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The Log Home Journey… (part 1)

The following is a two-part article written by Mike and Sue Lemmon of Cowboy Log Builders LLC. For anyone thinking about building a log home, this will be a great help.

From A Log Home Builder In Montana and Idaho

I sit here on this November afternoon looking out of the large trapezoid windows in my Great Room. Five inches of snow meets my eyes and more is still falling. Summer has faded and the planning season for 2010 has begun.

Building a log home in Montana or Idaho tends to be a long term dream. Perhaps you are one of the future log home owners who have dreamed, saved floor plans, and accumulated multiple shelves of log home magazines. The time has come to move forward. You have a lot of information and ideas, but now to facilitate the HOW- how to turn your ideas into reality with as little stress as possible.

One of your first steps should be to locate a full service log home representative that is local to where you plan to build. This type of log home company will have the most experience that is relevant to your home location. It is an extra plus if the representative is also a builder. If you live in Florida and plan to build in Missoula, Montana, then locate a log home representative Northern Idaho or Montana.

The Rocky Mountains have a great appeal to many, but they also provide extra challenges when building. Though location is very important, here are the factors that contain the most hidden costs. So it is wise to consider them before you purchase your piece of the West.

1)      Access- consider if delivery trucks and construction vehicles be able to access the property. Many times log homes are delivered on semis. Also cement trucks need to be able to reach the home site. If logs and other materials have to be unloaded and then brought in on a flat bed trailer behind a pick up truck, then the builder cost will increase.

2)      Electric and phone- determine if the property on the electric grid. If solar or other alternative energy will be required, be sure to include an allowance for it in your budget. A call to the phone company is also a good idea.

3)      Well depth- research how deep water wells are in the area. Talking with a local well driller can be very helpful. Based on surrounding well depths, and estimate can be drawn on your well depth. This is very helpful, but when drilling time comes be prepared for the well to cost more that projected. We had a well near Billings, Montana, that was projected at $7,000 and ended up costing $12,000.

4)      Foundations- excavation costs can vary greatly if large rocks or boulders are found when digging. Lots located on benches can even pose a problem, as rock is never far below the surface. When an excavator provides a cost estimate it is based on ‘normal digging’. If some dynamite blasting or bigger machines are required, the cost will increase.

5)      Septic- check for drainage for a septic system. If the projected home location is on the side of a mountain, leech fields may be a problem. Also banks do not typically like to loan on properties that do not have standard septic systems. Holding tanks are not usually acceptable if lending is planned on a project.

These are items that can deplete a person’s building fund before they ever even order their log home. So be smart and research these before you start. If budget concerns arise with one piece of property, consider looking at another subdivision. Even changing to a subdivision a few miles away can change the cost projections. If you have already purchased your land, and then find that some of these items are going to prove to be too expensive for you, remember you can always resell your lot and purchase another one. It is better to go ahead and sell the property, even if it does have a great view, than it is to get started on your project and run out of funds before it is completed.

Don’t miss Part II of this great article, subscribe to the Log Home Blog and get notified when new posts and published.

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