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Well, my wife and I have started interviews of builders, and will resume this interview process through next year. We hope to begin building in 2010.
We have been subscribers to Log Home Living magazine since about the mid-1990's, and our dream is starting to come together.
Any and all advise will be appreciated!

Jay & Julie

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Jay & Julie:

So far you’re doing everything right. The more research and preparation you do at this stage, the more this will all come together down the road. Other than the big question of handcrafted vs. milled logs, the differences between manufacturers can be negligible in some cases or quite dramatic in others. The key to making the right decision for you is to do exactly what you have been doing for the past few years.

Keep that subscription paid up - and talk to as many people as you can – this is one great feature of this neighborhood. Here you can interact with home owners, builders and manufacturers and ask questions. Who better to recommend a particular company than someone who bought their product and has been living in it for years? So, my recommendation is to keep on doing what you’re doing.
Thanks Tom. Handcrafted v. milled may come down to the design we chose. The companies on our radar: PrecisionCraft, JimBarna, Katahdin, Kuhns, and Kogan (local home builder).
Check out Koski Handcrafted homes; http://www.koskiloghomes.com/phpstuff/test.php

where are you planning to build?
Jay & Julie - The biggest piece of advise I could offer is to set a "realistic" budget BEFORE you start anything and make ALL of your decisions based on the budget. The biggest disappointments I've seen in my 16 years of selling log homes is that people will dream of their log home for years, then "reality" hits when they are not able to afford their dream. When my wife and I built our log home, we set the budget FIRST then designed a home to fit the budget. We came in on time and on budget. Now how many times do you hear of a home building project that accoomplished that? It took a lot of time, studying, compromise, research and soul searching. Did we get everything we wanted in our log home - of course not. That is where the compromise comes in to play. When the $4000 jetted tub I "wanted" just was not in the budget, then we had to compromise. We got a home that we both LOVE but had to settle for some things because they were not in the budget. Make sure to have a 5%-10% contingency fund set aside for some unforseen situations that may arise or for those cases where you may be able to extend your budget a bit to get something you really want/need for your new home. When you hear people say that their new home cost them a lot more than they expected, either they did not do the homework (research, studying, etc) or did not know how to say "no" to all of those things they "just had to have" in their new home. Find out BEFORE you start to build how much floor coverings, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, counter tops, light fixtures cost so you won't be surprised. By spending LOTS of time in home improvement stores learning the difference between a $19 kitchen faucet and a $1900 kitchen faucet you'll soon learn that what YOU decide to put in will definately determine the final cost of your home. Be realistic about your budget, your floor plan design and know the difference between and "want" and a "need" and you'll be just fine. Let anyone of them get out of hand and you'll have only yourself to answer to. I'll attach a link to two items you may find useful. The Cost Estimating guide was something I used to keep my costs and expectations in line before and during construction. The "10 Steps" guide keeps the cart BEHIND the horse and keeps you focused on what your next steps should be. Enjoy the journey and keep us posted on how things go. Cheers - Donald
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Great advise, and thank you for the cost estimate paperwork. We have our budget set and we plan on sticking to it. Good idea about the contingency fund, we'll plan for that expense too.
Any advise or warnings (red flags) on construction loans?
Jay and Julie,

Lots of red flags in the construction loan area. Be very aware that log home construction varies greatly from conventional homes. The construction payment schedules from the bank differ greatly from what a log home builder will expect. Be sure what the payment schedule is and go over it with your builder. Make sure he can live with it and sit down with the bank in advance if there is doubt. There are loan companies that do specialize in log homes. Check them out from any of the log home magazines. In my case (but realize it was 30 years ago) I dealt with a local bank. My husband and I managed to get a series of "short term" loans to bridge the time spans between when the builder needed money, and when the bank would actually payout on it's schedule. It was creative,but it worked.

Also keep in mind that the bank will require that "certificate of occupancy" to finalize any mortgage from construction to home. If you anticipate doing any of the work yourselves make sure that the local code enforcement officer is in agreement with your plans and know exactly what he requires in order to sign the CO. Most people in that position want to save on renting, move in and use the saved money toward the log home finishing touches. That works great, but only if you know going into the project what has to be done "first".
The only thing I might add is to make sure you are happy with the structure, ceiling heights, location of log electrical outlets and logs themselves. Just make sure those things that can't be undone or redone at a later date are what you want. It just makes sense that you spend the money now on those items. You can always change out the faucets, sinks, vanities at a later date. But,if you suddenly develop claustrophobia from that 8 ft ceiling, or the drop dead gorgeous kitchen light and hanging pot rack bangs into your head you might run into trouble!
Good luck!
I would have to agree with Dianne about the ceiling height, in our bedroom we have the vaulted ceiling but in our kids room we left them at 8 ft because they are amost grown. Well, our (16 year old) son hit 6ft 5 in. this year and the hugger ceiling fan is almost too low!
Jay and julie,
My husband and I built our own log home in 2006 and are still doing the finishing touches, I Love our home and would do it again in a heartbeat, one mistake we made was facing our home west, we loved the view (A valley) and didn't take into consideration the (Hot) Western sun. Our back yard has several mature pecans but the height of our home is above the shaded part until late in the day. Just last week I had a professional window tint company come in and tint the top half of the window wall, and I felt the difference immediatly.
I would also stress lighting, make sure you have all the plugs and overhead lights you think you might need, especially in the kitchen.
If there is an idea you like in a magazine, cut it out and save it to show your builder. If you have an idea for something you like, don't be afraid to throw it out on the table either, builders like new ideas too.
Our home is a dream come true for us and I know it will be for you as well!
That is good advise, and we've been subscribers to Log Home Living for the last ten years. We have two scrap books of stuff we've cut out and saved. We are "visual people" and need this to show our builder (when we chose one!) what we want. My wife and I are not skilled enough to build our own home. Plus, we are still working and this is our retirement home that we hope will be ready within 6 months of our retirement.
I will consider the sun's direction, thanks!
Great idea to cut out what you like from the magazines. I did "some" of that, but wish I'd done more.

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