Designing / BuildingHome & Garden

Tips For Exploring Log Home Companies

log-home-companies-at-log-home-shows.jpgBelow, our beloved Fun Times Guide guest reporter, Joe, shares with us a few more practical tips for buying or building a log home.

In this installment, he offers some recommendations to help you decide between one log home company and another.

Joe writes:

I’m finally getting around to writing about meeting log home builders on my trip to TN.

First of all, I highly recommend getting a copy of Log Home Living 2008 Annual Buyers Guide as it has so much useful information and forms for you to use. This was a freebie recommended by Lynnette that I signed up for.

a-couple-meeting-with-log-home-contractor.jpgI met with 3 different log home suppliers and was impressed by their models and knowledge as I’m sure is typical of the industry. What I found interesting is to research out the suppliers on the internet. The BBB is an excellent source of information which may bring to light some things you need to know. (Enough said.) Also pull up the state corporation records for each company. You may be surprised at this one. Google things like “log home complaints”.

My personal plan is to have a lawyer read the contracts which are basically one sided. I want any disputes arbitrated through the BBB not the Log Home Council. I want the arbitration held in the state where the house is built. The reality is that for the number of log homes built, the complaints are small. But of course it can be a real mess if your home is built wrong. I will try to avoid agreeing to binding arbitration as I think it really handicaps you if there are problems. It should be a voluntary thing if you both agree. Don’t be afraid to walk.

one-of-the-general-contractors-we-met-with.jpgAs Lynnette has found, trying to find a good GC is hard. Very few of the log home builders will do the entire job but I have found 2 that will in the area we would like to build in. This saves a lot of headaches and I highly recommend trying to do this unless the log home supplier is willing to bend over backwards in his contract with you. I will not attempt to act as the GC as local knowledge of subcontractors is invaluable and I don’t have it. I will pay someone for their experience.

Dealing with the really great husband/wife selling teams out there may be very nice but note that the log home provider tells you these people are not employees of the company. Thus they cannot bind the company to anything and most likely are not insured nor are they licensed builders in the states that they operate in. If it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling that’s good but realize their limitations.

lots-of-logs-bigfoto.jpgFor personal taste, we are moving toward a hybrid home of timber frame design with either logs on some walls or cedar siding over foam cored walls and ceiling. No matter, I will only use logs that are kiln dried as I believe this is the only way to go to minimize the log shrinkage/compression problem and kill insects in the logs. The D log is apparently the hot thing, but we will use a double flat faced log so that it doesn’t look “too loggy” as my wife says. This will be mixed with a lot of facade stone. Custom home building allows you a great choice of things — just remember that you may need to sell it one day so don’t go to crazy and end up with a white elephant.

We have decided that a 2,500 sq ft house with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths will be almost perfect for many of the reasons that Lynnette has detailed for storage, laundry etc. and also for resale one day. The walk-out basement will add another 1,500 sq ft. Note that Tennessee ads tend to count this in the total sq ft while other states don’t allow it.

I have not named companies on purpose, as you need to do your own research and talk with the companies one on one concerning what you find. Having been in business for years I know that there are people who cannot be satisfied no matter what you do. But, I get concerned when I see companies out there with several complaints versus ones with none. The ones with none are either very good or taking care of the problems before it gets too far in the system. That’s what I’m looking for.

Thanks, Joe!