The above question is asked by most people before any discussion ensues about log homes in general. The above question cannot be answered unless many questions are asked of the prospective home buyer. As an example, the above question is similar to one asked, “How much does a car cost?”
A basic consideration of home cost is what part of the United States are you planning to build. Will you be building in California, New York, Arkansas or North Dakota? There can be a great disparity in building costs between these various regions of the country. Costs may be higher in California than in Arkansas due to the fact that living costs may be higher in California than in Arkansas. In some states, there will be greater requirements of the builder and more approvals from various state and local agencies before a permit can be granted to build the home. Some states do not have building codes or stiff building code requirements or in terms of engineering and contractor licensing and thus costs will be lower. Building materials can also be higher in some states and in some areas of individual states than in another location. Thus, where you plan to build is a major consideration when the cost of a log home is analyzed.
Other considerations to consider are:
1) The type of log home you intend to build. Will it be a precut package, a custom hand-crafter log home or random length logs from a local sawmill. The price of these various components can vary greatly and thus it is a major variable in the cost of building a log home.
2) Do you intend to ship logs in from another part of the country so that you can get the home and the home plan that you desire. Shipping can result in extra costs, but should not be prohibitive when one considers the total cost of the home.
3) Do you plan to have a full basement, maybe completely finished, or are you going to build on a slab or crawl space. There can be a great difference in these various forms of construction.
4) People must remember that the logs are just a small portion of the costs that will be entailed when building a log home. The type of roofing that is to be used such as exposed beam, conventional 2x rafters, or a truss roof can affect the cost of the home. Do you plan to use a specialty metal roof or use regular asphalt shingles?
5) The insides of the log home can run up the cost of the finished home. For instance, a stone fire-place, with hardwood floors, custom cabinets, top of the line bathroom and kitchen fixtures, specialty lighting and electrical components, and interior wall finishing. Most people have the misguided belief that once the house is shelled in, they are near completion. This is not true! There is a lot of labor and materials that will go into the interior of the home before it is finished. It is at this stage that many people opt for the better cabinets, lighting fixtures, carpet, etc. and destroy their budget. One a budget is determined, stick to it or you will get intos a lot of trouble with the funds you have allocated to the project.
6) To get an idea if you can afford a log home, you need to check building costs in the area in which you plan to build. If nice, custom homes are being built in your area for $125 per sq. ft. then you can use this as a guide. However, if this seems feasible, then start shopping for a log package and a builder. A local builder can give you some idea what building costs are running in the area. In the end, you will have to bring a completed blueprint to a builder and tell him exactly what you want for flooring, cabinets, roofing, etc. He will also have to look at your lot to see if it will require more or less work than normal to put in a foundation, septic system, driveway, etc. As a last reminder, if the building costs are in the $125 per square foot range, that does not mean that you can the put in a deluxe bathroom, teak floors, imported crystal lighting fixtures, etc. Keep your feet on the ground when designing your home….unless your do not have financial constraints.
7) One might hear that a completed log home costs will run 2 or 3 times the price of the log package. This is not an accurate way to judge the cost of your finished log home. For instance, one package may sell for $30,000 and another of $60,000, but the less expensive package may well have fewer materials furnished. Thus you have a range of $90,000 to 180,000 for a completed home which are both the same size. Components that go into a log home (or any home for that matter) can vary greatly in price from the low end to the high end. Which end of the building spectrum that you plan to build will make a big difference in the final cost of the home.
8) To use a multiplier against the cost of the log package is like getting the price of an automobile by using a factor against the weight of the vehicle. The final, only reliable way to get a finished cost of your log home is have a builder(s) go over your prints after you have them exactly what you want in the house as to materials and components.
9) Finally always have a buffer in your budget of 5 to 10% to cover price increases or unforeseen expenses. If you are on a really tight budget, don’t just throw caution to the wind and say, “lets build it as it will work out.” It might, but if you are wrong you may or the bank may end up with a not quite completed home.
10) I have worked with people who what their “dream home” which is going to be a log home with the best of everything that can be had. They cannot get a loan to cover such a project so they eventually went to a factory built convention home because it was “less expensive.” If they had gone to a more realistic floor plan with fewer “bells and whistles”, then they could have had a log home that would have fit their budget. Be realistic when setting goals for your hew log home. Don’t design something that is completely out of your financial range. The belief that log homes are a very expensive way to build is just not true. What happens is that some people put in too many costly features that runs up the price of the home.