Time is Your Ally: Why It's Smart to Wait to Build

The log home construction process can be tiresome, but there’s plenty to do while you’re waiting to build.

Written by Roland Sweet
Log homes don’t happen overnight. Frequent surveys show that even committed buyers take from 18 months to three years to complete the buying and building process. In today’s economy, inability to sell an existing home or hesitation because of uncertainty causes some people to postpone their dream of living in a log home.
Postponing doesn’t mean giving up, however. There are ways to make sure that one day, later or sooner, you will own a log home.
The biggest hurdle under almost every circumstance is money: not necessarily that a log home costs too much, but that you might not yet be able to afford the house you really want. You probably will someday, just maybe not right now. So, the real issue isn’t money, it’s time. Fortunately, time is on your side. Have patience.
Keep two points in mind. First, log homes aren’t necessities. The roof over your head right now meets your need for shelter. Second, log homes are life’s reward. You’ve realized there’s no better home that’s right for you.
What can you do to make it happen? The traditional home-buying cycle is starter, move-up, top-off. Where are you now? Are you still comfortable in your starter home or in your first move-up? Would it be a hardship to stay there a bit longer, knowing that surveys show log-home owners expect to live in their homes 30 or 40 years? Blissful years, I might add.
Waiting to get the ball rolling doesn’t mean doing nothing. Here are some strategies to actively pursue and prepare for your log home.

Think long term. Most log-home buyers are in their fifties. Many are in their sixties. If you’re in your thirties, forties or even early fifties, you have time — to prepare and to enjoy.
Let’s say you’re in your thirties, already living in a starter home and hoping for a log home. What if you eliminated the middle step? Just because you can afford a move-up house doesn’t mean you have to buy one. Staying put could pay off by allowing time to increase your earnings, save more money toward your down payment and build some equity in your existing home, maybe pay down or even pay off the mortgage, thereby hastening the day you’re living in your log home.
Your long-term goal should be to avoid taking on substantial new debt right when you retire. After all, you’ll want enough money to enjoy your new log-home lifestyle.

Live beneath your means, not beyond.

Frugality doesn’t mean deprivation, but small benefits accumulate. Put aside money somewhere of your choice for your future home. Two percent interest or less hardly seems worth the bother, but over time it accumulates and interest compounds. More important, you develop thrifty habits that will pay dividends when you’re living on a fixed income.

Look for land.

It takes time to find the right place to live. Discover and investigate all the possibilities. The luxury of time will ensure that you take a really good look at property opportunities and make the best decision instead of a hasty one you may later regret.

Shop for bargains now.

A major expense of buying a log home is furnishing and finishing it. Buy furniture now, when you find items on sale, not when you need them. Once you’ve bought the land for your log home, think about building a storage shed or even a detached garage first so you can keep furnishings and fixtures there. Caution: Don’t buy appliances too far ahead because of expiring warranties.

Explore your options.

Research your log-home options, companies, styles, builders and, most of all, designs. The more homework you do before you buy, the better prepared you’ll be when that time comes to get the best deal and the right home. Establishing a serious relationship with a log-home company, a builder and a designer will assure they’re ready when you are.

Find a hobby.

Find a hobby that ultimately ties in with your new log home and that will represent a change in your life — either more of something you like doing now and want to do more of then or something new.

Tidy up.

Start clearing out clutter before you move, if your log home will become your primary residence. Hold garage sales every few years and apply the proceeds to your log home. The more useless stuff you cling to, the more you’ll have to pay to move and the more storage space you’ll need to allow for it in your log-home design.

Practice a new skill.

Gain and practice skills you might apply to your new home. Sewing, woodworking, tiling, blacksmithing and other abilities can eliminate the need to hire craftsmen.

Don’t try to keep up with progress.

Americans are addicted to gadgets that make life more convenient or fun, but planned obsolescence and constant upgrades waste money and aren’t essential to survival or even to enjoying life. It doesn’t matter whether you have the latest generation of some doodad when you’re saving money for a home that will last real generations.
You don’t have to revert to an analog lifestyle, just be selective about which technology you buy into. New isn’t always improved. And consider another silver lining of waiting to build your log home: When you do, you’ll be able to take advantage of the latest home technology and building method.

Finally, be flexible.

Revise any and all plans as circumstances dictate. If you win the lottery or inherit enough money to start building your log home now — anything that spares you having to add a lot of debt — go for it.
In the end, buying a log home isn’t about money or time. It’s about commitment. Keeping focused on your goal of living in a log home gives your life genuine purpose. And leads to a greater reward.