If your current house wasn't built expressly for your family, you know all too well what it's like to "make do" living in a design planned without regard for your specific needs. Without even realizing it, you probably are wasting time adapting your living patterns to suit the limitations of the structure. Building a log home is an excellent opportunity to remedy those shortcomings by making certain the design suits your family's needs. Here's how to start.
Begin serious planning as soon as you purchase a building plot. Study the site survey to determine the best spot to locate your house.
Hire a civil engineer or land surveyor to prepare a site plan that shows property lines, building setbacks, easements and rights of way, as well as the location of trees, ponds, streams, roads and buildings on adjacent sites. You'll need this information to properly locate a septic system, position a swimming pool and plan a walkout basement.
Using a photocopy of your site plan, keep track of your property's natural features. Note its topography, the best views, the sun's orientation and existing tree cover. If possible, visit the site at various times of the day and during all four seasons.
Plant stakes and string to map out the boundaries of your home and to help you visualize its size and layout. Bring a ladder with you and stand on it to get a good idea of what the views from the windows will be. Then take photos of your lot and house site.
Research all possible restrictions on your building project before you start construction, including types of planning and zoning regulations you can expect, by checking with your local building department and neighborhood associations.
Balance these practical considerations with the aesthetics of taking full advantage of the site for light and shade, views and privacy from neighbors.