The Log Home Neighborhood

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I'm Stuck! Hire an Architect? Or start interviewing Builders?

Hello everyone! I'm new to LogHomeU, but I know I will get some great advice here!

I plan to have a small, insulated log/half-log home built on property I already own. For the past couple of years, I have been looking at floor plans, and reading everything I can get my hands on regarding energy efficiency, types of construction, heating systems and so on.

I'm having a devil of a time deciding how I want my new home to be configured, and how I want the exterior to look (roof lines, porches, decks, etc.) I chose the layout of my current home by modifying a stock house plan, but I want my next home to be more unique.

I do know which rooms I need, and how I want the basic LR/DR/Kitchen set up. I can't seem to find a single, basic floor plan that I could simply modify, that satisfactorily incorporates the other rooms. The more floor plans I look at, the more confused I get! I know what I want, but can't figure out how to most efficiently incorporate all of the pieces of the puzzle.

In your collective experience, have you
A) Used stock floor plans?
B) Modified existing plans?
C) Picked a log supplier first?
D) Selected a builder/GC first?
E) Gone straight to an architectural firm?

I'm leaning towards looking for a builder first, simply because I feel intimidated by the whole "architect" idea. Any ideas??

Any thoughts you have will be greatly appreciated!


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Comment by john baker on December 28, 2009 at 3:06pm
I would be more than happy to offer my design services. I am not an architect, however I do have 13 years experience in designing custom log homes. Feel free to call if you like .. 252-883-8420 or e-mail
Comment by Rose Marie on November 26, 2009 at 10:29pm
Hi "guys", it's been a while since I've logged in!
BoxerLady, is that handle derived from "boxing" or Boxers (dogs)?? Piques your interest anyway ;-) I understand that many log home dealers have design services, and that you can start with a stock plan. I just hadn't found any plans that I feel are a starting point for me. So, I started drawing up a floor plan that fits my image of how I would like the place laid out. Now that I have a starting point, I'll take my own rough-scale sketches to builders. I know of several that are willing to flesh out my design and get the plans stamped. After, it's a matter of whether I feel they share my vision, can offer useful suggestions, and last-but-not-least are within my budget.

So, that's my update - seems like the project is moving at a snail's pace, but other things have demanded my attention the past few months. I hope to pick up the pace starting mid-December.

Alan, it's great to read opposing viewpoints in this forum - never hurts to interject some healthy skepticism! I always get a chuckle from your forthright comments ;-)
Comment by BoxerLady on November 24, 2009 at 2:59pm
Rose Marie:
I know I'm a little late to that party, but I want you to know that A LOT of log home companies, including myself, will take a stock design that fits some of your design needs (and I mean some) and modify it FOR FREE!!!
The only thing you will pay for is the size of the package you purchase. For instance, if you take a basic floor plan that is 2,000 sf and modify it into 3,000 square feet, you are purchasing the basic log package plus the extra needed materials. That's it! That simple.
If you need anything further, you're welcome to contact me or visit the website at
Have a great day! -BoxerLady
Comment by Gravitas Design on November 5, 2009 at 11:41am
Rose Marie,

In my completely biased opinion you should design first, then shop for a builder and manufacturer. This way the builders and manufacturers know what they are bidding on rather than just ideas, a true apples to apples situation where you can get the most competitive and accurate bids.

I hope by now you have found the right fit for you and your project.


Derek Hurd
Gravitas, Inc.
1524 W. Hays
Boise, ID 83702
Comment by Craig M. Seider on August 11, 2009 at 9:50am
Rose Marie,

I think one good thing to remember is that no matter which direction you go first, whether it's getting a builder, going to an architect, or choosing your log manufacturer, is that all of these pieces need to work in concert with one another. While it's true that going to a builder first may force changes to your plan from an architect later, it is equally true that going to an architect first may force changes to your plan from the builder. My past experience is that it is much more cost effective to make changes on paper rather than on site. Now throw your log manufacturer in the mix. A good log home company can not only work on the design with you, but can also offer stamped drawings if need be, and take the time to bring your builder in at an early stage of design so that your final drawings can be closer to final construction. Above all, keep this in mind, this is your home and you should have it the way YOU want it.

Comment by Rose Marie on August 11, 2009 at 9:45am
Thanks, everyone. Lots of good experience out there! Hobbit sized loft?? GOOD GRIEF, huh??Tara, I have begun to interview builders, look at their work, and talk to their references. One good thing about living in the sticks is that many of the references provided are turning out to be people me or my other half already know. (Everyone in a small community is "related" somehow, haha ;-) Since I'm planning a half-log, I have discovered (as Steve pointed out) that any reputable builder could probably construct the house. One builder has already advised me that they have an in-house designer who will design my house even if I don't use their company to build it. Now the task is to determine which one, out of the ten or so that I have it narrowed down to. Once I see some of their work it will help me to decide if they can provide the "look" I'm after, as well as the quality construction.
I learn something from every builder that I speak to, so this is actually becoming more interesting (and less intimidating) as I go along!
Comment by Tara Golby on August 10, 2009 at 11:40pm
Hi Rose Marie, I have to agree with Steve that if you have a builder work with them up front to design your house. Make sure that if you do go the route of an independent designer/architect that they know what they are doing in relation to logs. One that specializes in logs would be best. We had our plans drawn up by a designer a log home company had recommended but he turned out not to know what he was doing and when we picked a builder they had to redo the drawings as the roof was unacceptable (and unsupported) and the loft area was not real, ie most of it was not over 5 feet in height, great for hobbits, not so good for people. Oh and he had designed it so that the loft floor was only the thickness of the floor deep, not feasible with a bathroon upstairs, no place to run services. Any way we ended up paying for our plans twice, I now tell everyone, make sketches and talk to builders from there.
Comment by Steve Reddy on August 3, 2009 at 9:15pm
A builder that does true design/build services is the ideal and they can usually save you $$ by working with them upfront (by knowing how the design will actually build out and making suggestions on specifications). A designer that knows log homes is another option although that is "buyer beware" as they are not cerified like an architect. If you are going for a really unique design or have special considerations, an architect that will just do the design work and blueprints is a viable option as long as they don't try to tag along for a 10- 15% "project fee".
Comment by Wes on July 27, 2009 at 12:30pm

We started by drawing some simple plans on graph paper then contacting a builder and a architect/draftsman. The three of us worked together to finalize the plans and the draftsman prepared official blueprints and got a structural engineer to review the plans and stamp them.

We then submitted the package to the county and got our building permit.

This way we got the log cabin design we wanted, not someone elses idea of what we should have.

Comment by Ted on July 25, 2009 at 5:17pm
Hi Rose Marie. You are asking many of the same questions that most of us have asked at one time or another (and many are still asking them).

It is seldom that you will find one design that satisfies all your requirements. My wife and I have looked at hundreds of floor plans and after much work have basically designed what we feel works best for us. I am fortunate that I can draw what I want so I have been able to prepare detailed plans that I can submit to a builder or log home manufacturer to get quotes.

We have opted to go to a builder rather than a log home manufacturer for a number of reasons. One being that I want the builder to take on more of the construction responsibilities than a log home manufacturer can do without sub contracting.

My last choice would be an architect unless you are really in need of some very esoteric designs. Most available designs are easily modified to your specifications.

You should enjoy the exercise. Keep us posted.


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