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By Clint Gray
If you have decided to build a Log Home, you have made a wise choice. Solid Timber construction is a marvelously beneficial form of housing that is healthy, durable, energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing, and, can be a cost effective alternative with a great return on your investment. You may have noticed that I qualified my statement with a "can be" because the truth is, from time to time we hear stories concerning the disparity between the expectations of certain Log Home customers and the performance of certain Log Home companies. Many of these stories reach us after much convolution and are often the result of bad information, unreasonable expectations, and poor communication, however, many of them have simply been true.
We could devote considerable text to the discussion of specifics such as what is wrong with this or that company's product or services. However, we would only scratch the surface of a much deeper root cause that seems to plague the Log Home industry as a whole. It is not just a policy, a product, or a company, it is a way of thinking. This thinking has been so methodically fostered upon the general public for decades that it has become generally accepted as gospel by building professionals and laymen alike. I have identified these beliefs and call them the Seven Great Log Home Myths.
Log Home Myth #1:
"All Log Homes are sold as complete, snap together kits"
Fact: "Log homes are conventionally built homes with solid timber walls." There is nothing mysterious about Log Homes. Most log homes are built from conventional materials with conventional methods (except for the exterior walls). This includes the so called "kit" log home. The first question the informed log home buyer should ask is "Why a kit? On the surface it seems logical enough. The word "kit" implies complete, convenient, easy to assemble, something along the lines of a model car, airplane kit or Lincoln Log play set.
This myth is far from the truth. The majority of the components that go into a log home can be purchased from a local lumberyard. Where then, did the idea of a kit come from? It came from some shrewd lumbermen who long ago figured out a way to package up and market their lumber and hardware products long distance. Some log home manufacturers are not manufacturers at all, but just another knot in a long string of middlemen who are marking up the price on a product they bought elsewhere before they pass it on to you. Many of these suppliers purchase most of your package down the street at their local lumberyard, pay retail, add 100% markup, plus shipping and handling, and then freight it 2000 miles to your site.
The Truth: You can buy just the components you need to assemble your log home system direct from the log home manufacturer, at the same price that professional builders and developers pay.
Log home Myth #2:
"A Log Home Kit contains everything I need to build my home."
Fact: Some Log Home companies want you to believe this. If you have good accurate information to help you count the real cost of building, you may decide to reduce the size of your home, put off the purchase until a later date, or decide not to build a new home at all. Some Log Home companies think that it is not in thier interest to tell you the truth about the real cost of building a log home. That is sad because nothing is further from the truth.
The Truth: Most Log Home "Kits" contain between 25-50% of what you will need to complete a Log Home. Good accurate information means good planning, a smooth operation with no surprise, and ultimately a project built right, on time, and on budget.
Log Home Myth #3:
"Pre- cutting a log home kit will save time, labor and money."
Fact: Most so-called pre-cut operations require a very labor intensive process that unnecessarily duplicates the handling of the product. The package must be pre-cut, assembled, disassembled, marked for re-assembly, loaded, shipped, unloaded and then reassembled in a process requiring the builder extensively sort and attempt to discern where the big jigsaw pieces go. The manufacturer then adds a large margin which inflates the cost of the finished product.
Another major drawback is that pre-cutting requires precise site dimension control with little room for error. It also eliminates your option of making last minute changes (which are frequent), such as adding a window to accommodate that view you didn’t realize you had.
The Truth: Site cutting of a Log Home is quick, efficient, and produces an excellent finished product without an over-inflated kit cost.
Log Home Myth #4:
"Using a kit means there will be very little left to finish."
Fact: Most Log Homes are conventionally built with conventional materials and methods, except for solid timber exterior walls which will not require insulation, exterior siding or interior paneling. You must still conventionally construct a foundation system, floor system, interior partitions, roof system, exterior wood treatment, floor finishes, cabinetry, hardware, wall finishes, interior trim, electrical, plumbing and HVAC among many others. These are all of the things that a contractor would have to finish in any conventional home.
The Truth: Log Homes (and "Kits") take no less work to build than conventional homes.
Log Home Myth #5:
"Log Homes are less expensive to build than other homes"
Fact: "Log Homes typically cost more than conventional homes." As well they should. With all of the benefits considered, a log home is worth more than a comparably appointed conventional home. It is not that great an increase when viewed as a percentage of the home's total cost. In addition, national real estate resale data shows log homes consistently sell faster and for more than comparably appointed conventional homes.
The Truth: Most log homes can be built for 5-10% more than a comparably appointed conventional home.
Log Home Myth #6:
"Log Homes are easy to build"
Fact: "Log Homes are not easier or harder to build, just different.
The Truth: Since we have established that Log Homes are just conventional homes with solid timber walls, most of the home can be built with conventionally skilled tradesman. The only difference being a little special knowledge needed for the log system and system provisions. This special knowledge can be easily obtained from a professional Log Home Representative.
Log Home Myth #7:
"Owning a Log Home will make me smarter, more attractive and popular"
Fact: This statement is relatively close to the truth, just slightly convoluted. It should read:
The Truth: "Owning a Log Home will prove I’m smarter, its natural setting will make me seem more attractive and subsequently more popular".
Clint Gray has spent the last 22 years working continuously in the construction industry. His experience includes the construction supervision of over a hundred custom homes thoughout the South. For the last 15 years he has specialized in the design and development of log home systems and is the publisher of the "Log Home Industry Insider". He is presently a Factory Representative for Sisson Log Homes, one of the South’s largest producers of factory direct Log Home Systems. If you would like to reach Clint about this article, please e-mail him direct. [LHNZ]
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