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Top Ten Biggest Mistakes Made in
Log Home Design and Construction

As outlined in Robbin Obomsawin's book Best Log Home Plans

1. Designing too much home for the budget - When custom building, it is very easy for things to spin out of control for the owner before he/she even has a clue that it is happening. “Live now and pay later” and “Well, I didn’t know”, doesn’t exempt you from the choices made. Overspending or insisting on having it all does not support your dream when you are suffocated by the stress of repaying the debt. Be prepared and informed of your project’s cost. Building a home is a big investment and it takes time to learn and absorb all the information, but doing so will allow you to set priorities and make informed decisions!

2. Not enough thought and planning before building starts - Any of you that have actually been through the process of building know that planning takes a lot of self evaluation, research and a forethought. Detailed thought and planning about each phase of construction, including the optimum design, are critical to a successful project and the realization of your dream home. The design should compliment the surroundings, as well as your lifestyle!

3. Installing the log shell or other natural framing members too close to the ground even when there is no snowfall - You must also consider the splash-back area created by the rain’s run-off from the roofline as it hits the ground and splashes back onto the house’s siding materials or log work. An exception can be made for a covered porch which has no walls, and therefore can be ground level. Just remember to have proper porch post installations and adequate preservative.

4. Building too short of a roof overhang - Oversized roof systems are more than ornamentation; they are a very important design feature of quality home construction. If your contractor does not have this information clearly marked on the construction plans or tries to build shorter roof overhangs to save cost, you will pay many times over in the long run. Log Homes can withstand getting wet and actually thrive with humidity, but constant and repeated water & U.V. saturation shortens the life of any home.

5. The use of cheap quality materials - Low grade materials can stand out like a sore thumb in a quality log home, and devalues the appearance of the home overall... Even the best builder is only as good as the materials which he is allocated! The quality of fixtures & Finishes should be in-line with the overall quality & caliber of the home

6. Choosing an inexperienced general contractor or log builder - Look for a contractor that appreciates and understands log homes, with a solid background and experience in general construction. Enthusiasm, Flexibility and a Pleasant Disposition are valuable traits as well! You'll be working very close with him/her over the next several months... It's essential that you have a trusting & cooperative relationship.

7. Purchasing the Log Package or accepting bids solely based on price - Take time to understand the different quality and Styles of Logs. The least expensive bid is not always the best choice, whether in log work or general construction... The old saying "You get what you pay for" was never more applicable! It is often hard to know how to evaluate an overall bid... Rely heavily on experience levels... Check references, and if possible, view prior work. Many homeowners base their decisions solely on the bid amount and not on the content and supporting documents of the bid. I also often see homeowners who turn down well prepared, professional contracts because they are very long (and intimidating), often not understanding much of the content or do not agree with just a small part of the contract, opting for the inexperienced contractor with the one or two page contract that seems less threatening. In reality the short, loose ended contracts leaves the homeowner with an open translation of materials, content, construction methods, and builder vs. homeowners’ responsibilities. Also note that a one-sided contract or a contract you do not fully understand is also a hazard. Be sure to go over the contract with the builder in detail, or have your attorney review the contract proposal before signing.

8. Not allowing enough room for shrinkage in the wall systems - Never underestimate the power of shrinkage! Shrinkage and settlement is a natural process that occurs over time and is created as the wood dries, and as a result of compression... Starting with good quality dry timbers will minimize this effect, but be wary of anyone that denies this inevitable process! Although the building plans will outline details for dealing with shrinkage, prior experience with log building is certainly a plus. It is rather simple to manage and only becomes difficult when ignored!

9. Taking on a building project beyond your experience level and time availability - Without a good understanding of, or experience in construction, the project can end in disaster and often cost much more than hiring a professional builder. Construction is much more complicated than it may appear. I am not saying that you cannot take on a portion of the project, but recognize & acknowledge your limits. Unless you have a LOT of available time, in combination with substantial experience, your home could end up like a circus in a blender.

10. Fretting the details & every little hiccup - Expect some snafus & challenges... A good builder will no how to minimize any adverse effects from such. Don't Stress-Out... Rely on the know-how of the professionals you have entrusted with your Dream. If you did your homework and made quality choices, the little "glitches" will soon be a distant memory!

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