Building Your Log Home – Saving vs. Spending

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Building Your Log Home – Saving vs. Spending

Building Your Log Home Saving vs spending

Saving-graphicAs with any home, building a log home is an expensive endeavor.  You have most likely envisioned your dream home in your mind for years.  You’ve pictured the big things, such as how large the home will be and how the floor plan will be laid out.  You’ve also considered the small things, such as the exact location of the hot tub and the color of the stone on the fireplace.  You know you want your home to be uniquely yours, and you’ve been saving diligently for the chance to realize your dream.

Now, the time has come to begin planning and building your new log home.  You know your budget and you want to be practical.  After all, you will have other expenses in the future that you will need to save money for.

As you probably already know, building a log home is itself a very practical use of your money.  Log homes can, in the long run, be much less expensive than the traditional homes you see on every street corner.  So, pat yourself on the back!  However, there are other areas in which you can save even more.  Before you go any farther, take a few moments to learn how to get the most home for your money.

When to Save:

There are things you can do before, during, and after the construction of your log home, to help you save money.  Here is a list of easy ways to save:

  1. Be choosy about your house plan.  There are hundreds of beautiful plans to choose from, and almost all of them will have some feature you just love.  However, keep in mind that the more interior walls and exterior corners you have, the more money you will spend.  Consider a straight-sided house plan that utilizes more open floor space within.  Also, think about plans that are no more than 28 feet wide.  The wider the home, the more expensive the lumber and/or steel.
  2. Be realistic when deciding on your square footage.  Many people love the look of a huge log home.  However, is that really what you need?  If your children are grown or your family is small, consider scaling back on the size of your home.  Not only will this cut building costs now, but it will also reduce heating and cooling costs in the future.
  3. Be mindful of your site.  There are three items to consider here:
    • First, shop for an affordable site. Developed land may be easier to build on, but it is also more expensive to buy. Compare the costs of buying pre-developed land versus hire an excavator to clear the land for you.
    •  Second, you may be able to keep your landscaping costs down if you save as many trees and bushes on your land as possible.
    • Third, try to fit your home to your site.  You will save thousands in excavation costs if you select a home plan that will work well on the site you’ve already chosen.  It is possible to adapt most sites to most home plans, but the costs add up quickly.
  4. Plan your home build for the off-season.  Many contractors and sub-contractors have less work in the winter.  Some will offer reduced rates to those homeowners who wish to build during the winter months.  Ask about reduced rates before committing to a contractor or sub-contractor, and make sure you get their estimate in writing.
  5. Place a limit on custom items.  While custom items are beautiful and unique, they are also usually much more costly than their stock counterparts.  If there is a special custom item you just can’t live without, then you should get it.  However, it might be wise to mainly select well-made items from stock lines.  They will work just as well, and you will appreciate your special custom item even more.
  6. Choose standard windows.  This falls in-line with #5, but it is worth repeating.  Selecting standard size windows will save you a significant amount of money.  Not only will it save you money on the window itself, but you will also spend less on labor to install the window.  If you are looking for a dramatic effect, consider installing several windows close together.
  7. Reduce heat transfer weak areas.  If you are planning on installing a wall of windows in your log home, consider which direction these windows should face.  South-facing windows with large overhangs can drastically cut heating and cooling costs.  The windows will allow in warming sunlight in the winter, and the overhangs will provide shade in the summer.
  8. Save money with wise plumbing choices.  Consider buying a tankless water heater for your new home. Tankless water heaters are priced about the same as most standard water heaters. However, tankless water heaters only heat water as it is needed, rather than constantly heating the water and driving up your energy costs. Installing low-consumption plumbing fixtures is another good way to save yourself money.  You can now purchase toilets that use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush (older toilets can use up to 5 gallons per flush). You may also choose to save money and water by purchasing shower heads and faucets with aerators, screw-on tips that reduce water flow while keeping water pressure.
  9. Do some of the finish work yourself.  You can save yourself a great deal of money by doing some of the work yourself.  Many home improvement stores offer weekend classes in laying tile, painting techniques, landscaping, etc.  Just make sure you know what you are doing, and have the time to do the job correctly, before you get started.

When to Spend:

Now that you’ve looked at some ways to save money, it is important to understand that sometimes it is better to pay more up front, to get better results in the future.  Here are some examples:

  1. Have your home plan tailored to fit your needs.  You want your log home to be unique, just like you.  So, why choose a cookie-cutter home plan?  It will be well worth the money to have an expert draw your plans for you.  Doing so will ensure you have the home of your dreams, and not someone else’s.
  2. Hire an experienced, licensed contractor.  Chances are, you are not trained in the art of log home building.  While saving money and doing all the work yourself may seem enticing, honestly consider whether your time commitments and skill level will allow you to do the job yourself.
  3. Hire the best contractor.  You’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.”  Often, it’s true!  Before hiring any contractor, shop around.  Get referrals, ask home improvement stores, do your homework.  Hire the best contractor you can find, even if it means paying a little more.  Good work will save you money in the long run.
  4. Raise your ceilings.  The average ceiling is 8 feet in height.  Increasing your home’s ceilings to 9 or 10 feet will add volume to your rooms, making your home feel more open and spacious.  Many log home owners enjoy the inviting feel this openness brings.
  5. Insist on generous amounts of high-quality insulation.  While “beefing up” the insulation around your home’s exterior will cost you more now, you will reap the benefits of lower heating and cooling costs in the future.  In addition to helping keep down costs, extra insulation will also help to keep down outside noises, so your home is even more peaceful.
  6. Don’t skimp on doors and windows.  Choosing the highest quality doors and windows just makes good economic sense.  Solid, heavy doors not only look impressive and inviting to your guests, but they also keep drafts at bay.  Whenever possible, choose double-hung windows.  This will do wonders for your electric bills in the years to come.  Higher quality windows also offer more protection from harmful UV rays.
  7. Consider your roofing options carefully.  When you think of a roof, you may immediately picture shingles.  While asphalt shingles are the most popular and most economical option in roofing, they may not necessarily be the best.  Other types of roofing to consider are architectural shingles, metal roofing, and wood shakes.
    • Architectural shingles represent a huge step up from asphalt shingles.  They are typically twice as thick as standard asphalt shingles, and can be created to look like slate, tile, or wood shakes.  While architectural shingles are more expensive version of asphalt, they are well worth the investment, both in look and durability.
    • Metal roofing is the second most popular choice for today’s log homes.  While opting for a metal roof means added upfront costs, you gain the peace-of-mind of knowing you have chosen a roof that will not burn, rot, or warp, can withstand the heaviest snowfalls, and—possibly best of all—requires little to no maintenance.  Metal roofing comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, including shakes, shingles, tiles, or vertical panels.
    • Wood shakes are, for many, the epitome of log home roofing.  They provide the look and style many homeowners want.  Cedar is the most common wood species used; however, Eastern White Pine is also often utilized.  Many wood shakes now come pretreated from the factory.  If not, you may have to periodically treat your wood shakes to prevent warping and insect infestations. Be very careful when choosing this method, if installed improperly, or in the wrong geographic location, this can be a poor choice.  Research the options, and speak with reputable roofing contractors before making this decision.
  8. High quality stain is very important.  Set aside enough in your budget so that you may purchase the best stain possible.  Look for stains that come pretreated (or infused) with insect repellants and fungus controlling agents.  The stain is your home’s first line of defense against Mother Nature’s wrath.  Make sure you take care of your investment and buy the best stain possible.


Take the time to consider what is really important to you before you begin building your log home.  Spend your money wisely on the things that will benefit you and your home both now and in the future.  You will be glad you did!