When considering building a custom home whether it be a log home, post and beam or timber frame It’s important to ask yourself these two important questions:
- How do I find a style of log home that will meet my budget, size, and style needs?
- How do I find a custom home builder that builds quality custom homes, has excellent customer service and that I can trust?
Let’s address finding the best custom log home builder for you first.
Comparing Log Home Builders
Choosing the right team to help build your custom log home is one of, if not the most important decisions you will make throughout the building processes. We have all heard terrible stories of projects not being completed to standards; or, even worse, not finished at all. Hiring a builder is a big investment so you want to make sure you cover all your bases.
- The style of log homes they build
- The quality of their work
- The cost for them to build your log home
- Your gut feeling
1. The style of log homes they build
Not all log home builders are created equal. There are many different styles of log homes from full scribe to post and beam to timber frame to hybrid models. Within each of these categories, some builders specialize in large timber builds, where others build more rustic or contemporary homes. Furthermore, many log builders also have specific species of wood that they build with including fir, spruce, cedar and our personal favourite western red cedar.
It is important to find a builder that can build the type and style of home you want with the type of timber you want too. Some builders may only specialize in a species of wood that is not ideal for where you live. For example, if you live in a climate that is subject to heavy rain, snow and wind you may want to go with a species that can withstand that type of harsh weather like cedar.
To help you narrow down the style of home you want we check out our article “What is the difference between a full scribe, post and beam and timber frame home”.
2. The quality of their work
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it still doesn’t tell you the whole story. You want your home to last for years to come so you want to make sure that they build you a quality home. Sometimes the photos look great but the house is not built to standard.
For example, we have seen new builders that build full scribe homes but don’t leave room for the house to settle, and within 5 years the house is shifting, twisting and cracking. This is not something that you want to experience.
It’s important to ask for references, read reviews and/or speak to other contracting companies that have worked with the builder to get a sense of their work quality. Third-party sites like Google My Bussiness, Houzz and Yelp can offer good, honest feedback and insight into a company before you hire them.
3. The cost for them to build your log home
One of the biggest questions when it comes to choosing a builder is cost. Going with the lowest builder isn’t always the best idea, but neither is the most expensive. If you are like many of our clients you want to do your research and speak to a few companies and receive a few different quotes. It is important to ensure that when you are reviewing the contracts you are comparing apple to apples. One quote may include every detail whereas another quote may leave out shipping or reassembly costs.
Our article “How much does a log home cost” breaks down in detail the potential costs of building a log home and also has a downloadable cost worksheet.
4. Your gut feeling
At the end of the day, everything that we previously talked about doesn’t matter if your gut is saying “I just don’t know if I fully trust these guys.” You are investing a lot of time, energy and money into building a custom log home so you need to work with a company that you can trust and be open with.
How do I find a style of home that will meet my budget, size, and style needs?
When it comes to finding the right custom log home design there are essentially 2 main questions that you need to ask yourself:
- What are my log home design wants
- What are my log home design needs
1. What are my log home design wants
This is the fun part. This is where you get to dream and dream big. We suggest to many of our clients that they visit show homes, look at Houzz and Pinterest and magazines to see what they like and what features they would like to have. Think about all of the “wishlist” ideas you have. The dream kitchen, the spa-like bathroom, the climbing wall downstairs for the kids. The list can go on and one. Once you have pulled your list together, next you need to start to narrow it down and decide what are your wants and what are your needs.
2. What are my needs
For many clients they have a long list of ideas that they would like to put into their home, sadly not everything can be added due to space, design and/or budget so it’s time to start identifying what you need to have in your home. Yes, we would all love to live in a designer style home but for many of us, that may not be practical with your lifestyle. It’s important to spend some serious time considering the type of space and features you want but also thinking about the type of lifestyle you are going to have.
- Choose a floor plan that suits your lifestyle
- What will your life look like in 5, 10 or 20 years?
- Do you plan to entertain often?
- Are there any key features on the property that you want to highlight?
1. Choose a floor plan that suits your lifestyle
We can all get lost in the amazing designs and styles of “dream homes”. When it comes to building your dream log home, you should consider a more practical approach and examine your lifestyle. If you are a young family your children might not need their own rooms now, but in the future, they may; while families with older children or in-laws living with them might prefer a bedroom en suite. Take a look at your current floor plan. Which rooms do you use frequently, not at all, or wish was larger? Doing a quick assessment of your current needs can help you better plan the perfect log home.
2. What will your life look like in 5, 10 or 20 years?
Building a custom home is one of the biggest investments you may ever make. So for many of our clients, it’s a home they plan to live in for years to come. So to add to the above section you want to think about how your lifestyle may change over the next 5, 10 or 20 years. Will there be children, teenagers, in-laws, or grandchildren living or staying with you? It’s important to not only build your custom home to fit your lifestyle now but also for the future.
3. Do you entertain often or rarely?
Do you plan to have company or family visit regularly? Sometimes, people fixate on home designs for day-to-day living but do not think about how it might work when visitors are there. If you plan to entertain regularly you may want to consider bathroom locations, kitchen, entertainment areas, outdoor living areas and the overall flow of the house so it is comfortable for you and your guests.
4. Are there key features of the property you want to highlight?
Do you live by a lake or on a hill and want to be able to take in the view? Do you enjoy sipping your morning coffee on a sunlit east-facing deck? Take notice of the surrounding natural attributes and how your home will be situated. When designing it we can ensure that windows, feature rooms, decks and other key areas in the house fully take advantage of the natural features you want to highlight.
After you have planned out your custom log home, ensure you run it by a professional. We’ve been building log homes for over 35 years and we know that some designs look great on paper, but in reality, they can be a disaster. Sometimes it’s making little adjustments or repositioning something that can take your room from being “okay” to your favourite room in the house.
Additional Resources and Articles
- How much does a log home cost?
- What is the difference between a full scribe, post and beam and timber frame?
- What is the best type of wood for my log home?
- Log Homes 101: Everything you need to build a custom log and timber home