The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

NC Log Home Owners use Strategic Planning

Posted on Fri, Jan 9, 2015 @ 12:41 PM

dream log cabin home

Good strategy, communication, vision and hard work eventually pay off for two homeowners who used all of the planning tools in their tool belt to build their dream log home.

It was not planned or executed overnight but over several years.  Cultivating the dream, envisioning the finished product and working towards a common goal all paid off in the end.  Now this beautiful log home is the Shaffer's dream log home come true.

A lot of their own blood, sweat and tears went in to their retirement home in Western North Carolina and it really shows.  For the protection of their investment, they chose to use logs pressure treated with borates to guarantee against wood digesting insects and decay.  In addition, they also liked the advantages that the spring loaded thru-bolt offered - keeping their log cabin home tight and energy efficient over the years.

Now that it's complete - they enjoy their time on the porch looking over the picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Their home was featured in Country's Best Log home magazine and you can CLICK HERE to see more photos and read about their experiences.

When planning your dream log home, take your time, think it through and don't forget to work with a Log Home Consultant that has your best interest at heart.

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Tags: log home, dream log home, dream log cabin, log home building consultant, borate pressure treatment, borate pressue treatment

8 Ways to Stick to Your Log Home Building/Remodeling Budget

Posted on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

custom log cabin homeRecently 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 2015.

"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.

4. Expect to splurge. In the budget, allow for the few places where you'll want to splurge. For example, the kitchen backsplash is a place you may want to do something truly special and remarkable. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the backsplash 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 resourse 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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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, dream log cabin, custom log home

Modifying Pre-Designed Log Home Plans to Meet YOUR Needs

Posted on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 @ 03:48 PM

Fair Oaks, log home, log cabin home, pre-designed plan        modified fair oaks, custom log home, modified log home floor plan

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 32 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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Tags: log home, log homes, dream log home, custom log home, log cabin

Is YOUR Log Home Manufacturer a Log Homes Council Member?

Posted on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

custom log homeBuilding your dream log home is likely one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. But you’re not the only stakeholder in this project. Your local building department requires the log cabin home be constructed to code. Your lender wants the log home to be valued correctly. The builder wants to earn more business through word-of-mouth, as does the log home manufacturer.

With so much riding on this decision, who do you trust? We suggest limiting your choices to members of the Log Homes Council like Appalachian Log Structures. Why? Because for decades now, new log homes buyers have trusted members of the Log Homes Council to make their dream home a reality. That’s because all council members must:

  • Abide by a strict code of ethics
  • Grade their logs and timbers by third party agencies to ensure quality
  • Provide construction manuals to ensure correct construction techniques
  • Sponsor scientific studies that advance log building technologies
  • Provide information to help consumers make smart choices

"This means when you buy from a Log Homes Council member, you are getting quality building materials that will stand the test of time," says the Chair of the Log Homes Council.

But those aren't the only advantages in choosing a company that belongs to the Log Homes Council. While member companies compete fairly for your dream home while adhering to the membership requirements, they are united in their passion for their work.

"When was the last time you bought anything from anyone who not only harvests the raw materials, but also designs and crafts the finished product?," asks the Log Homes Council. "You will find everyone from the sales rep to the owner of the company have something in common with you: They share the same passion for living in a log home as you do."

Learn More About the Council
The Log Homes Council is a national organization with membership comprised of manufacturers of log homes. The council is part of the National Association of Home Builders. Appalachian Log Structures is proud to be one of the companies that first formed this organization and throughout the years have had two of our employees being Chair of the Council as well as serving on numerous advisory boards and committies. We proud of our association with the Log Home Council and their efforts to promote and support our industry.

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Tags: dream log home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, custom log home, dream log cabin home

The Log Home: An American Dream!

Posted on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:41 PM

Custom log home, log cabin home, cozy log cabinOver the centuries log homes have come a long way. The resurgence in log home construction came in the mid-1970's and along with it several opportunities to improve on what our forefathers taught us about constructing homes with full logs.

Of course when log home construction started in this country, our virgin timbers were HUGE and contained a lot of heart wood. Heartwood of all wood species is naturally resistant to insects and decay. Preservatives weren't so necessary then and what was used to help protect the wood was organic.

Now that we're on our 3rd or 4th harvesting of timbers there is a lot more sapwood exposed when the logs are milled or hewn. Sapwood of ALL wood species (yes - even cypress and cedar) is susceptible to decay and insects so preservation is very important today. It's the reason we started in 1977 to pressure treat our log wall building materials - something that no one had tried before - and we have never had a homeowner with insect or decay problems. In addition, just like our forefathers we're using an organic preservative in our pressure treating process - borates.

In the infancy of the new log home building industry the Log Home Council (LHC) was formed and became a division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Appalachian Log Structures was one of the companies that helped form and support the LHC and still does today. Over the years several white papers have been produced by the LHC and one of them is featured here today. Click Here for an overview of the Log Home Industry and be prepared to learn some interesting and useful facts that you can take with you and use in your own dream log home project.

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Consultant when you have questions or are ready to turn your dream log home in to reality!

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Tags: dream log home, dream log cabin, custom log home, borate pressure treatment, borates, dream log cabin home, build a log cabin

Energy Performance of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 12:40 PM

custom log homeA lot has been written about the energy efficiency of log homes.  When discussing this topic with those "non-believer's", I usually ask them the square footage of their home, how high the ceilings are in their home and what types of energy they use to power their home.

After determining all of this and then comparing the costs to my own log cabin home, they are quite surprised at the differences between the energy costs of the two homes. You see, you can read, calculate, research and argue this topic for a good long while however the proof is in the monthly power bill. My home continually out performs my next door neighbors who live in conventional built homes with 8' or 9' tall ceilings.

Thanks to the physical characteristics of logs, when you build your new log home you can watch your energy bills go down, which really adds up. Log homes are able to achieve excellent energy efficiency, thanks to “thermal mass,” a natural property in the logs that helps keep inside temperatures comfortable in all seasons. This enables log homes to stay
cool in summer and warm in winter. Indeed, in studies by the Department of Energy and performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, log homes were found to outperform other forms of construction. Read all about it in the Log Home Council's white paper, The Energy Performance of Log Homes.

Although a very technical paper it does provide some insight in to the "thermal mass" phenomenon that is really at the heart of the topic. It's this mass that gives the log home the energy efficiency that they are known for. Our forefathers understood the energy efficiency of log structures. That's one of the reasons why so many were built.

When you are ready to begin your new energy efficient, dream log home, be sure to contact your nearest Log Home Building Consultant to assist you. We're here to help when you're ready to start.

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Tags: log cabin home, dream log home, log and timber home, dream log cabin, dream log cabin home

We're MORE Than a Producer of Log Homes!

Posted on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

home with log sidingMost people think of Appalachian Log Structures as a producer of log cabin homes, but we're SO much more than that.

In the past few years there has been a resurgence of remodel, repair and restoration of existing homes and log homes. In addition, there has been an increasing interest in hybrid homes which are those structures built using different building techniques like log walls with timber frame roof components or a conventional frame home with timber frame accents.

As a mill that produces wood items, we've been busy making these types of products (not necessarily log walls) for just such projects for years.

Recently we had a client interested in using some of our timber frame materials for his conventional framed house. They liked the look of the heavy timbers for the 2nd floor framing as well as the exposed heavy timber rafters and tongue and groove in the roof and dormers of the home even though they were not building a log home. In addition, they also like the heavy timber look for the exterior porches. Our porch railings were used on the wrap around porches to finish off the project and tie all of the wood features, both inside and out, together. It's a wonderful combination of both conventional framing and timber framing. Visit our facebook page to view a photo album of this "hybrid home".

Along with some considerations of placing timber framing on a conventional frame structure, the builder also had to be in on the design to make sure that a good understanding on how certain construction techniques would be accomplished when marrying these two construction types together. Good communication and understanding is key when building not only a hybrid home, but any type of construction project.

We've also milled custom log siding profiles for some clients who had a certain look they were going for. In addition there are folks who have had log siding on their home for years and are now putting an addition on to their existing home. They don't know where the original siding came from so they brought a piece to us and we custom cut their siding for them.

How about a custom log profile? In 2012 some high winds in Virginia did some damage to a cedar log cabin home. Not only was it a profile/shape that was unusual, but they needed it in Western Red Cedar species to match the rest of the house. With the dimensions and a sketch of the existing log profile, we purchased the Western Red Cedar raw materials and custom milled the logs for their repair job.

So although not everyone may be looking for a log home, if you are looking for wood components in your new (or existing) home consider Appalachian Log Structures as a resource for your project. We offer structural as well as decorative beams/rafters/timbers, exterior and interior log siding as well as log siding corners. If you are looking for a smaller log to use for a storage shed, camping cabin, man room, hobby room or a back yard get-a-way we also produce a 3"x7" Sportsman log. Need some hardware to put your timber framing together? Give us a call - we may have what you need in stock.

If you need a finish for your exterior wood items we offer a line of water or oil based products in addition to additives that help repel carpenter bees and other insects as well as a mildewcide additive.

Trim lumber, board & batten and various other wood products are also offered and all it takes is a quick phone call to your Local Log Home Building Consultant or a visit to our website www.applog.com to find out more. To help you get started, click here to view our Component Price list that will show you just a few of the items we do everyday!

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Tags: dream log home, log and timber home, dream log cabin, borate pressue treatment, dream log cabin home, build a log cabin

Halloween, Trick or Treat and Appalachian Log Structures

Posted on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 @ 12:16 PM

custom log cabin homeRemember the good old days - when you would put on your home made or store bought costume and walk the neighborhood with your friends trick-or-treating from door to door? We used to use paper bags from the grocery store or pillow cases to hold all the goodies that were being handed out.

Some houses would have candy, some fruit (candied apples), some had home made treats like popcorn balls or cupcakes. At some houses people put the treats in your bag but the ones we liked the MOST were the houses where you could pick and choose what you could take with you.

At Appalachian Log Structures we've taken a similar "pick what you want" approach with our pricing of log home building materials as well as our promotions that save you thousands of dollars.

Not only do we offer a choice of pre-cut or random length building materials but you can also choose what items you want to purchase. Although we have 3 levels of packages (Log Wall, Log and Beam and PLUS) you can customize your own package and choose what materials you want. If you want a pre-cut log wall with random length beams and rafters - it is not a problem. If you want a PLUS package but want to remove the loft decking - it can be done! You have the opportunity to take the materials you want for your project and your budget. We make it as easy as possible for you.

In our current promotion you have the same opportunity to make some choices to save on your materials depending on when you are ready to start your dream log home. By placing an order early on you will earn the most savings. By taking delivery early in 2015 you can receive a nice rebate as well.

At Appalachian Log Structures it's all about choices and what we have to offer that will fit your price point. Whether it is a full log and timber frame log home, a log wall with truss or conventional built roof, log siding and log siding corners for your conventional built home or modular/mobile home, decorative timbers for a hybrid home or log railing to finish out a re-model project - we offer it all. Don't see a manufactured wood item on our list that you may be interested in? Contact you Local Log Home Building Consultant and ask if we can custom mill something for you (custom log profiles, custom log siding profiles, hand peeled posts, etc.). We've done PLENTY of that, so don't be shy about asking.

Oh - and by the way - HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Hope you get everything you want in your trick-or-treat bag this year!

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Tags: dream log home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, custom log home, dream log cabin home

A Fireside Chat about Fireplaces in Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

custom log home fireplaceWhen speaking with folks about their dream log cabin home the 3 features of the home that they are most excited to talk
about are:

  • Master Bedroom/Bath
  • Porches
  • Fireplace

We had fireplaces in the homes I grew up in. Dad always put in the iron swing bar so we could cook over the hot coals from the fires he would build. I have wonderful memories of coming home on a Sunday afternoon after Church to a big iron pot of White beans with ham hocks that had been cooking all morning and afternoon in the fireplace. The smell of the fresh baked cornbread coming out of the oven to have with it makes my mouth water even today!

When Dad and Mom built their last log home they installed a vented, gas stove. As we age it becomes harder and harder to swing an ax and haul wood. Dad always said that wood will heat 3 times – once when you cut it, once when you haul it and once when you burn it! Over the years I’ve come to understand what he meant and if you have a wood burning fireplace I’m sure you do too.

The other issue with a true, open hearth fireplace, is that the heat you’ve paid so dearly for to heat your home with is being used to fuel the flames of the fire and then it’s going right up the chimney.  Although open hearth fire places are the most beautiful, they are also the most heat in-efficient.

Now days there are several energy efficient fireplace options to choose from – vented and non-vented fireplaces and gas stoves, wood pellet stoves, zero clearance fireplaces, inserts and wood burning stoves. Each option has its own appeal for different reasons and you should chose and carefully research each option when deciding what to put in your dream log home.

As we started to design our custom log home in 1992 we considered all of the fireplace options and decided upon a wood stove. We live out in the country with only electricity to power our home. In case of power outages we needed a source of heat in the winter as well as something to cook on. Fortunately, the longest we’ve been without power (so far) is 4 days in a bad ice/snow storm. When we know an ice or snow storm is coming, we usually cook some food in advance and use the wood stove to re-heat or to cook chili, fry eggs/bacon, etc. to keep ourselves going.  So it’s a multi-purpose unit that is nice to look at and such a comfort
on a cold winter night to set by and watch the flames and listen to the crackle of the wood as it burns.

We positioned the wood stove in the center of the house so even with the power out the house never gets below 68 degrees. During construction, I also consulted with the HVAC contractor and we put a cold air return up in the gable end where the stove pipe exits the roof. This allows all of the heat up in the cathedral ceiling as well as the heat being generated from the stove pipe to be circulated when then heat pump is on. By leaving the upstairs bedroom door open just a bit the upstairs HVAC unit rarely comes on as the heat from the stove naturally rises.

The type of wood stove we chose also offered a catalytic converter that will burn the smoke coming off of the wood so that what goes up to stove pipe is 98% clean. In essence we have a heat source that burns a natural renewing resource, it burns very clean and hot, can be used to
cook on, was made in the USA and provides a source of exercise (have you ever chopped wood?) that is much needed in the Winter time! Does it get any greener/better than that?

When you are ready to start planning you log home and deciding where to put your fireplace, wood stove or other heating feature be sure to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant. We’re here to help “light the fire under you” to get you started on your Dream Log Home!

Click Here to view more photos of log home fireplaces!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, dream log cabin home

One Size Does NOT Fit All - Choosing the Log Home Right For You!

Posted on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 05:10 PM

Custom Log HomeNot everyone has the same wants and needs when deciding on what size log home to build.  It is a personal decision that is determined by the individuals budget, site restrictions, purpose of use (full time home, vacation home, rental, etc.) and a combination of other such reasons that each person must decide for themselves.

Years ago we used a tag-line in our marketing strategy call "More Choices".  Although we've developed other tag-lines since, we still offer quite a few choices when it comes to assisting you with your choice in log cabin homes.

Let's start with square footage size.  Although we offer 9 Pre-designed cabins (under 1000 square feet) we've custom designed hundereds more.  We also offer 2 garage plans and a Garage Cottage plan that several homeowners have built before building their larger home.  They build/use the Cottage before starting construction of their other home and sometimes use it as their vacation home first, then as a rental or guest house after their log home is built.  custom-exterior-1

Our Pre-designed models offer 24 plans in the 1000-1999 square feet range, 25 plans in the 2000-2999 square feet range and 7 in the 3000+ range.  In our newest series of plans, Frontier TRS, we offer 12 single story models that have truss roof systems in place of our heavy timber/exposed beam/cathedral ceiling roof materials.

Although we offer an extensive range of floor plans, over 85% of all homes we produce are either modified or customized to meet the needs of the homeowner.  It's these types of choices that folks search us out for as our clients don't like to be pigeon holed in to a specific design.  Us Baby Boomers grew up with the Burger King mentality where we could "have it your way", and we expect our log cabin homes to be the same way.

How about size of the logs themselves?  One item that sets us apart from the rest is that we offer a FULL THICKNESS log.  Although log home manufacturers will tout a 6" or 8" (or larger) log, they will actually measure 1/2 inch lesss in thickness so you wind up with a 5-1/2 inch or 7-1/2 inch thick log wall.  So for the same money - when you invest in a log cabin home with Appalachian Log Structures - you get a thicker wall which translates in to more INSULATION and a better overall VALUE.  Our standard offerings include a 6x8, 8x8, 6x12 and 8x12 log and each size of log comes in a variety of corner styles.  We've also custom milled different size logs for those wanting something even more out of the ordinary.

28boybeq

Now a bit about the size of the structural timbers.  Once again, depending on the design and the wants/needs of the individual we offer a wide range of structural timbers to use in your design.  Although our standard designs typically use a 4x8 floor joists and roof rafters, 6x12 girder beam and 4x10 ridge beams, we also offer round joists and rafters.  Want something larger than what we design with - just ask.  Several homeowners want larger timbers for the LOOK they are going for in their home and not what is required structurally - and that is ok.  Just let us know what your size requirements are and we'll be happy to work with you.

The most important size to consider when building ANY home is budget.  Be sure to set a reasonable budget for yourself before designing a home.  Be honest with yourself and if you plan to finance, talk with a mortgage lender before getting your dream home designed.  They will help you determine how much money they will lend on the project and you can discover how much monthly payments, including interest, will be as well as expected property tax (if any in your state) and insurance.  The last thing we want you to experience is to have to eat hot dogs and popcorn for the first 10 years of living in your dream home because of over extending yourselves financially.

When you're ready to start planning the size of your log home be sure to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant for assistance.  We're here to help you make your log home construction process be successful!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, log home building consultant