A realistic construction schedule can keep your log-home project on track.
Building a log home happens fast on reality TV shows about “amazing” log homes, but that’s short-attention-span editing and time-lapse photography. Actual construction happens in slo-mo. It’s deceiving, though, because logs can be stacked in a matter of days.
Since they’re the home’s most substantial material, people are misled into thinking the home is almost ready. Not even close. Given the vagaries of weather, scheduling and project complexity, a precise timelines is impossible to determine, but move-in could be six months to two years away.
The average is 11 months. Unless you intend on being involved in your home’s construction, details of the process needn’t concern you. Understanding it, however, will help you track its progress. Here are four ways to stay on top of things.
Keep track of the big picture by creating a construction schedule you can follow. It must be realistic. Talk with homeowners whose project was similar to yours and to builders who have experience with log-home construction. A construction schedule should have the start time and duration of each activity.
If you’re using a general contractor, the schedule may show only site preparation, foundation work, completion of dried-in shell and mechanical rough-ins, and finish work. If you’re acting as your own GC, then your schedule will have to include lots more detail. Under the heading “foundation,” for example, you might list excavation, forming or excavating footings, pouring footings, forming and pouring foundation walls, installing drain tile and insulation, waterproofing, backfilling and termite pre-treatment.
A Gantt Chart is a great tool for tracking projects. Activities are listed in sequence down the left side; dates from beginning to end are listed across the top. The time required for each activity is shown as a horizontal bar on the appropriate line at the proper date and location.
You can create your own Gantt Chart or download one free for Microsoft Excel at http://bit.ly/1yOOScf. Work either forward or backward and consider critical-path items on your checklist — tasks that must be completed before moving on to the next step.
For example, foundation walls must be erected before the subfloor can be installed. Before foundation walls can be built, footings must be poured. Before these steps, the site must be excavated for the footings and foundation.
Once you’ve figured out critical-path items, then fill in the less critical items (septic system, HVAC, gutters, etc.), plugging them in at the earliest possible date they can be completed.
Take these steps in the 60 days leading up to the delivery of your log-home materials package. Start with an all-weather road to your building site that can handle large trucks delivering your logs and other construction materials. With the road in place, you or your builder can clear the site.
Get rid of stumps and debris, and make the site as clean as possible so there’s plenty of room to store building materials. Make sure the well and septic locations are marked so they don’t become parking or storage areas. The sooner electricity and phone service are available on your job site (remote locations, especially in the mountains, may not be well served by cell service), the better.
Your builder might ask about setting a temporary electric pole to hold the service panel until your house is under roof. It’s a legitimate request, as work will proceed much faster if power is available.
Some construction delays are unavoidable, but good contractors have a Plan B to avoid many of them. These include alternate suppliers and subcontractors in case the main sources are delayed or unavailable. Ask what your contractor’s backup plans are before the project gets under way.
Avoid changes once construction begins. Besides costing extra money, the extra work can wreak havoc on a construction schedule These measures don’t guarantee your project will finish on time or even sooner. Good scheduling will, however, clearly map the process to help you pinpoint delays, remedy their causes and make necessary adjustments to keep the remainder of the project on track.
If you have a smart phone or tablet, it has a camera. Use it or a dedicated digital camera to record construction progress and details that will be hidden when the work is complete. Having this permanent record of what’s where will help when you have to make repairs or want to remodel.