You’ve dreamt of building your custom log home for years and you are finally ready to get the building process underway! You have the perfect land secured, you have all the pins saved on your Pinterest board, and have spent hours planning the house layout. The next step is to assemble the right team to get your project underway.
Who Should be on Your Team
When assembling your team, the primary question to ask yourself is “How hands on do you want to be in the project?”
For homeowners that want to have a custom log cabin without a lot of involvement in design and construction, hiring a trusted architect and general contractor is the best option.
An architect’s primary job is to plan the project by coordinating a team of experts and overseeing the house design and engineering. Typically when working with an architect, the client will share their budget, preferred size of house, and perhaps key elements that are important to them, then the architect designs the house for the client to approve. During the design phase, the architect is usually looking out for the home owner’s interests by planning to accommodate complex building or zoning laws.
For an easy, hands off approach to building your dream log cabin, hiring an architect is a great way to go; however, make sure to take into account the considerable cost one may require. Many architects charge a fee that is a percentage of the total job, even including things like landscaping and driveway grading. The fee ranges, but we have seen some high end architects charge upwards of 15 percent or more. When planning to hire an architect make sure to get clarity on their fee structure and remember, everything is negotiable!
Getting assistance with designing living space is definitely an area most homeowners need help with; however, there are alternatives to hiring an architect that get the desired result as well. Some general contractors have draftsmen on their team or can recommend one. And, where an architect is useful in knowing and planning for building and zoning code issues, the general contractor would pick up the pieces for the homeowner.
Another perspective to consider for homeowners that want to be more involved in planning, is that a draftsman may be more inclined to listen to the homeowner and take into consideration design ideas they have, whereas architects often do all of the designing themselves with very little input from the homeowner.
The log supplier is another key player in your log home dream team. Log suppliers will provide the framework of the house including any interior log walls that are ordered. Before the log structure can be set on a property the subfloor needs to be installed; however, handcrafted log structures take time to craft. While the site prep and subfloor are going in the log supplier should be crafting the log home kit.
In some cases, clients may choose to hire an interior designer. Interior designers work closely with architects, general contractors, and the client to ensure that interior design elements that are important to the homeowner are incorporated into the house. Interior designers also help with creating ideal lighting for the home and can be instrumental in making the home flow so the new owner has utmost comfort.
“Do I Really Need These Players?”
The truth is clients can act as their own General Contractor and work with a draftsman and engineer to get plans drawn and approved. Although this saves a large amount of money up front, it can cause problems down the road. Unless you have experience in construction it is not recommended to follow this route. Projects end up taking longer and can become more costly if mistakes are made.
A log supplier is an obvious player in building a log home, but there are options for how involved they may be. For example, one could choose a milled log kit that is delivered to the property with instructions. A handy person could quite possibly build the house themselves. Even our handcrafted log kits can be assembled by the owner. But, at the end of the day a log supplier is still part of the team. Deciding on handcrafted log kits versus machine milled is an important consideration. We discuss both options in our post.
As far as hiring an Interior Designer is concerned, it is completely up to you. Not everyone will find that role necessary; however, it is worth looking into especially on larger builds.
“How Do I Find the Right Team?”
By asking the right questions! Here is a list of questions to have handy when interviewing potential architects or general contractors.
- Have you built or designed a custom log home before?
- What is the time frame you expect for my project to take?
- What is your track record with completing projects on time?
- What is the approximate dollar per square foot my home will cost? (For more on establishing a home building budget click here)
- What is their fee structure?
- What is their policy on the homeowner buying materials on their own? (Some general contractors will charge a fee even on materials homeowners supply themselves)
- Ask for a list of referrals and call them
- Have they ever dealt with code violations? What happened and how was it resolved?
Pro Tip: Even though it is advised to get referrals from the general contractor, keep in mind they will give you referrals of their happiest customers. To get a true perspective ask the contractor for a list of subcontractors he regularly uses. Once you have those names, call the subcontractors and ask them their opinion about the general contractor and especially about their time frame for completion. Also, ask if they have run into any problems on other job sites that you might want to know about. Once you decide on a general contractor they will be responsible for hiring subcontractors. Usually, a general contractor that has been in business awhile will already have a list of subcontractors he or she regularly uses.
Personal preference and budget will play a role in determining which players you hire for your dream team.
Caribou Creek Log Homes has worked with clients from all ends of the spectrum; from those working with architects to those building the house themselves. Because we have over 30 years of experience crafting log structures and because we have our own in-house drafting team we often play a big role in log home projects from beginning to end. We work closely with architects from an engineering perspective and with general contractors on key things that need to be done when finishing out the house, like strategic framing for potential log movement. We would love to be a part of your dream too. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation call.