The Log Home Neighborhood

An online log home community for log home enthusiasts.

The team at Mountain Architects have put together a Top 10 list for log home enthusiasts. Take a look at what they say are the top 10 most important factors to consider when designing custom log homes (or timber frame homes):

1. Set a Realistic Turnkey Budget. Establishing a realistic budget at the beginning stages of the home design process is critical. It is equally as important to find an architect that is willing and able to work within your estimated turnkey budget range. Some cost factors you and your architect should consider include:

Size of Your Home: The size of your log home or timber frame home is probably the biggest cost variable. If the preliminary budget is significantly out of alignment, the first place to look is at the square footage of your log home.

Complexity of Design: The complexity of a log or timber frame home's design is probably the least understood factor impacting cost - the more corners, roof ridge lines and roof valleys, the higher the cost. Adding gables, dormers, hips and other architectural styling elements to your log home design increases its complexity, and as a result, the overall cost of your home. On the other hand, a simple rectangular design with one roof ridge line is simpler, and therefore less expensive, to build. See examples of design complexity.

Level of Finishes Selected: The level of finishes that you choose for your log home has a dramatic impact on overall cost. Depending on your turnkey budget, you may select a higher level of finishes. Keep in mind that granite counter tops, Jacuzzi tubs, and wide plank flooring are beautiful amenities, but are more expensive than Formica counters, fiberglass tubs and carpet. See some examples of how home finishes can impact the cost of timber frame or log homes.

Product Choice: The product you select for your home – milled log, handcrafted log, timber frame, a combination of log and timber, or stick frame with log & timber accents – also has an impact on the overall cost of your home. Work directly with your architect or designer to find the right product for your custom home, one that meets both your aesthetic preferences and budget.

2. Know What Exterior Look You Want. Mountain Architects defines seven potential exterior styles for your home: Western Log and Timber, Pacific Northwest, Adirondack, Chalet, Appalachian, Craftsman, or French Country. Study them and other styles noted in the industry and decide which style you like best. Also magazine clippings are a great source for communicating to your architect what style and features you prefer.

3. Consider Your Site / Build Location. The general principle here is to design a log home or timber frame home to fit your build site. Consider the entrance to the site and any views you want to take advantage of. If your site has a slope you will want to consider a basement and if the slope is steep enough, a daylight basement may be in order. Other things that come into play are setback requirements; how much area is available for the house; and if there are any obstructions on the site. These are all factors that your architect should consider in designing your new log home.

4. Familiarize Your Architect with Any CCR’s. If the development you’re building in has published a list of design requirements you should become familiar with them and bring a copy to the meeting with your architect or designer. Of particular importance are any requirements regarding height limit and any submittal timelines.

5. Consider Your Lifestyle. How you intend to live in your custom log home or timber frame home will have a huge impact on its design. For example, questions of how many family members you have, if you plan to entertain, and if you participate in outdoor activities will determine the number and type of spaces within the house.

6. Establish the Main Use for Your Home. The design of a permanent, full time residence will be substantially different than that of a second home in the mountains. This is an important aspect to consider in your initial conversations with your architect or designer.

7. Decide How Many Levels You Want in Your Home. This has to do with the Exterior Look of the house and whether the client wants a basement which could be dictated due to site parameters. This can also involve segregation of spaces, available area on site, the slope of the site, orientation of the site, and of course, your budget.

8. Decide How Many Bedrooms, Bathrooms and Specialty Rooms You Need. Deciding how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and specialty rooms your want to include in your new home requires consideration of your budget, lifestyle, and the available area on your build site. The prime consideration here for you and your architect is your budget.

9. Consider Exterior Amenities. As you think about your lifestyle you should determine what features you will want to incorporate into the exterior landscape of your home. Items such as decks, patios, a spa, outbuildings and water features will greatly enhance how the house will fit your needs. You will want to take these items into account when addressing your budget of course.

10. Garage. Another huge budget item is a garage if it is to be included in the design. You will want to discuss the size and number of vehicles to be housed in the garage. Also of importance is the relationship of the garage (attached or detached) to the house and access in and out of the garage to and from the street.

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