If you have read my first article, BUDGETING YOUR WOODEN HOUSE: Where to start?, it has a very basic description of the process. However, there are still a number of questions that I would like to address. Again, many of these questions will arise if you build a custom home, but I venture to assume that log home owners are more involved in the decision-making process than someone dealing with a custom builder. After all, the differences immediately become apparent, since the owners have to find their own manufacturer.
Unless you have a pocket full of cash, you’ll need to stick with the construction loan mindset throughout the budgeting process. I plan to dedicate an entire article to the construction loan, but this search will serve as a previous step before going to the bank.
Most of your budget will be the purchase of land. With today’s new construction market, especially in New Jersey, untreated land makes up 30-40% of the total project (of course, in other states the land won’t be as much, but the overall costs will be too). will be less). It helps to buy the land first so you know how much money you will have left over.
Then you need to figure out how much to set aside for your excavation, your driveway, and your septic system. Before you can arrive at this number, it helps to hire a civil engineer to do a survey and site plan (you’ll need the survey for the mortgage company anyway). This will cost you a few hundred dollars. The plot plan will diagram where the house (and house space) will go, the length of the driveway, where the well and septic tank will go. With this document, you can go to the excavator for a quote.
Since most log homes tend to be built in rural areas, you will probably have to install your own well and septic tank. The digger who makes your driveway will probably be the one who will dig your septic. The well driller will probably be a different company. Both are “wild cards,” because the cost of the septic tank will depend on how well the soil percs (short for percolate), and you don’t know how deep your well will go.
Again, the engineer will draw up a septic plan that will need to be approved by the county (in most states). The cost of your septic can range from $10,000 to $30,000. If you’re positioning the house away from the road, you need to budget for that extra-long driveway. And if your lot is heavily wooded, you’ll have to pay more for tree removal; Remember that you need to leave enough space to accommodate both the house and a large area around the house for the machinery to maneuver. You should also consider a space to put the records after delivery.
Once the location and size of the home is determined, you may need to use a different contractor for the foundation. The log home manufacturer does not provide the foundation (with rare exceptions). There are several ways to do this: you can build on a slab, a crawl space, or a full foundation. You can use a block foundation, a precast foundation, a poured concrete foundation (these are the main options). Poured concrete is the most expensive. These days, many people choose precast log home foundations, because they are very precise and do not require a footer. If you go this route, you’ll need to hire a mason to pour the floor after the precast foundation is erected. Remember that if you choose to build on a slab, you will have trouble routing the wiring, because this is typically done from the basement.
Your log home manufacturer will give you an estimate for the package. Many people want the manufacturer to list a “turnkey” home or at least a weathered deck, for convenience. However, this might not be the way to go if you live in a different state than the mill. Do you really want to pay for plywood shipping? In the end, having your contractor buy lumber locally could save you thousands of dollars, even if it’s a little less convenient to calculate up front. Your local builder will be happy to give you a quote as long as you have a good set of preliminary plans to work from.
I started with a simple checklist to get my budget in order. Fortunately, I found a contractor who was willing to take over the project and hire their own subs; his detailed quote helped me visualize all the elements that were included in the project. I then added subs that I hired separately (excavator, mason, landscaper, etc.). Here are some items that were included in the checklist: Air Conditioning, Appliances, Builder’s Profit, Doors (Interior), Doors (Exterior), Driveway, Electrician, Fireplace, Floors, Foundation, Furnace (or Furnace), HVAC installation, insulation, Siding, kitchen, labor, landscaping (grass seed), lifting equipment, light fixtures, logs, lumber (plywood, beams, 2×6), mason, permits, plumbing, fixtures Plumbing (sinks, tubs, toilets), Roof, Sanding & Staining, Septic, Stairs (if not included in listing quote), Tile (Kitchen & Bath), Utilities, Well, Windows.
Depending on your job site, you may have other expenses. If the flatbed truck transporting your logs cannot make it to the site, you will have to arrange to unload the logs elsewhere and have them brought to you. If you are set back from the road, you may have to pay for telephone poles or pay for trenching. Also, your builder may require you to bring power to the site for your tools (most allow you a few days of generator power, but not for the entire job).
It took me a while to fill in all the blanks on my checklist, but once I started looking at each task individually, the project as a whole made sense. Actually, the registration package was the easiest part to deal with. In our case, the manufacturer only provided the logs (and layout), resulting in less than 1/6 of the total cost of the house (not counting the site work). Otherwise the costs are just like any other custom home; then the question becomes “Who does what?”. After all, a little sweat goes a long way.