You have been dreaming and scheming for weeks, months, maybe even years, and it’s finally time for your dream home to take shape. It’s time to begin construction!
As your home starts to come to fruition, it can be tempting to make tweaks — move a window here, widen a door there — but building a house isn’t like rearranging furniture. Changes like these can delay your progress and add substantial cost to your bottom line. That’s why the careful planning and research you did leading up to this point pays off. The team you create to execute and organize these plans also makes a difference.
Your Builder Options
There are three common paths to building your log home, and the degree of difficulty increases with your involvement in the process. Evaluate your options and determine which one suits your circumstances the best.
Option 1: Bring in a Professional
The easiest path to log home satisfaction is to have a pro build it. In choosing this option, you’ll still be intimately involved in the planning and design of the home, but then turn it over to a builder who will take the reins on its construction.
Choosing the right professional to accomplish this task is not without challenges, and it will cost you the most, but building a log home is a complex task that requires a vast amount of knowledge. A builder’s expertise is the shortest route to enable you to get into your new home on time and on budget.
Option 2: Act as General Contractor
A more difficult option is to act as your own general contractor (GC). This entails more risk, since the proverbial buck stops with you. A GC organizes the process, and, if you act as your own, you’ll identify, evaluate and meet with all subcontractors, as well as prepare all the specifications for each trade. You’ll obtain and evaluate subcontractor bids and prepare a complete cost estimate for the project. You’ll also establish legal contracts between you and your subs, obtain insurance and educate yourself on all local building codes, plus attend to other details, such as pulling building permits, setting construction schedules, ordering materials and managing the job site.
A potential downside to working with subcontractors as your own GC is that subs typically maintain relationships with professional builders from whom they receive ongoing work. With the owner-GC, this will be a one-off job for them. There’s a risk they won’t be loyal to you — maybe even not finish your job so they can take another with an established builder. Plus, you may end up paying more for construction materials, since a pro GC often can obtain bulk discounts that aren’t available to laymen.
Option 3: The Owner-Builder Path
The most difficult option, and the riskiest, is to be an owner-builder or do-it-yourselfer. In this role, you will be responsible for everything the general contractor is responsible for — plus you’ll do all or most of the construction yourself. A word of caution: Unless you are a licensed builder, you may not actually be allowed to build it yourself, either due to building-code safety reasons, increasingly strict regulations or your lender may not approve a loan for an owner-built home, because there is increased financial risk for them. If this is an option you want to pursue, make sure you can do it legally.
That said, there’s something to be said for the satisfaction you can get from building your home with your own two hands. Plus, there’s money to be saved here, if you know what you’re doing. If you’re inexperienced, correcting mistakes can add expenses that you wouldn’t have otherwise incurred. Just weigh the pros against the cons, and know what you’re getting into.
Whether you’ll be hiring a contractor or serving as an owner-GC or an owner-builder — the sooner you decide exactly which path you want to follow, the quicker you’ll be able to make that dream home a reality.