The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

How To Properly Compare Log Home Material Packages

Posted on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

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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Ordering your Log Home Package - Step #10 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log homeNow that you've successfully completed the previous 9 steps in Planning a Successful Log Home Project you are ready to order your log home package of building materials. 

Remember to contact your helpful and knowledgeable Log Home Consultant so they can assist you with this process.  They are a great resource of information.  If you do not plan on financing any part of the project most log cabin home manufacturers require a 10% deposit to complete your construction set of plans and to start planning for your order.  Usually a 40% deposit is needed to begin the manufacturing of your materials with the 50% balance due upon delivery.  If you are planning on taking a loan, most financial institutions that have previously worked with log homeowners will require the borrower to put down at least 10% with the log manufacturer and the 90% balance due will be released from the lender on day of delivery.  This is all subject to the loan closing before any manufacturing occurs. 

From this point it will take an average of 6 to 8 weeks for the materials to be manufactured, packaged and ready to ship.  This gives you time to clear and grade the building site, dig and install the foundation and ready the sub floor.  On the day of delivery all that needs to be done is to put the log bundles on the sub floor and start the installation process.  You can look back over the recent past, re-trace the steps you took and be satisfied with all of the planning you did to make your dream log home become reality!

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Log Home Construction Loan Application - Step #9

Posted on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 @ 02:35 PM

custom log homeThis step can take some time to complete and will take some patience.  There are several items that most financial institutions require you provide when you apply for your loan.  Listed below are just a few:

  • Last 3-4 years of tax returns and/or W-2’s

  • Last 3-4 pay stubs

  • Your address for the last 2+ years

  • Current statements from checking, savings, portfolios, etc

  • Employment addres for last 2 years

  • Copy of deed/title to the land you are building on or being purchased.

  • Set of floor plans and builder contracts/estimates

There is a lot more information that will be requested before the loan is closed so be prepared to keep digging through your files and have patience.  Our Log Home Sales Consultants assist folks everyday who are going through this process, and believe me, you are not the only ones who feel like they are going through the hoops as this process takes place.

At some point in the application process an appraisal will be ordered for your log cabin home building project.  The appraiser will take your log home floor plans along with the contractors contract/estimates and will determine a value of your home setting on the lot you have chosen.  This value will become part of the basis for the amount of funds the lending institution will loan towards your log cabin home.  Once this amount is determined, the draw schedule can be completed, papers can be signed and you can begin building your dream log home.

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Our next and final blog in this series is Step #10 – Placing your Log Home Package order.

Choosing a General Contractor for your Log Home Project - Step #8

Posted on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log homeUnless you are building your dream log cabin yourself, you will be speaking with and interviewing several general contractors or if you plan to act as your own general contractor, numerous sub-contractors. 

In this process not only is it recommended that you ask for references, but also to call and visit those on the reference list from the contractor.  The references should contain both recent projects completed, within the past 12 months, as well as some older references, 2+ years old to see if the service after completion was performed satisfactorily. 

Ask for copies of licenses, certification of insurance and other coverage’s and check with the local building code office or Home Builder Association to get some additional insight of those you are considering.  For vendor references check with the local lumber yard or “big box” store to see if they pays their bills and sub contractors on time.  The folks at these places of business see and hear things that others may not. 

Remember, when choosing a general contractor, you will be working with this person for an average of 6 months +/-.  It is best to make sure that you communicate well, that they understand the scope of your log cabin home project and that all agreements (from BOTH parties) are put in writing so mis-understandings don’t arise.  Don’t be afraid to ask to see a recent or sample contract so that you know what to expect when yours in completed.

Ask questions; take notes on how long it takes to get an answer and just how complete an answer you get.  The more specific your questions and their answers, the better log home build project it will be.  If you need assistance, be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant - we're here to help!

Next time – Step #9 – Applying for your Construction Loan.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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