10 Golden Rules to Keep your Log Home Building Costs Down
No one wants to pay more than they have to when building a log home.
No matter what financial position you’re in, being smart with your money and getting the biggest bang for your buck is at the top of everyone’s list.
But how can you keep your log home building costs down?
Unexpected costs always crop up and can leave you in the lurch if you don’t know how to plan for them.
Let us take you through how to keep the costs of your log cabin as low as possible and plan for those unexpected costs.
#1: Design an Open Plan Living Space
Designing an open plan area means you avoid the costs of purchasing additional logs to put up partition walls.
Having an open plan living space allows you to use each space in different ways. For example a kitchen that opens up to the dining space and lounge allows for a large entertainment and family space.
Open plan spaces also give you more floor space, this is especially important if you are designing a small home as walls can eat away a large proportion of your home – especially if they are thick logs!
There is something very special about an open living space in a log cabin. It’s one of the few buildings where you can create a large open space, yet still maintain a warm, rustic feel.
To help you design your open plan living space, think about which rooms would work well with one another. For example, could you have a work station in your open kitchen/diner?
#2: Limit the Number of Corners
Possibly the simplest rule we have to share with you, but definitely one that will save you a lot of money.
A rectangular or square shape is always the most affordable shaped log home to build. The more corners you include in your design, the more the cost will go up.
#3: Choose Your Tools Wisely
Choosing a small selection of good quality multi-purpose tools is key if you want to keep the costs down.
If you skimp on your tools and buy poor quality equipment, they are likely to break mid-way through your build and you will be forced to buy more.
Equally, if you spend a fortune on specific tools for each job, you will be wasting money.
This is the list that I recommend you will need:
- Sledge Hammer
- Cordless drill/screwdriver
- Handtools: (Cant Hook – 42”, Hammer – 18oz, Ripsaw – 22” long and 5.5tpi, Tape measure – 50FT, Level – 40”, Pliers, Scribe, Steel square, Wheelbarrow, Spikes and string)
#4: Keep Your Home’s Width Narrow
Similarly to the tip we had on keeping corners to a minimum, keeping your log home’s width narrow will also keep your costs down.
Lynn Gastineau, owner of Gastineau Log Homes, Missouri advises ‘Once you go wider than 32 feet, you usually need longer rafters’.
Longer rafters means longer logs, which in turn mean a higher costs and more manual work in getting the logs up.
#5: Prepare the Site Yourself
As much as 35 percent of your budget will go to clearing your home site, excavating a foundation, creating a driveway and installing utilities.
By clearing the site yourself and laying your own foundations, you can save a huge chunk of money.
It is much simpler than you may think. To clear the site you’ll need to clear all the trees, stumps, stones and shrubs, and then you should choose the appropriate foundation.
#6: Keep Your Roofline Simple
Choosing a simple, single ridge roof without complex hips and valleys can keep your building costs down.
Roofs are one of the most difficult aspects of your log cabin build, so keep it simple!
If you choose large pitches and extreme angles, it will cost a lot more in both materials and labor or time!
Make sure you know the materials you will use for your roof, because they vary hugely in price.
#7: Live by the 4 Ps
Bill Keller Jr, CEO of Conestoga Log Cabins & Homes says you should follow the four 4’ps ‘ponder, prioritize, plan, process.’
By following this process, and spending the majority of your time thinking, planning and prioritizing, you will ensure that you think of all the different aspects of building your log cabin.
Planning your log cabin thoroughly in the initial stages is vital to ensure your construction stage runs smoothly, without additional costs.
#8: Build it Yourself
Ok, so you might not want to build all of it yourself, but it is definitely possible to build a large proportion of your log home without hired contractors.
Contractors charge an average of $18 to $25 per hour, so you can drastically cut down on costs by choosing some bits to do yourself.
There are somethings that I would advise getting a contractor in for if you have no experience- for example your plumbing and electrics. It could end up begin a very expensive job it you attempt it and the contractors has to try and correct your mistakes.
Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, although don’t get fooled into thinking that you can’t do certain aspects of your build. It is possible to build the whole log cabin yourself with a little determination.
#9: Go Off Grid
First you should decide whether off grid living is an option for you.
Going off grid can help you cut down on costs both short term and long term.
Depending on how exactly you want to go off grid, and how you will generate your own power, the costs can vary hugely.
If you do decide to live off grid, you need to make sure you have considered every possibility so that you don’t make costly mistakes. Under estimating your bank of batteries, or not maintaining them properly can be very expensive.
Check out this video to find out how this couple collects water, energy, wash up and more.
#10: Plan for the Unpredictable
Ok, so we’ve saved the best until last. This is probably the top rule that we have to offer you, if you don’t do any of the others – be sure to cover this point thoroughly.
The main reason why it’s difficult to stick to your budget is when unknown and unpredicted costs creep up.
I would advise meeting with all the people and contractors that will be involved with your build. Talk them through all the aspects of your build, don’t be shy to ask plenty of questions, and get a full breakdown of costs from contractors so you know exactly what you are getting for your money.
This is also a good opportunity to save money as the contractor may assumed you wanted something in your build which you don’t need.
You should always add a 10% contingency figure onto your budget.
Building or buying a log home could well be one of the most expensive things you will ever do in life, make sure you save money where you can by following our top ten rules.
The three rules that I would definitely recommend sticking to are:
- Plan For The Unpredictable
- Live by The 4 Ps
- Choose Your Tools Wisely
By doing this you will reduce wasting money, and ensure that hidden, unexpected costs are kept to a minimum.
What are your best money saving tips in construction? I’d love to hear them – drop me a comment below.