The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

8 Strategies for Reducing Log Home Construction Costs

Posted on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 12:30 PM

 

custom log home constructionIn addition to being a motivation for much of what we do, money is energy. It enables us to go places and do things, including taking care of our families or buying and building a new home. Most of us have a finite amount of this energy, mainly through long years of hard work, patient savings and perhaps the sale of a conventional home.

Now you’re ready to use all that energy to create your dream log home. But is it enough? Where can you conserve? That’s why the Log Homes Council created this Buyer’s Guide, to help consumers make wise choices on the Perfect Path to Your Dream Home.

Begin by sitting down with a lender who specializes in log homes to discuss financing options. By being pre-qualified by your lender, you will how know exactly much energy you have to work with on your dream log cabin home.

How Much Do Professional Builders Spend?
What do the pros typically spend on new home construction? Are there any ballpark figures out there that can help you see if anything is out of line? Indeed there is.

The total cost of an average new home in the U.S. breaks down thusly, according to the 2004 Cost of Doing Business Study: The Business of Building, published by BuilderBooks.com, a division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
• Finished lot costs 20-25% of the total selling price, with half of that reflecting infrastructure costs, such as utilities and driveway.
• Building materials, everything from foundation and flooring, to porches and roofs, cost 25-30% of the total.
• Onsite labor costs 20-25%.
• General overhead is about 6%.
• Financing costs are about 2%.

Thinking of being your own general contractor to save money? Small-volume builders (constructing an average 4.9 homes a year) who built exclusively on their clients’ land had average gross profit margin of 18.9% and an average net profit of 4.8%, according to the study.

If you decide to build your own log home, you won’t earn all of that 4.8%. You will pay far more for labor, since subcontractors will see you as a one-time job and price their services accordingly. You will also pay more for specialty tools needed in log construction. Professional log home builders pro-rate their tools costs over several jobs. You will also pay more for insurance, since insurance companies will see you as a greater risk. It’s also almost guaranteed you will make costly mistakes that pros won’t, which will cost you more in time, materials and labor.

Value Engineering
Want to do more with less? This is called value engineering. Your log home producer and builder have an assortment of cost cutting tricks. Use their expertise. Simply communicate that you need to save money on your budget. They can provide all kinds of helpful advice, including:

1. Reducing Square Footage
One way to dramtically reduce costs is to just reduce the square footage of the entire home. Think small and cozy to slash costs. Another smart strategy is to build upward with a two-story design rather than outward, such as with a ranch design.

2. Choosing a Stock Design
Custom designs cost more in design time, materials and labor. Most log home manufacturers have dozens of stock plans that they have built time and time again. Many errors have been eliminated in these designs, which makes them go up smoothly, saving you time and money.

3. Reducing Lineal Feet of Logs
Adding decorative stone, cedar shake or stucco can actually accent logs and reduce costs.

4. Opt for a Simple Roof System
The roof is one of the most expensive material and labor line items in your budget. This is why the simpler the roof system, the less expensive it will be. The most inexpensive roof is a simple, single ridgeline with a shallow pitch. More complicated roof systems, called hips and valleys with a steeper pitch, are more visually interesting. But they are also a lot more expensive.

5. Use Drywall On Interior
Pine paneling on the interior of your partition walls looks great. However, it’s roughly twice the cost of drywall—and cedar paneling is even more expensive than pine.

6. More Modest Kitchen
If your marriage can take the heat, down grade your kitchen appliances and amenities. Almost everything in a kitchen can be upgraded later, including flooring, appliances and cabinetry.

7. Don’t Take A Bath on Your Bath
Much like kitchens, bathrooms have a variety of materials that can be upgraded later. If you want that jetted tub in the master bath but can’t afford it now, specify a soaking tub of the same size from the same manufacturer. Swapping it out in the future will be a snap.

8. Avoid Change Orders
Last minute changes in design or materials are called “change orders” and they can quickly take a toll on your budget. Save these for correcting any serious errors.

For more insight in to cost saving ideas when building your dream log home, be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant for an appointment and to visit their model home.  We're all here to assist you.

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This article taken in part from the Log Homes Council library.

10 Simple Ways to Save Energy and "Green" your Log Home

Posted on Fri, Mar 13, 2015 @ 12:30 PM

custom log homeAdopting a “green” philosophy is easier than you think and it does not require wind turbines, solar panels or wearing extra sweaters in January. Here are 10 conventional, easy to implement suggestions from the Log Homes Council on ways to reduce energy costs, increase comfort and make your dream log home a little greener.

 Passive Solar

Situate the home to take advantage of the sun. In colder climates, a southern exposure for the family room and kitchen is ideal. Rely on existing trees to lower energy costs. When clearing the site for construction, maintain fir trees as a barrier along the cold and windier north and west elevations. Plant or preserve existing deciduous trees along the south and east elevations. The leaves will provide shade in summer and in the winter; the bare trees will let in plenty of sunlight and warmth.

Energy  Star 

ENERGY STAR© is a government-backed program helping businesses and consumers protect the environment through greater energy efficiency. Look for the Energy Star label and rating on products you buy for your home.  The distinctive yellow label gives consumers guidelines for a wide range of components and savings can be significant. When compared to single pane windows, Energy Star rated low-e glass with solar shading, cut energy bills by $110 to $400 while increasing comfort, protecting furniture from sun damage and reducing condensation.

 The Kitchen

 Again, ENERGY STAR rated appliances such as refrigerators; dishwashers and vent fans incorporate advanced technologies that use 10% to 50% less energy and water than standard models -- more than making up for the slightly higher costs of these products.

Tip – old refrigerators are energy hogs; so keeping that extra fridge to occasionally store beverages and extra food is wasteful.

 Lighting

 Compact Fluorescents cut energy by 70 percent. Wherever possible install fluorescent fixtures and switch lamps to compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs have been improved in terms of ambient color, but if you still have trouble getting used compact fluorescents, start with utility areas such as the laundry and basement. Combine compact fluorescents with incandescents in bedrooms and living areas.  In addition, automatic lighting controls, ranging from outdoor light fixtures with built-in photo sensors to motion detectors to whole-house programmable controls eliminate waste.

 Heat Pump Systems

 For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. During the heating season, heat pumps take advantage of the outdoor “heat” and move it into the home.  During warm weather, the process is reversed. Because they move rather than generate heat, heat pumps can deliver up to four times the amount of energy they consume. In moderate climates, air source heat pumps use the ambient air. In severe climates, geo-thermal heat pumps, which are more costly, take advantage of the heat below the ground, which remains above 50 degrees.

 Hot Water

 Consider an on-demand heating system that eliminates having to keep an 80 or so gallon tank of water warm around the clock.  In addition to natural gas or propane, units that have to be vented or installed on an outside wall, on demand hot water heating systems are available in electric models that can be installed anywhere.  Additionally, solar water heating can be considered.

 Indoor Air Quality

 Consider incorporating a HEPA filter to the heating system. A HEPA (High- Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system, removes up to 99.97% of small particles - pollutants that standard disposable filters simply do not touch.

 Ceiling Fans

 Ceiling fan and light units circulate warm air in the winter and make occupants feel cooler in the summer. Look for ENERGY STAR rated models, as they are 50 percent more efficient than conventional units. This saves $15-$20 per year on utility bills to say nothing of the air conditioning and heating savings gained.

Tip: In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counter-clockwise direction to create a wind-chill effect. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the fan at low speed in the clockwise direction to produce a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.

Keep these tips in mind when designing your log home and be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant for more insights in to the design of your dream log cabin.

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This article was taken in part from the article "Today's Log Homes Go Green" by the Log Homes Council.

16 Secrets of Affordable Log Home Design!

Posted on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 @ 12:30 PM

affordable log homeYou Can Create Your Dream Home for Less!

It’s a rare these days to hear the phrase “money is no object.” No matter what your net worth, chances are you’re interested in making smart investments—and getting the biggest bang for your buck. Building a log home is no exception.

Designers and builders can offer dozens of ways to cut costs. This can be called value engineering. Working with the pros, like Appalachian Log Structures, that belong to the Log Homes Council will help you decide where you want to save money—and where you shouldn’t skimp. (Opting for cheaper windows and insulation isn’t usually recommended.) Here are 16 tips from Appalachian Log Structures and the Log Homes Council.

1. Use Proven Design
Instead of a custom design, opt for a stock plan from a log home producer’s catalog. Stock designs have been built many times before, so construction errors have been eliminated. When you opt for a stock plan, you’re getting all engineered and cost efficiencies built into that log home design. This strategy will save you both time and money.

2. Think Rectangular
Whether stock or custom, a rectangular design is the most economical shape to build. Add more than four corners and you’ll add more costs. For example, it takes 18 feet of logs to create a single Traditional corner with an eight-foot wall height. More corners, equals more coin.

3. Open Flexible Floor Plan
How much house do you really need? Keep square footage down with an open floor plan that eliminates unnecessary hallways. Look for innovative ways to use traditionally wasted space. Our favorite trick: adding a closet or built-in shelves under a staircase.

4. Trim Your Width
Keep your home’s width under 30 feet. Once you go over 30 or 32 feet, you have to beef up your support beams substantially. The longer the logs, the more they cost.

5. Think Long Term
So you’re envisioning a log home, guest house for the in-laws and perhaps some out buildings to house your hobbies and toys? But in this economic climate, you are concerned about affording the full tab? The solution is to plan your construction over several years, which will give you some financial wiggle room. Start by building the log home the first year, followed by the wraparound porch in Year 2 and the garage with breezeway in Year 3. Add out buildings, such as a guesthouse or barn, in subsequent years.

6. Clearing Land 
As much as 35 percent of your budget will go to clearing your home site, excavating a foundation, creating a driveway and installing utilities. These are fixed infrastructure costs that simply can’t be avoided. However, you can save on this portion of the work by performing some of it yourself, or hiring workers and supervising their efforts. Get started by clearing the land. Save any materials you can re-purpose during construction, as well as saving lumber for firewood.

7. Full Basement
A full basement with roughed-in plumbing and electrical lines is one of the most affordable ways to add extra living space to your log home. If you can afford it another 20% in concrete costs, add 10-foot high sidewalls to add volume to a space that can seem closed in.

8. Stacked Baths
Putting two bathrooms back to back—or above and below in a two-story design—will reduce your plumbing contractors work, which can save you substantially.

9. Mix & Match Exterior Finishes
To save money, you can opt to incorporate a variety of exterior materials such as stone, board and batten, cedar shake and even stucco. These materials can add character to the home and actually accent the logs.

10. Driveway Strategy
From a privacy perspective, locating your home far off the main road may be appealing. But you could save thousands in grading and compacting if you keep the driveway short. You can also delay your driveway installation for a few years. That time allows the soil to settle, so you’ll end up with a more stable driveway with fewer repairs over time.

11. Simple Roof Line 
Keep your roof simple with a single ridgeline instead of “hips and valleys” or multiple roof planes. Extreme angles, such as turrets or an angled prow under an A-frame, cost more in materials and labor.

12. Ceiling Height
If you worship cathedral ceilings, go ahead and enjoy them one in your great room. But keep the ceiling height in other rooms lower (in the 8-foot realm). Not only will you save on construction costs, but lower ceilings make your home easier to heat and cool.

13. Opt for Conventional Roof System
It can be quite expensive to put large, structural timbers with tongue-and-groove decking overhead in the great room. To save money, use a conventional truss or rafter roof system in the attic, with smaller, decorative timbers and non-structural tongue-and-groove decking. You’ll reduce your costs by a third without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

14. Consider Solar Tubes
If you can afford dramatic skylights, go for it. But also consider solar tubes. They bring in natural light and cut down on installation and materials costs. They also make a great addition to master closets. Bonus: many of these modern money-savers also have venting capabilities for a breath of fresh air.

15. Hunt for Bargains on Appliances
If you’re craving an epicurean range but can’t stomach the price, check out “scratch and dent” sales centers run by manufacturers and retailers. New units are usually half price—a sweet savings for a few nicks you’ll hardly notice when it’s installed in a brand new log home.

16. What Hasn’t Worked in the Past? Now’s the Time to Fix It!
Often it’s the little things (extra lighting in the master closet, a quiet exhaust fan in the bathroom, or a computer workstation in the kitchen) that make life easier and more convenient. Think about what hasn’t worked in your past homes—along with how and where you want to spend time in your new one. Then invest a little more money in the spaces that mean the most to you.

When you're ready to start your affordable log home please contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant to help you with these and other GREAT money saving ideas in the design of your dream log home.

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Parts of this article were taken from the Log Home Council's website www.loghomes.org.

Are ALL Log Home Logs Created Equal?

Posted on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 @ 12:30 PM

log cabin home log profiles

There are some that think the logs used in log homes are all created equal.  That's why many potential consumers think all logs should all be priced the same.  As with any product, there are differences in quality, thus differences in price.  Let's take a look at a few of these differences.

THICKNESS - Most log home companies will advertise 6", 8" or 10" thick logs.  When you go and actually MEASURE these logs you'll find they are 5.5", 7.5" or 9.5" thick.  Appalachian produces FULL THICKNESS logs for our log cabin homes, thus more wood AND more insulation.

GRADE STAMPED - Know the difference between a graded log and a grade stamped log?  A grade stamped log guarantees that your log home building materials are structurally sound and approved to meet building codes.  Building inspectors will be looking for this stamp on each of your logs to verify that they meet the ASTM specifications.  Many log home companies talk about "graded logs" - BEWARE - these are NOT GRADE STAMPED logs.  Graded could mean a visual grade (not structural) or just that the guy running the mill thinks it looks good so he gave it a good grade.  Quality is the difference - you'll pay less (and get less) with a non-grade stamped log.

SPECIES - Still believe there is one wood species better than the rest?  Do some research and you'll find that besides some color and grain difference they are all about the same.  Think cedar or cypress is impervious to rot/decay or wood digesting insects?  Think again and start doing some research for yourself.  You'll soon discover that these species, just like all the rest of the wood species, need to be protected with preservatives for great looks and longevity.

TREATMENTS - What is the optimum way to protect my log wall?  Research pressure treatment and see why it is the only way to go.  Research Borates and you'll soon learn why we pressure treat with this organic (non-chemical) product.  In the 35+ years we've been providing log home building materials, not one of our homeowners have had to replace/repair any of their pressure treated materials we've provided.

Now that you begin to understand that not all logs are created equal, you'll start to understand some of the differences in QUALITY and pricing.  When creating your dream log home think about the type of products you want surrounding you and your loved ones as well as the quality of materials you plan to use in one of the largest investments you'll be making.

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to discover more about our log home building components and how they can save you time and money not only today, but for the lifetime of your log home.

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The History of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 10:40 AM

Norway_old_log_homeThe origin of the log structure is uncertain. It is probable that it began in northern Europe (photo is a log structure in Norway)  sometime in the Bronze Age (c. 3,500 B.C.). By the time Europeans began to settle in America, there was a long tradition of using logs for houses, barns, and other outbuildings in the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and Northern Russia. These regions had vast stands of softwood timber that could easily be worked with simple hand tools. According to C. A. Weslager, whose book on log cabins is considered a classic, the Finns, as well as the Swedes, had a "close attunement" with the forests, and both groups had well-developed forest industries. Weslager goes on to say:

"The Finns were accomplished in building several forms of log housing, having different methods of corner timbering, and they utilized both round and hewn logs. Their log building had undergone an evolutionary process from the crude "pirtii"...a small gabled-roof cabin of round logs with an opening in the roof to vent smoke, to more sophisticated squared logs with interlocking double-notch joints, the timber extending beyond the corners. Log saunas or bathhouses of this type are still found in rural Finland."

When the Finns and the Swedes began to arrive in New Sweden (along both banks of the Delaware River into modern Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland), they brought their knowledge of such wood construction with them. So did later immigrants from Germany. The Scots, Irish, and Scots-Irish had no tradition of building with logs, but they quickly adopted the technique. The log cabin suited early settlers and later pioneers. It would have been nearly impossible to carry building materials across the ocean in the small sailing ships of the time. It would have been equally difficult to transport building materials on horseback or even in the wagons or river barges pioneers used to cross mountains and valleys in their search for their own land. So, wherever there were forested areas, the log cabin became the preferred type of initial dwelling. Log cabins did not even need nails or spikes to hold them together. Until the 19th century nails were made by hand by blacksmiths, which meant they were quite expensive, and like lumber, they were also heavy.

Log cabins were relatively easy to build. Weslager reports that a record was set by three men who cut down trees, trimmed them, dragged the logs to the building site, notched the logs, and built a one-room cabin with chimney and fireplace in two days. For most people it took a bit longer, but it was possible for a man working alone to build a cabin in one to two weeks. However, a man alone faced some problems. Because it is physically difficult to lift a heavy log above one's head, most men could build cabins only six to eight logs high. With help, it was possible to build several logs higher--even two-story log houses were possible. First, skids of two logs were placed against the wall at an angle to serve as an inclined plane. Then forked sticks or ropes were used to position the logs.

Most log cabins had a single room, or "pen," some 12 to 16 feet square. There was one door, and usually no windows. If windows were cut into the walls, animal skins or boards fixed to slide across the openings were used. Some builders used paper greased with animal fat, which made it both translucent and waterproof. Most log cabin builders placed the fireplace at one end of the cabin and built the chimney of wattle. Stone or clay was used for the hearth and the interior of the fireplace. As these were not very safe constructions, later builders used brick or stone if they could be obtained. Fireplaces provided warmth, light, and fuel for cooking. Back bars and cranes made of forged iron were used to hold cooking pots. Not until the 1840s were cast-iron ranges available that would burn wood or coal, so cooking over a fireplace did not seem a hardship.

Inside walls were often chinked with clay or cloth. Most floors were simply beaten earth, although some cabins had floors of puncheons--logs split lengthwise and laid close together with the flat sides up. A family often built a sleeping loft if the roof were high enough. The loft could be reached by pegs pounded into the walls or by a ladder built from tree limbs. The loft also was used to store foodstuffs.

Log cabins were never meant to be permanent, but many log houses were. The difference between the two was primarily one of size and attention to detail. Most pioneers preferred "flat" walls to rounded log walls, and so most used hewn logs for building. These not only made the houses look (from a distance) more "real," but also withstood the elements much better, since the bark and the decay-prone outside wood were removed from the logs. When milled lumber became available either from a local sawmill or by railroad transport, most people chose it for their homes.

It seemed that as the frontier disappeared, so would the log cabin. However, at about the same time the Finnish homesteaders were, of necessity, building their first homes of logs, Easterners were rediscovering the log structure. William A. Durant, land developer and president of the Adirondack Railroad, pushed the idea of Great Camps in the Adirondacks. These camps were enclaves where the very wealthy could escape the summer heat of the cities and retreat to the "simple life" of log-cabin living in the country. Such "cabins" were hardly simple. Designed by architects, they were huge structures with many rooms and fireplaces and porches. But their log exteriors recalled the "good old days". National park structures also fueled the revival of log cabin living. Many park lodges were made of logs so they would fit their surroundings. The Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park is a prime example. Built in 1904, the inn has an eight-story lobby some 185 feet high. There are 140 guest rooms and three sets of balconies.

Another factor that kept the tradition of log building alive was the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service to build thousands of log structures throughout the national forests and parks. Had it not been for these the log cabin might have disappeared, but because people saw the log structures and liked what they saw, many began to build modern log cabins and log houses. These homes seemed to represent all that a family could want: a sturdy shelter from the elements and a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle. The log cabin remains a popular building style.

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Special thanks to the National Parks Service the provider of this article and C. A. Weslager, The Log Cabin in America: From Pioneer Days to the Present (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1969); Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984); visitor's guides to several western national parks; and other sources on the history of the western frontier. 

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 cabin, log and timber homes, dream log cabin home, log cabins