Every family thinking of building a log home
or a log post and beam home has
questions about the process, the costs, and the "details." Over the years
we have helped many people successfully build their home of dreams. Here are some of
the most common questions, with the answers:
What is the difference between building a
custom LOG HOME verses a custom LOG POST & BEAM HOME?
The walls of a custom log home are
constructed from natural logs that have been prepared and shaped to conform to
the design of the home and then assembled on site to create the home of dreams
for the owner. A home constructed in the LOG POST & BEAM
style of construction uses more conventional construction techniques than a
straight log home, and yet natural logs are still used to carry the structure
the home, as well as to make up major accents throughout the home. In a
log post and beam home the walls are constructed of stress skin panels that have
a rated R-value of R-24, and are typically covered with stucco or other similar
flexible coverings. On the Log Post & Beam construction fewer logs are required for the construction of the home, and the use
of a greater amount of more conventional materials makes the construction
process go faster, and the overall costs are considerably lower. There is
no log "package" costs associated with a Log Post & Beam home, and
less up-front money is required for down payment. Both home types can and
often do contain massive log trusses, log railings, open log beam ceilings, tile
floors, stone fireplaces, and similar fixtures go equally well in both types of
construction. The cost savings for a Log Post and Beam home is typically
as much as 15% lower than the same home constructed out of only logs and yet
still retains much of the character of a pure log home with an equal or greater
Where do CMM General Contractors Log Homes come from?
Currently, CMM is using several log builders in British Columbia, Canada. These companies, have consistently maintained the highest standards for raw log preparation and shaping. This provides us with what we believe to be the finest logs in North America at competitive prices. These logs are BIG, with a minimum butt diameter of 12" and can go as large as 24" depending on the size of your structure! The average mid-span log diameter is 13" to 15", and the average butt diameter on most homes is 14" to 16." With the current favorable exchange rate, the Canadian logs are a tremendous value, even with shipping considerations. Normally, we recommend the Canadian Spruce logs, although we have constructed homes from Douglas Fir logs and can obtain Western Red Cedar logs if desired.
Do I HAVE to use CMM, or can I do it myself?
No, you do not have to use CMM. However, CMM has been in the log
home building business for more than 20 years and our custom craftsman and construction
foremen are all highly experienced professionals. CMM uses only a very select,
specific set of subcontractors that have proved to us that they will consistently provide
work of the highest quality. Local Alaskan lenders are used to working with CMM, and
have financed a large number of projects through to completion. With our proven
track record, we are able to get interim financing for the construction of your
home. If you are planning to build your log home yourself, you can contract
with CMM to assist you to whatever degree you desire. Make sure to check with your
lender for financing availability for home owner construction.
What is the cost per square foot to have a log home
built by CMM?
The cost of a pure log home is in many ways similar
to the cost of a standard frame house, although there are more up-front
costs. A Log Post & Beam home compares well with the cost of Timber Frame
construction, and is often only slightly more expensive than a conventionally
built house. To a large degree, the cost of either type of home is determined by the choice of
materials that are selected by the owner and also by the quality of the craftsmanship used
in the homes construction. Steel roofs cost more than shingle roofs, cast iron tubs
cost more than coated steel ones, and tongue and grove pine ceilings cost more than those
made with sheetrock. Log walls are finished however on both sides, and unlike
stick-frame construction do not require an interior covering and the labor associated with
that. At CMM we believe in working with the owner to choose materials that are both
practical and cost effective. As a rough guideline, you can expect to pay between
$110 to $145 per square foot for those sections of the home utilizing
straight log construction and between $100 to $120
per square foot for homes utilizing the Log
Post & Beam type of construction. Of course, if you start to add gold plated fixtures and commercial kitchen appliances the
cost could be higher. If you are building over a basement, the basement costs
are less, typically running somewhere around half the cost of the log work, and is a
great way to get
additional square footage at minimal cost.
Can I just buy the log shell and do it all myself?
Most definitely. Some families have done this quite successfully. CMM will be
glad to help you with a log shell purchase, and can provide site preparation, landscaping
and terrain reshaping. We have our own fleet of construction equipment, and can help
you in any way you require. We can arrange the shipping of your log package, and
even stack the logs for you when they arrive on site. We have extensive experience
with cross border shipping, and have the contacts necessary to insure the safe,
"on-time" delivery of your materials. It all depends on what you
want to do yourself, and what you want to contract us to do for you.
Can these log homes be energy rated?
Yes. We can and have obtained a 5 STAR energy rating on many of
our homes. Our standard roof is a R-40, and we normally use Low E-Argon filled
windows. Our standard heating system is radiant floor heat. For example, we completed a
4800 square foot lot home on Hiland Road. This
home received a 4 STAR+ energy rating and a 2.8 on the Blower Door Test. This is EXCELLENT.
Another one of our log homes, with more than 3700 square feet of heated space,
has average gas utility bills less than $55/month!!! These are not just
wishful hopes; they are based on the actual gas bills from June 2000 through Feb
2001, and are impressive, even with the approximately 25% natural gas price increase that is
reflected in the February bill. When you consider that these bills include gas used for
cooking, a natural gas BBQ grill, gas fireplace starter, gas hot water usage, as well
as the gas required to heat this home, its obvious that the efficiency of our log
homes, properly constructed, is not imaginary. See the graph of the
actual utility bills for this 3700 sq foot two story home by clicking on the
There are many ways to rate the energy
efficiency of a home. R-value is one measure of a material's resistance to heat
transfer. For our Log Post & Beam homes we use roof panels with an R40
R-value and a stress skin panel structural wall that has an R-24 value. However,
for a straight log home, R-value alone is actually a poor indicator of a log's insulating
ability. A better indicator is "Thermal Mass." Defined in the 1993
Log Home Living Annual Buyer's Guide, "Thermal Mass" is the ability of logs to
retain heat for an extended period because of the wood's thermal conductivity, then to
release the heat back into the building slowly as indoor air temperature
drops." What does this mean? Well, straight log homes retain the temperature they
are already at for an extended period. Put another way, on a hot day the log home
will tend to stay cool, while on a sudden cool day the home will tend to stay warm.
Testimony to the energy efficiency of log homes comes from people who moved from framed
houses into log homes in the same area and noticed a significant savings in their utility
bills. The National Association of Home Builders' National Research Center studied
homes in the cold climates of Montana and New York. Of the log homes studied, the
Center concluded that their energy efficiency "...compares well with conventionally
insulated wood framed houses." The Center went on to say that "...log
homes use equal or less energy than their conventionally built counterparts and that log
mass is a significant benefit."
Can full log homes be insured?
Yes--we have built a LOT of log homes and they are all insured.
Still, insurance is one of the important considerations when you are going through the
process of planning your home and the lot you purchase will be one of the most important
factors in the insurance costs of your home. It's important to check with your
planned insurance company, and shop around. Some companies have little or no
experience with log homes, and the farther the homes are from established fire protection
agencies the less willing some insurers are to write a policy. This is true of
conventional homes as well. Two companies in town that have insurance track
records with log homes are Horace Mann Insurance and Alaska Business Insurance
(ABI). State Farm has insured some homes but at one time was adding a 25%
surcharge. GEICO will insure log homes but the last time we checked the structure
needed to be located within 5 miles of fire protection. Additionally, for military
and ex-military families, USAA and NOCA have insured log homes as well.
Is financing available for straight log homes?
Yes--few individuals have the cash resources to purchase a lot, buy all the
materials to build a home, and then pay for the construction from out-of-pocket. If
you are a qualified buyer, having your home built by CMM, and are building your home to
turnkey completion, you can get financing. If you are just purchasing part of a
package, then the availability of financing will be up to your own financial lender.
How do I get a plan for my home?
CMM specializes in building custom log homes. We have some sketches and even some "log packages" but the reality is
that our customers invariably build THEIR OWN DREAM. Take an idea, and turn it into
a sketch. Find one you like in a book, use one or ours, or come up with one of your
own. It doesn't matter. Once you have the idea, and the sketch, we can give you a
rough idea on what it would costs to turn that sketch into a home to live in.
Eventually, the sketch gets turned into blueprints, and the blueprints get turned into
your home. We have contacts in the engineering and architectural field that can put
your ideas on paper and give you a set of working blueprints at a very reasonable
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