Plan in the Making | 7 Steps to Plan Your Log Home

The best-laid log home plans are those that follow these 7 steps.

Plan in the MakingWouldn’t it be cool if every amazing idea that popped into your head magically came into fruition? You wouldn’t have to do a single thing except think, "Hmmm, I’d like ... a log home." However, there are many things that need to happen during the ellipsis part of that statement. And for the construction process to go smoothly and without a hitch, you have to plan ahead. Here are the crucial steps: Buy Your Land Every great home starts with a good piece of property. Views aside, it’s more important to know the nitty-gritty details of the land that you buy. One key component is whether or not the property will pass a "perc test," which helps determine the size and type of septic system you’ll need. Likewise, you’ll need a source of potable (drinkable) water. If you’re building closer to developed areas and are lucky enough to tap into public utilities, you can bypass these steps. Often your topography will play a big role in what kind of log home package you buy. First know where you’re going to live, then decide what kind of house you’ll live in. Find a Mortgage Before you even think about who’ll build your dream log home on that perfect plot, it’s vital to know how much you can afford. Most lenders can evaluate your income against your monthly outflow to determine how much you can spend. Then they’ll provide you with a pre-qualification letter, which you can use as leverage when shopping for your home. Shop for a Log Home Package Now you’re ready to start shopping for a log home package and producer. Log home producers fall into two categories, manufacturers and handcrafters. Both create magnificent, weathertight log homes, but the distinction is based on the methods they use to craft their logs and how their homes look as a result. Manufacturers use mechanized saws and planers to cut and shape their logs to uniform sizes. Because of the speed of the mills, a manufacturer usually completes more log homes per year than a handcrafter, who may build just a handful of log shells annually. Handcrafters use either traditional manual tools or hand-held power tools, and the logs often bear the marks of the craftsman’s drawknife, adze or planer. Select a Wood Species Selecting a wood species is one of the most crucial decisions new log-home owners make. Not surprisingly, many buyers are guided solely by aesthetics. But you also should be aware of the kinds of wood that will hold up well in your region’s climate. In addition, the type of wood you want will go hand-in-hand with the log home producer you choose. Some producers can craft a home from any wood you desire, while others specialize in a single species. Select a Style Besides wood species and stain color, there are two major components that will affect the way your home looks: profile and corner style. A log profile determines how your home will look when the logs are stacked atop each other, and corner styles are created when logs intersect at the corners of the home. Which profile or corner style performs best? All work well when constructed to the producer’s guidelines. Long-lasting performance is the result of attention to detail during assembly of the wall system and continued maintenance over time. Buy a Log Home Package At the very least, log home packages contain logs and other materials needed to construct the log shell. A basic package also should include blueprints for the home and a construction manual that shows the builder or general contractor how to assemble the log walls using the producer’s building system. But some log home packages also contain an array of building materials—from windows and doors to roofing and finishing materials—needed to build a complete house. As you’re comparing producers and packages, keep in mind exactly what you’re getting for your money. Plan for Delivery Day Once you select a producer and choose a species, you’re well on your way. But by no means have your planning days come to an end. You have to consider how your logs will be handled once they arrive at your site. Ask your producer plenty of questions so you know what to expect.Read the full story in the Log Home Living 2007 Annual Buyer’s Guide.

Photo by Cindy Thiede