The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Log Home Construction Bids - How do Builders Charge?

Posted on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

Sorting out the differences between ‘fixed bid’ and ‘cost plus’.

log home constructionEven if you plan on doing some or all of the work on your log home yourself, you will still need specialty contractors, including plumbers, electricians and HVAC installers. This is why you need to understand how these trade professionals charge for their services.

You will be contracting with a builder or subcontractors to provide labor and materials in one of three ways.

1) Fixed bid
2) Cost plus (also known as time and materials or an hourly rate)
3) Combination of the above two

Which is better? Read on to discover what to expect when you are making that dream log home a reality. This information is provided by the Log Homes Council, an association of log home manufacturers. Their goal is to enable you to make the most informed decisions when buying and building your log home.

Fixed Bid

Builder or subcontractor furnishes you with a bid that tells you exactly how much you will pay to have a finished home by such and such date. Sounds straight forward, right? You get what you want, the contractor gets what they want and everyone goes home happy. Just like the rest of life, it’s more complicated than you might think.

Fixed Bid Advantages:

• If there’s no surprises, fixed bid can be a good option
• To keep their bid competitive, contractor will be looking for the best deal on all materials
• The contractor will try to get the job done as fast as possible, so he can move on to the next job
• Fixed bid employed by trade contractors, such as electricians, HVAC installers and plumbers
• Common contract clause is “per the plans, in place and to code”
• Once it passes inspection, the trade contractor expects to be paid
 
Fixed Bid Disadvantages:
• The contractor has to ensure he or she doesn’t lose money on a wide range of challenges that may—or may not—come up
• Example scenario: Mountainous terrain.
The builder may need to factor in the blasting of bedrock and excavation to install the basement. This can increase yours costs by thousands of dollars—and that’s all before concrete is poured for the basement.
• You may not get the most competitive price with a fixed bid, because the contractor will have to add in contingency funds for what-if situations

Cost Plus

• A contractor will base their estimate on the amount of time and labor it will take to construct your home, plus a percentage markup on all material that goes into your home
• This tactic is used on projects where costs are harder to predict
• Many log home builders use this formula, largely because there are so many unknowns in log home construction

Cost Plus Advantages:

• If you and your builder keep track of your budget and avoid change orders, this can be the most competitively priced way to get your home built

Cost Plus Disadvantages:

• No incentive to do the job as fast as possible
• No incentive to wisely purchase materials, since everything that goes into the home is marked up

Combo Deal

A combination of these two is increasingly common in log home construction. Some parts of the house are done on a fixed bid, some on an hourly rate and other parts on a time and materials basis, plus a percentage.

Combination Advantages:

• If you invest your time in choosing cabinets, why should a builder take a percentage for ordering them
• A combination bid can help make the process easier for both builder and buyer, while building trust

Combination Disadvantages:

• Not all builders will offer this
• Log home builders are specialists
• If you find a reputable one who is available, you may need to compensate them for their expertise in whatever manner they see fit 
 
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This is a re-printed article from the Log Homes Council library (http://loghomes.org).

Tags: log cabin home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, log cabin homes, log and timber homes, log cabin, dream log cabin home, log cabins

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

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

How To Properly Compare Log Home Material Packages

Posted on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 @ 02:13 PM

custom log homeIf you’ve done any research at all comparing log home companies one of the first things you realized is that they all offer different types of packages or materials. When trying to compare “apples to apples” you soon learn that it is a virtually impossible task since the material packages are different as well as the quality and type of materials.

Some examples:

  • Log wall material is pre-cut or linear foot?
  • Roof system - 2x convention frame, pre-manufactured truss or heavy timber?
  • Thickness of log, nominal or actual?
  • 2nd floor system - 2x, conventional frame, pre-manufactures truss or heavy timber.
  • Quality of windows/doors – wood, vinyl or clad?
  • Quality of sealants/fasteners?
  • Written warranty against wood digesting insects and decay?
  • Engineered for settling?

Assuming that each manufacturer offers the same products is incorrect. It is not uncommon to discover that you have requested pricing from a producer that supplies only log and beam materials that are supplied to you in random length and pricing from another that includes materials that are extensively pre-cut and ready to assemble and supply materials to complete a dried-in structural shell. With the pricing between the two log home producers being several thousands of dollars apart, we often find that folks think the lower priced estimate is better – until they discover the difference. Sometime folks don’t “discover” the difference until it is too late!  It's best to remember to compare MATERIAL LISTS before you compare pricing.

When asking log home producers to provide an estimate for a certain floor plan it will be in your best interest to also provide the list of materials you would like included as well as the type and quality of materials you are expecting. This will get you as close as possible to that “apples to apples” comparison you are looking for.

To help you along, here is our Request for Estimate Checklist. In addition our Packages and Pricing flyer is linked so you may see both the material list and pricing for our pre-cut and random-length materials. For more detailed information please call on your local Independent Log Home Sales Consultant. They are a GREAT resource for you to use throughout your log home building project.

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log cabin kits, log home consultant

It's Not Easy Being Green - Log Homes & the Environment

Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

green log home For those of us log home enthusiasts who remember Kermit the Frog, we’ll also remember his song “It’s not easy being green”.  Of course back then he was singing about something other than saving the environment.  In today’s world of marketing, the word green has taken on a whole different meaning. Google search “environmentally green” and you get over 41 million hits – everyone from the National Geographic, the EPA and even Wikipedia have pages of information on green.  Seems everyone has their own idea, definition and interpretation of what “green” really is.  We’re marketed on a daily basis about green products from dishwashing liquid to clothing and sometimes it gets to be more of a joke rather than a cause.

It may not be easy being green since it can also be rather expensive.  Take housing for example.  By using a lot of newgen or nextgen products in your home you may wind up investing a lot more in your log home project than expected.  You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions – is this product really green (did it ship from overseas or was it made locally?) and will it really help save the environment (was it made from products that are not green?).

Common sense will come in to play here.  I’ve lived in a log home now for over 18 years, a home that used natures only renewable building resource – wood – as the main structural elements.  The logs were local to my area, were pressure treated with Borates to inhibit decay and attack from wood digesting insects and will help the home be around for generations.  Borate is a natural/organic preservative and insecticide.  How much greener a home can you get?

By having a well and septic system we use and recycle water naturally without chemicals.  We compost some of our food waste, use the recycle bins at our local garbage facility and keep our thermostats at temperatures that ease the use of the heat pumps in summer and winter.  I don’t consider myself an environmentalist.  I just use common sense to make every day decisions about leaving a minimal foot print on this wonderful and beautiful planet we call earth.  So really – it’s not that difficult being green when you live in a log home.

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log cabin kits

Log Home Construction Costs - Step #7 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 @ 09:51 AM

log cabin kitNow that you’ve got your floor plans drawn by your log home manufacturer, you can start gathering more accurate construction costs.  Up until now any estimates or quotes you have received have been “any ones guess”.  Most quality contractors we hear from won’t provide any type of pricing until a set of log home floor plans has been produced and folks are ready to spend some time discussing their wants/needs and budget for their log home project.  Once a floor plan drawing is completed contractors now have something specific to associate bulding costs to.

For financing purposes, you will not only need a set of your log home floor plans to submit with the rest of your documents, but your construction estimates as well.  If you have chosen to have your home professionally built by a general contractor, they will provide to you the estimated construction costs. 

If you plan on being your own General Contractor or building the log cabin kit yourself, our Cost Estimating Worksheet will be of great assistance.  When I built my log home 19 years ago, we used this very form to gather our costs and budget our money accordingly.  Not only did we come in on time (we developed and executed a realistic construction time line) but we came in on budget as well thanks to this form.

Be sure to add in about 10% in cost overruns for unanticipated expenses, price increases, or in case you forgot to include an item you REALLY wanted in your new dream log home.  Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Consultant and use their experience as a great resource tool for your building project.

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Next up – Step #8 Choosing a General Contractor.

Tags: log home, log cabin kits, log home manufacturer

Energy Performance of Log Homes

Posted on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

custom log structureA lot has been written about the energy efficiency of log homes.  When discussing this topic with those "none 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" phenomanom 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.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, logs, log cabin kits, log home building consultant, Log Home Council

The Log Home: An American Dream

Posted on Thu, Jun 14, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

custom log home
Over 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!

Tags: log home, dream log home, log cabin kits, log home construction, log home industry, log wall building materials

Who is Manufacturing your Log Home Package?

Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 @ 04:17 PM

log home manufacturerThere are a lot of claims about being a log home kit manufacturer, but knowing the difference between a broker and a manufacturer is important.

A log home manufacturer owns and operates the machinery that cuts your log home building materials.  For those manufacturers belonging to the Log Home Council, like Appalachian Log Structures, we also provide quality grade stamped logs and timbers, as well as construction manuals, construction DVD's, on-site technical assistance and other such valuable services.  A few of the manufacturers, like Appalachian Log Structures, have their own drafting departments where they focus on providing homeowners with specialized drawings on how the materials are to be assembled.  Most manufacturers are very proud of their manufacturing facilities, and over the past 10+ years we've been offering Plant Tour/Seminars at our Princeton, WV facility, where we've hosted thousands of interested log home enthusiasts .  These people (many of which are now homeowners) tell us that visiting our log home manufacturing facility made them feel secure in the fact that they knew who and where their dream log cabin was being produced.

When doing research for your log home kit, you'll run across a few log home brokers.  Although advertised and promoted as a "Log Home Company" or manufacturer, log home brokers typically purchase the log home building materials from saw mills or sometimes from a log home manufacturer, or both!  The materials are then re-sold to consumers as being made by the "Log Home Company".  If you don't inquire, (or don't care), you'll never know who supplied and milled your log home building materials.

When its time to choose your manufacture/supplier - it's not a bad idea to visit their manufacturing facility.  You can learn so much more about the company you are going to be dealing with, as well as see first hand the quality of the product you are investing in.

Knowledge is power - be sure to educate yourself on not only the quality of the log home components you are purchasing, but know who you are dealing with, and where the log cabin kits are coming from...the manufacturer or someplace else!

You are invited to our Spring Plant Tour and Seminar being held later this month.  Contact your local Log Home Consultant to learn more.  Sign up soon as seats are limited!

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

A Happy Log Home New Year

Posted on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 @ 04:29 PM

log home christmasThis greeting comes with heartfelt thanks to all of you who took time from your life to call us, visit us, or write us an email about the dream of living in a log home of your own. Having experienced owning, building and living in a log home for over 20 years, I understand the overwhelming desire to live in a quiet, warm, and comforting environment that leads one back to a simpler time of living. Log homes provide this ambiance. Appalachian Log Structures looks forward to it's continued mission of providing not only the highest quality log home building material components, but also timely, educational and important information concerning the numerous choices to be made during the log home buying and building process. We hope our blog has helped you explore some of these important choices, and we have given practical and logical information to be used in making the best choice for you. We will continue to bring you the best information and suggestions concerning log homes, and look forward to hearing from you for input on topics for discussion.

As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome the New Year of 2012 our wish for you and yours is a healthy and prosperous New Year, and that we may help you realize your dream of owning a log home in the near future.

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