One of the first questions I almost always get asked about our log cabin project is which kit did you choose? This question usually comes from someone who has looked into building a log home at one point and been exposed to all the “kit marketing”. The follow up question, after I tell them that I only bought logs, is do you know how to cut the logs and do all that stuff? The really amazing part about all of this is that a majority of log cabin kits on the market have to be cut on-site. You won’t read that on too many log home sales brochures or plans. What you may see is something like “random length logs”. This means the log company will send you enough linear feet of logs so you or your builder can make them resemble the log home plan you’ve been carrying around at lunch. Is that really a kit? Maybe, but more likely not.
Log Home Kits Are Not Bad
The concept of a log cabin kit serves a great purpose. Kits allow log home suppliers a nice way to put a reasonable price on a dream. If a log home salesman were to bore you with all the details of what actually went into building a log home, most people would run for the door. When planning to build a cabin, it is very easy to get information overload sickness (I’ve had it a few times!). Looking at kits usually prevents this from happening and allows the buyer to focus on much more appealing topics such as cabinets and counter-tops. In a kit, decisions such as log fasteners and sealants are already made and even estimated. I enjoyed this aspect of kit shopping, but it came at a premium I was not willing to pay.
All Log Cabin Kits Are Different
While a lot of websites and handouts will have fantastic pictures of finished log homes, the kit may only be a small part of completing that picture. To put this in clear terms; all log home kits are not created equal. What is included in a kit depends on the log suppliers definition of a kit and, as I found, varies greatly. This is where the kit concept begins to falls apart and the buyer must now begin the daunting task of trying to figure out what’s included and what is not. Most kits include the materials to build interior walls to some extent, but there are several out there that do not. I was not surprised to discover the roof system is usually not included in the base kit, but often times offered as an option. Even the most expensive kits rarely included windows and doors because buyer options are vast and design tastes differ. The cost of these items are usually pretty substantial and often the log kit supplier will point these out. However,what is not so clear, are items such as stains, hardware, exterior trim, fasteners, sealants and various other pieces that may seem minor at first glance. The truth is, these items together can easily exceed the cost of the log home kit itself. It’s not hard to wrap up $5,000 – $10,000 on stain to protect a log home.
Kit This, Package That, But Why?
It was during the process of trying to compare the minor parts and pieces of each kit, that I decided it was a complete waste of time (after months of trying!). The kits I had been looking at still needed cost estimates for interior walls, roofing system, windows and doors. So what did that actually leave? The answer was simple; exterior log walls! This fact pretty much sealed the deal for me . From that moment, I made the decision to put together my own log home kit, I was able to stop spinning my wheels and move forward. No question about it, a kit has its purpose, but I want to encourage people to follow similar steps as if building a conventional home. Pick a reasonable log cabin plan, find a good builder and listen to what they have to say, and THEN start selecting materials. Following this path will save a lot of time, money and aggravation!