Tips For Stress Free Purchase of a Log Cabin or Log Home
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Whether you’ve dreamed of owning a log cabin in Ohio, a custom log home in New York, thought about building a cabin from a kit in Pennsylvania or wherever, there are keys to a stress free purchase that you should know before you buy and open that front door.
Your dream can quickly become not a reality, but a nightmare, if you don’t make the right choices at the planning and purchasing stage. The dream of enjoying family time on weekends hunting or skiing in the mountains, living year around nestled by a fishing stream and surrounded by wildlife and peace and quiet, having a sophisticated custom home in a great school district in the countryside are all great reasons to make the decision to build an affordable log home. How do you complete this dream and keep the process as stress free as possible and enjoy the best result?
For example, what is the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home? It looks cheaper on paper to buy a cabin kit. I’m handy. Maybe I should do that?
Quality Matters ~ Both Now and Down the Road
The major difference between a pre-manufactured/manufactured log home and a modular built log home is in the quality. The former will be built on a steel frame, will have thin walls and may not meet all residential building codes.
From an investment standpoint pre-manufactured/manufactured log home is theoretically a mobile build (though moving one after installation rarely happens), and consequently will not appreciate as well as a modular or stick built log home.
And talking of ‘down the road,’ a manufactured log home is subject to great stress during transport to your property. The likelihood of damage during such transport is considerable because these products are often not built to even meet, let alone exceed building codes.
A modular log home build on the other hand, comes in pre-assembled pieces and is built to meet and exceed building code requirements (plus it is built to withstand transport so it is actually a better built product than a stick built log home), so is easily transportable.
Given a Modular Log Home Build is Better Quality How Does it Compare to Stick Built?
The only difference between these two is how the build is put together. The stick built log home is obviously put together on site. The modular build is also put together on site but it is put together from pieces that are hoisted into place by a crane but built in a factory in a controlled environment.
The advantage to a modular log home build is that its construction is not subject to weather, either in terms of production delays or subject to damage by the elements Mother Nature can dish out. As the product is produced in a factory by an experienced team that is used to working together, quality control is easily facilitated and high standards of craftsmanship can be maintained. Materials for the build are handpicked and on site, not just randomly delivered at whatever quality the local box store happens to have on sale.
When in Doubt
When in doubt, I’ve found it pays to ask a professional because as a buyer you simply don’t know what you don’t know, and the myriad of choices can be confusing and overwhelming.
Matt Albrecht of Zook Cabins, based in Atglen, PA, explained that there are major differences between a pre-manufactured log home and a modular built log home and that to distinguish the major difference between their company builds and other products out there, they use the term ‘certified modular log homes.’ This is very important. The certification comes from third party building code inspectors who are licensed by your particular State to ensure the structures are built to meet strict local building code requirements. In fact Zook Cabins, which are proudly Amish built, often exceed the State building code requirements.
Matt explained that Zook Cabins come with a full set of engineered drawings with a State stamp and seal of certification. The seal is proof that the home was built up to code. To help eliminate any confusion on the part of the buyer, Zook Cabins note their U.S.A. made log homes as ‘certified’ modular homes. This certification is something you should look for when making a purchase because fixing flaws or failures to meet code down the road will cost you some serious cash and stress.
“The modular log home must be built to obey the same strict codes as local site built homes. The third part licensed inspectors provide complete protection for the log home buyer.” said Matt. “Additionally their build is much sturdier than site built homes. Why? Because our modular log homes are in pre-assembled pieces that are designed to easily withstand transport.”
So when you are shopping prices, be certain you are comparing apples to apples.
Aside from the different type of construction, you will have many other decisions to make. For example, the type of log cabin siding, how you want the interior designed, etc. Take a good hard look at what is included in each quote, what the quality of materials being used is and what warranties the company offer. What starts out as the cheapest option very often ends up being the most expensive so do your due diligence.
I asked Matt for his advice about building a log cabin from a kit. Sure I can see that having a modular build will save time and money over a stick built log home and I won’t have a crew of carpenters on my property building for months on end, multiple material deliveries and shortages, costs for building change orders because I didn’t quite get what the General Contractor meant on his building plan or he ‘miss spoke.’ Yes that has happened to me before on a few occasions. But maybe I could just build it from a kit?
“If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of log cabin kits and their use the best thing is to visit our page at http://www.zookcabins.com/log-home-kits.asp. I’ll be honest, we are going to try to talk you out of a kit. But take a look at the solid reasons why.
At Zook Cabins we’ve been in this business a long time and are happy to share our wealth of experience with customers to help them make the best choice for their individual needs. Whether you want a hybrid log home, a fully customized log home or a cozy cabin in the woods at Zook Cabins we have something for everyone.”
As someone who has personally stick-built their own home I can lend a little perspective of my own here. While I love my house it took forever to build, it was stressful and way over budget. The endless decisions were exhausting, the time spent in big box stores for products was tiring and meantime my teenage kids grew up and left home. Perhaps I should have spent that quality time and energy with them while I could. The magic of having a home delivered to your property, professionally installed in a short time and still having design control over quality and space looks awfully attractive from where I am sitting!