The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

How Much Per Square Foot Does it Cost to Build a Log Home?

Posted on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 @ 08:30 AM

Goldenrod Way-46-ZF-6752-91945-1-001-045.jpgWOW - what a loaded question and one that is virtually impossible to answer in just a few minutes.  We get this question several times a day and hopefully by posting this article from Andy Stauffer (president of Stauffer & Sons Construction based in Colorado Spring, CO) you'll understand why.  Although the article mentions a frame home, the same applies to any type of home being built.

Mr. Stauffer writes "Ask any farmer what a bushel of wheat costs and he'll have an instant answer for you. Similarly, the price of a barrel of oil and an ounce of gold are common knowledge, with costs quoted down to the last cent. But try asking a home builder about the "cost per square foot" to build a home, and you'll likely get any number of responses, including lowball guesses, unhelpfully vague price ranges, or even outright irritation from the respondent. Why is new home construction so different? A simple question like this seems fair, so why is it met with disdain by home builders?

The disconnect stems from the fact that in residential construction, there is simply no agreed upon standard for what constitutes a square foot. No grocer would have trouble telling you what a gallon of milk costs, and what it contains. It is not so easy, however, to decide what is contained in a square foot of home. For example, do builders only include finished square footage in their estimates? Do they count unfinished basements? Does a square foot include the garage and deck? Therein lies the complication: it's up to each builder to decide for themselves.

For illustration, consider the hypothetical Jones Residence. The Jones family wants a rancher with 2,000 square feet on the main level, an unfinished basement, a three-car garage (700 square feet), and a covered deck (200 square feet). Simple enough, right? The savvy Mr. Jones, seeking more than one opinion, meets with two separate builders and asks them, independently, what they would charge him, per square foot to build his dream home.

Builder A looks at the project and considers it a 4,000-square-foot home since, after all, while the basement will be unfinished, it is nonetheless conditioned space and thereby “countable”. He also reasons that all of his homes generally have a 200-square-foot covered deck with a three-car garage, an integral part of the house. His price? Only $100/square foot.

Builder B looks at this very same layout, but considers it a 3,417-square-foot home, after using “tried and true” math: He counts the main level area (2,000 square feet) at full value; the basement and garage at half value (1,000 square feet and 350 square feet); and the covered deck at one-third value (67 square feet). He proudly presents his reasonable cost to build the Jones Residence: $117/square foot.

That’s a difference of $17/foot between the two, and their calculations are 583 square feet apart...and they’re both right. Notice, despite the disparities mentioned above, they’ve both quoted a home that costs about $400,000. Builder B just looks more expensive, on paper.

This scenario plays out in real life all the time. Unfortunately, it often results in a homeowner selecting a builder based on who can provide the “lowest cost per foot” without taking into account the bigger picture. Each builder, when presented with plans and specifications, is able to implement unit costing and vendor quotes to arrive at a total construction cost. At the end the day, the square-foot cost is largely incidental – a house costs what it costs.

All too often, however, folks who come into my office will attempt to pit me against another builder by stating, “Builder X says she can build for $110/ square foot, what’s your square foot cost?” Before I answer, I’ll whisper a silent prayer: “Lord, forgive them; they know not what they ask..."

I then dive into my highly conditional response, which goes like this:

First, we’ll make the following assumptions:

1.    Tap fees and/or well and septic costs are excluded (for now);

2.    The house will have a three-car garage and 200-square-foot covered deck;

3.    Site conditions are favorable (i.e. there are no expansive soils, and no blasting is needed);

4.    The house will be fully finished (minus 5% of area for mechanical room);

5.    The driveway and utility lengths are 100 feet or less;

6.    We’re using standard construction systems and methodology (i.e. 2x6 exterior walls, composition shingle roof, forced air, vinyl windows, 50/40/10 split of carpet, hardwood and tile floors, granite counter tops, gas fireplace, etc.);

7.    Landscaping is excluded.

After rattling these off, I catch my breath… then continue. Then the magic happens: once we’ve defined what is and what isn’t included, the square-foot pricing conversation actually begins to make sense. There we sit – builder and prospective client – having a productive conversation about what the house costs.

Suddenly, I am able to show Mr. Jones that his initial plan of just multiplying $100/foot times 2,000 finished square feet on the main level isn’t going to give him an accurate understanding of cost. He will learn that no math, used by any builder, will net him a $200,000 home. (How many times have you had this conversation?) Most importantly, he will learn why. This helpful conversation allows me to show my attention to detail and instills a level of confidence on the part of the client. To think: If I had just stated a ballpark “cost per foot” without qualifications, I wouldn't have earned the opportunity to get into these details, especially if my ballpark square foot cost was higher than "the other guy’s."

The lesson here is that it's incumbent upon the builder to meet the prospective client where they are. The question of cost per square foot, despite our wishes, may never go away, and that is because perfectly reasonable folks will continue to seek a way to traverse a sea of information, advertising, and sales propositions, and find a simple, quantifiable unit of measurement. That’s fair enough.

My suggestion to those in the building industry: When you’re asked what your square foot cost is, answer the question with a question. This isn't being evasive; it's being honest. These days, I find myself saying, “Well, that depends: What do you mean by square foot?” and that's a great conversation starter.

It does take time to explain the rules, and to clearly delineate what is and isn’t included, to be sure. But this technique accomplishes two key objectives: First, the prospective client is able to determine how far she can expect her dollars to go, and second, the builder is able to qualify the prospective client so neither party wastes their time unnecessarily. Once the square footage discussion has been had, both the builder and prospective client can focus on the viability of the project and the possibility of working together.

I used to dread the square foot question. But now, when Mr. Jones asks me, “What is your cost per square foot?” I’ll try to put him at ease by validating his concern, knowing that we have to start somewhere. But the question behind the question is really “how much will my house cost?” and this is far easier to answer, and results in a happier builder, as well as a happier client."

When you are ready to discuss the costs associated with building your dream log home, contact your Local Log Home Consultant.  We're ready to help you get started.

Part of this blog was taken from an article written by Mr. Andy Stauffer for builderonline.com. 

Sevier Rebuild? Learn While Saving Time and Money at the Log and Timber Home Show

Posted on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 @ 03:56 PM

 

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If you’re rebuilding or remodeling, do you know all of your choices?  Exhibits and workshops at the upcoming Log and Timber Home Show in Gatlinburg, TN will teach you what you need to know, whether you're unsure about where to start, looking for expert advice on home maintenance or anywhere in between. It's a great opportunity to meet builders and contractors, ask questions, view floor plans, search for bargains and gather ideas. You can also examine siding, cabinetry, flooring, furniture, stairways, interior décor, windows and doors and exterior coatings and finishes, up close, all in one place. And we'll be there! New Call-to-action

The Details

What: The Log and Cabin Home Show
When: March 24 (11am - 7pm) and 25 (10am - 6pm)
Where: Sevierville Convention Center, Booth 215
Tickets: $15 online/$20 at show/free for wildfire victims (email Samantha Watters for more information)

Additional information, including a full list of exhibitors, is available on the Log and Timber Show website.

If you're ready for more advanced log home information, educate yourself at the Log and Timber University. This half-day course goes beyond the basics of log and timber home construction and gives you a chance to meet and question experts in the field. Topics include budgeting and financing, floor plan design and room layout, log vs. timber construction, building foundation considerations and care and maintenance of finished structures.

5 Ways to Get the Most from Your Show Visit

It’s your home and your future, so it pays to have a strategy for the show (especially if you're stressed out about a home rebuild). Follow these tips to ensure you leave the show with what you need. 

  1. Before the show, make a list of exactly what you want to see or questions you have. Try to be specific. Good questions might include the following.
    1. Is a timber frame kit or custom design better?
    2. How and when do I apply stains or sealants to my home?
    3. Can I save money by cutting and notching the logs myself?
    4. How can I maximize my home’s energy efficiency?
  2. If you already own land, bring site photos and a list of property basics with you. Include things like lot size and features (think trees, wells, existing or planned outbuildings, etc.), the orientation of the property to driveways and roads and your budget. Keep this information in hand as you talk to builders and make decisions.
  3. When you arrive at the show, pick up a floor plan and spend a few minutes going over the layout (including restrooms and seating areas). Circle the exhibits you don’t want to miss (including Booth 215) and map out your path. It’s easy to get sidetracked, so refer back to your map often and mark the exhibits you want to visit a second time.
  4. Bring your camera or smartphone. You might think that you’ll remember which vendor had the cabinets you liked, but why not snap a quick picture of them to be sure? Take a picture of the company’s business card or brochure while you’re at it. Keep track of ideas with a note taking app on your phone, or bring a notepad and pencil to take notes as you tour the exhibits.
  5. Dress for success. You’ll do a lot of walking and standing at the show, so be prepared with comfortable shoes. Dress in layers for comfort and remember to stay hydrated. Consider carrying belongings in a backpack to leave both hands free (and as a place to collect brochures, business cards and other materials).

For more smart tips, check out eLocal.com’s suggestions for making the most of a home show visit (be sure to read the comments section too), and this Home Show Survival Guide.

 

 

Tags: log home shows, log home rebuild

9 Critical Considerations when Rebuilding

Posted on Mon, Mar 6, 2017 @ 01:47 PM

Contrast in tornado recovery Foreground of abandonment with broken debris by concrete steps of blasted foundation in contrast with reconstruction of single-family house across the street.jpeg

Rebuilding, whether due to a natural disaster, a need for more space or something else, leads to countless questions and many big decisions. If you built a home years ago, the construction world (and zoning law) has likely changed. If you purchased your home, you may be wondering where to start. No matter what your level of experience is, consider these nine points as you rebuild.

1. Insurance

Secure your property, document your losses and file your claim immediately after a disaster. FindLaw’s tips for fire insurance claims states, “Prompt action is...important if there were many other homeowners affected by the fire [or other disaster]. If you don't act immediately, you could fall to the bottom of the list of policyholders who have...insurance claims, and it could be a long time before the adjuster reaches you."  In addition to your insurance company’s adjuster, consider hiring an independent expert to create a “scope of loss” package. Wildfire survivor Kerri Olivier recommends your package contain “documents, diagrams, photographs and itemized listings that explain what it will cost to put your property back in its pre-loss condition.”

If you have a mortgage, payout checks are written jointly to you and your lender. The money is held in an account and only released when rebuilding starts. Funds are usually disbursed in “progress payments,” for example, one-third up front, one-third at 50 percent complete and the final one-third at 100 percent complete. See United Policyholders’ article, “Getting your mortgage company to release insurance proceeds,” for tips.

2. Contractors

No one intends to pick a bad contractor, but you need to know who you can trust, who might be peddling a scam and who has the most experience. Always do your homework. Start with our tips.

3. Weather

You can break ground, pour a concrete foundation and begin construction in winter thanks to portable ground heaters, insulated concrete forms and concrete additives. However, “it takes an experienced crew and one with the proper equipment to protect the concrete so it can cure enough to resist freeze damage,” says Tim Carter of askthebuilder.com. You must decide if it’s worth the extra expense.

In rainy weather, wet building materials, flooded work areas and muddy roads make it difficult to transport supplies. Conditions can be hazardous for the crew too. Strong winds make it dangerous to lift larger materials and can blow dust and debris around the site causing additional delays. An organized contractor may make alternate plans, but try to be realistic about site condition and worker safety.

4. Timelines

Expect a minimum of six months for custom log home construction; longer in challenging locations, bad weather or complex designs. Construction time does not include time spent filing and collecting insurance claims, designing the structure and obtaining permits. Understanding possible delays will help you stay realistic about the timeline.

Your contractor should provide a schedule. “If you’re using a general contractor, the schedule may show only site preparation, foundation work, completion of dried-in shell and mechanical rough-ins, and finish work,” according to Log Home Living Magazine. The authors recommend you ask about “alternate suppliers and subcontractors in case the main sources are delayed or unavailable.”

5. Foundations

Your home’s foundation transfers its weight and loading through the ground. It also keeps logs and timbers off the soil, protecting them from insects and moisture. “The foundation you decide to build for your cabin will be influenced by: your site’s rock and soil type (rock, chalk, gravel, sand, clay or peat), the size of your log cabin, water tables, rock and gravel contours, drainage design, site ground (topography), [and] construction budget,” according to Log Cabin Hub.

Depending on local building codes, a shallow foundation (e.g. raft or strip foundation) may suffice, or it may need to reach below the frost line. It may be worth the expense to create a full basement (think rec room, storage or HVAC hub). Common types of basement construction are cement block, poured concrete and precast concrete.

6. Maintenance

Design with maintenance in mind whenever possible. Dry logs and sealed gaps make a solid house, so pay attention to the height of your foundation, water runoff, gutters and downspouts and the slope of the ground. According to the US Department of Energy, logs still absorb moisture once they are dried, so you must apply proper sealants and stains. Use caulk and chinking to fill gaps that result from building settlement over time. Roof overhangs and covered porches further protect the logs and can add beauty to your home.

7. Materials

A good contractor uses plans and past experience to estimate material quantities, but many variables affect the actual amounts needed. Building materials are subject to availability. The log profile or imported marble you love may be backordered or discontinued, so have a backup plan. Your budget should include reasonable allowances to buy extra quantities due to breakage, detail cutting and imperfections in natural materials. Some products only come in standard sizes or quantities, resulting in surplus. For example, if you need 53 feet of deck railing but it comes in ten-foot lengths, buy extra and make cuts.

8. Energy Efficiency

Even without conventional framing, insulation and waterproofing methods, you can maximize energy efficiency in log homes. For example, “cool roofs” are made of materials that reflect sunlight and aid cooling in summer. Passive solar design is another example: This careful window placement lets in warm sunlight in winter and extended overhangs create shade in summer. Check out the US Department of Energy website for more strategies.

You can save energy inside your home, too: A properly sized furnace, SIPs (structural insulated panels) in the ceiling, programmable thermostats and tankless hot water heaters are all energy savers.

9. Universal Design and Your Lifestyle

Universal design often means ramps, low countertops and wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs; but, if you’ve fumbled with a round doorknob while carrying an armload of groceries, you might appreciate additional universal design features. Things like lever-style door handles, easy-access showers with grab-bars and open-concept floor plans make getting around easier for everyone. Consider whether your needs have changed or will change. Would a full bath on the main floor be more practical than upstairs?  If you're looking ahead to aging-in-place strategies, think about incorporating universal design elements.

Rebuilding is also an opportunity to add or change amenities that complement your current lifestyle. For example, it’s easier to include a dedicated pool table area in your floor plan now than to convert a seldom-used bedroom later. Likewise, if you never filled up the walk-in closets in your former bedroom, build smaller ones and reclaim the space for the master bedroom.

Good luck on your project, and thanks for reading. Questions? Call 1-877-LOG-HOME (877-564-4663).

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Tags: log home, log home rebuild, home rebuild, disaster relief

Rebuilding After a Disaster: 22 Strategies for Choosing the Right Contractor

Posted on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 @ 02:17 PM

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Fires, floods and catastrophic storms call for preparation. But even with precautions in place, damage or the destruction of your home always catches you unawares. Unlike a typical remodeling project, eagerly planned with exciting changes, a post-disaster rebuild is an unwelcome ordeal. Suddenly, you’re meeting with insurance agents and adjusters, arranging temporary housing and making countless decisions, all while coming to terms with the loss of your home. 

Eager contractors enter the picture early and play a major role in the outcome of the project. You must therefore select the right one for the job. (Easier said than done during this emotional and stressful time.)  The 22 tips below (sorted into 4 categories) will help, especially if you've never hired a contractor before. 

Be Alert to Scams

“The stress after a disaster can make you very anxious to get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. Don't take actions too quickly. You may regret them later.”  This advice from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Hiring Contractors after a Disaster highlights the need for caution when choosing a contractor: Rushing into a rebuild can make you vulnerable to shady business practices and outright scams.

Signs you shouldn’t ignore:

  1. Be skeptical of door-to-door contractors who show up without an appointment, offering a limited time-only cut-rate deal on the work you need. High-pressure sales and scare tactics can force you into quick decisions before you’ve considered your options.
  2. Flattering words and other forms of “emotional grooming” distract from the real issue. Unscrupulous contractors may try to create a false sense of connection or camaraderie with you to make it more difficult to turn them down (e.g., “Saw your Golden Lab in the yard. My wife and I have rescued Labs for 15 years!”).
  3. A contractor doesn’t need your credit card or bank information. Unless you’ve signed a contract and are paying a portion of the bill, keep all financial information to yourself.
  4. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud advises, "Don't pay a contractor in full before work begins, or before it's finished. The contractor could disappear with your money, leaving your repair job unfinished. Normally you should only pay about 20 percent or less upfront."

How to fight back:

Carefully vetting contractors is the best way to avoid a scam, but if you think you’ve been had, you have options. 

  1. Contact your credit card company if you realize you’ve given out your card number to a shady contractor. Ask them to close the account and issue a new card.
  2. Report problem contractors to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or the consumer division of your state Attorney General’s office.
  3. Check Houselogic.com’s list on taking action against common contractor scams.

Your Contractor, Your Choice

It can be tempting to rush when you’re anxious to rebuild. Before you act, however, stop and reflect on your priorities for the project. “Taking your time at the start of a project increases the odds you will be satisfied with the work when it’s completed,” advises AARP’s Dealing with Disaster guide.  The extra time you spend evaluating each contractor and bid helps you make an informed choice.

Do your homework:

  1. Ask trusted family members, friends and neighbors for referrals. Realtors and online home-services directories such as Angieslist.com and Porch.com are good referral sources too.
  2. Get the names of at least three contractors and check their BBB listings. Have complaints been filed against the company? How were those complaints resolved?
  3. Meet with the contractors in person, and look for signs of professionalism. Are they members of the local and national Home Builders Association? They should be. Professionalism could also include business cards and/or letterhead with a physical address, a vehicle with a company logo or other business identification or a professional, long-standing website.
  4. Ask for proof of proper licensing and insurance, including liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Find your state’s contractor licensing requirements at HomeAdvisor.com.
  5. Request references and contact several to ask about the work performed. Ask past customers if they'd use the same contractor again. Consider visiting the site of an ongoing job - you'll see the contractor and crew in action and the work environment they keep.
  6. Pay attention to the contractor’s communication style and demeanor. Daniel Diclerico cautions in Consumer Reports, “trust and a good rapport…are essential…Any negative feelings you have during the initial interview (Too bossy? Condescending? Rushed?) will only intensify as the project heats up.”
  7. Get at least three written estimates and evaluate them closely for detail and organization. “Look for a bid that thoroughly outlines every aspect of the job, from the cost of the porta-potty for the crew to the fee for the town building permits—and of course the contractor’s price for each and every element of the project, with a bit of detail about the options that he’s priced,” says Josh Garskof in Money magazine.
  8. Keep notes about each contractor and bid as you make your choice. A checklist like this one from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach helps.

Get it in Writing: Contracts, Permits and Change Orders

According to AARP’s Dealing with Disaster guide, “a well-written and detailed contract is very important. Make sure that everything you agreed to is in writing. Don’t be rushed into signing too quickly. Take your time to make a decision and get a second opinion before you sign. Any genuine good deal will still be there tomorrow.” 

Be smart about contracts and documentation:

  1. A contract protects you and your contractor. In any contract look for a detailed breakdown of labor and materials, start and end dates, a payment schedule, “exclusions” noting any work you will do yourself, “allowances” for materials the contractor may purchase and a penalty fee for going over the work deadline.
  2. Weigh the pros and cons of fixed-price and cost-plus contracts.
  3. Contractors are responsible for obtaining permits for the work they will do. Don’t be tempted to help out by pulling permits for them – this makes you the party responsible for the work, not the contractor.
  4. Be aware that building codes may have changed since your old home was built, and there may be requirements for new construction that apply to your project.
  5. Try to set boundaries with yourself about the project: It’s easy to tack on more work “while we’re at it,” which can ratchet up costs. Your contractor must keep track of any additions or changes to the contract with a change order.
  6. Some changes to the contract are inevitable, so keep careful records. A survivor of the 2007 Angora wildfire in California says, “for all change orders, we had a right to see the sub-contractors' and material suppliers' invoices. We got copies with each bill for each change order. Each change order was made in writing from us to the contractor and was as specific as possible. Each invoice for each change order was evaluated by us.”
  7. Don’t sign off on a work completion certificate until all the work has been completed satisfactorily. Never make your last payment on the work until everything is finished.

Rebuilding your home after a disaster is a daunting task.  You can improve your odds for a positive experience by taking time to set priorities, evaluating your choices, carefully vetting contractors and reviewing contract details. 

Need help navigating a rebuild? Give us a call anytime.

Tags: contractors, rebuild

Step #4 in Planning for Success - Designing Your New Log Home

Posted on Thu, Feb 9, 2017 @ 09:30 AM

Step #4 in the Successful Planning series is Designing Your Log Home.

Drafting.jpgWhat style of home are you dreaming of building, a single story ranch style for retirement (or just to give your knees a break) or a home with a 2nd story or loft? Does one of our pre-designed models fit your wants/needs perfectly or would you want to make some modifications to one? Have your own custom design with rooms sizes and locations exactly where you want them? Any of our Log Home Consultants can help you get started with any of these options. 

When designing your log cabin home, remember what furniture you have now and what you plan to take with you. Is there room enough for the 9 foot tall custom made wall unit you will bring to your new log home? How about Grandma’s dining room table that seats 12 for all the family dinners you have – will the new design accommodate this precious piece of furniture? What is in your attic or basement now and where will it go in the new house? What features in your existing home would you want to duplicate in your new design. What features do you NOT want to duplicate?

Consider your lifestyles too. For 2nd story models with the master bedroom on the main floor – do you want a bedroom above yours? All bedrooms on one side of the house or do you want separate sleeping areas with you on one side of the house and kids/guests on the other? Need a large kitchen since you cook a lot or just a galley kitchen since you plan on ordering take out frequently?

Get your ideas together and contact your local Log Home Consultant. We’re a great resource for your log home project.  Visit our Pinterest page where you'll view photos and gather even more ideas on decorating and design. 

Be sure to "like" and follow us on facebook.

Next in the 10 step series is Step #5 – Developing a Timeline.

Step #3 in Planning For Success - A Perfect Log Home Setting

Posted on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 @ 09:30 AM

pool.jpgHaving a successful log home building project requires lots of planning. Last time we discussed the importance of prequalifying and establishing a budget for your project.

Today we’re on to Step #3 – Selecting a Building Site. If you already own the property on which you will be building your log cabin home then you are “one step” ahead of the game. You may want to read along anyway to see if there was anything you may have overlooked or forgot to ask.

It usually is easier to adapt a log house design to fit your building site than to find land that fits your design. One of the most important questions to ask when investing in property that is not on a city sewer system is "does the land “perk”?. A perk test is required where a septic system is necessary and is important because the system will need to be placed on the property according to where the waste water will best be absorbed in to the ground. This may require you moving the building site in order to accommodate the septic system.

Other questions you may want to consider asking before purchasing:

  • Restrictions (if any) of the type/size of homes that are allowed to be built here?
  • Are there architectural review boards that need to review my plans before I build?
  • Are there any deed restrictions, easements or right of ways that affect the property?
  • Is there a homeowners association that I will need to join? Annual fees?
  • Who maintains the roads (county, state, city, owners association)?
  • Is the land in a flood zone?
  • When was the last survey done?
  • What services are available (electric, cable, telephone, cell signals, DSL, water, sewer, garbage pick up, etc)

Asking now will save time and money in the future. Don’t forget to use your local Log Home Consultant as a resource. We’re here to assist you!

Look for Step #4 – Designing your Home - in the near future.

Remember to follow and like us on FACEBOOK and Pinterest!

Step #2 in Planning for Success - Establishing a Realistic Budget

Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 09:30 AM

DSCF0277a-lowres.jpgPlanning is the KEY to a successful log home building project. Last time we reviewed the first of ten important steps when planning your dream log home - RESEARCH.

Step #2 – Prequalify and Establish your Budget. Even if you are in a cash equity situation and do not have to have a lending institution involved in your building project it is recommended that you set a budget for the project. Be realistic when setting your budget and like any goal you set for yourself – write it down.

If you decide to use a lending institution, start the prequalification process early. Keep in mind that “pre-qualified” means that the dollar amount determined by the lending institution is their best guess loan amount based on un-verified information that you have provided to them (income, debt, liabilities, etc). Once you choose a lender and submit a loan application fee along with all of the other documentation required (Taxes, pay stubs, bank accounts, portfolios, floor plan, cost estimates, etc) they can determine an exact loan amount.

Once you have been prequalified and have set a realistic budget it will be easier to start investigating the size of log home or log home kit you can build for the amount determined. We suggest not getting your heart set on a floor plan before being prequalified and setting a budget. Knowing how much you can borrow will help you budget accordingly and to properly size your log home floor plan.

Your local Log Home Building Consultants have assisted thousands of homeowners through this process so when you have questions, contact one of them.

Next time – Step #3 – Selecting Your building site.

Be sure to follow and "like" us on Facebook and Pinterest!

10 Steps to Planning and Executing a Successful Log Home Project

Posted on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 @ 09:30 AM


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It’s true.  Planning is the most time-consuming and important part of building a log home.  Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing ten steps that will bring you closer to making your best move yet!

Step #1 – RESEARCH.  Magazines, books, web pages, seminars, factory visits, etc are all excellent ways to start your research.  Look at the different shapes, sizes and corner styles that are offered and determine which one(s) you like best.  How do you want your log home building materials manufactured, in random length where you/your builder cut and fits the product at the job site, or pre-cut where product arrives ready to be assembled (or maybe a little of both)?  What  building materials do you want in your log home kit?  How is the wood protected from wood digesting insects and decay?  Does the log home manufacturer offer a warranty against decay?  Are the building components grade stamped to meet local building codes? 

These are just a sample of the many questions our homeowners asked us before investing in an Appalachian Log Structures Inc. material package.  They also tell us that this is the step they spent the most time doing, taking up to 12 months to gather, study and finally decide on a manufacturer.  By choosing your log home manufacturer as early in the process as possible, you’ll save time and effort as you continue to take the rest of the steps.

When you have questions call your local Log Home Consultant.  We’re here to assist you along the way.

Next time: Step #2 – Prequalify and Establishing a Budget.

8 Ideas on How To Stick to Your Log Home Build/Remodel Project

Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

exterior_left.jpgRecently I ran across this blog on houzz.com (written by Bud Dietrich, AIA) and thought it was very relevant to any building project.  Several of the points he covers below I've touched on in my blog posts, but thought another point of view besides mine might be educational as well as informative for those looking to stay on budget while building or remodeling their dream log home in 2016.

"Inevitably, any new client will ask me "How much will the project cost?" The answer isn't always straightforward and easy. You see, a home construction budget, in both its creation and its maintenance, is more art than science.

Sure, it's easy to say the project is a new 2,000-square-foot house that will cost $200 per square foot to build. But what does that represent? Will it be the home you want? Does it factor in all of the intangibles and idiosyncrasies that any home construction project has? And you can certainly ignore any cost-per-square-foot guideline if it's an addition or remodeling project. Dealing with an existing house, especially one that's a little older, has its own set of rules.

Having said that, the best approach to identifying costs for your specific project and location is to talk with several architects, designers and builders. Each will probably give you a different "number," so you'll have to drill down into the detail of what that number means. Just remember that the devil is in the details.

1. Identify the project. Will it be a new home, an addition to your existing home, a kitchen or bath remodel or some combination of these? Each has its own budgeting method. While a simple "per square foot" cost may work for a new construction project, it definitely won't work for kitchen and bath remodels. And for something like an addition or renovation to a historic home, toss out any sort of cost guidelines. The best approach to establishing a budget for projects like these is to talk to professionals with experience.

2. Identify the pieces within your budget. Clients often don't identify all of the pieces of the budget. Sure, the largest piece might be the construction costs, but there will be many other costs. They can include land costs, legal fees, moving, decorating, landscaping, impact fees, architectural fees, permit costs and financing costs. At the outset, identify all of your potential costs and assign each a value. It would be a shame to finish the house but have no money left for landscaping or furniture.

3. Know thyself. If you just have to have that beautiful range that costs as much as a new luxury car, don't budget for the generic range from the local appliance store. Think about what you really want and how you really want to use the home you're creating, and make sure you've budgeted for it.

custom-bath1.jpg4. Expect to splurge. In the budget, allow for the few places where you'll want to splurge. For example, the kitchen back splash is a place you may want to do something truly special and remarkable. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the back splash is something you'll see several times a day for many years. Even if it costs a significant amount, allow yourself to splurge a little on something you'll enjoy.

5. Have a plan. A sure way of busting your budget is to defer decisions or, as they say in Washington, "kick the can down the road." Construction has started and you haven't made nearly enough decisions about what tile, what plumbing fixtures, what trim, etc. The builder starts pressuring you to make decisions or, worse, just does something without your input. You may find yourself tearing out work or, worse, have to live with something you really don't like because you don't have the time or money to change it.

The best way to avoid these nightmare scenarios is to have your architect and/or designer prepare a detailed set of drawings and make all of your decisions before starting construction. Then, don't change your mind. It's easier said than done, but preparing a plan and sticking to it is the best way to stay on track.

6. Have a contingency. Like other laws of nature, the law of a construction project is that "stuff happens." It could be a problem with the bearing capacity of the soil or uncovering rotted wood when getting ready to build the addition. The best way to deal with the unknown is to allow for a contingency in the budget.

The best approach is to start with a higher contingency, say 15% to 20% and then gradually reduce the contingency as you go through the project phases. When you first start the design, you'll have a line item in your budget for a, say, 20% contingency. After the drawings are done and the pieces of the project are identified you might reduce the contingency to 10%. As you you go through construction, you'll be able to reduce the contingency even more so that when construction is complete the contingency is zero.

You don't have to spend that contingency. If it isn't used, consider it found money that you can save. That's a great way to feel good about staying on track and coming in under budget.

7. Beware scope creep. A sure way to bust your budget is the dreaded "While we're it we might as well ... " You may justify it by saying "it'll only be a few hundred dollars," but once you do that a few times, you'll have added a bunch of work and will definitely blow your budget. Remember that you made a plan and remain determined to stick to it.

8. Consider tradeoffs. Sometimes it's difficult, if not impossible, to pass by that truly remarkable item that you find during the project that's not in the budget. When this happens, take a look at your budget and what you have left to accomplish, with the goal of reducing the cost of something else to afford this new find. Is there a part of the work, such as painting a few rooms, that you can do yourself? Maybe you can use carpet in lieu of hardwood in the guest bedroom. Get what you want and stay on track by moving budgeted amounts from one pocket to another."

In order to assist you with determining the cost of your custom log home, download our helpful Cost Estimating Worksheet that will keep track of the expenses you may experience while building.  Another resource to use to help determine cost would be to contact your Local Independent Log Home Consultant.  They have years of experience helping others realize their dream log cabin home.

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Modifying A Pre-Designed Log Home Floor Plan to Meet YOUR Needs

Posted on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

        

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Although Appalachian Log Structures offers over 60 pre-designed log home floor plans, the majority of our homeowners have chosen to either modify or fully customize a floor plan to suite their lifestyle. In over 35 years of manufacturing log home packages we've rarely cut the same log house twice!

Take for instance the Fair Oaks floor plan above (left). We modified the Fair Oaks floor plan (above right) to take advantage of a beautiful lake front view for homeowners in Tennessee. We reversed the kitchen/dining area on the left hand side of the plan so the dining room could flow out on to a covered porch through beautiful sliding glass doors (with sliding screens). This offers wonderful opportunities for entertaining family and friends with traffic flowing easily from the kitchen and dining room to the specatular views from the porch and deck beyond.

The first floor 1/2 bath and utility area was re-designed to make easier access to the kitchen from the front door and to add a nice pantry to the kitchen area.

Upstairs, the two doghouse dormers on the front of the original plan were moved to the back of the house in order for both of the upstairs bedroom to have views of the lake and mountains beyond.

To take advantage of the sloping lot, a drive under two-car garage was designed for the basement and included another full bath and large gathering area with access to another deck below the 1st floor deck.

The modifications were done keeping in mind where the views would be, how the traffic would flow through the home and to take advantage of the wonderful weather in Eastern Tennessee and access to the lake from the home itself.

When viewing our pre-designed log floor plans, keep in mind that these are just a "starting place" from which your ideas can flow. Based on the building site, slope of land, the directional orientation, lifestyle, want/needs and especially your BUDGET, our experienced Log Home Sales Consultants are ready to help you modify or customize a floor plan to suite you. Let us help make your dream log home become reality!

View the two log home magazine articles that featured this Modified Fair Oaks by clicking on the links below:

Mail Order Log Home and Coming Together in Tennessee

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