Ten steps to make a dream log home a reality

Log homes have a certain presence that is unmistakable. With their timbers and distinctive craftsmanship, these homes offer more of everything — more strength in their design, more sanctuary within their fortress-like walls and more connection to nature using a building material straight from Mother Nature herself. But perhaps you’re worried that because these homes offer more, it will cost you more. Step One: Define the dream

It’s likely that you are not in this adventure by yourself. Discuss with your spouse what their dream home entails. If your dreams don’t match up, it’s time to compromise. Start with some general questions:

1.What size home do you want?

2.How many bedrooms do you want? How many baths?

3.Do you need any special areas such as a workshop or exercise room?

4.What type of home do you want: single-story ranch, 1-1/2 story, split-level, two-story?

5.Will your home have a basement or crawl space, or will it be built on piers or a slab?

6. Where will you build — the mountains, a meadow or by the sea?

Step Two: Develop big book of ideas

Assemble a scrapbook of appealing designs. Not only will you be renewing your enthusiasm for this project, you’ll be performing valuable research on what features you want in your new home.

Step Three: Confront your fears

Since this is likely one of the largest investments of your life, it’s wise to be cautious. But if you are incapable of graduating beyond the first two steps, it probably stems from your desire to have everything “perfect” before you start. Accept that the perfect time, location and execution is beyond our grasp. Realize that any minor flaws that do crop up can either be fixed or lived with, comfortably.

Step Four: Find financing

One can’t shop for a used home without knowing what you can afford. The same is true for building a log home. Kurt recommends you find a log friendly mortgage company that specializes in construction-permanent loans and get pre-approved for a specific amount.

Step Five: Be site savvy

Before you buy land, ensure the lot is suitable for building in terms of the slope, soil conditions, accessibility, zoning, and use of surrounding properties. Contact soil engineers in your area and get them cracking on an analysis. Subsurface concerns include the availability, quality and depth you’ll need to drill to obtain well water, as well as your building site’s ability to pass a percolation or “perc” test. This test is used to determine whether the land will readily accept wastewater from a septic system.

Step Six: Decide on a design

Estemerwalt Log Homes specializes in creating one-of-a- kind designs. But if you’re interested in saving money, you can reduce design costs by using one of the company’s existing plans. “You’ll be avoiding the whole back-and-forth of design and engineering time, as well as the approval process needed with the local building department or the state,” says Kurt.

Step Seven: Research the log home manufacturer

Before you buy, ask if the log home company is a member of the Log Homes Council (LHC) of the National Association of Home Builders. The LHC requires log home producers adhere to a strict code of ethics, grade logs using a third party service and furnish builders with a construction manual. Kurt also advises consumers to tour manufacturing facilities. Step Eight: Choose a builder

Essentially you have three options—professionally built, owner-contractor or owner-builder (or do-it-yourselfer). Having a pro build it is the easiest and fastest option, since they will have the expertise, the contacts in the building community, and the tools and equipment to avoid a whole range of challenges that may confound novices.

Step Nine: Keep talking

No one ever underestimates the amount of time it takes to build a custom home. That’s why you should begin a dialogue with your builder long before you build. Kurt says “Most buyers talk far more with our builders in the year leading up to construction than they do during the actual construction,”

Step 10: Stay Organized

During construction, it’s almost guaranteed that you will encounter obstacles outside your control, including weather problems, misplaced materials or uncooperative subcontractors. “If you and your builder are organized, you can effectively cope with those challenges that are sure to crop up,” Kurt says.

For more information on the log home industry, contact the Log Home Council at: www.loghomes.org. For information on Estemerwalt Log Homes: www.estemerwalt.com 800-515-2060.

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