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We have been getting quotes from two log home builders and are ready to make a decision. Question: Who writes up the contract once you agree to the fixed cost budget?

Do we need to get a lawyer?




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A licensed and insured General Contractor should have the paperwork to use so you don't have to re-invent the wheel.  There are standard forms for various types of agreements (cost plus, fixed fee, etc.) available thru AIA, NAHB or your local Home Builders Association.  Most builders tweak these standard forms for their local jurisdiction, experience, etc.  Once you see the contract and before you sign, then you want your attorney to review, comment and adjust if needed.  



You can always get specific local contractor license requirements from the attorney generals office. A lawyer is optional of course but I am sure choosing a builder can be a DIY project as well.


Hopefully this helps but if not I have attached some guidelines from the AARP.


Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!!!!

After much grief and now have the exoerience, I would do nothing without obtaining an attorney, and make sure you get everything in writing and pay nothing in advance
I have to agree with Ray.  Virtually everyone with log home builder experience will tell you that a good attorney can help you avoid a lot of grief.  We really liked our contractor, who was extremely capable and professional, but even he/they were befuddled by some of the things the log home company did and did not do.

Have you checked references? Have you visited homes constructed by your builder of choice and talked to the home owners? Yes, you need a lawyer.

We have checked three references. Recent customers were all very pleased. I've seen some photo's. The bank also knows the builder well. They give him good comments.


Pay as you build. You always run the risk of the builder going belly-up. Check with their local suppliers to see if they are paying their materials bill purchases. Most builders who are weeks or months behind with their materials suppliers put you at great risk. Way too many home owners have lost tens of thousands to builders who took their money and filed bankruptcy.

You should consult with your lenders, Attorneys who specialize in this area of the Law and with as many sources as you can about how this builder is paying his materials and supplies costs with local lumber companies, materials suppliers, sub-contractors including plumbers, electricians, carpenters. Get the names and numbers of the last 10 home owners they have completed building homes for in telast 2 years and call these people and ask toons of questions. Also, ask them who did the plumbing, electrical, roof and call these subs and see  if they got paid.

Stay clear of any builder who is more than a matter of weeks behind on paying subs and material suppliers. You can also consider doing a weather tight shell and getting your own subs to do the electrical, plumbing, well, septic, flooring, HVAC etc.

These are simple suggestions. Be sure to do your homework before agreeing or signing any contract and/or laying your money down. Also, check with the Building Inspectors in the communities where the builder has put up log homes and ask what the Building Inspectors thought of the work done by that builder and if they had any trouble with the builder following State and Federal Building codes.

PLEASE contact me BEFORE you sign anything or build a modular log cabin....I can give you the benefit of my experience. 

Speaking from experience, MAKE SURE TO GET A LAWYER befor you sign the contract, no matter how great you think the builder is!


We researched our builder for a few years before signing the contract.  We skipped the get a lawyer step.  Bad move on our part.  

How sad when I read these posts.....building a home should be an exciting fun experience with enough stresses created by the myriad of options available. TRUST seems to have been replaced by lawyers and I honestly don't think that a lawyer can make a better home. I am not totally naive but in the past 31 years we have had no litigation BUT we have had some really difficult clients from time to time. We use a standard State of West Virginia Builders contract which means that we do have workers comp and liability insurance which are important and things should be written down as to what is/is not included. Beyond that, what can a laywer do? Do lawyers even know the difference between a mortice and tenon? A lawyer once told me that there isn't a contract on earth that cannot be disputed. My 2 cents worth.

Tim Bullock

Hi Tim,

I agree it is sad.  We went into our build with 10 years of wishing, about 4 yrs of overall planning, and 2 years of very detailed planning.   We really thought we had covered all our bases on what we wanted from our home, what it would look like how it would function, the builder, etc.

We didn't take our contract to a lawyer, although we did fine tooth comb it ourselves.  Prior to signing, our builder answered his phone on the first call and if not called back within 1/2 day.  He came to see us whenever we requested.  He was very responsive when we emailed.  We trusted him, fully.  We thought we should take the contract to a lawyer for review but I think because we trusted him so much that went to the back burner and we signed the contract.  Literally the next day we called the builder and he didn't answer.  Didn't return our call for 2 days.  And so it began.  Unfortuantely this has been the worst experience of our life. 


I do agree with you about "really" how much can a lawyer do, if a builder does poor quality work, cuts corners or only works 1 day a month or has no intention of finishing your job, there is nothing a lawyer can do about that even if it is built into a contract.  It takes legal action to pursue it no matter waht.


I think the bottom line comes down to picking the builder (a valid response to this statement could be "no kidding"...yes, I know :-).  Some out there are really, really good (31 yrs of no litigation is very impressive!).  Some not so good.  So maybe I take back my prior statement of getting a lawyer...instead of a getting a lawyer, just make sure you get a good builder!!  Even looking back at how we got to where we are, I'm not sure how we missed what we did, but we missed it. 



CJ, Don't beat yourself happens to the best of us when we "Trust" but it will never, ever allow me to stop trusting people. I just can't live in that world.....It is too depressing!! Tim


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