Sunday, November 25, 2007

Choosing Your Log Home Provider

In choosing a log home dealer - we quickly realized that not all log home providers are created equal! We had elected to go with a "cabin kit" whereby you choose a standardized plan. This is a more affordable route to a custom home and you can still make minor changes without upsetting your budget. Here is my checklist in comparing dealers:
  1. Find out how long the company has been in business and see if they are a member of the National Association of Home Builders - Log Homes Council. Also inquire if they offer at least a 25 year guarantee on their package. We found that guarantee with almost every log home dealer except 2. You need a company that stands behind their product.
  2. Obtain as much information on the log species that they provide. Ask them if their species will work in your climate area. Find out if they are kiln dried and graded logs. Inquire what you should expect shrinkage wise.
  3. Find out about the log styles and profiles they use (swedish cope, half-log, tongue & groove, etc.) The style you choose is a personal preference. Greg & I choose a full round log with a tongue & groove profile.
  4. Greg & I customized a standard plan -changing a few of the interior walls to increase the size of 1 bedroom and our kitchen. Will your log home company allow you to make changes to their floor plan?
  5. Confirm that they have a maintenance program for the logs and what its requirements are.
  6. Confirm that they will provide a detailed construction manual for your builder.
  7. Ask if they provide on-site technical assistance. We received 8 free hours with our Hiawatha Log Home package. Additionally, we paid one of their dealers to stay an extra day to help consult with our builder and to ensure the process started off right.
  8. Obtain at least 3 references. Often these log home companies have "log raisings" and you can visit a project in process. Additionally you can view some of their customers finished homes and interview them on their satisfaction level, what they did right and what they wished they would've changed. Right now my husband & I wish we would've bumped out our floor plan and made our log home a little bit bigger. Also, if you do make changes, ask the log home company for guidance on achieving an economical floor plan. Typically, the more square your plan is, the more economical.
  9. One of the things we did not realize was how lengthy the process is (the floor plan, scheduling the delivery, etc.) Ask them how long it will take to turn around a preliminary plan to you, and also how long if you make changes. We made 2 minor changes on our floor plan and it was 3 weeks before we got our design back. This put us behind in the construction schedule! Also inquire about how long it will take them to mill the logs and schedule the delivery.
  10. If you are choosing a log cabin kit - find out all the items it includes and more importantly what it does NOT include. Not every dealer includes all the same items. Ask how much upgrades will cost.
  11. Some dealers offer either a shell or "weather-tight" package or a turn-key. We personally found it more economical to do a shell and have our builder purchase the other items (such as bedroom doors, decking and tongue & groove paneling" at a savings to us.
  12. Inquire to their payment terms. A company might require an initial deposit to do a preliminary plan - and then might require up to 50% before they even start milling the logs with the rest due either prior to delivery or within 48 hours of delivery. This is important to know and this should be a negotiable item with your log home provider. If you are obtaining financing - find out how your lender handles payment terms and then submit the schedule to the log home company and see if they will accept it. They should if they want your business! Make sure to do this before you sign anything or give any sort of deposit to the log home company.
  13. Ask the log home company why you should choose them. We choose Hiawatha because of their focus on the log quality and process. We also liked their wide variety of floor plans to choose from.

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