About Avalon Log Homes
Avalon Log Homes - Blending Luxury with Nature Avalon Log Homes is your Log Home connection all over the USA & Canada. Our expert team provides the finest quality log products and planning services to make your dream home become a reality. Log Homes, Custom Homes, Custom Design Services,
Avalon Log Homes was founded by industry veterans and seasoned business
Professionals with close to a century of collective experience and more than 1000
log & conventional homes built. While Avalon Log Homes is certainly not the oldest log home manufacturer in the business, or the biggest, we are absolutely committed to becoming one of the world’s premier log home manufacturers.
Since our inception, we've built our business and strong reputation on a few basic
Core Values that guide everything we do. These include Integrity, Pride, Service,
Stewardship and Quality. Operating in this fashion has helped us grow Avalon Log Homes to be one of the fastest growing, most well respected log home
manufactures in the business.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Before you go off and buy a log home kit, you need to know a few basics. The first decision that you will be faced with is the foundation of course. Should you build on piers, on a solid foundation, on stilts or should
you include a basement. Honestly I cannot make these decisions for you, but the lot that you are building on will give you your first hint. If you have a lot that has a decent slope to it and it is perfect for a basement, you might want to consider adding one. The why of this is that a basement is going to be the cheapest square footage that you can get and will add more resale value than almost any other choice you are going to make. (besides the kitchen and glamor bath) Typically a basement will cost you no more than twenty to thirty dollars per square foot, depending of course on the market that you live in. If you want a solid foundation and the lot is suited to a basement, the cost will not be much more than the solid foundation alone.
Then there is the pier or stilt method, this works well and cuts costs considerable, the downside to this is that the sub-floor is going to require extra insulation to keep your feet
toasty in the winter. Another drawback to these types of foundation is stability, when you leave an open air-space below your house, you are giving mother nature a toe hold on your house. Log homes are heavy, they need all the stability that they can get. In a storm or tornado (if these things bother you and are plentiful in your area) your house is more likely to shift if the wind can get under it. The biggest advantage of these foundations is cost. They are certainly cheaper and allow you to get to the meat of your project allot quicker. If cost is a deciding factor, you can always enclose the foundation at a later date. Another drawback to this type of foundation is the water and electrical lines. Of course you don't have to worry about your electrical lines freezing, but your water lines are five times more likely to freeze with an open foundation. There is heat tape that you can apply, but these products do die and they don't tell you when they die. If you decide to go this route be sure to check your anti-freeze systems every year before winter and monthly during winter. You will thank me later.
Another newer type of foundation on the market is the pre-cast panel system. These are great because they do not require a footing and can be installed in a day (in most cases). After your panels are set, the builder comes in and installs a termite shield and then the sill plate. Almost all pre-cast systems require that the sill plate lap at least four foot on to the next panel. This is what locks them together and keeps them from shifting. This is IMPORTANT, if your builder neglects to do this properly, your foundation can shift when back-filled and the warranty will be voided. This is not easy to fix because the way the system works you cannot back-fill until the sub-floor is on. You will not discover the problem until it becomes a very expensive process. Keep an eye on your builder during this process. I once knew a very capable builder who was installing the sill plate when the homeowner discovered that his men hadn't followed the instructions. The builder was more than willing to fix the problem, but the homeowner ran him off the project. His theory was that if the builder was going to screw up this soon in the project, what other directions would he miss. Who can blame the guy, certainly not me. After your sub-floor is installed, you can pour the basement floor and lock in the walls permanently, then and only then can you backfill.
Now for the newest type of foundation to hit the building world. (not really that new, but new to most consumers, its been around for at least ten years) The hollow foam block. These blocks are made of styrofoam (much
like a cheap beer cooler) which interlock and are stacked very quickly. During the stacking process a series of reinforcement bars are installed along with plastic spreader pieces. (the plastic pieces prevent the blocks from spreading when they are filled with concrete.) While stacking the blocks, all of the openings are formed out, as a result these form boards become permanent bucks for your windows and doors. It is best to use pressure treated material for the bucks. Once everything is in place and a few kickers (which keep everything from shifting) are installed, it is time to pour the concrete. This is best done with a pump truck or a conveyor truck as trying to pour this much concrete with wheelbarrows and buckets is just stupid. The concrete could set up in the bottom of the forms and cause you to have cold joints. ( the reason I said anything about the how of this is because homeowners are notorious for trying to cheap out when it is important not to) Yes, your foundation will stay together even with cold joints and no one will ever see them, but it makes for a weak wall and is not recommended.
Whatever type of foundation that you choose, all of them will need a termite shield on top of them before the sill plate is installed. A termite shield is just a fancy name for a continuous aluminum sheet (aluminum flashing comes in rolls from ten inches to two feet wide) at least two inches wider than the top of the foundation. Flush this material with the outside of the wall and let it hang over on the inside. The theory behind this is that termites cannot walk over the slick aluminum preventing them from building a tunnel up the inside of the wall up to the sub-floor. Do not neglect this process, some builders swear that because of the chemicals used to protect the house that it is no longer needed. This may be true, but what if you forget to call your pest control guy one year. Wouldn't you rather have a cheap back-up instead of having no protection? This is not a costly procedure and can save your home in the long run. Do not let your contractor or anyone else talk you out of this step.
When building the foundation you will need some sort of method to attach the sill plate. (sill plates are almost always pressure treated two by eights) In the case of the pre-cast concrete panels, they leave holes every sixteen inches to two feet for you to bolt the sill plate on. Use every hole and the hardware provided as it will be rated for this application, this is extremely important when using this type of system and it could void your warranty if you don't. In some areas, such as coastal plains, your local codes will dictate how you must attach your sill plate. I built a log home on St. Johns Island outside of Charleston S.C. a few years back and their codes are as strict as anywhere in the nation. According to their code, from footing to ridge beam everything had to be attached using a variety of clips, fasteners and straps. Coming out of the footing and through the block foundation was a continuous strap that flattened out on top of the block and then was folded back over each side of the sill plate. This is extreme, but that house will never move.
The most common fastener for sill plates is the eight inch anchor bolt with a three-eighths inch threaded nut and washer. These bolts are shaped like an L and are usually put in the wet concrete about every two feet or
as required by your local codes. (keep in mind when you are installing your bolts that wherever one board ends you want two bolts so that the end of one isn't just laying there, this is especially true at the corners of the wall where you may need as many as three bolts, lay out where your boards are going on top of the wall to better plan for bolt placement) When you install your termite shield, just lay it out on top of the bolts and working from right to left, hit the flashing lightly with a wooden headed hammer on top of the anchor bolt, this will knock a hole in the flashing where you need it then you can drive the metal down flat on each side of the bolt. Be careful not to damage the threads on your anchor bolts, if you want to play it safe, put a nut on the bolt before you hit the metal and after you have a hole in the flashing lift it up and take the bolt off, this will straighten any threads that you may have damaged. Once you have the flashing on, you can bolt down the sill plate. Work from right to left and measure each bolt from the end of where you are starting. Make a straight line across the board with a speed square and then measure how far the bolt is from the outside edge. (when installing the bolts, it is best to stagger them alternating in and out while making sure the leg on the bottom of the bolt is covered well) Pre-drill each hole using a bit that is no more than one-eighth inch larger than the bolts diameter. Once the board is in place (you may have to work the board back and forth while hitting it with a two pound hammer) place the washers and finally the bolts. Tighten until the wood starts to compress, making sure not to over-tighten as you can pull the anchor bolt right out of the concrete. (allow the concrete around the bolts to cure at least thirty-six hours before applying stress)
If you have chosen a block foundation that you do not plan on pouring solid with concrete, you can stuff the cells where your anchor bolts are going with the left over mortar bags. If you will pre-plan and layout where your floor joists are going on top of the wall, you can place your anchor bolts in such a way that they do not interfere with the joists. You do not want to have to notch your floor joists before you even get started good.( if you neglected to pre-plan your bolt placement, you can always counter-sink the nuts and cut the top of the bolt off with a sawz-all) Most log homes have a double rim joist ( I like to call it a boxing band, that is the board that borders the outside of your sub-floor framing and your joists will be attached to it) This means that your anchor bolts must be at least three and a half inches in from the outside of your wall. ( I realize that this does not allow for much staggering of the bolts, but whatever stagger you can get will be better than having them in a straight line) Technically all of the pressure on a sill plate is down pressure which means there is no lateral force on the plate. This means that bolting the plate down only fastens the structure to the foundation and typically the weight of the house would hold it in place. However, during a freak wind event, there can be strong lateral forces on these bolts. These bolts also help keep the boxing band (rim joist) still while the builder is working on the sub-floor. So, even though they are not totally necessary, you wont catch me building a house without them. (I hope that makes some kind of sense to someone)
Another consideration when planning the foundation is it's final appearance. If you are planning on using stone or river rock for the exterior finish of your basement then the foundation must be left back the
thickness of your material to look right. Typically you will find that most log homes have stone covering the block foundation. Try to stay away from anything thicker than two inches as this is almost the limit of set-back that you can get due to how the first log course much be attached to the sub-floor. (this is why there is a double boxing band or rim joist) You have an unlimited selection of materials to choose from when covering a foundation. One of the cheapest methods (versus painting the block) is to stucco the exterior wall, (natural stucco is just two or three layers of colored portland cement, synthetic stucco is an expensive material that must be purchased be a licensed professional) the advantage of stucco is that no set-back is required making pre-planning a little easier. The biggest drawback to stucco is that if your builder doesn't use a good bonding agent or it is applied at too cold of a temperature, the material can flake off leaving your wall looking like a dalmatian.
Then there is brick, honestly I don't think brick belongs anywhere near a log home, (that is a personal opinion) brick offers the same challenges as stone as you will need to set the foundation wall back to allow for the brick. There is also a product which is face brick which is only about five-eighths of an inch thick and goes on much quicker than standard brick. With this material you will also need to set the wall back to allow for the difference in thickness. Whatever the choice even if it is fake brick (stucco applied to one-half inch thick and then mortar lines scratched out to resemble brick) the challenges are certainly the same and must be accounted for before you begin construction. If your contractor has half a clue about what he is doing, this will be as easy as pie for him. A novice will screw it up and have your brick, stone etc. sticking out well beyond the face of your logs. This will look like (insert your choice of expletives here) and the cost to fix it will be astronomical. So, do it right from the start. The bad thing about making a mistake in the foundation is that it compounds itself throughout the building process. A quarter of an inch out at the bottom can turn into three inches at the top.
Decks, porches, stairs or any other exterior attachment that will eventually be attached to your home at the sub-floor must be planned for now. Wherever you plan on putting a deck etc. plan on using a pressure treated
board for your outside boxing band (rim joist.) Even though you will install a vapor barrier and a piece of aluminum flashing to protect your sub-floor, use a pressure treated rim joist at all of these areas. When you eventually build your deck etc. make sure to bolt it to the rim joist with lag bolts at least every two feet and preferably every sixteen inches (through bolting is even more efficient but requires more work), making sure that the bolts (these bolts should be at least three-eighths in diameter but no more than five-eighths) will penetrate through all three layers of the rim joist. (in most areas of the country this is code due to the many deaths and injuries from decks failing during parties or other unexpected load events) You especially want to use these methods if the deck or stair is not covered by a roof (technically a deck with a roof is a porch) even though you will probably slope the deck away from the house, water tends to get in places where we don't want it. More often than not this area of the boxing band will rot out if not planned for in advance making the attachment unstable and unsafe for you and your family. You can prevent this before you even start if you know what to look for and how to solve the problem. I have heard a many old man say, "I will be dead and gone before this roof leaks or that wood rots" This is not fair to whoever inherits your property after you even if you plan on selling the property or are building it for spec. Of course the decision is ultimately yours, but wouldn't you rather have more selling points than possible faults in your project? (who knows, the buyer may have read this article to) I know you will make the right decision for your situation.
Visit us at http://www.avalonloghomes.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
The quintessential English cottage is a style based on comfort, homeliness and tradition. It’s no wonder that this style endures; it is a timeless style which can be easy to achieve, and yet bring to a home an enviable but relaxed chic. There are no strict rules for this style, it is one which is hard to define and yet is instantly recognizable.
Floral prints on fabrics are a must. This carried through the living room area can bring the theme through in drapes and cushions adorning your Palliser if you’re lucky enough to own some. Bedspreads should be floral too.
The traditional country cottage has a wooden floor, and this effect can be achieved with modern laminates at the fraction of the cost of a real wood floor. Cover with ornamental rugs to soften the coldness of the wood.
Frame pictures with gold ornamental frames, paintings with scenes such as the English countryside give a feel of the British culture. Ornamental pieces such as plates on display in the kitchen or dining area give a real feel of a welcoming home. Flowers on display, artificial, dried or fresh, always make a house feel more homely and adding these is an essential part of the look.
The furniture used depends on the room. English cottages tend not to have dining rooms, and tables are located in the kitchen area, the hub of the English country home. Bedrooms lean towards pine or white painted furniture, which may or may not be in a distressed style. The bedroom furniture tends to be a full wooden bed, a chest of drawers and a full dressing table and wardrobes. These match in style but not necessarily as a set.
Kitchens tend to be full wood affairs, with a light coloured varnish or painted in a light pastel colour. A light green is effective. Dining tables are usually located in the kitchen, but it is not essential that they match so in a separate dining area could still be effective. Gingham fabric seat covers give that country feel.
Old chesterfield couches and non-matching high backed chairs are very much a part of the sitting area. Scattered with the floral cushions this is a very relaxing, unpretentious fashion which will never date and can be updated regularly by accumulating new items. It is a hotchpotch of furniture, fabric and decorative pieces which you can add too throughout a lifetime and bring your own personality to.
Monday, March 7, 2011
See this Gravitas Series plan at http://www.avalonloghomes.com/floor-plans/the-merced
The Merced is an adorable 1784 square foot 3 bedroom 2 bath home with a main level Owner's Suite. The open loft with a full shed dormer on the upper level would make for a great office space or play area. The four sided wrap around porch and screened porch almost double the living space for outdoor dining and entertaining and relaxing.
From the soaring ceilings, elevated windows, and refined design of the commanding fireplace in the great room overlooking the very dramatic back view scene. The large gourmet kitchen has abundant cabinets and countertop space with eating bar. The master bath offers walk-in shower, as well as a spacious walk-in closet and dressing area. There is masterful sense of styling and sophistication clearly evident in The Merced design which you will appreciate more with each passing year.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Gravitas, Inc. Series Roanoke is a 2559 SF, 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with a detached 2 car garage and easy option for a daylight basement on the right lot.
Click to see this plan: The Roanoke Fly-Around Video
The Roanoke is a 2559 SF, 3 bedroom, 3 bath home with a detached 2 car garage and easy option for a daylight basement on the right lot. The open layout allows the kitchen to easily flow into the adjacent dining room and vaulted gathering room. The owners suite opens to a deck that wraps around the house. Heading up the log stairs you'll find another bedroom and full bathroom, along with an open loft. There’s also plenty of storage space in the accessible attic space directly off the loft.
This Gravitas, Inc. Series log home plan features 1305 sf 2 bd, 2 bath, 1.5 stories with two car garage.
Click for this plan: The Quinn: 3D Fly-Around Video
The Quinn is a simple two bedroom home with attached carport and view balcony off the Upper Bedroom. This home is just over 1300 SF with extensive Outdoor Living areas. This home is perfect for a mountain retreat or a Not So Big approach to full time living.
Covered porches, dormers and gables add to this log homes charming appeal. The great room with corner fireplace and lots of windows is designed for entertaining & to enjoy the views. This log home design is sure to be the showpiece of the neighborhood, with its captivating blend of traditional and contemporary features.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This article will serve as a guide on how to achieve that dream of owning a log home. Before you start searching for a log home company, there are several things to you should think about: what features you desire in a home, the log species and profile that you like, and how much of the building you are willing to do as well as a price range you are willing to spend on your log home (built to completion with or without land included.
The first step in making your dream home become reality is to choose a log home company. Easier said than done because there are hundreds of log home companies competing for your business. We researched about fifty different log home companies before we made our decision and yes it was time consuming but you need to find the company that best fits your needs. To narrow down the list of companies to choose from, decide on the log species (i.e. White Pine), log profile (i.e. round), size of logs, type of logs (kiln-dried, dead standing, air dried, green), and the building system that you like the best. Another way to narrow down the list is to tour log home models built by different log home companies and, if possible, tour the log home mills themselves. Now you need to submit a sketched floor plan of your dream home to the companies that you have chosen and obtain a log home package cost estimate that includes a shipping estimate. When comparing price quotes from these companies make sure you are comparing "apples to apples", meaning each companies log home package is slightly different than the other. Choose the package that best suits your needs and price.
The second step is to decide how much "sweat equity" you are willing to put into your home. The more that you are able to do yourself means the more you will be able to save in labor costs. How much does it cost to complete a log home depends on the labor rates in your area. Most log home companies can quote a turnkey price (completely built home, ready to move in) as well as just the log home package price. Research different labor rates in your area as well as building materials that are not included in your package and compare these costs to your turnkey price given to you by the log home company. Ask your log home company if they can provide a list of area contractors. Being your own general contractor also saves money by subtracting about 10%-20% off the cost of building your log home, however you have the headaches that go along with that job. If you decide to be your own general contractor, you will need to develop a cost estimating worksheet with a breakdown of all the costs associated with building your home.
Is the price of your dream home still within your budgeted range? If the answer is yes, then you can move on to obtaining financing. If the answer is no, then there are some areas where costs can be reduced provided that you are flexible. You may opt for more "sweat equity", choose a smaller diameter log, reduce the size of your basement, or settle for less square footage to bring your price down. It is typical when building your first home that adjustments need to be made in order to fit your original budget.
Finally, your cost estimating worksheet is done and you have your blueprints, now you are ready for financing. There are quite a few lenders out there that specialize in log home financing which is slightly different than traditional stick built financing. Again use the resources of the log home company you have chosen, they should be able to provide a list of specialized lenders as well as help you with the financial paperwork. Do your homework before approaching a lender and the process will run smoother. Most lenders offer a construction loan for up to one year and then required you to re-qualify for the mortgage loan after your home is completed. Another option is a "One Time Close" loan which combines the construction and permanent financing into one easy loan. One Time Close loans are nice because you only pay closing costs once and usually only qualify once for the loan. These loans are usually given at a slightly higher interest rate during the construction loan period and can be "rolled down" at the time that the permanent loan starts. When financing your loan, be prepared to have a down payment of 5%-15% of your loan value and in most cases you may use the value of your land as your down payment provided you own it free and clear. Once financing is approved, you can begin building your dream log home.
Now you can let the seed grow into a beautiful log home that someone else will admire. Keep in mind that the process of building your own log home is time consuming and Murphy's Law does apply, but the end result is rewarding.
See this and other log home articles by Steve Ryan at loghome.com
Check out our Log Homes, new log floor plans, client photo galleries, new articles, and videos at http://www.avalonloghomes.com/
Friday, February 4, 2011
The Best Property and Location for Your Log Home
When I first started constructing log homes, the last thing on my mind was if the lot was suited for it or not. Being the builder versus being the owner, you would think that it didn't matter what I thought of the property. In most cases this is true, until I started constructing my second log home. The owner, being fairly wealthy, had chosen a lot on top of a steep hill with a rutted gravel path to the top. He chose the lot because you could see a small sliver of the lake a mile away. Not exactly a million dollar view, but one that suited the owner. I believe that if he knew what type of logistical problem he had presented us with, he would have purchased a different lot.
The first time I tried to go to the top of this hill in my truck, I had to stop, back down and get a running shot to make it. Now this wasn't like a fifty foot hill to the top of a flat site, no it was a little over a quarter mile of switchbacks with some areas being as steep as forty-five degrees. Once I made it to the top I thought, well I got up here, no problem. At the end of that same week one of my employees jack knifed the company truck with the tool trailer behind it on the same hill. We ended up bringing in a backhoe to get them both up the hill and spent about $250.00 repairing the hitch on both the truck and the trailer. The following week I ordered concrete for the footings that we had just excavated. When I ordered the concrete I made sure to tell the dispatcher that they needed to bring their six wheel drive trucks to make it up the hill. Needless to say the first truck to try the hill not only got stuck halfway up the hill but he also spilled about one third of the load on the steepest part of the slope.
Knowing that I had very little time before the concrete started to set up in the truck, I sent the second truck back to the plant. (It still cost us for both full loads) Then I called a local excavating contractor to bring in a D-8 Caterpillar dozer to ease the truck back off the hill. Once the dozer and operator arrived at the site (about an hour after the truck driver panicked) we attempted to get the concrete truck to the top of the hill and salvage what concrete was left. Once again fate had different plans, it turned out that the loaded truck was just to heavy for the dozer. We eventually dumped the load of concrete over the side of the hill and eased the truck and driver back down to the bottom (the driver refused to ever come back to the site). After making a call to my boss and after he made a call to the owner, it was decided that we needed to rebuild the road to allow for a better access to the site. Considering that before we even started construction I had three loads of crush and run spread on the drive, it turned out to be useless. After talking to the owner of the dozer, I made arrangements to have the road bed cut down, then we put on a thin layer of two inch crushed stone and a three inch layer of crush and run. (crush and run are the tailings left over from the stone crushing process, they are usually cheaper and once it is compacted it is almost as strong as concrete) Two weeks and ten thousand dollars later we had a decent road to access the job site, the only problem with this is that once we drove construction vehicles over it for six months, it wasn't much better than when we started.
The other problem with this site was storage area. At the top of this hill, the site was barely big enough for the house and a couple of cars. We were only able to store limited amounts of material at the building site. The remainder of the material was stored a quarter of a mile below on the right of way. Now this may not sound like that big of a deal, until you realize that we had to keep a lull on-site during construction. This added another eight hundred dollars a week to the building cost. None of these costs were factored in by the owner when he purchase the land and his log home kit. When we bid the house, we knew that we would have material storage problems, but we did not consider rebuilding the road. The moral of this story is that if the owner had done just a little homework, he would have been able to pre-plan for these costs. Some people do not care what it costs to get what they want, but most of us live on restricted budgets and cannot absorb a ten thousand dollar road project. The remainder of this article will address some of the other problems that you can encounter when dealing with building a new home. Those problems tend to become exaggerated when you are building a log home.
In the first four paragraphs we addressed the issue of access to the site and storage. When you order a log home the sales representative should tell you that on the day of delivery, you will need to have a lull on
site. (a lull is a forklift with a boom that extends out and adjusts level and right to left) The one thing that I hate about this is when I am building a home for a farmer and he decides that he can unload the materials with his tractor. THIS DOES NOT WORK. I have seen more than one load of logs damaged beyond use because a homeowner was trying to save a couple hundred bucks. Imagine if you will that you tried to unload your logs with a tractor, you have dropped a bundle of logs and now they have to be replaced or used with all the gouges in them. To replace that one bundle could cost anywhere from $1800.00 up to $7000.00. Now I bet you are wishing that you would have just bit the bullet and rented a lull. The "gotcha" on this deal is this, in the fine print on your contract with your supplier you will find a little paragraph stating that you have one half hour to unload each truck and that for every half hour over this time, you will have to pay the driver an additional fifty dollars. Now, this may not sound like much, but let me tell you how this little scheme works for the drivers.
Your delivery is scheduled to arrive a five o-clock in the afternoon. The first truck driver, who is not familiar with the area, arrives about six thirty or just after dark. Upon arrival, you realize that you cannot get the truck to the site because of roads, weak culverts or narrow drive. Or you cannot get the logs to the site because the bundles are to wide to go down the drive without cutting down that beautiful oak that your wife loves so much. So, here you are trying to solve these problems and the clock is ticking. The driver is loving it because he can get some rest and you still have to pay him. I have seen drivers pretend to be stuck at the end of the drive in order to make a couple extra dollars while he sleeps. This happens more than you would like to believe. The lesson here is, one, make sure that your order is scheduled to arrive early in the morning. Two, that you have made arrangements to unload the truck in a timely manner. This may mean that you have to unload the truck on the side of the road and take the material to the site after they leave. The other option is to make sure that the driver cannot only get to the site, but that you have at least twelve feet of clearance along the access that the material will be ferried down. This is one of the most common mistakes made by owners. The odd part is that only two log home companies (that I know of) actually prepare the homeowner for this situation. Most will tell you that you need the lull, some will tell you that you need at least twelve feet of clearance, (you may need more clearance if your logs are longer and or bundled in a strange manner, check with your sales representative long before delivery so that you can prepare) but few if any will tell you that the delivery costs can go up on site. Another little tip in the storage area is that if you can, have the logs arrive after you have the sub-floor down. That way you can set what logs you are going to need first right on the deck and save yourself or the builder a ton of labor.
Another common mistake made by log home buyers is to build in a neighborhood that consists of framed houses. If you build a log home on a lot and all of the houses around you are framed with vinyl siding, your home will never reach its value potential. The value of your home will be based on those around you and not on a comparable house. For example, lets say that you purchase a kit for thirty thousand dollars. Then you bring in a log home builder who charges you another fifteen thousand just to dry it in. Then you bring in a roofer, an electrician, a plumber and a finish crew. When all is said and done, you have spent a hundred and fifty thousand to build a house that will never be worth more than the two cracker boxes on either side of you. Now, if you are in love with your neighborhood and don't mind the loss of equity, then be my guest, but don't expect it to sell quickly on the market. When people think of log homes, they think of woods, streams, creeks, rivers and lakes. They don't think about vinyl siding, brick and privacy fencing. This is honestly a personal preference, but one that you should at least consider before purchasing a piece of land for your new home. If you have ever driven around looking at log homes, you will notice that they are either built off by themselves or in a neighborhood with dozens of other log homes. Research recent log home sales in your area to get a better idea of how this phenomenon works.
For our next subject let's go back to the top of that hill we were talking about earlier. The owner of that home was so proud that he not only had a view, paved roads in the neighborhood, neighbors no closer than two acres apart but he was proud that city water was available. Before anyone can start a project, they need two things to the site, one that they need electricity and two they need water. Now you can get a generator and you can haul water, but this costs money and it is much easier and convenient to have those services on site. The plumber that I had on that project started by installing a spigot at the meter (which was a quarter of a mile down the hill) and then proceeded to run a solid one inch polyethylene pipe from the meter to the house. Once he had it installed along with a temporary spigot at the house, he proceeded to go to the meter and turn the water on. He then made the trip back to the top of the hill only to discover that no water was coming out of the line.
My plumber then stood back and scratched his head for a couple of minutes while I explained to him that if he only had thirty five psi at the meter, that would only push the water so far up the hill and that we would have to install a booster pump in the line at some point. Now this plumber (being a stubborn yankee, now I am not prejudice because I am married to a stubborn yankee) decided to walk down the hill about fifty feet, cut the line and install the booster pump. Well people, there is an equation for this situation, but he chose to play it by ear. After moving the pump three times and increasing its size twice, he finally got a decent thirty five pounds of pressure at the house. The only problem with this is that if the city water pressure were to drop by five pounds, not only would he not have water at his house, but odds are it would burn up the pump before he knew what was happening. It could also be a problem if the city shut the water down without giving him notice. Now we installed an automatic shut off valve and a decent sized pressurized storage tank in the home to prevent this sort of problem, but your plumber might not want to go to all that trouble, especially if he gave you a hard dollar cost on the project. This is just another unforeseen expense that the owner had to bear because he had no idea what he was getting into, not to mention the ongoing expense of maintaining such a complicated system.
For our discussion of electrical we will once again go back to our home on the hill. Almost everyone knows that before you start construction on a project, one of the first things you do is set a temporary power pole. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Well on this particular project, we invited the electrical engineer from our local electric department out to the site to tell us what we would need to get our temporary electrical in place. He took it easy on us at first and told us to upgrade our four by four post to a six by six. Then he told us that we would need to stake it off firmly and have the weather-head at least fourteen feet off the ground. Then he hit us hard. "We are going to need a swath one hundred feet wide cut down that hill so that we have fifty feet either side of our power line." That is a direct quote. Now, I knew that we would have to cut a few trees to get the poles set and the wire strung, but this was going to be a hundred foot wide path a quarter of a mile long on the side of a steep hill with a ninety degree turn at the bottom. Not only did we have to cut all of these trees but we had to move them out of the way of the bucket trucks. (which they had to winch down the side of the hill using a D-8 dozer) I took one other man and started at the bottom, two and a half weeks and about a thousand trees later, we had our path for our power lines.
Before I started cutting trees, I called my boss who in turn called the owner and explained what the electric company required. He told us to go ahead and do whatever we had to do. However, I don't think that
anything could have prepared him for the site of the side of his hill stripped of all vegetation. The side of that hill looked as if we had dropped napalm on it and tried to burn out charlie. Not to mention the fact that we had to take down trees as large as two foot in diameter. It is hard to imagine how many trees are in a hundred foot path a quarter of a mile long, but if you are curious, go out in the woods with a tape measure and mark out an area one hundred feet by one hundred feet and count the trees. I think you will be surprised. The pile of firewood at the bottom of that hill was enormous, to bad he didn't install a wood burning fireplace. (he went for a gas unit) This is just another example of a cost that the homeowner didn't consider. This wasn't just a monetary loss either, this was a loss of beauty, habitat and it had screened the house from the neighbors. The cost of this one item alone single handedly shattered his illusion of seclusion. The cost of running the poles and wire was only seven hundred and fifty dollars, if he had went for an underground installation the cost would have been closer to ten thousand. Looking back I think he wishes that he would have spent the ten grand rather than have us strip half of his hill bare.
Now for the next consideration, soil conditions and the ability of the soil to perk. With all of the new types of septic systems on the market these days, there are few sites that a person cannot build on. However, if your ground will not perk and you are required to install an exotic waste system the cost can be astronomical. It is best to have this tested before you purchase the land. Even if the owner or dealer or realtor tells you that a particular spot will perk, get it tested. Often rules that apply to septic systems change as environmental conditions change. The perk test that you are quoted may no longer be valid. The area of the ground that actually perks may restrict you from building on the sweet spot where you want your house to sit. What good is a lot if you have to build at the bottom of the hill and cannot see the million dollar view that you paid for? Another consequence of perk tests is it may restrict your home to two bedrooms and one and a half baths when you wanted a four bedroom three bath house. The devil is in the details, isn't it? There are occasions when you can get around these problems by installing an exotic waste system, but be prepared to pay for it. These are not just a hole in the ground with a couple hundred feet of pipe. They can get expensive. Also keep in mind that a typical septic system will require one hundred feet of line for each bedroom and an additional ten feet for each bath. These lines are usually ten feet apart, sometimes further depending on soil conditions. You need to know all of this so that you have plenty of room once you begin construction. No matter how nice you are, no one is going to let you sneak part of your septic line on to their property. Keep in mind that these are general rules and your local laws will apply.
I am sure that you are tired of me boring you with details so I am going to end this article with one last note on property. Location, location, location. I know that the saying is older than the dirt you are planning on building on. Let me tell you of a man and his dream home. Several years ago we get a cost plus contract on a log home near Dale Hollow Lake for a retired businessman. We spent the better part of two years and three quarters of a million dollars building this couple their dream home. This house had everything (it was a Y-2K home complete with generators, underground propane tanks, back up tanks) this house even had a sixteen foot fish tank with a live coral reef from Japan in it. The dogs had a bathtub in this house. It was equipped with bunkers, duel water systems, if this guy thought of it, we put it in. My point is, this guy spent two years of his life building his dream home and once it was finished and we had all went home. His wife decided that she was lonely and made him sell it so that they could move back to Ohio. In order to sell his dream home he ended up taking a hundred thousand dollar loss, because your dream isn't my dream. It didn't help that it was a forty-five minute drive to a grocery store and an hour and a half to decent shopping. Careful not to remove yourself and your better half too far from what you both are accustomed to, unless you both know what you are getting into. If you want my advice, rent a home as close as possible to where you will eventually build and see if you are happy in that area before you go burning through your nest egg.
If you have been keeping up with my articles on log homes, you know that this is the fourth. Please keep coming back as there are many more topics to be discussed at length. The more you know, the better prepared you can be when you are ready. Nothing is as frustrating to a builder than having a customer who not only doesn't know what they want, but has no clue what it takes to give them the product that they expect. Just like all things, a knowledgeable consumer is a happy consumer. See more of these LRGoodwin articles, Log Homes, Log Cabins, Luxury Log Homes, new log floor plans, client photo galleries, new articles, and videos at http://www.avalonloghomes.com/