The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

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

Posted on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

custom log cabin homeNow 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 23 years ago, we used this 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.

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

Next up – Step #8 Choosing a General Contractor.

Purchase Log Home Floor Plans - Step #6 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Jul 17, 2015 @ 01:05 PM

custom log home floor plans

Assuming that you have progressed through the first 5 steps in the Successful Planning series you have now completed your research, set a realistic budget, know where you are going to build your log cabin home, sketched some log home floor plan ideas on paper and are within the building/move in timeline you have set for yourself, it's now time to have your preferred log home manufacturer start drawing your dream log home design.  Whether it is a floor plan that the log home manufacturer already has pre-designed, there are some slight modifications you want made to that plan or if you have your own custom log home design, gather your ideas, sketches and other information and get with your Log Home Consultant to get underway.

For folks wanting one of our pre-designed plans we offer a Study Set of plans that will help you gather building costs and/or provide to your lending institution for appraisal purposes.  For those wanting to modify a pre-designed plan or customize their own plan we have a Preliminary Plan option that provides the same type of information as the Study Set of plans include.  Contact your local Log Home Consultant for more information and pricing on the Preliminary Plan option.

Over the year's we have found that those homeowners who start working on their log home floor plans early are the most confident and well prepared when construction actually begins.  You should be very relaxed and not rushed through this step as it is your dream log cabin home.  Both your log home manufacturer and your Log Home Consultant are very interested in assisting you through this process.

Coming soon - Step #7 Obtaining Construction Estimate.

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

Timelines for Your New Log Home - Step #5 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 @ 02:26 PM

custom log cabin homeSome folks will set a date that they want to be moved in to their new log home like Christmas, Thanksgiving or a special anniversary or birthday.  Setting goals is a great idea but they need to be matched with realistic expectations.  If you’ve never had a custom home built before, now may be the time to investigate a bit further.

There are several factors that will affect how long a log home building project will take.  Here are just a few:

  • Complexity and size of the house plan
  • Location of the building site
  • Availability of building supplies
  • Weather
  • Size/experience of construction crew

On average our homeowners have told us that from the time they started clearing their lot until the time they moved in, it took them approximately 12 months to complete.  Remember, this is an “average” so some folks building smaller, simpler designs may have spent fewer than 6 months and some with very large (7000+ sq ft) complex houses on difficult building sites may have spent 18 months or longer.

If you have a move-in date selected be sure to keep the time lines and what can effect them in mind so you know when you have to start.  To help you along, click here for a sample time line to help you along in planning.  For further assistance, use your local Log Home Consultant as a wonderful resource for insights in to the time line planning process.

Our next topic is Step #6 – Ordering Blueprints

Be sure to follow and "Like" us on Facebook and Pinterest

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

Posted on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 12:21 PM

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

custom designed log cabin homesWhat 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.

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

Posted on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

Custom Log HomeHaving a successful log home building project requires lots of planning. Last time we discussed the importance of prequalifying and establishing a budget.

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!

Log Home Building Budget - Step #2 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

about-us-headerPlanning 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!

Building A Log Home - Research is #1 Key to Planning Success

Posted on Fri, May 22, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log home

Part 1 of a 10 part series....

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 tours/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.

As you gather information during this research stage, keep a file (electronic or otherwise) and consider making sub-folders for every room in your house.  As you come across photos or articles that are of particular interest for your Master Bedroom, Great Room, Kitchen, etc., insert these items into their respective folder so they are easily accessible.  When the time comes to actually design your home, these ideas are handy.  Some clients tell me they use Pinterest or Instagram to keep their "dream log home" photos in.

Reading blogs (like this one) is another great way to learn more about building a log home or do some general research on log homes in general.  Another good resource is the Log Home Council's library which offer several articles full of timely ideas and great insights.  These articles are written by industry professionals and are not geared to be a "sales presentation", but offering facts about building and living in a log or timber frame home.

When you have questions or if you're ready to get started on your log home project, call your local Log Home Building Consultants. We’re here to assist you along the way and be another resource in your research.

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

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

Different Paths to Building your Dream Log Home

Posted on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 03:05 PM

Dream Log Home

It’s rare these days to hear the phrase, “money is no object.” In this new economic climate, we’re all interested in making smart investments. Building a log home is no exception.

On the path to realizing your dream log cabin home, you will have to make a number of decisions. You will have to determine:

• How much home you can afford

• Where it will be located

• Who will finance it

• What kind of design

• Who will manufacture the log package

These are decisions all log home buyers have to make.

Where the path to this goal diverges slightly is on the topic of who will construct it. Log homes often attract those with a pioneer spirit. As a result, you may be considering building all or part of the home yourself. Some want to craft their dream home with their own hands. Others think they will save money that would otherwise go to a builder.

But we encourage you to start pondering this decision at the outset of this journey, because it’s one of the most important decisions you will make. Your decision will impact the whole scope of the project, from financing and insurance to budget and completion time. You have to determine what path is right for you. You have three paths to choose from and the degree of challenge increases with your involvement.

Hire a Builder or Contractor

This is the easiest path. If you follow this course, you will be intimately involved in designing your home and picking a log home producer. Once the design plans are finalized, the log home package is cut and you turn the project over to the builder. The builder gives you a set of keys and a garage door opener when the home is finished. Then you move in. What could be simpler than that?

Choosing the right builder or contractor with experience in log home construction is not without challenges. But it is this path we recommend if you want to get your home completed on time and on budget. A professional will help you overcome countless obstacles and avoid mistakes that can add more costs, as well as delays in completion time.

Be Your Own General Contractor

A more difficult path is to act as your own general contractor or “GC.” You will need a great deal of talent for organization and delegation if you go this route. It’s also a full-time job, so make sure you have room for this role in your life. Tasks include:

• Locate and evaluate all subcontractors

• Prepare all construction specifications for each trade

• Obtain all subcontractor bids

• Prepare a complete cost estimate of the project

• Establish legal contracts between you and your subcontractors

• Obtain insurance

• Educate yourself on all local building codes, regulations and restrictions

• Obtain building permits

• Create construction schedule for all trades

• Order all building materials

• Manage the job site

• Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Be An Owner-Builder

This the most difficult path. In this role, you will be responsible for everything the general contractor is responsible for, plus you will perform most—if not all—of the labor yourself. The cost of labor can be as much as 30% to 40% of the total cost of a home.

If visions of dollar signs are suddenly dancing in your head, be aware that construction is physically dangerous and difficult work. A moment of inattention on the jobsite at the end of a tiring day can lead to disasterous results. If you get hurt in an accident, you could spend months healing while watching your construction schedule and budget spiral out of control. That’s why you will have to budget as if you were paying a professional to build the home. That way if you get hurt or injured, you can still have your dream of log home ownership fulfilled.

Another difficulty is obtaining financing as an owner-builder. Many lenders are reluctant to loan to owner-builders. Discuss this with your lender early in the planning stages, to determine if it’s even an option.  As Owner/Builder Be Prepared To:

• Report on the progress of the project to local building officials and your lender

• Rise at half-dark thirty and confront a phyiscally demanding job, rain or shine

• Fire subcontractors when they don’t perform to your expectations

• Resolve conflicts between different teams of tradesmen

• Be adept at project management and scheduling

• Be able to bounce back from the unexpected events

• Expect that all those friends and family members who said they’d help you build your home, suddenly have other commitments to attend to

Although the above paths are different they will all result in your dream log home becoming reality.  Once you choose your path, enjoy the journey and keep the end goal in mind.

When you're ready to begin your journey, contact your local Log Home Building Consultant and we'll walk the path together.

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

 

This article was taken in part from the Log Homes Council web page www.loghomes.org

11 Ideas for Cooking up the Perfect Kitchen for your Dream Log Home

Posted on Thu, Apr 23, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

diningLog homes are renowned for their informality. Mealtime is no exception. The question is where to eat. Few log-home floor plans show dining rooms. Usually the eating space is identified as a dining area, often carved out of the great room.

Many families want a big kitchen with either a breakfast nook or an eat-at island or counter, making a designated dining space seem superfluous. Don’t let it be. If you have a log home, you may find yourself nominated to host holiday meals with families. Or volunteering.

Here are 11 ways you can create the perfect dining area.

  1. Place the space. Unless you want an enclosed dining room, pick a spot convenient to the kitchen. In an open layout, it can be adjacent to both the kitchen and living areas. Novel but effective arrangements are between the living room and kitchen or isolated altogether, such as in a turret or other bump-out that allows windows — and views — on three sides.
  2. Decide how much log. Dining areas along the perimeter wall will include logs, or you may want log walls on three sides. Or no logs at all. A formal dining room might work better with framed, painted walls.
  3. Lay out the space. Dining tables usually are in the center of the space, but if yours opens to the living area, consider off-centering the table to strike a balance. Then arrange other furniture to promote the flow between the two spaces. If you want a more defined break, add a tall furniture piece between them. A two-sided fireplace makes a dramatic divider.
  4. Make the connection. Wide-open layouts let the dining space flow from and into other areas, but you can define the territory without enclosing it by carving a wide archway in a log wall that would otherwise separate it from other rooms.
  5. Choose your style. Formal or informal? The former calls for a more dignified decor, whereas informality allows for more fanciful furnishings.
  6. Start with the table. Get the right shape for the space: square, round or rectangular. For a small table in a space that allows more seating, buy a table you can expand. Coordinate the chairs and other furniture around the table to fully define the area.
  7. Illuminate the setting. Dining areas need natural and artificial light. A ceiling fixture over the center of the table is common, although it doesn’t always have to be an antler chandelier. Don’t forget windows, or at least borrow light from neighboring spaces.
  8. Focus on the floor. Wood is the most common dining-area flooring, usually matching that of the living area, although sometimes it’s the kitchen. Food, drink and perhaps wax from candles will eventually fall to the floor, so choose a material that’s easy to clean and care for. Or cover wood with an area rug.
  9. Create overhead interest. Many dining rooms share the cathedral ceiling that tops the great room. If yours will, embellish the space above the table with a truss. If your ceiling will be lower, consider log beams supporting a tongue-and-groove ceiling.
  10. Full or part time? Will you be eating all or most of your meals in the dining area, or only when company calls? For occasional use, especially in a compact home, consider devoting only a section of the great room for the table and chairs.
  11. Stay in character. If your home is decorated in North Woods style, avoid a cowboy dining room. Link your dining space with the rest of the look, even if it’s fully enclosed. But do look for opportunities to give the dining area its own identify.

When you're ready to start planning or designing your dream log cabin home remember to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to help you with your ideas.

Remember to "Like" and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

This article was reproduced from www.loghome.com and would like to thank Roland Sweet for his article.

How to Choose a Builder for Your Dream Log Home

Posted on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

Finding the right building professional to turn your dream of log home living into reality will take time and research.

day_4_front

When you buy from Appalachian Log Structures, a Log Homes Council member, they will provide graded logs and timbers, as well as construction drawings or a construction manual and 8-hours of on-site technical assistance, to help builders become familiar with their building system.

Although a few log home producers offer construction services, the vast majority of council members like Appalachian Log Structures leave construction to independent builders and contractors. It’s up to these individuals to turn that log home package into a comfortable and well-crafted home. Choosing the right professional for this job can be a daunting task. But that’s why the Log Homes Council created this Buyer’s Guide, to help consumers make educated decisions when making their dream home a reality.

Identify Your Role
Before you can move farther along The Perfect Path to Your Dream Home, you will need to identify your role in this construction process. This decision will affect a host of issues, including your budget. With the downturn in the housing market, the cost of labor accounts for three-fifths or 60% of the total cost to build, according to a recent reports from the National Association of Home Builders. You may be able to save some of this cost by doing some of the work yourself. Essentially you have three options, all discussed here at more length:

Professionally Built
When choosing this path, you will work with Appalachian Log Structures, a Log Home Council member, and a builder/contractor or a builder/dealer to finalize the design of the home. Then the manufacturer cuts the log home package while the builder performs infrastructure improvements, including installing foundation, driveway, water, sewer or septic and more. Once the log home package arrives and is inventoried, construction begins. When the home is finished, the builder obtains a certification of occupancy from the local building inspector and you move in. This is the easiest path and it’s often recommended if you want to have a home completed on time and on budget.

Owner-Contractor
This is a more difficult path. As the owner-contractor (general contractor or GC), you will be responsible for hiring talent to do the work. However, this is not without risks or long hours. In fact, it’s a full-time gig.

You will have to prepare all the specifications for each trade (specifications are the instructions for what materials to use and description of the job they are expected to perform), locate subcontractors, obtain bids, prepare cost estimate and budget, maintain a comprehensive construction schedule and finalize all contracts. (Hint: Have an attorney familiar with construction review all contracts before signing.)

You will also to educate yourself on all local building codes, insurance rules, safety regulations, plus attend to a raft of other details. This includes obtaining building permits, dealing with building inspectors and your lender, ordering and inventorying building materials and managing the job site.

Another duty that you will have to reluctantly perform as a GC is make mistakes. It could be scheduling errors, building materials broken or overlooked, a bad choice in a subcontractor or any number of other drop-the-ball blunders. Even professionals make mistakes, from time to time. But if you are new to construction, it’s nearly guaranteed you will make far more. This will cost you more in time and money.

Owner-Builder
This is the most difficult path. Think of it as several full-time gigs. This means you will likely be working days, nights and weekends. You will be responsible for everything the general contractor is responsible for, plus you will perform much of the labor yourself.

Work for Your Builder
Yet another option is to find a builder who is willing to be flexible and allow you to perform some of the labor yourself. If you have some home improvement skills, you can tackle any number of construction tasks and eliminate the cost of that labor. Scores of log home buyers have saved on thieir building budgets by installing landscaping, staining logs, cleaning up the jobsite and more.

Lender May Decide For You
Unless you just arrived here in a hot tub time machine, you already know that lenders and banks are much more conservative. In this new lending environment, they may require a veteran log builder construct your home. Explore your options with your lender.

Which Role is Right for You?
How much time do you have in your life for this project? Reviewing your schedules can bring some clarity to the decision of whether to tackle this job or hire a pro.

Budget for A Pro
Even if you are going to tackle some of the construction yourself, you should budget the project as if you were having it turnkeyed by a builder. This creates a safety net that ensures your project will get done. If you get hurt on the job and can’t finish the project, you will have enough to bring in a professional to finish the job.

Shopping for Builder/Contractor
The company you have chosen to cut your log package will likely have lists of builders they have done business with before. You can also contact building associations in your area. Select several to consider and evaluate each carefully.

Check References & Rapport
Review each company’s standing in the building community. Also weigh their communication skills and whether you have good rapport. After all, you will be spending anywhere from a few months to a year interacting. You want a good working relationship.

Tour Completed Homes
Visit log homes the builder has built before. Closely inspect crafting and sealing at corners and around doors and windows. A three- to five-year-old home is probably the best example of a builder’s art.

Check Official Channels
Contact the local contractors’ board or similar state or regional authority, to see if the individual is in good standing. Make sure the builder is licensed and bonded. Check online with your state’s Attorney General’s office to see if the builder has been involved with litigation or judgments in the past. In today’s litigious society, don’t expect a spotless record in a career spanning decades. But multiple incidents in a shorter time frame can be an alarm bell.

Trust Your Intuition
Interview each individual, to get a feel for their communication style and customer service. Talk with their past clients to see how they performed in real world situations. It’s likely that at least one individual will click with you.

When you are ready to begin the process of building your dream log cabin home be sure to look up your nearest Log Home Building Consultant and schedule a meeting with them at your job site.  We're excited to assist you and get you in your log home as soon as possible.

Remember to "Like" and follow us on Facebook and Pintrest!

 

This article was taken in part from the Log Homes Council web site www.loghomes.org.