Log Home Costs and Budget

My last two blogs I’ve been talking about the confusion and wide range of log home packages offered by all the log home companies and costs you will have that aren’t part of the package but yet impact your log home construction costs. My last blog was talking about related costs such as land, well, septic, permits and driveways. Even though we’re based in Minnesota these costs will pretty much apply anywhere you would be building.

First of all, you need to have a foundation in the ground so that means we need some excavating for your footings and foundation. Depth of excavating will depend on water table, grade at the site and if you are going to have a full basement, crawl space or slab. Digging, backfilling and hauling in (or out) dirt or sand as needed will be part of the excavators cost. Costs will be site specific. If you have a flat, sandy lot and no trees or rocks need to be removed you will have considerable less costs associated with excavating than someone building on a steep rocky site. Footings and foundation are next. Foundation walls can be either block, solid poured wall or an ICF walls. ICF means insulated concrete form which is a foam panel for interior and exterior of the foundation walls with concrete poured in between them. An ICF foundation is energy efficient but is more expensive than the other options. It is best to work with your builder and have them price out the options for you and go from there. The other costs related to the concrete work will be waterproofing of the foundation walls,  basement and garage floors and any patios or sidewalks you may want.

From excavating and concrete we move on to construction labor. The carpenters will include in their costs the labor to do all the framing of walls, building of stairs, porches, decks and setting of floor and roof systems that are shown on the plan. From there they will sheet the roof and get the roof shingled and soffit and fascia installed. They will also include installing doors, windows and log. If you are going with full log construction the log stacking labor will be part of the construction bid. Once the log work is done, the shingles are on the roof and the windows and exterior doors are installed the shell is complete and ready for the sub-contractors to come in and get their tasks started. Some people only hire the builders to just do a “shell only” labor bid. If that is the case, the carpenters would be completed at this point and you would be taking over for the items that are your responsibility. We are seeing fewer people each year opting for shell only construction. Codes are strict so it is harder for a homeowner/builder to get everything to comply on a timely basis or having to spend time and money re-doing something to keep the local building inspector happy. Not everyone has access to the proper tools, scaffold and help to complete the job either. Renting tools and having delays can add costs. Sweat equity is great as long as you can get the project done on time.  If you are relying on friends and family members to help, make sure they are committed to your project but still account for hiring the items out in your budget in case something goes wrong. I’ve seen too many people get delayed a week or more on a project because of someone not being able to show up to help out on a weekend. The other costs that will be part of the carpenter labor bid will be installing the interior items such as T&G knotty pine, trim, log, closet shelves, railings, interior doors and hardware to name a few. Take the time to sit down with your builder to make sure everything is covered for labor items.

Beyond the package and labor the mechanicals need to be accounted for. HVAC can run anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the size of the house and the system you decide to go with. A rough estimate for electrical would be roughly $15,000 plus the fixtures you’ve selected. Plumbing is similar to HVAC costs and can have a wide range due to fixtures that are selected. Don’t forget the cabinetry, countertops and flooring options as well! It can be a lot of fun selecting those items of your new log home!

Thanks for reading and I will continue more on log home building costs in my next blog. For questions or more information on log homes in Minnesota and Wisconsin just head to my website or give me a call at 651-674-0554


Minnesota Log Home Building Costs

In my last blog I wrote about log home packages and sorting out what is and what isn’t included. Some log home companies lean on the builder to supply quite a few items that are materials related. Beyond materials, there are quite a few things that relate to the build that need to be taken care of by the builder/general contractor. If you are self-building then these items will be up to you to get bid and supplied. Some of these items can get overlooked early on in the process and can impact your log home construction budget.

To get serious about your log home plan you need your land. Land, location and site conditions impact building costs in many way. Items that are part of your budget will be driveway, culvert (if needed) and lot clearing.  Some areas require a paved driveway over a gravel driveway so be sure to check if there are any local requirements. Electric service to your house is another cost. This can range anywhere from $4.00/foot and up plus the meter fee. Some log home settings can be a quarter mile or more from the nearest power pole so the electric service can add up fast. A call to the power company that provides power to your area will be helpful. Phone service will also need to be figured in. Some are opting for cell phones only but most still go with a hard wired phone due to remote locations and minimal or non-existent cell coverage. Building permits don’t come free. I’ve seen some as low as $100 in some areas to over $3000 in others. A call to your local zoning office may help you out on this or your local builder should have a pretty good idea. But keep in mind some will base permit fees off of the size of the home.

Again, due to most log homes being built in remote settings, city water and sewer usually isn’t available so you will need private well and septic. Your builder will be able to help you out on estimates being he is familiar with the area but actual cost for the septic is determined by the soil conditions on your lot. Some lots that have sand and gravel on them may get by with a conventional septic design while a lot with heavier soil such as clay will need an above grade mound system. Conventional systems are usually less expensive than a mound septic. Here in Minnesota and western Wisconsin we see conventional septics ranging from $6000 to $8000 with a mound system for a three bedroom home costing $9500 to $14000. Keep in mind actual cost is based on the conditions on your lot and is determined by a perc test that is performed where the septic field will be located. You can expect to be charged around $400 to $500 for a perc test and septic design. One other factor on septic cost is how many bedrooms are shown on your floor plan. Wells can vary far and wide due to how deep they need to be drilled and if the drilling is through sand or rock. Your local builder and well driller will have a good idea on costs for your area but you won’t know for sure until the well is in the ground and you have water. Here in my area of central Minnesota the wells are approximately 125 feet deep and cost roughly around $5500. That same well in northeastern Minnesota can run up to $20,000 pretty quick because of the bedrock that needs to be drilled through. I will expand on more budget items in my next blog covering costs and budgets. Until then, feel free to visit the Wild River Log Homes website for more information on log homes in Minnesota.

Confusion of log home packages

Winter isn’t too far off here in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is the time of year when people start getting serious about finalizing their log home plans if they are considering building in the spring. Recently I met with a couple that are wanting to get starting before summer of ’12 but were confused by all of their research and hearing so many various log home packages. I’ve mentioned it before in past blogs but am going to write a bit more about packages in this blog being now is the time to get serious about planning.

Some log home companies say “log home package” while others use the term “log home kit”. Regardless of the term being used, a log home is built with building materials. Logs, framing materials, roofing, windows, etc.. all are building materials no matter what name is tagged to it. From there things get confusing. Some log home companies are shell only. That is up to you to decipher what is in their package and who is supplying the rest. Some shell only companies may not even include doors, windows and roofing. Some will include everything to make it weather tight. Figuring this out between you, the log home company and builder can take time and open the door to items being left out of the budget. Coming up short at the end is not fun! If the builder you are working with isn’t familiar with the log home company and their inclusions you really have to pay close attention to make sure you have everything covered so you end up with a completed log home without going over budget.

On the other end of the log home spectrum is some companies say they have everything needed for your home. Thats great but again, you need to make sure everything really is included. Does the builder need to supply anything or do they just show up and start building? Are you paying extra for shipping to get items sent the four, five, six or more hours to your job site for something that could be supplied locally for a better price?  Who pays the trip charge when the plumber shows up to install those log home company supplied fixtures and there are missing parts? Log homes are usually built in rural settings so a “quick run” to the hardware store can be a half hour or more in each direction and there is no guarantee the needed part can even be found there. Time and fuel aren’t cheap and that lost time is going to be passed on to someone.  It isn’t a pleasant experience being five bundles of shingles short of finishing and the brand and matching color of shingles are only available through the log home supplier which is hours away and has no truck coming your way.  Again, it is up to you to make sure all the bases are covered in what is supplied by the log home company and the builder.

We offer our own version of a complete log home package. We can take you from the planning stages to getting your log home completed and ready for you to move into. We do it a bit different. We have a network of contractors in the upper midwest so are supporting local businesses in your area. Our plumbers are local and we use their suppliers for plumbing fixtures. We have access to all brands, you can shop from home even and the plumbers know what they need ahead of time with the proper parts. If there is something missing or wrong then they know ahead of time and it is their responsibility. Using local suppliers really comes into play if any future repair work is needed. Do we include cabinets? Yes, we do. Again, we have local suppliers so no reason to drive four or five hours to do kitchen and bath layouts. We have everything you need to complete your log home from cultured or real stone to fireplaces to flooring with the ease of not having to travel. We believe in providing a high quality product while keeping as much business in the local communities with the savings and convenience passed on to you.

All in all, it is too easy to get caught up in the “kit” or “package” and not view the project as a whole which includes building costs, items supplied in the field along with well, septic, utilities and other costs related to the build.

If you have any questions please call at 651.674.0554 or go to our website for more information on log home packages in Minnesota and Wisconsin

North Dakota Log Homes

Thinking of building a log home in North Dakota? In the recent months several people have inquired about building a log or rustic home there. Wild River Log Homes does offer North Dakota log home builder services.

As with the other states we service, we can take your idea and sketch to a buildable plan and from there take it to a completed log home ready for you to move into. If you just want a shell only project we will work with you on that as well.  We do have construction crews available throughout North Dakota and can easily ship our rustic half log or full log products from our mill to anywhere in the state. Our crews are familiar with our building system and work with a network of subcontractors for excavating, foundations, mechanicals and other items related to the build.

An energy efficient log or rustic home is a great idea for North Dakota. The winter weather conditions there are no secret so it only makes sense to build a home that is easy to heat in the winter and easy to cool in the summer months. Quite a few here in Minnesota are moving back to the family farm to take advantage of the employment situation in oil areas of North Dakota. A new home while maintaining the rustic charm keeps everyone in the family happy and plans are underway for quite a few and spring starts are being planning. For more information on North Dakota log homes head to our website or give us a call at 651.674.0554