Pick­ing a Log Home Pro­ducer

There are hun­dreds of ex­cep­tional log home providers out there. Con­sult these 10 tips be­fore choos­ing a pro­ducer for your log home.

Log Home Living - - 2018 ANNUAL BUYER'S GUIDE -

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant steps you can take to ful­fill your log home own­er­ship dream is to choose the com­pany that will craft your house. In the world of cus­tom home build­ing, this ar­range­ment may seem a lit­tle odd, since logic tells you that you should hire the builder or de­signer first, then com­mis­sion a com­pany to sup­ply the ma­te­ri­als.

But in the world of log homes, the team that cuts and mills your logs is much more than a sup­plier — they’re your part­ner. So with hun­dreds of highly qual­i­fied log home man­u­fac­tur­ers and hand­crafters out there, how do you know which one is right for you?

The dif­fer­ences among log home com­pa­nies go well be­yond the looks of their homes. Each one of­fers di­verse floor plans, wood species, log styles, com­po­nents and other fac­tors that go into de­ter­min­ing the fin­ished prod­uct. Each com­pany be­lieves that its way reigns supreme and does its level best to con­vince you that you should choose their method over an­other. It can feel over­whelm­ing, so here are our top 10 tips to help you sim­plify that choice:

1 Nar­row The Field

Hav­ing a clear vi­sion of how you want your log home to look, feel and flow is im­por­tant and will be a key con­trib­u­tor in help­ing you whit­tle down op­tions. Most log home pro­duc­ers spe­cial­ize in a hand­ful of log species or pro­files. So if you know you want full-round logs made of Dou­glas fir, you’ve au­to­mat­i­cally elim­i­nated any com­pa­nies that don’t of­fer that prod­uct. Es­tab­lish your pri­or­i­ties be­fore you start look­ing.

2 Read Up

Once you have a man­age­able list, it’s time to dig in and do your home­work. Read ev­ery­thing you can get your hands on: web­sites, brochures, cat­a­logs and plans books. This re­search will help you gain a deeper un­der­stand­ing of a com­pany’s phi­los­o­phy, busi­ness prac­tices, ser­vices and per­for­mance. By get­ting a feel for each prospect, you should be able to nar­row your choices down to three or four op­tions.

3 Ask Around

Once you’ve heard what each com­pany on your short list has to say about it­self, it’s time to get the other side of the story from peo­ple who have ac­tu­ally been there — buy­ers who’ve been through the process. Start by check­ing con­sumer re­view sites or so­lic­it­ing opin­ions and re­fer­rals

on com­mu­nity blogs like The Log Home Neigh­bor­hood (loghomeu.com).

If you feel you are at this point, con­tact each com­pany’s ref­er­ences. Ask about the process: Did they de­liver what they promised in a timely man­ner? Were they re­spon­sive? Were there any sur­prises? Would you choose them again? But bear in mind: What may be satisfactory to one per­son could be com­pletely un­ac­cept­able to the next.

4 Get Some Face Time

And no, we’re not talk­ing about your iPhone. Tour­ing a plant or home of­fice in per­son is one of the best ways to get a true im­pres­sion of a com­pany’s op­er­a­tions, and log home pro­duc­ers welcome the op­por­tu­nity to get to know you. You’ll ob­serve how the logs are cut and meet key mem­bers of the de­sign and pro­duc­tion teams, per­haps even the com­pany owner.

If you can’t get to the mill or pro­duc- tion fa­cil­ity, at least pay a call to one of the pro­ducer’s sales mod­els and meet the rep­re­sen­ta­tive you will be work­ing with. Since this per­son could be han­dling most of your deal­ings with the com­pany, it’s vi­tal that you feel com­fort­able with him or her.

5 In­quire About Cus­tomDe­sign Ser­vices

Al­though most log home com­pa­nies of­fer a va­ri­ety of stan­dard home plans, nearly 80 per­cent of log homes are cus­tom­ized in some way. These de­signs range from lit­tle more than a tweak to a stock plan to a com­pletely orig­i­nal de­sign.

The qual­ity of work and ex­pe­ri­ence of the pro­ducer’s de­sign staff can be im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tions in mak­ing your choice. Look at the de­signs they have pro­duced for other cus­tomers. Talk to these peo­ple if you can, and ask if their ex­pe­ri­ence with the de­sign team was pos­i­tive and col­lab­o­ra­tive.

Tour­ing a plant or home of­fice is one of the best ways to get a true im­pres­sion of a com­pany’s op­er­a­tions, and log home pro­duc­ers welcome the op­por­tu­nity to get to know you. You’ll ob­serve how the logs are cut, and you’ll meet key mem­bers of the team.

One way to judge the qual­ity of a com­pany is by how well it meets its dead­lines. A qual­ity-con­scious firm will pro­vide you with sketches, floor plans and price quotes when promised. If a com­pany can’t come through on time even be­fore you make a com­mit­ment, you should ques­tion whether the qual­ity of its work will im­prove later.

Keep in mind that pro­duc­ers gen­er­ally charge ex­tra for cus­tom de­sign work. Find out how much and what the charge cov­ers. In most cases it’s a nom­i­nal fee that is later ap­plied to­ward the cost of the home if you buy from them. Also re­mem­ber that home plans are pro­tected by copy­right law, and it’s il­le­gal to shop one pro­ducer’s de­signs to other log home man­u­fac­tur­ers. If you want to get mul­ti­ple bids on one set of plans, you will need to hire an in­de­pen­dent ar­chi­tect to draw your de­sign.

6

Check For Code Com­pli­ance

At some point, ask for writ­ten proof that a com­pany’s home meets the struc­tural re­quire­ments of the lo­cal build­ing codes that ap­ply where you in­tend to build, as well as the ICC- 400 Stan­dard for Log Home Con­struc­tion. Many log home pro­duc­ers have al­ready pre­pared the re­quired engi­neer­ing anal­y­sis to prove their build­ing sys­tem meets code pro­vi­sions.

7

Ask About War­ranties

Make sure you un­der­stand the terms and con­di­tions of a war­ranty, if the com­pany pro­vides one, and ask specif­i­cally what they will do should a prob­lem arise. If you buy ad­di­tional ma­te­ri­als (win­dows, doors, roof shin­gles, etc.) with your log pack­age, ask for a copy of the war­ranties of­fered by those man­u­fac­tur­ers.

To pro­tect your in­vest­ment fur­ther, con­firm that the com­pa­nies you’re con­tem­plat­ing grade their logs to en­sure the finest qual­ity ma­te­ri­als for your home. (See page 42 for info on grad­ing.) Give more weight to com­pa­nies whose log pack­ages com­ply or ex­ceed ac­cepted in­dus­try stan­dards.

8

Read The Man­ual

A well-pre­pared con­struc­tion man­ual in­di­cates that the com­pany wants to make cer­tain ev­ery home it pro­duces is erected with the same pre­ci­sion and at­ten­tion to de­tail it puts into milling its logs. Some com­pa­nies may have sub-par man­u­als, even though the qual­ity of their homes is first-rate. Many of these com­pen­sate by spend­ing more time pro­vid­ing on­site tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to en­sure that their homes are prop­erly built. Most es­tab­lished com­pa­nies of­fer both an ex­cel­lent con­struc­tion man­ual and on­site tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance. These ser­vices are in­valu­able and worth con­sid­er­ing when choos­ing among com­pet­ing com­pa­nies.

9

Learn About De­liv­ery Prac­tices

Know­ing when, how and by whom

your logs will be de­liv­ered is im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. An­swer these ques­tions be­fore de­cid­ing which com­pany you’ll choose — they may help you iden­tify the ones that are will­ing to work hard for your busi­ness:

Will the logs be de­liv­ered in the log home com­pany’s own trucks or by com­mon car­rier? A pro­ducer’s driver may be bet­ter able to de­liver the logs where you need them. The size of the ve­hi­cle mat­ters, too, if your site is on a nar­row, steep road.

How much ad­vance no­tice will you re­ceive prior to de­liv­ery? This in­for­ma­tion is im­por­tant if you’ll be pay­ing for equip­ment or peo­ple to un­load the logs.

How much time will you have to un­load? Af­ter a spec­i­fied pe­riod, the car­rier may charge an hourly fee for waiting.

Will the logs be num­bered, coded or loaded in re­verse or­der so that the last ones un­loaded will be the first ones used to erect the walls? Oth­er­wise, each log may re­quire dou­ble han­dling be­fore you can be­gin to build.

Can ma­te­ri­als be un­loaded by hand, or will me­chan­i­cal equip­ment, like a crane, be re­quired? Ex­tra on­site ma­chin­ery equals ex­tra cost.

10 Con­duct a Fi­nal Price Check

Be­fore you sign any sales agree­ment, it’s im­por­tant to know ex­actly what you are pay­ing for. Pack­age prices can vary widely, so be sure you are look­ing at the same spec­i­fi­ca­tions from each pro­ducer you’re con­sid­er­ing for the most ac­cu­rate price com­par­i­son. If you’re con­fused, ask each pro­ducer to ver­bally walk you through the bid.

And fi­nally, be­fore you put your name on the dot­ted line, make sure you know what each com­pany’s re­fund pol­icy is, should you have an un­likely change of heart.

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