Choosing the Right Log Home Designer and Manufacturerby Hochstetler Log Homes on 2018-02-14 16:59:51
Buying a new home may be the largest investment that you have made in your lifetime and can be the most regrettable. But with careful planning it can be a very pleasurable experience that is both fulfilling and worthwhile-especially if it’s a log home.
The key to a successful project chiefly depends on who you pick for your two significant others; first, the log home designer/ manufacture and second, the builder. However, this can be a daunting decision. With this article, I hope to give you some helpful guidelines on what to look for in order to avoid some of the pitfalls. Having your own dream log home designed and then built should be a good experience and, an enjoyable journey.
Whatever you do, don’t fall for the ill-conceived notion that it’s better to have one company take care of the complete project all the way from design through move in. While this seems an easy and convenient way out, it can open you up to be taken advantage of. When contracting with the designer/ manufacturer separately from the builder you have a certain degree of checks and balances. When you throw in the building department for good measure, you should feel confident that the trio will keep each other honest and on their toes. If you do your homework in picking these companies, you shouldn’t have any regrets.
What are some of the pitfalls in having your home build when you don’t have a check and balance scenario in place? First of all, when the builder also acts as your designer he can design it to be more profitable and not necessarily with the quality you prefer. Also, you lose the ability to have several builders bid on the project, whereas with the designer/ manufacture you have the option to get as many bids from builders as you want.
In order to get a true, apples-to-apples bid you will need two things: the complete construction documents which should include a spec sheet, and a complete building material package quote from the manufacturer. Otherwise, if the builder supplies the building material, one builder can substitute material with lesser quality than their competitors; thus, you end up with bids that may be apples-to-oranges. Remember, this is not your normal stick home where the builder buys material from a Home Depot or local lumber supplier to build your home. However, for your peace of mind, even then the designer should be independent of the builder. While there are many good, well-established builders out there that would, by all means do a good job, unfortunately many aren’t and may have only a tool belt to their claim-to-fame as a quality builder.
Deciding on the Designer/Manufacturer
How can you tell if the log home manufacturer is for real, and most importantly, financially stable? The key is to visit them. Most log home manufactures will have a nice model for you to look at. While their model is something you will want to see for design purposes, you won’t learn much about their financial well-being from it. What you want to see is their manufacturing facility. Pay attention to these few details.
One of the key questions to ask from a log home supplier is what drying method do they use. If the answer is kiln-drying, you will want to see the kiln. If they don’t have a kiln on the premises, ask them where it is so you can go and see it. If they make excuses and don’t seem to want you to see it, I would recommend you move on. Why is this important? Probably because they are subcontracting the kiln-drying to others. Now this can be ok as I’m sure there are subs that do a good job. But from our experience there is a big difference from having total, quality-drying control of the lumber in-house compared to outside operators. You don’t want to jeopardize your dream home by not using properly dried logs. The right dryness of your logs is far too important to leave it to chance.
If the log home manufacturer claims that they air -dry the logs. You will want to see their air-drying yard. There should be several acres of material on sticks if it’s a sizable operation. If not, take warning. You don’t want the logs of your dream home to be merely air-dried on the way to your site.
Regardless of what drying method they use, you should take a look at their inventory. A company that claims to manufacture 50 log homes should have a substantial amount of inventory. This should be inventory that doesn’t look like it’s been sitting around for many years. (Note: air-dried logs will be weathered) If you see very little inventory it probably is a sign of a financially stressed company. Additionally, they would have a hard time servicing you if you ran out of material. Also, check and make sure the inventory is well taken care of. You don’t want substandard material for your home.
Next, how is their facility – is it clean? Do they practice good housekeeping? I think this is important from the standpoint that if they don’t care about their own facility, how do you expect them to care about your project?
You should never hand over your money and sign on the dotted line before first seeing who it is that you’re dealing with. During the recession several manufacturers went under. Unfortunately some people lost their down payments, which for some, was all of their life savings. Obviously, had they checked them out beforehand with the above queries, in most cases this wouldn’t have happened.