Log Homes General Cost Estimates

Sue | April 24th, 2015 - 7:22 am

Its Spring! Are you itching to start your new log home? Usually at this point, when you are ready to move into building the house, the best thing to do is start out with a ball park turnkey price to determine if the floor plan is within your budget.

zephyr three quarter view

Zephyr Log Home Plan

For a full turnkey, where everything is done and all you have to do is move into the house we are seeing about $165 per square foot starting out for an 8″ diameter milled log home that is 900 square feet or more. This cost estimate is based on the turnkeys here in Montana and Wyoming, but it provides a starting point. The main cost difference between an 8 and 9 inch log home is the cost difference between the two log shell sizes. For a 10 or 12 inch log diameter there is usually some extra cost added in for a machine to lift all the logs. The 10 and 12 inch diameter logs are heavier than the 8 and 9 inch diameter logs.

cowboy log homes swedish cope log profiles

Example Log Home Turnkey Cost

Zephyr Home Plan 1,680 square feet

Let’s use the Zephyr plan as an example. For the Zephyr at 1,680 square feet we would estimate about $277,200 starting out for a full turnkey in the 8 inch log size. To go with the 9 inch size you would add the $1,700 log shell package cost difference. (Please note the Zephyr above is shown in the large handcrafted log size of 12 to 15 inches in diameter. For cost estimating purposes we are starting at the 8 inch log size.)

Things not included in a turnkey estimate are things such as: cost of the property, well, septic, driveway, bringing utilities to the job site, delivery of log package, etc. These are job site specific costs and vary with every property.

If the general turnkey estimate is workable with your budget then the next step is to get a local contractor to bid the home. The difficulty is most contractors won’t bid a turnkey, or often even a dryin contract, without construction drawings to work from. We provide the log shell pricing and then the dryin materials estimate, because until someone chooses their doors, windows, roof build up, final roofing materials, and foundation we can’t bid out each individual item for a cost sheet.

You, as the owner need to know what everything is going to cost. The contractor, as the builder, needs to know what materials you are going with. And us, as the log home company, need more info to do more.

Log Homes Construction Drawings

If the general cost estimate is reasonable for your budget then the best next step is to purchase construction drawings. If you choose a stock floor plan such as the Zephyr, we only charge half price for the drawings. The usual cost for a set of construction drawings is $1.20 per square foot for this size log home. Porches and decks are included free of charge. So half is $0.60 per square foot for living space. The half price for stock floor plan is with no changes to the original floor plan. If you want changes then we bill at an hourly rate for the changes. We have found this to be the most economic way to do it for our owners.

So the full price construction drawings for the Zephyr with 1,680 square feet + 200 square feet for covered porch would be $1,680. Half of this for no change drawings is $840. With the construction drawings we provide a full material list.

The general cost estimate, such as above, is a help to both the owners and to us. Often we have people contact us that want a full material list and they only have a budget of $100,000 for a turnkey when the home they desire is a turnkey of three times that amount.

Dryin Contract for a Log Home

If you are planning to only hire a general contractor to dryin your log home, then a dryin estimate is more in line with what you need. A dryin is where the contractor comes, stacks your logs, and installs all of the dryin materials.The then home is weather tight and the owners either finish the interior themselves or act as their own general contractor for this part. The dryin materials include things like your exterior doors, windows, roofing (less final shingles or metal), soffit, fascia, exterior door and window trim, first floor subfloor.

building montana log home

The components for a dryin contract are the log shell price, the dryin materials, the dryin labor, and the foundation.

Back to the Zephyr-

9 inch log shell $45,112

Dryin materials ($18 to $25 per square foot) $30,200 to $42,000

Dryin labor ($25 to $30 per square foot)    $42,000 to $50,400

Foundation — Depends on the foundation you choose $____________

Courtesy to Contractors

We have found that contractors, including ourselves, have so many people that request estimates. The contractors spend enormous amounts of time on  bidding something to the most accurate dollar amount they can, and then the owners decide to do something different. Having a set of construction drawings to work from shows a level of commitment from the owners that yes, they are going to build the house, and yes a home of this size is within their budget.

You also get a much more accurate bid if you have drawings as it takes out the unknowns for the contractors. I recently had an electrician I had not worked with before give me a ballpark estimate of a wide range that seemed pricy to me. So once the drawings were done I emailed them to the electrician. A week or so later a bid came back that was much more reasonable than he gave me over the phone. Sometimes they air on the side of caution with a higher number when they don’t have the plans. At other times a contractor will bid something extremely low because they really need the work. Then they come in and can’t actually do the work for that price so they either walk off the job or charge more. So having drawings to work from and comparing your pricing is just wise. Often 3 guys will look at it, 2 will be somewhere near what we were thinking and the third will be way high or very low. That just seems to be the way it goes in construction.

Building Your Log Dreams

So with your project to move forward from just the idea stage to beginning the building process you need to determine what level of service you need from the contractors — dryin or full turnkey, what your budget is, if the floor plan of your choice fits your budget or if you need to adjust the overall size of the house, and if you are ready to go ahead and buy drawings.

Please note the cost estimates above are based on a log home 900 square feet or larger. Please call for pricing for under 900 square feet.

Cowboy Log Homes

Any projected costs, cost estimates, material costs, and estimated construction/ building costs, are only the opinion of Cowboy Log Homes and are drawn from our experience. Every home is custom tailored to meet our individual client's wants and desires. The construction of a log or timber home is based on two primary costs: material provided by the log home company and construction costs contracted with Cowboy Log Homes as the builder or another builder of the customer's choice. Final costs are obtained and contracted with each respectively. Cowboy Log Homes is simply the "glue" that helps bring these two together to provide a final culmination of a customer's project. * Please note photos and elevations may differ some from accompanying floor plans.
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