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So we are here in Southern IL, and trying to decide if we want to take the plunge on a log home. My wife and I both agree we want a rustic home (which is half the battle as far as I'm concerned) but can we really afford the log home we want? 

We have found this home at Satterwhite log homes...http://www.satterwhite-log-homes.com/g4/pages/plans/misty_ridge.html    and love the design.  From what I have learned, to buy this package from Satterwhite, have them shell it, and find a builder locally to finish I am looking at north of $400k and thats not including finishing the basement. This is just my rough figure as I have not talked to a builder, but we have built 2 homes so we know a little about whats involved. However, we have only delt with stick built homes, so I can imagine interior wood finishing can get rather costly. We hate sheetrock!

I would like to get some opinions on this style of home and if I am better off as far as price is concerned to find a builder locally and have them get the materials locally or use a company like Satterwhite. I have read on here buying a kit is more expensive, but is it really when you figure in all the experience and materials you are getting? 

Oh so many options.

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There are so many options. I've heard good things about Satterwhite and they have some beautiful designs. They would be a good choice in a traditional kit-built log home.

First, I'd reiterate what others have said--if you find a design you like, you can shop it around and see which company/system best suits you. We went through this and last year decided to build a Timber Block home in southwest Wisconsin. Their package consists of the wall system, subfloor and roof components, windows, exterior doors, loft components, and interior framing materials. This type of approach afforded us a fair degree of predictability, as far as final cost. Once we knew the Timber Block package cost and had our architectural drawings, we shopped around for a fixed quote from a number of builders. We ended up very close to our initial cost estimate.

Initial cost was important, but we we equally focused on energy efficiency and long-term maintenance expenses, an important factor since we will ultimately locate to our Timber Block home full-time in our retirement years (so far it has proven to be amazingly energy efficient).

You can see from the attached photo of our home that its somewhat similar in design--a prow front with a wall of windows and an open living room/dining room space. The disadvantage of this type of design is that, while beautiful, they can eat a lot of energy. The open living spaces make it a little difficult to achieve and maintain comfortable temperatures if your basic structure is not highly energy efficient, much of the reason we opted for a Timber Block home.

I'm now a dealer for them, though it's a part-time endeavor. If you'd like to visit our home, or just call me and talk over the process and the options that are out there, let me know. You can email me at mboomgarden@timberblock.com or call me at (608) 268-6455. I appreciate how daunting this process can be and I try to give people honest thoughts and the benefit of a bit of experience; no sales job, I promise. :-)

Oh, I do have a fairly basic website, too: www.timberblockwisconsin.com. The are some photos there, and a bit of info about our project. Let me know if I can help; having recently gone through this process, I have looked at all the potential options and might be able to help you focus your search for the right solution. If its not a Timber Block, that's fine with me...I like to help people figure this out and know that there's no one size fits all answer.
I'll try that photo upload of our place again!
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You have land, and are thinking of a log home, now the dealers come out of the wood work!!!  When I purchased my home back in the 80's, I bought logs, doors and windows, porch rafters, flooring.  Sub floor material, (plywood) roof trusses, T&G wood, basement stairs, 2X4's , and other products I purchased locally.  When you buy a full package, the items you can get locally, get put on a truck, lets say for a example:  You live in Ohio, your package is coming from TN, you buy a complete log package, Now it takes a extra truck,(cause you need a extra  truck for all the stuff you could buy locally) to be shipped from TN, as well as your logs, and large timbers, which means extra shipping costs.  The dealers that tells you to  buy as much as you can from one place, is making a commission on what is coming on those trucks, so naturally they want you to buy everything from their   manufacturer, and with the price of fuel,  I would hate  to pay for shipping for that extra truck.  Locally, if you purchase items, most lumber companies will ship for free, or if they would charge anything it would be minimal.  Just trying to be helpful!

You do have to look at the whole package, including what's part of the basic package and the cost of options. I'm sure this varies from company to company, but in the case of Timber Block, they source the more generic components locally. For instance, our subfloor system, roof trusses, shingles, etc. came from a nearby building supply company. In a competitive market, it makes sense for the log home company to source and price its components competitively.

However, it is good to compare the costs locally and from the log cabin company. We didn't opt for wood flooring (dogs!), but, as an example, Timber Block's price for pine flooring is unbelievably cheap, primarily because they're near the source and buy in large quantities. This sort of thing varies from company to company, but sometimes you'll find that buying components from them makes lots of sense...economies of scale. We also found this to be true when our builder was sourcing lumber for our walkout level facade...they could not do better than the cost from Timber Block, and they own a lumber company! So, the lesson is to comparison shop if it's a pricey component.

Incidentally, not all companies work on the commission schedule that Mary suggests...so, it's a misconception that the dealer always wins by "optioning you up." Some pay a flat commission to their dealers to avoid that very problem.

It is possible that a flat commission is paid, but is the flat commisssion on a whole package???  What happens is a consumer wants to deviate from the whole package???  From my experience, most manufacturers pay a 10 % commission after so many dollars of sales, and as your sales quotas go up, the percentage does also.  In essence, the more you sell, the more you make.  Sales is sales, regardless

 

Hey Mary,There are two things that are important when you are buying a log home,price and species. Service is what sets these companies apart. The Dealer/Builder is qualified to represent a reputable company that has been manufacturing log homes for years. If you can buy a log home for the price you can afford and you get a builder,technical support,and a warranty,and supervised deliveries from one source,who cares what a person is paid?

Yes this is all true.  As for the warranties, that is only as good as the company.  The manufacturers warrant the logs, not the other materials.  Every warranty I have ever read states that.  A warranty is only as good as the company.  I just recently discovered, where another manufacturer went bankrupt, Daniel Boone filed chapter 7.  In May of last year Tennessee Log Homes president filed chapter 7.  Like I have always said, never never never pay any money upfront to anyone!  So where are these customers warranties now???  The whole US economy is juat awful.  There are so many log homes in foreclosure.  You can find one already built less expensive, than building one.  Maybe that could be a option, buy one already built and just hold onto your land!  Just a idea

 

Hey Mary, It's obvious that it has been quite some time since you have dealt with a reputable log home company. Katahdin Cedar Log Homes delivers their logs.beams,decks,and porches while local suppliers deliver framing,windows and doors as needed saving considerable costs. For forty years they have developed their products and technology to provide clients with fine cedar products at affordable prices while being one of the greenest companies on the planet.They have established a Dealer/Builder network that is dedicated to the company and the client and they have a state of the art manufacturing facility that produces the best product on the market.

Katahdin is a great company, I have been there, and they have a top notch operation!  My only concern, is that no matter what home is purchased, why pay shipping for 2X4's, OSB, shingles, plywood, trusses, conventional material, that can be purchased, anywhere???  Katahdin is in Maine, so if buying conventional materials may add a extra truck, and this is all going to lets say, Montana, that could add up.  If I were looking for a log home today, Katahdin would be who I would go with.  The company has stability in this uncertain market.

 

 

I'd add just a couple thoughts to James' note, which seems right on target.  In the case of Timber Block, they also use a hybrid fulfillment/delivery system, probably dictated by the same concerns that motivate Katahdin to use this approach.  The walls, which are produced using proprietary technology, and certain other components that can be sourced efficiently near the factory are shipped directly, and other components that can be sourced more effectively nearby are shipped directly from other suppliers in staged deliveries that coincide with various points in the building process. 

As an example, roof trusses will be produced and sourced locally to factory specifications since shipping a product like this--produced by numerous companies in every region--simply doesn't make economic sense.  However, I would reiterate my point above that it's often worth comparing the costs of milled products from the factory versus from a local supplier; the factory's proximity to wood sources and the favorable prices they can obtain as the result of the amount of product they purchase sometimes makes it less expensive for the homeowner to purchase those items from the factory. 

Good point!  I am just pointing out how I bought my home, and I saved some money, by purchasing some items locally, on my own.  I only had to pay shipping for one truck, from the log home manufacturer.  The local lumber companies didn't charge any type of delivery charge.

 

I'm a newbie, so I can't speak to everyone's practices, but my personal experience was that sourcing some materials from the factory was cheaper.  One example that comes to mind was the car siding that we used for interior walls.  It was less expensive from the factory (again, they don't make it, but they buy a bunch of it).  It was included on the same one-truck shipment as the wall components, so there was no added shipping cost.

However, I'd also note that the sales representative with whom I dealt also told me up front that I'd be better off to buy locally some items that could be purchased from the factory.  He seemed to operate on the principle that his and the company's interests were best served by doing their best by the customer, and he appeared to have the company's support in doing so.

We tend to focus on the bad apples, but there are a lot of companies out there that operate in a highly principled fashion such as this.  Personally, I've always tried to buy from businesses who treat customers the way they'd want their own family treated.  Don't you wish everyone acted that way?

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