One of the most important elements of successfully achieving your log home dream is working effectively with a log home builder. Here are the key factors to help ensure that the construction of your log home is accomplished successfully, cost effectively, and with a minimum of stress.
1. Choose your log home supplier carefully and settle on a plan.
Even before selecting your builder, choose a log home supplier that will support you in the building process. The log home company you choose should have a design team that can create a set of plans that accurately reflect your desires, so that the builder will understand exactly what you want in your log home.
Once you have a set of blueprints from your log home company, you can obtain firm quotes from log home builders. This greatly facilitates the process of choosing a builder (more on that below). And having a firm builder quote in hand allows you to secure any financing that may be required.
Your log home company should also provide a project manager to help coordinate with your builder as you work through the design process, the milling of the logs, and the delivery of the materials to the jobsite. Finally, the log home company should provide a technical expert to help you and your builder address any questions that arise in the building process.
2. Choose your builder carefully.
A critically important step is the careful selection of a builder, based upon your review of different builders’ bids, capabilities, and references.
Price is important, and builder prices can vary widely. A lower price does not necessarily mean a lower level of quality. Having said this, you will probably be living in your home for a long time. So it is important to have quality workmanship that you will feel good about in the years to come.
If possible, visit finished log homes that the prospective builder has recently completed. Talk to the homeowners, and any other references that are available. Verify that the builder is licensed and insured. Ideally, two or three builders can be compared using these approaches.
3. Have a detailed written contract with your builder.
Having a detailed written contract is essential for creating a mutual understanding as to exactly what is included in a builder’s bid. The contract should have sections for each phase of the work. Be sure to include the upfront work like site preparation and the foundation, as well as indirect work like septic and utility hookups. Cost allowances are often made in the contract for various elements of the job that do not yet have a final cost associated with them. Ensure that these allowances are sufficient to meet your expectations of the finished home. Also be sure to discuss and specify the non-log interior finishing on surfaces such as interior walls, ceilings, and flooring that is typically supplied by the builder.
It is important to understand that if something is not specified in the builder’s contract, there is no assurance that you will not have to pay extra for it. So be ready to get focused on the details!
The contract should be clear about construction milestones (more on that in a minute), the completion date, and how change orders are handled.
4. Monitor the progress of the work.
Regular monitoring of the progress of the work will help to ensure that everything stays on schedule and according to plan. In addition, if something is going “off track”, regular monitoring will minimize the impact of any course corrections. Regular personal visits to the job site are best. But in today’s digital age, photos texted or emailed from the builder’s cell phone are a great way to supplement being on the job site in person.
5. Pay the builder only as the contractual milestones are reached.
Whether the builder is being paid “draws” from a bank as part of a construction loan, or from the homeowner’s cash, it is important to ensure that construction milestones are satisfactorily reached prior to releasing funds to the builder. By closing tying builder payments to the progress of the work, you are maintaining a good incentive for the builder to stay on schedule, while also protecting your funds should a serious issue arise.
Following these guidelines will help to ensure that the construction of your log home is a satisfying and cost effective experience.