Q: Is it more, or less expensive, to build a log home with a second story or loft compared to one on a single level?
A: If you're talking about a structure with exactly the same amount of square feet of floor space, then the lofted or two story home would be slightly more expensive. However, limitations on building area may necessitate incorporating a second story to achieve the desired size. Cost difference between one and two story log homes generally isn't much - a single story requires a larger "footprint" (the amount of land covered by the house), more roof structure and roofing while a two story typically incurs a slightly larger engineering fee, the cost of stairs, railings, and upper floor support. Keep in mind that all of this is predicated on the use of dry, milled logs like Timberline's. Scribed, or handcrafted logs from live timber may be prohibitively expensive to utlilize for a second story application and the homes are often problematic due to settling and support issues.
Q: Thank you for the preplan estimate, it is very helpful. We notice that aside from an "approximate" price for the materials package, you show a "price range" for the completed price. Why don't you indicate a more specific price for the completed log home?
A: Timberline's PrePlan Estimates are designed to be a beginning step in the log home process to provide an indication of prices to expect at current costs. The calculated prices are based on generalities of the specified structure's design elements and size, and are referred to as "approximate." Once a more specific design is determined, then a "preliminary" estimate is provided based on that particular home. That specific design is usually chosen from a selection of Timberline's home plan library, based on specifications from the PrePlan Estimate, that are emailed. At this point, modifictions to the selected design, including adjusting dimensions to fit the building site as well as specific layout and design element changes, are generally made as well. Or, a specific home design or plans created by another source, may be supplied to be the basis for the preliminary estimate. However, the final cost estimate can only be provided when completed plans are drawn and engineered to the specific building site's requirements (engineering dictates may determine the need to adjust the size of support posts, beams and footings, etc.) that may affect the ultimate cost of materials and construction. In most states, the plans must be stamped by a licensed engineer with structural design detail and calculations included in order to get a building permit. Costs for building a log home vary according to the location, specific design elements (size of logs, roof support system, dormers, porches, balconies, fireplace, etc.), size of the home and rates of area contractors. Because there are so many variables, we believe that to represent anything other than a price range for the completed log structure, or approximate pricing before a specific design is determined, would be misleading.
Q: What determines log prices?
A: Supply and demand has a lot to do with the price of logs for home building. If the supply of dead standing timber is high, but the demand is lower than normal, then prices drop. However, when demand remains lower than normal, then the amount of wood harvested and milled is reduced which may cause prices to rise. Should the supply be low, with rapidly rising demand, then prices tend to jump up quickly. Other factors involved in log pricing are the costs associated with cutting trees and transporting to the mill, as well as labor and general business costs.
Q: There's a home design we love, but it isn't built of logs. Can you convert the design into a log home?
A: In most cases, we can convert a conventionally framed, or "stick-built" design, into a log structure. This can be achieved in a couple of ways. The design can be reworked into a true log home, with supporting exterior log walls, in Swedish coped or 'D' profiles; or the conventional framing can be retained with log siding added, either with saddle-notched corners or butted ends, to make the home or cabin look like a true log structure from the outside.
Q: We're interested in building a cabin ourselves. I've had building experience, but not a log cabin. How difficult is it for the owner to build one of your log cabins?
A: Its quite common for owners to build their own Timberline log cabin even without prior experience working with logs. The important thing is to take your time and, if possible, enlist the help of family and friends. Extra 'strong backs' definitely help with the work load involved with "stacking" logs. A word of caution in these economic times - if you intend to borrow funds for construction, make sure the lender allows that the structure be totally built without the aid of a licensed contractor who essentially guarantees that the home or cabin will be completed to a designated degree of "liveability." Some lenders are hesitant to finance 'do-it-yourself' projects. Owners often choose to have a professional contractor build the structure to a dried-in state, including electrical and plumbing, as specified by the lender, then finish the home or cabin themselves.
Q: My wife and I try hard to be conscientious about the environment. We'd love to have a log home, but are concerned about the amount of trees that have to be cut down. Are homes constructed of logs damaging to the environment?
A: Keep in mind that there are two basic types of log homes - those built from live timber, and those built from dead standing timber. Timberline log homes typically utilize trees that have died due to "bark beetle kill" or other causes. This means that the timber is dead, but still standing in the forest, because the membrane just below the outer bark has been compromised by beetle larvae as they mature and leave the tree. The affected trees often die enmasse and, unless quickly harvested, simply rot over time. Healthy seedlings are then planted to replace those cut down. Therefore, our milled logs from dead stands, with membrane and bark removed, are very environmentally friendly. By contrast, logs from live trees that are used for "scribed" log homes do deplete the resource. Unlike many 'green' choices that tend to be more expensive, Timberline logs from dead stands are priced substantially less than logs from live trees, and have construction advantages that tend to reduce building costs even more.
Q: With the economy the way it is, how have log home package prices been affected?
A: Timberline log home package pricing has always fluctuated according to supply and demand. Because the availability of financing has been substantially decreased during the down turn, the supply of logs compared to reduced demand has resulted in price reductions. Consequently, if you are able to get financing at current low interest rates, or have cash available, Timberline log homes can be incredible values. That said, costs of construction and associated building materials tend to be established independent of the price of logs.
Q: What factors play big roles in determining the cost of a particular log home?
A: Prices can vary substantially depending on a number of factors including size and style of log to be utilized (we offer from 6" to 16" diameter Swedish coped as well as D-profiles and log-siding), grade of log (we offer two grades - standard & cabin - in Swedish coped style), roof support system (log roof support is most expensive), amount of porches, whether or not a loft is to be included, type of roof, whether or not the home has dormers, etc. Until all elements of the design are known, and the structure is engineered to required specifications of the location where it is to be built, costs can easily fluctuate 10% or more. And, of course, personal tastes and requirements can certainly impact any given log home's cost.
Q: We're just getting started in the process. What should we do first - decide on a house or buy property?
A: The most important first step is to find property. Your log home needs to have a design that not only fits on your lot or building site, but that compliments it. Aside from getting some general ideas of what you want in the structure, it is often wasted effort to become overly specific until property is purchased. If the home is to be financed, talk to a lending institution to determine the amount that can be borrowed. Keep in mind that the topography of the building site can play a major role in the cost of construction.
Q: How long does it take for a typical log home to be completed from initial contact to moving in?
A: We're not totally sure if the word "typical" applies to log home construction (or to any type of construction, for that matter). Assuming that property has been purchased and financing is in place if necessary, it takes about 6-8 weeks to pick a design, have it drawn, and make changes to the plan. If a state licensed engineer's stamp is required (most require it), then it usually takes three to six weeks to finish calculations and draw details. Once the engineering is completed, the building permit process extends four to twelve weeks depending on the location. During that time, takeoffs are completed, the logs are cut and notched at the mill, and the package is delivered to the site. Once the building permit is issued, then construction can begin. Depending on the complexity and size of the structure, the log shell is erected to a dried-in state in three to twelve weeks. Beyond that, the completion usually depends on subcontractors' schedules and the home's interior design and can take anywhere from four weeks to sixteen weeks in most cases. So, if the process began today, expect to move in anywhere from 20 to 54 weeks from now. However, keep in mind that contractors' schedules often have a great deal of influence on the actual amount of time it takes to complete the home.
Q: Colors of the houses on the web site vary quite a lot. Is it because of the different kinds of trees used?
A: The specie of tree used in log construction usually doesn't affect the color of a home because of modern stains that have pigmentation mixed into them. It is quite similar to selecting a stain or paint color for a conventional 'stick built' structure. Color choices typically range from almost white to a chocolate hue. The color of a log structure is essentially a matter of personal preference.
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