For those unfamiliar with the process, building a log home can appear to be very mysterious. Log homes are beautiful places to live, and they offer a great quality of life, but how do you ever wind up living in one? This post gives a simple outline of the process and helps to dispel some of the mystery. Although it is not very complicated, it is generally a good idea to start the process at least a year in advance of when you want to have your home completed.
Here are the steps:
Choose a log home company with a solid track record and full design, manufacturing, and project management capabilities.
There are a fairly large number of log home suppliers in the market, but only a few that provide a full service offering, and have a proven history of customer satisfaction. Look for log home companies that have multiple model home locations, an informative web site, and an extensive library of log home plans that can be customized to your specifications.
Decide on a log home plan with the log home experts at the company you have chosen.
The key factors in developing a plan are the needs of you and your family, your budget, and the land that the log home will be built on. If you have not yet chosen your land, you can first design your log home and then find land that will be a good fit (see Step 3). The log home experts at the company you have chosen will be able to assist you in developing and drawing your plan, as well as providing lots of valuable advice.
Once you have arrived at a plan, your log home company should be able to get you a quoted price for the log home materials that are required for that plan. With this quote, you will also be able to obtain an estimated range for the total “turn-key” cost, which includes all labor and materials required to build the log home.
If the estimated cost is within your budget, you may want to sign a contract so that you can obtain detailed blueprints that will correspond to your log home plan. These blueprints will allow you to get firm builder quotes, and will be needed for any financing that is required. Reputable log home companies will generally require no more than 10 percent of the price of the logs as a deposit at contract signing, with the balance not due until the logs are delivered to your job site.
Identify and purchase your land (if you have not already).
Land for your log home can be found by working with realtors who specialize in land. The internet is also a great resource for your research, with websites such as trulia.com, zillow.com, or hotpads.com. Be sure to set the property type to “land” in the search parameters of the website. Using these tools, you can quickly survey property in the mountains, the woods, near lakes, or wherever your dream location may be.
Identify a builder and obtain a detailed building quote.
Building a log home is not complicated, but it is generally preferable to work with an experienced builder, especially one that specializes in log homes. The best log home suppliers will be able to provide technical support to your builder. Obtaining two or three quotes from different builders will help to ensure that you are getting a competitive price. But this is your dream home, so quality is generally even more important than price. Check references and make sure that you are comfortable communicating with the builder that you select . This will go a long way toward a smooth building process.
Apply for and obtain financing (if you are not paying cash).
This usually involves arranging a construction loan to cover the costs incurred during the building of the home. Once the log home is completed, a permanent mortgage replaces the construction loan.
Construction loans are set up so that payments, or draws, are made to the log company and the builder as the construction process attains certain milestones, for example: log delivery, foundation completion, wall completion, etc. For log homes, one of the first draws will need to be made to the log home company when the pre-cut and milled logs arrive at the job site.
If you have equity built up in an existing home, even one that you are planning to sell, you might be able to use a home equity line of credit or “HELOC” to finance your new log home. HELOCs can be much faster and easier to obtain than construction loans.
It is a good idea to identify multiple options for your log home financing. In today’s credit environment, with widely differing lender requirements, it can be difficult to predict whether a given home loan will receive approval. It is not at all unusual for one lender to readily approve a loan that another has turned down. For this reason, have at least one or two alternative lenders identified in case your initial attempt is not successful.
Build and move into your new log home.
It is important to establish a good channel of communication with your builder and closely monitor their progress. Sign off on the payments to the builder only after he has reached the agreed upon milestones. If the builder begins to deviate from the plan or the schedule, quickly reach out to the builder and come to a mutual understanding as to how the job will proceed. The sooner any issues are identified, the easier they will be to address.
Finally, you are ready to move in and begin to experience the “log home lifestyle.” Now the fun really begins!