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That is the question.

We all know that log home owners want to be involved in every stage of their building process, but what about do-it-yourself projects? Are you interested in completing a part of your log home on your own or would you rather leave it to the pros?

Or maybe you've already taken a hands-on approach with your home. How did it go? Got any tips? Would you do it again?

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My wife and I built our home. We had never built a home before. We are not professionals. We were attracted to the lure of saving labor dollars and the warm and fuzzy satisfaction you get when you do it yourself. We did all of the log stack and woodwork/finishing. The reaction from friends and family is most amusing. I can say we really did have a very trouble free experience. We modified a standard plan only slightly. Kiln-Dried, precut-drilled & numbered logs made the log stack as easy as possible. As far as subcontractors, we cordinated those people by asking them "at what time during this project do I need to call you?" We went about 20K over our anticipated budget, but as inexperienced DIY people, it was a bit of a guess on the initial estimate. We had a fair amount of start up money. That proved our commitment to our local bank who made it as easy as getting a car loan. It was up to us to verify work was properly completed before payment to subcontractors. NEVER pay for work that has not been done! To many people become victoms on the local problem solvers segment on the 6:00 news for that very thing. I encourage all those who are thinking about doing some or even most of thier own work. I will say it is a big job. Building a home is not for everyone. You must have skill and ability, be determined, follow your prints, and stick to a budget. The pay-off can be significant, but so can the consequences if you bite off more than you can chew. I would be glad to share my experiences with anyone interested. Kevin.
Hi Kevin,

Not sure where you built your home, but we are considering the same deal in North Carolina. We have been quoted turn-key costs ranging from $140-$160 per sq ft (not including property). My question is this... is this pricing consistent with your experience, and by doing it yourself what do you estimate the cost per sq foot to be on your new home. i.e. what did you save by doing it yourself?

Thanks in advance for the help.

Patrick

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Patrick,

Good morning! Not sure what part of North Carolina you're building in....we're building in the NW portion. In speaking with several builders recently, we've been quoted turn-key costs anywhere between $130 to $165 a sq. foot; $165 includes high end materials such as: granite/stone countertops, slate and/or hardwood flooring, etc. Hope you find this helpful. Best of luck to you.
Hey Patrick,

Sorry for the delay in my response. Your turn key estimate is a very reasonalbe number. Of course, you have control in cost of finish elements such as cabinetry, countertops, floor covering, plumbing electrical, ect. I figure my 2300 sf home based on those dollar estimates would have cost me $299K. I estimate labor to be around 30% of the total turn key price.
I considering that, I guess I saved myself about 85-90K. That saving was one of the motivators to get in there and DIY!
I couldn't agree more with Kevin, most homeowners would like to do something to help with the building of their own home and, most contractors will work with you on that matter. You can itemize what you want them to do and what you want to do. We have built and remodeled several stick frame homes, but our log home was the first log home one we built. If you can't build it yourself please check "carefully" the references of the contractor.
We are contractors, and I can say not all contractors are the same... My advice is simple. Ask for:

* proof of liability insurance
* proof of license (if applicable in that state)
* check Better Business Bureau record
* get references

Any contractor who is unwilling to furnish these, is one to avoid.

Beth
One thing to check into that would make this experience a little easier (at least the log part) is to check and see if the log home manufacturer you choose has onsite technical advisors available. I worked as one for a number of years, and I had a number of DIY homeowners stack their own homes. Some stopped there, and a few of the braver families continued on to finish their house. Having a representative onsite to show you the ins and outs of stacking is a blessing and a timesaver. They should be able to walk you through most of your questions there and help you to look down the road (log floor joists and rafter connections, settling concerns, etc). I'd also recommend the services of the TA's for builders that are not familiar with that specific companies product - they're all a little different and to have someone onsite with direct experience will help to get your house off to a great start.

happy stacking!
I hired a guy by the hour who had log building experience to work side by side with me. He had a few tips I would not have known about had I gone it alone. I would have made a bunch of mistakes without him there. It was comforting to have someone knowledgable available. Plus I got to use his tools, scaffolding, contractors, vendors, etc. It was fun and I get plenty of compliments, but I got a double hernia from all the log lifting, so I definitely could not do it again.

John
Being experienced in log home construction, do-it-yourselfer's can be done. But one would need to have skill, general knowledge and experience. It may just take them longer as opposed to someone who specializes in log home construction. Some homeowner's we have worked with may choose to do only portions of the work that they feel completly comfortable with. Others, may choose for a sub to do the log stack and they take it from there or they may choose to do it themselves and choose a consultant to help them with the log stack process. It can be done, however, some homeowners have called needing a crew to help finish or even start the project, due to medical issues keeping them from finishing, time allowances trying to beat the weather or just getting to a point where they need help. It is very important to follow your final plans and also to follow your manufacturer's construction manual.
We are building our own. This is not the path for everyone. Several years ago, we attended a log home seminar and the speaker said something like, "If you are absolutely sure you can build a home by yourself, you probably can. If you think you can build a home by yourself, you probably cannot".
Although I work full time in another field, I have been around construction all my life and have done quite a lot of building and remodeling.The only things I have farmed out so far are placement and finishing of the concrete floor (I did all the site prep), placement of the concrete in the ICF walls (again, I did all the site work), installation of the SIP jumbo panels on the roof, and installation of the standing seam metal roof.
I have done all the rough carpentry, log stacking, plumbing, wiring, and will do all the finish work. I did get occaional help from my sons and son in law. I poured the basement in June of 2007 and started stacking logs in August 2007. The house is closed in and I am now finishing the basement so we can move out of the 24' camper we have been in since April of 2007. My wife is a saint. By the way, we are 62 years old and both still work full time too.
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I am building a log home myself from excavating the site all the way through and I am just taking my time. It is difficult but rewarding. I am just taking My time and getting great help from my log home co. which is moosehead cedar in Maine
Julie and I have built the majority of our home ourselves. We would sub-contract out the parts we did not feel comfortable with or did not have the expertise or equipment for. We stacked the logs, framed the rooms inside as well as built the sub floor and radient tubing in the basement slab. I am doing the electrical myself as well as some of the plumbing. This allows us to have the systems we want, just the way we want them; but rememebr that you must have the experience and knowledge for this type of work. When in doubt, ask a pro. We saved over $3,000 in just the installation of the radient system in the basement slab. We did that project in two days, with two weeks of careful planning. We contracted the excavation, footings and foundation and the roof. It is a lot of hard work but is also rewarding. If it is going to be a husband/wife project, remember to always work together and listen to each other's comments and be open minded. Julie is totally dedicated to this adventure and I made her the General Contractor. We have studiend videos, magazine articles and went to many log home shows prior to starting. 3 years of study, planning, and consulting took place before we even broke ground. It can really build a marriage relationship, or do just the opposite if you are not working as a team. We wish you lots of luck and enjoyment. Remember, it's an adventure and when you are through, you can say, "We did it". Just know what your limitations are and work safe. Dave & Julie

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