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The Log Home Journey: The Sacrifices of Building a Log Home

The log home journey isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And as Sean Murphy and his family discovered in the sacrifices of building a log home, perseverance and patience go a long way to crossing the finish line.

In order to run a marathon, a runner must train diligently for many months. During those months, the “norms” of life change, and the luxuries one might be afforded during other times are set to the side. No late nights out with friends; no unhealthy meals; no sleeping-in. All of this is done with a singular goal in mind: To win the race. This is their sacrifice in order to succeed at something many people would simply leave to dreams.

Building a new home, particularly one as unique as one with logs, is remarkably similar. There are choices to be made all along the journey, each with a significant impact to your ability to cross the finish line healthy and happy with your results.

See also Breaking New Ground

Here are the two main sacrifices my wife, Amanda, and I made for the reward at the end:

Sacrifice 1: Time

From beginning to end, this is a time-consuming process that will impact how you live your everyday life. At the beginning, Amanda and I spent days traveling to different log home shows (with our then-one-year-old in tow) to gather ideas, interview log crafters and generally learn about this building system. Then, I spent a week of my own precious vacation time in Montana, working closely with our log home designer and the folks at Bitterroot Valley Log & Timber to finalize the construction concepts; all while Amanda kept the homestead (now with two kids and another on the way) under control.

Later, there was the time spent leaving home early in the morning to stop at the build site, work through the inevitable decisions that come up once construction starts, then continue to the office to gather my bearings and accomplish the things my other boss needed done … or this journey would come to a halt pretty quickly!

Weekends eventually became just an extra two days of work. Football Sundays degenerated from relaxing in front of the TV for eight hours  (ok, 12) to listening to score updates on the radio as Amanda and I tackled the inside of our future home, while construction continued in parallel. There were no summer barbecues for us; no nights out with friends; and quite a few dinners at fast food joints after long days of work at our new home. Time is the great equalizer, and there is a finite amount of it to go around. Along this journey, you will make choices that impact how you allocate your time; some easy, others hard. Some friendships could suffer, but the strong ones will survive.

Sacrifice 2: Money

Time is not the only finite resource: Money is the other. As the dream of a new log home is born into reality, there are a seemingly infinite number of choices to be made that have a direct impact on the budget you hope to hold.

Everyone’s circumstances are unique; but if I may offer some advice in this area, it’s to come up with a set of guiding principles. They can help ground your decisions around where to spend your money and where you can hold back. For Amanda and I, it was to (1) build with family use in mind (i.e., the kids are going to beat up a lot of stuff like cabinets and floors); and (2) to build for the long term, putting money into things not easily changed later on, like geothermal heat, spray-foam insulation, high-quality doors and windows, hand-hewn logs, radiant floor heating, etc. Fancy appliances, custom cabinets and my home bar can wait.

See also Money Saving Design Tips: A Builder’s Point of View

The best example I can think of to illustrate this was our roof. I originally envisioned metal roofing and architectural quality shingles … until I got the price. We decided those things did not fit with Murphy Principle #2, and we could just go with good-quality shingles, with installation workmanship to match, to get a beautiful and functional roof.

While on your own log home journey, don’t fret over the sacrifices. Remember, these are the choices you make in the name of a greater goal. They are not regrets to be lamented later. Regrets are choices that run contrary to your principles and hinder you from your goal. You want to cross the finish line in financially good health and be thrilled with your end result. Sacrifices are the choices you look back on in 20 years and are happy you made them, because you know they are the things that allowed you to live in a house most others relegate to their dreams.  

Next time, join us as the day finally arrives for the Murphy family to move in, and Sean shares what it’s like to wake up that first morning in a dream log home.

The Murphys’ log home journey is nearly complete! Need to catch up on their story? You can see how far they’ve come at loghome.com/ step-by-step-murphys

And be sure to check out the finished, furnished product when we take you on a full tour of their beautiful home in our December 2017 issue of Log Home Living.

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