If you have your heart set on a log home but money is a concern, you may be tempted to buy a kit log home and act as your own general contractor. Kit log homes are a great solution to getting the log look on your homesite and can be very rewarding. As with any home purchase, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider before spending any money.
Log home kits are made from milled logs, meaning that the logs have gone through a saw mill and are uniform in size and shape. You can choose from four different profiles for the logs: round, square, rectangular or D-shaped. The most common types of wood used are cedar, pine, Douglas fir and spruce.
You don't need to reinvent the wheel when building from a kit. There are stock floor plans and exteriors available, so the number of choices to make in new construction is not so overwhelming. Cost is another major benefit. Although any log home will initially cost more than a conventional stick-built home, building from a kit is the least-expensive choice. Log homes are a sound ecological choice; they are energy-efficient, able to withstand harsh climates--even earthquakes and fire--and they are aesthetically appealing.
Even though you're buying a kit log home with a stock floor plan, there are things you can do to enhance the look and make your home reflect your lifestyle. Stock plans have been proved to be the most workable design layouts, so the home will already be comfortable as soon as you put up the exterior walls. The interior layout can be altered somewhat, depending on your needs, and the choices for finishes, such as flooring, railings, countertops and cabinets, stone surrounds and door and window trim can set your home apart from the stock plan.
Not all kit homes are the same, so weigh the choices carefully. Costs vary widely, from $7,000 to more than $70,000, and are dependent on what is included in the kit, as well as size of the overall home. Some kits only include the logs and instructions. Everything else from the roof to the subfloor will have to be purchased on-site, by you or your builder. Some kits include an extensive list of contents, including subfloors and joists, windows and doors, roof sheathing and porch materials. Labor is not included in the price, nor are decking, garages, basements, utility hookups, driveways or landscaping.
Although you can save about 15 percent of the total cost by acting as your own general contractor, building a home from logs requires a special knowledge that not every builder has, so be prepared to hire a professional.
Most kit home logs are not scribed or cut tongue-in-groove. Instead, the individual courses of logs are held together by tension-bearing steel pins, placed every 3 feet or so and drilled through the courses. Some chinking will be necessary between the logs, increasing the maintenance required. If not pre-sealed, the logs will need a coat of sealer after assembly, to prevent infestations of insects.
- Photo Credit log home manufacturing image by Scott Patterson from Fotolia.com log cabin background 2 image by Lee O'Dell from Fotolia.com log cabin image by Juliette Speers from Fotolia.com fireplace with iron lattice image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com rustic cabin 2 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com log cabin image by Joy Fera from Fotolia.com
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