Hey cabin lovers, welcome back! I’m your host Lindsay Sutherland, a fellow cabin lover and log home enthusiast.
Everyone shops for a log home builder in their own way, but did you know that not all log cabin home builders bid on projects the same way, they don’t build with the same construction method, and they don’t all offer the same services?
Unlike shopping for a car where you can simply compare the looks of your favorite models and decide what fits your needs, take them for a test drive, read about their time-tested statistics online, or ask your neighbor how he’s enjoying his new ride, log home shopping is an experience in and of itself.
Most buyers have been dreaming of a log home for years. I’m sure you’re one of these people because you found this podcast (*^ ‿ <*)♡. But when you are ready to start turning your dream into a reality it’s time to start getting serious about talking to log home builders.
In our last episode, we talked about efficient ways to find the right log home builder for you and why a simple online search for a cabin builder may not be the way to go. This episode takes it one step further by walking you through the steps to compare log builders so you can understand the terminology better and ensure you are getting everything you expect.
Before we get too deep into this, I want to let you know about the log home shopper checklist we made to help you with this process. You can download a free copy using the link in the description or by visiting here.
"Log Cabin Builder Near Me," The Back Story
Questions to Consider
This guide has a list of key questions to ask builders, some of which we are going to go over in today’s episode. It also has a matrix you can use to compare builders which will really help you ensure you’re getting a comparable package for the price.
The first recommendation we have is for you to pare down builders using one simple question that you need to ask yourself. Do you prefer a milled kit or a handcrafted one? Or do you want to explore both options? If you aren’t sure of the differences, we go into much more detail in the episode: Differences in Log Home Construction: Handcrafted vs. Milled Kits which I’ll link in the description for you or by clicking here.
Another question for you to consider before getting started is a bit broader: do you need a floor plan draftsman that can bring your dream to paper, will you be shopping for pre-designed floor plans, or will you be hiring an architect? Not all log home builders have an in-house draftsman like Caribou Creek does, but they may partner with a drafting firm that could help you if you need it. So, that is a question to iron out before calling.
Questions to Ask
Here are three questions to ask a log builder. These specific questions all affect the end result. I’ll offer the question and then explain why it’s essential and what to be aware of.
Do you pre-drill electrical chases and pre-cut windows and doors?
Many people don’t realize this is an option with some log kit suppliers whereas others don’t include it. It’s an incredible time saver for your contractor, and ultimately money savors for you, to find a log home company that does offer this service. Some log providers deliver a bundle of various length logs and it is expected that the contractor cut and assemble the kit on site. This is not only extremely time-consuming, but it also requires many man hours and it makes your project take longer. On the flip side, a log supplier that pre-cuts the electrical chases and window and door cutouts can be building that into the kit while the site is being prepped and the foundation poured. When the kit arrives and is assembled, which would take considerably less time, the contractor can get to work finishing the interior rather than playing lincoln logs trying to build the shell.
When price shopping, it’s important to factor in the time it could take your contractor to assemble a kit if the pre-cutts are not made in order to get the full picture.
The second important question to ask is ‘Do you offer pre-engineered structural roof systems as a part of your bid?’
Believe it or not, some bids do not offer these very important house parts as a standard feature and they could be an upgrade. Clearly, you can see why this is an important question to ask. At Caribou Creek the roof structure is automatically included, just in case you were wondering.
And the last question I’m going to cover here in this episode is, ‘Do you offer a re-stacking service?’
As I explained earlier, some manufacturers deliver bundles of pre-milled logs that need assembly, imagine if Ikea made log homes. This is what it is like, which requires an immense amount of time and energy from the contractor and his crew. This is why many contractors don’t like to build log homes. They don’t want to be tied up on the job site for that long when traditional framing is much faster, but when they hear that the log company is delivering and stacking the logs, boy howdy, are they much happier! This question may actually help you find a contractor who was previously unwilling to work with a log home, but will consider it if the home is stacked by the log manufacturer.
When Local Builder Makes Sense
Now, one more thing to ask up front is ‘What does that fee for restacking looks like?’ Some companies are notorious for fluffing the price of the rest to offset a low bid just to recoup some costs. When doing your shopping be mindful of this and look at the bottom line once all the pieces are considered. That includes shipping as well. If you don’t see a price for shipping on the bid, ask for it before signing on the dotted line.
Alright cabin lovers, for the sake of time I’m keeping this episode shorter. There are 16 questions on the Log Shopper’s checklist, so be sure to download your copy before you start shopping around.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Until next time, bye for now.
The Best Way To Search For A Log Cabin Builder
Whew! That’s a lot to try to explain on a podcast, but it’s a detail worth sharing because log cabin shoppers would not know the behind-the-scenes of the bidding process of a log kit builder.
By limiting yourself geographically when searching for a builder, you may also be limiting yourself on quality of craftsmanship, package options, customization ability, timeliness of construction, and completeness of package.
Just as we demonstrated above there are many variables and not all log kit suppliers bid on projects the same way. To help you navigate this process we created a free PDF called the log shoppers checklist. It has a list of questions to help you interview log suppliers as well as an organized checklist and additional resources to give you all the guidance you need.
Let’s wrap up by discussing the best way to shop for a log home.
We know most cabin lovers are imagining their log home long before they even have land or are ready to build. Factors such as career, family, convenience of city, price, and land availability could all be playing a part in how soon your dream happens.
We have broken down your buyers journey into 3 basic stages.
Dreaming – Planning – Building
During the dreaming phase you know your log home is in your future but you aren’t ready to get serious about shopping for land and builders just yet. At this stage you are more curious about what kind of log home is right for you. This is the time to be researching fiber options, construction methods, the perfect location for your home, various styles of log homes, floor plan layout ideas, and to spend time with a dream board on Pinterest of your favorite images. Location should not impact your search too much here because you are learning about log homes and what styles suit you personally.
The planning phase begins when you are ready to start shopping. You are ready to buy the land, find the builder or architect, and start the preliminary steps it takes to get your team together. This is a great time to pick up the Ultimate Log Home Planning Guide and download the Checklist. As for searching online, this is the time to put all your research into action. Make sure you are clear about what log style you want… Do you want handcrafted or milled? Do you prefer full-length logs or are butt joints acceptable to you? Do you want a custom floor plan or have you found the perfect floor plan? Does that floor plan fit your land location? I could go on – the more specific you are, the easier it will be to find a log supplier that produces the log kit you will be proud of. There is nothing worse than finding out there was a better option after the fact, or that you could have saved a bundle; or perhaps you would have spent more to get what you really wanted, but you didn’t know that option was out there.
Doing a Google search is fine, but search very specific terms like, log home supplier that builds with (Insert the fiber choice you prefer). Or, “log home builder that builds western-style round log homes.”
Do you see where I’m going with this? The more precise you are, the better results you will get.
And, here is another important factor, don’t just stay on the first page of Google. Maybe the best builder for you is not paying oodles of money to show up on the first page and is on page 2 or 3.
To have a great building experience take your time in the planning and dreaming stages. Don’t rush yourself.
Hey cabin lovers, I hope this episode was helpful. I want to invite you to leave a review on whatever podcast player you tune in on. This helps us know we are giving you value and helps other cabin lovers find the information they need. We appreciate you listening in and until next time, bye for now.
Lindsay is the host of the podcast My Dream Log Cabin. After chasing her dream of living in a log cabin in the woods, she found herself in North Idaho living in a log cabin and working with Caribou Creek Log Homes! Her posts are based on her experience and education while working with Caribou Creek.