Hiawatha Log Homes/photo by Roger Wade
It’s the classic dilemma when building a log home. Finishing with that expensive look without busting the budget is indeed a challenge. But it can be done. Log home professionals, from sales consultants to designers and experienced builders, are ready to assist in the great undertaking, lending a hand at decision time.
Moving forward with confidence involves research and preparation. “Certainly, preplanning is important as far as determining what square footage someone is targeting,” advises Rick Rhoades, general manager of Hiawatha Log Homes. “What really comes to the forefront with an expensive looking home is this: ‘Don’t go cheap on your log package!’ That sets an average looking home apart from an expensive one, and there are many variations, from log-sided to profile or full log. When shopping, remember to do apples to apples comparisons.”
Rhoades says today’s shopper is savvy and does the necessary homework when evaluating the many aspects of designing and building a log home. However, some individuals start with a smaller home that mushrooms beyond its original scope, while others begin with more than they can manage and shrink into their budget.
One way to enhance the look of a log home is to vary the exterior. “More than ever, we are seeing customers asking for multiple façades on the outside and inside,” explains Greg Landess, vice president of sales and marketing for Blue Ridge Log Cabins. “A mixture of log, cedar, or poplar bark shakes, board ‘n batten, stone, and other materials is popular, and many of today’s homes are smaller with emphasis on uniqueness. In most cases, unique properties are more desirable and are worth more.”
Landess encourages customers to build a one or two percent overage into a budget to add something they really want in their home. In the end, he reasons, it will positively impact the owner’s satisfaction and add to the unique qualities of the home. He cautions individuals to be careful when looking for a “deal,” particularly in choosing a log home company or builder.
Setting that budget remains a basic ingredient of the log home construction formula, and Jeremy Elliott, a sales representative with Coventry Log Homes, says, “Sit down and develop a list of things that are a must, and then a list of things you would really like—then from that list of likes identify things you could live without to get the things that are most important.”
Coventry Log Homes/photo by Roger Wade
Coventry sales representative Krisandra Still-Arnold recommends that clients pay particular attention to land development costs and consider going vertical, a less expensive alternative to increasing horizontal square footage. Adding space with a second floor, loft, or basement brings value with reasonable budget impact.
“Everyone has a dream home in mind,” Still-Arnold relates, “and it’s hard to let go of a dream. I really like our checklist of costs form. It’s a great tool.”
Design elements often add an expensive look with minimal cost, and Coventry Log Homes drafting and design professional Dylan Dickenson incorporates such elements as narrower windows more widely spaced for gable-end window treatments. “You still get the look of gabled glass, but you’re paying less,” he notes.
Other tips from Dickenson include designing for minimal amounts of exposed beams, putting them only in showcase rooms like great rooms. Pay more for prebuilt trusses and cathedral trusses to save labor costs while building. Use the basement as a living area; install log siding on exposed walk-out basement exterior walls. Instead of full logs on gable ends and dormers, use siding and corner extensions to give the look of a full log.
“Think variety and detail,” comments Coventry marketing representative Robin Edwards. “Vary textures, materials, and colors on the interior and exterior to add visual interest. Use multiple colored stains to help make that beam you paid a lot for stand out from the tongue-and-groove walls. Likewise, pickling or other subtle neutral wall treatments can make a home look stunning. Beef up the trim outside for visual appeal that looks expensive. Masonry detail, even if it is used sparingly, adds varied texture while staying color neutral—and the material can be picked up anywhere. Look for varied roof angles, even if they are only on one side of the home.”
Attention to the little things enhances the presentation of a log home, adds value and pride of ownership, and achieves that desired expensive look while the budget remains reasonably intact.
Photography by Roger Wade Studio