Avoiding the Wrong Log Home Builderby Hochstetler Log Homes on 2018-03-14 16:36:29
One of the most important considerations in having a successful dream log home building project is choosing the right builder. You simply can’t risk hiring the wrong builder.
A log home is not like a conventional stick home where it makes sense to contract with a builder for everything. The builder designs the home, pulls the permits, orders the material from a local building supply place, builds it and bingo, there is your house.
Having a custom log home built on the other hand is far more complex. For many years you have been dreaming of building a log home of your own. Finally, after saving for all those years the time is right and things seem to
fall in place. Perhaps you want a remote gathering place for the family and eventually move in after you are both retired. You cannot afford leaving anything to chance. Most importantly, “you,” and not the builder, should decide who your designer and log home manufacturer will be.
Sheri and her husband (not her real name) thought they were doing it the easy no-hassle way by handing everything over to a builder to take care of. Early on, they researched multiple log home companies for someone to help them realize their dream log home. Finally, they decided on Hochstetler Milling as someone they could trust with a great team of professionals and craftsmen to help them with their design work as well as supplying them with the quality log home they desired. All was good until they stumbled across a local builder. The builder talked a good game, was local, promised to have them moved into the home by Christmas, said he didn’t need blueprints and was even recommended by the loan officer at the bank. After seeing his work they signed on the dotted line. Sheri had dreamed of owning a log home since she was a child and had worked hard for over 30 years to save towards achieving this dream. Her husband really liked the log home idea as did their five children. While waiting the completion of their dream home, the family of seven, were crammed into a 2-bedroom, rickety old farmhouse next to their log home site.
After a year of waiting and frustration they and the bank decided it was time to dismiss their builder. First of all, the builder had barely started by Christmas and here it was July of the following year and all they had for a log home was a partially completed shell! The roof was partially covered with felt paper and there were no windows and doors. The foundation was cracking in numerous places, the subfloor on the wide-open upstairs garage suite and the breezeway were literally ruined because of all the exposure.
In her dream, Sheri had always wanted a lot of glass in her log home. However, the builder ended up reducing the sizes and quantity of windows from what she had understood that they was getting. This was on top of making the home 4 feet smaller than what was agreed on.
Unfortunately, Sheri, with only a contract to build the house and no construction plans had no real documents of what they had agreed on. Making it even worse was the fact there was no oversight from a third party building inspector or architectural engineer to hold him accountable. Thus, the builder was able take advantage of the unsuspecting homeowner by cutting corners, saving him a considerable amount of labor and money.
To remedy the problem they came back to us for help. When we inspected the home we found multiple items that did not meet code. The two main footings that hold up most of the floor and roof load, as one example, were less than 1/3 the size of what they should have been! Quite a few of the structural beams were undersized, besides the fact that they were ungraded.
They are in quite a fix. To finish the home as planed and to bring in another builder to remedy these issues would be cost prohibitive and put them way over their budget. The bank needs the project completed but naturally does not want to give them any more money than what they originally borrowed. The builder did admit that he under-bid the project. As much as they don’t want this builder back, it seems that is the only way that they will be able to afford to finish their home.
Sheri and her husband are not the only folks that had a bad experience when solely depending on a builder for their home design, material and construction all in one contract. Currently, clients from multiple states are pursuing legal action against builders for taking deposits of up to $130,000 and walking off without building their home. One builder after using the deposit from a client for a hunting trip to Alaska was unable to purchase material for the home including the log package. A builder in southern Ohio uses a well-known log home company’s name to sell the log home packages and then turns around and substitute’s material from other sources without the client’s knowledge. Another lady who lost her home in hurricane Katrina gave a deposit to a builder and never saw or heard from him again. I know of several builders that finally met their day in jail but what good does that do for their string of customers that have gotten fleeced?
With a little homework, and some common sense assessments, you should be able to steer clear of the above bad experiences. One of the key things is to have a check and balance situation. I can’t overemphasize this enough. Never entrust your entire life’s savings with a single company when planning your dream home. Have the design done and order the log home direct from the manufacturer and then have a separate contract with the builder to build it. This will give you a check and balance situation. The idea is that the manufacture and the independent builder will keep each other in line. If you contract with only one to do everything, you lose this safeguard. While this is not fail proof, at least your batting average goes way up. This becomes even more important if you’re building where there are no structural building inspectors. The added bonus is that you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Often a trusting client, like Sheri in the above story, will contract with a builder on a promise of a “no-hassle, we take care of everything approach.” This is very tempting as it sounds so easy; however, it opens you up to be taken advantage of. There are no checks and balances like there are if you contract with two separate companies. This is the best insurance towards getting the dream home you have envisioned with the quality you were expecting.