Although you dream about how your log or timber home will look when you first walk through the door, price is still an important factor for most people looking to build a custom home. If you are not familiar with how the wood home industry pricing systems differ from company to company your initial interactions can be frustrating. You may end up with price quotes that range from $25,000 to over a million dollars. How do you know what your quote is for and that the price is fair?
Traditionally, when comparing the value of constructing one home to another, prospective home builders will ask about cost per square foot. Although this is a good baseline comparison, the way a home’s square footage is configured can have a dramatic effect on the overall cost. For example, a 2,000-square-foot structure with four walls on one level and a walk-out basement might have a lower cost per area than a 2,000 square-foot two story home with a more complex foot print. Basement square footage is generally less expensive, and the addition of complex angles and roof lines adds to the difficulty of construction. In these cases it is important to look at the overall design of the homes, in addition to just the size.
With any home it is smart to look at both the design and size when comparing value, however when you are talking about log or timber homes, you also need to compare the product itself. Does the supplier use 14-inch diameter logs or 6-inch logs. The larger logs may add more to the total cost, but can also provide a better value by being more structurally sound and energy efficient. The wood home industry has expanded over the last few years to include a wide variety of products and engineering solutions. Don’t assume that all log homes are built the same way, make sure to ask.
The discussion of log product will almost always prompt the comparison of “package prices,” but the bigger question is what is included in the price that is quoted? For instance, some log home companies only supply raw logs and basic plans for assembly, while others provide ready-to-install milled logs, engineered construction drawings, windows and doors. Other companies will go beyond product and offer services such as architecture, building assistance or turnkey pricing estimates. In these cases, comparing the cost of a “package price” may not be the best way to determine value either.
So if it doesn’t make sense to compare “package prices” or cost per square foot, how can you determine if the price is affordable, and competitive? Sometimes it is best to start backward. Be honest about how much you want to spend on the entire home. The package price is only a percentage of the total turnkey, so find out what it is going to cost to complete your project after you pay for the package. Make sure that your budget and cost comparisons are made with the entire home in mind.
When comparing log home companies it is important to understand log homes can be designed and built in many ways, services offered by manufactures vary, and product offerings are not necessarily comparable. Educate yourself on the differences, be honest about your needs, and choose a company that fits your budget, needs and desires.
Learn more about how design, size and complexity affect turnkey budgets.