A log home is not an impulse buy. For some the decision to build a log home was made years before they actually began the process to make a long-held dream a lifetime reality. Others may have explored several building options before realizing that a log home provides the durability, warmth and beauty they were seeking all along.

As with any major project – and let’s face it, building a home is major, regardless of the type – developing a viable plan is paramount to making solid choices, meeting deadlines, using financial resources wisely and ending up with exactly what was imagined. 

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” says a nursery rhyme composed, no doubt, to teach children there’s more to meeting goals than wishing. There’s a point where wishes must become action items. That is not to say, however, that wishing isn’t an important – perhaps even vital – part of the process that can be initiated by creating a wish list and an accompanying notebook or digital idea file. Adults certainly know that every wish cannot come true. Limitations like topography, time and finances sometimes spark a reality check when planning a dream home. That’s why it’s important to prioritize, and the “wish book” will help by ensuring that needed and desired features are considered when formulating a preliminary budget. It can also facilitate collaborative conversation among those who will be living in the home. Putting dollar figures to wishes, testing wishes against what is possible and making certain all stakeholders are in agreement will result in a more accurate final budget and satisfaction with the completed home.

“All roads lead to home.” That’s a lovely sentiment, but no roads will lead to home if land selection choices are poor. Many factors should be considered when choosing land. Among the practical matters are accessibility during construction and after completion; requirements for and access to utilities such as water, sewage, electricity, gas and internet; suitability of the terrain for building and landscaping; governmental or neighborhood regulations; and area growth plans. Quality of life concerns like proximity to educational opportunities and medical facilities should be examined as well as options for entertainment, shopping and recreation. Of course if land has already been purchased or inherited, the fun part of the home building process is just ahead.

“Beauty is only skin deep.” That may be medically accurate, but as a modern addition to the old adage warns, “Ugly goes all the way to the bone.” And that is not good if it’s a person or a house. The “bones” of any home are the components from which it is built. That’s why comparing the offerings of log home companies to confirm the structure will be sound is a must. First, learn about the wood species the company uses for logs, millwork and other components. Find out how it is prepared for manufacturing, how it’s stored while in the plant and what precautions are taken during delivery. Ask about the supplies used during the construction phase. Find out how the logs are held together and request an explanation of how the method provides stability. Ask to see the doors and windows that come with the package, and find out what upgrades are available. Are stains and protective finishes included? Read reviews of the brands offered. Once decisions are made about the floor plan, log style, corner style, millwork, finish materials and other details, ask for a quote. Most companies will provide an “apples-to-apples” quote upon request. If the prices vary greatly, ask for an explanation from each company. No matter how beautiful a home is, the price and quality do matter. A reputable log home company will be happy to provide what is needed for weighing options.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Granted, this refers to the empire itself, but look at all those buildings that have been standing for centuries. It can only be attributable to a combination of outstanding materials and solid craftsmanship. That’s why the selection of a builder requires diligence. The fact is that any experienced builder who is conscientious and has integrity can build a log home as easily as a conventional one. Talk to trusted builders in the area where the house will be built. Find out if they are comfortable building a log home and if they have prior experience (it can’t hurt). Ask the selected manufacturer whether they have a preferred builder list, and then call others who have used them to hear about their experiences or even visit some of the homes if possible. In interviewing a builder, clarify how much help will be provided with potentially complicated tasks like obtaining permits and communicating with the designer to be sure local codes are met. Select a builder that is bonded and insured, one whose license can be verified with state licensing agencies, one that seems to be a good “fit” with expectations and one with whom potential issues seem likely to be resolved professionally and in a timely manner. Like Rome, a log house isn’t built in a day, but it can stand for decades – even centuries as examples around the world have proven.

I think I can… I knew I could.” As one fabled Little Engine discovered, through perseverance, accomplishing a challenging goal is possible. While the Little Engine had to do it alone, there is plenty of support for those building a log home. Experienced log home companies provide durable, quality products and project navigation. Attentive designers, reputable builders and gifted artisans create sound and aesthetically pleasing homes. Even the homeowner can be part of it all and save some money for a few of those wishes by completing finishing touches like painting, staining, sealing, installing fixtures and appliances and handling final site cleanup.

The process of designing, financing and building a log home is no more difficult than with any custom home, and the rewards are great. Logs are energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and strong…not to mention beautiful. And who could wish for more?

By Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Log Homes

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