expansive ranch layout, two or more stories, location of the garage (front, side, back or underneath), and the position of the great room and its primary view.

5. Give and Take
“Once the basic home is established and the costs are estimated, we then move from the phase of give-and-take to the wants and needs list,” says Nelson. “If someone is set on granite countertops, they may have to sacrifice the metal roof and save $6,000 to put back into the kitchen.”

6. Build your team
Even the best-laid plans can go awry if everyone on your building team isn’t on the same page. “The building process is like a three-legged stool,” says Nelson. “The legs are made up of the log home manufacturer, the contractor, and the homeowner. If one of those legs falls short, there can be trouble. It’s critical to be comfortable with your log home manufacturer and builder. Each company may do things a little differently and it is important to have an understanding of those differences.”

This story ran longer, with related sidebars, in the January 2008 issue of Country’s Best Log Homes.