From Dream to Reality

What you need to know when choosing a log home provider.

From Dream to Reality

What you need to know when choosing a log home provider.

Choosing a log home provider can be tricky business. The good news is that most providers are equipped to make your choices seamless and easy. They'll help you create a plan, select a log package and assist you in the building process. In short, they're well equipped to take your dream from blueprint to reality. Log home producers are separated into two categories, manufacturers and handcrafters. This distinction is based on the methods they use to craft their logs.

The Choices
Manufacturers represent a larger segment of the log home industry. They use mechanized saws and planers to cut and shape their logs to uniform sizes. But don't confuse uniformity with a lack of uniqueness. Though the logs are precision-milled, the finished homes look different from one another because of the wide variety of log profiles and corner styles that are available. The log profile, or shape, can vary from round to rectangular to square to D-shaped. Some homes have round logs with traditional corners on their exterior, while others have logs that are planed to resemble clapboards.

Handcrafted log homes, on the other hand, often showcase timber that has been left fully round on both the interior and exterior of the home or hewn square in the traditional Appalachian style. When working on raw logs, handcrafters use either traditional manual tools or hand-held power tools. Because tree trunks taper from their narrow tops to wider butt ends, handcrafted logs may be smaller in diameter at one end than the other. The handcrafter compensates for this natural taper by alternating logs during stacking?top to butt, then butt to top?to keep walls level.

How to Choose
In the United States and Canada, more than 400 manufacturers and handcrafters produce log homes. With so many choices, you'll have to narrow the field to make your selection. Initially, you can eliminate producers who simply aren't convenient to your site. The type of system you want also will reduce the number of candidates.

As a log home buyer, you will need to evaluate producers based on where they build and the services they offer.

  • Tour a log home producer's plant, office or model home to get a feel for the staff and what their homes look like. (Word of caution: Never give a deposit before you read the contract or agreement and understand all refund conditions.)
  • Purchase and study producers' sales materials explaining the company's philosophy.
  • Note each producer's ability to meet its deadlines. A conscientious firm will provide floorplans or quotes when promised.
  • Take a look at the company's construction manual and bear in mind the size of each company when comparing manuals. Smaller or newer companies may have construction manuals that aren't terribly flashy, but chances are these companies still build high-quality homes.
  • To maintain consistency as you compare price quotes, be certain to submit the same floorplan and specifications for finishes and fixtures to each log home producer you're considering.
Log Delivery
The way a company handles log delivery often reveals its level of organization. There are several questions you'll want answered when choosing your log producer.
  • Will the producer ship the logs on its own trucks or by common carrier?
  • How much notice will you have prior to delivery?
  • How much time does the producer allow for unloading?
  • Will the logs be numbered, coded or loaded in reverse order so the last ones unloaded will be the first ones used when the walls are erected?
  • If delivery is delayed, will the producer agree to pay extra labor and equipment costs?
For the full article, see the November 2004 issue of Log Home Living.

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