Cost of Timber Frame Homes Verses a Log Homes

Sue | January 17th, 2014 - 1:11 pm

The three key factors that go into planning your new home are cost, floor plan, and log or timber home style. I list cost first because to a large extent the budget is the rudder that guides the homeowners towards their final choice of home design and floor plan. So let me explore turnkey building cost estimates across milled log homes, Swedish Cope log homes, Handcrafted Log Homes, Timber Frame, and Round Post and Beam.

log home breakfast bar

Santa Fe Log Home Plan

For square footage concerns let’s base our estimates on a 1500 square foot home plan. The Madison is a good example of this size.  Homes under about 900 square feet tend to cost more per square foot. Any of our floor plans can be built in any of the timber and log home styles we offer. Floor plans may have to be slightly modified to work mechanically with the style, but those adjustments are typically very minor.

8 inch Milled Log Homes

The 8 inch milled log home is the least expensive of the home styles. The 8 inch log can be either 6×8 or 8×8 in size. They come with either butt and pass corners, interlocking saddle notched corners, or dovetail corners. The least expensive options (which are still very attractive) are a 6×8 milled log with a butt and pass corner. The 6×8 log is six inches wide and eight inches tall, still giving it the same overall stack height as an 8×8 inch milled log but not quite as thick. The logs stack with a double tongue and groove pattern between the rows of logs. The butt and pass corners are where you see every other log end on each side of the corner. A turnkey for a 1500 square foot log home in the 6×8 log size with butt and pass corners is about $165 per square foot. Features like upgrading to an 8×8 log may only be $4,000 more, depending on the plan. The milled logs can reach as tall as 12 inches per row in an 8×12 inch profile.

Swedish Cope Log Homes

Swedish Cope log homes come in either 8, 9, 10, or 12 inch diameters. Occasionally we have also provided a 7 inch Swedish Cope log size. The Swedish Cope logs stack with the half moon pattern between the logs. The logs are a full round, so they provide a rounded surface on the inside and outside. The corners are always a full saddle notch style with this kind of home. An 8 inch Swedish Cope log home usually starts out around $165 per square foot for a turnkey. The 9, 10, and 12 inch diameter log shells cost more as they require more log materials, thus increasing the total turkey price overall.

crystal lake log home front view

Crystal Lake Swedish Cope Log Home with Prow

Timber Frame Homes

The next stop on our budget ladder is the Heavy Timber Frame homes. Our timber frame homes are made with a precut timber structure that is square in profile and uses the traditional joinery of mortise and tenon. The timbers are milled from the strong Douglas Fir wood species. Often the timber frame homes are wrapped in SIP panels on both the exterior walls and the roof. SIP panels, short for Structural Insulated Panels, are pre-built panels with sheathing on the outside and insulation inside. They are lifted into place with a crane, thus speeding up the assembly time of the home on the job site. Here in Montana a Timber Frame with SIP panels turnkeys for roughly $180 to $200 per square foot.

Handcrafted Log Homes

Handcrafted log homes are stacked log homes with wider log diameters and longer log lengths than their milled log home cousins. The logs are usually about 12 to 16 inches in diameter and up to 50 feet in length. The natural taper of the logs is built into the shell through first hand peeling. The handcrafted logs are either scribe fit together with the Scandinavian Full Scribe method or built in the chinking style. Handcrafted log homes turnkey between about $200 to $225 per square foot, here in Montana, depending on the design.

Handcrafted Post and Beam Homes

Handcrafted Post and Beam Homes are the top of our turnkey cost ladder. They are either equal to or more than a handcrafted stacked log home. For a post and beam homes we use a round profile log that is first hand peeled, retaining the natural taper of the log. Then the posts and beams and crafted together using the traditional mortise and tenon joinery. Post and Beam is very similar to the Timber Framing except the Timber Frame uses square timber profile members and the cutting is done on a CNC machine. In contrast, a Round Post and Beam home has all of the joinery and forming of the individual log members by hand. Nothing is cut on a CNC machine for this style home, thus increasing the labor. A Handcrafted Post and Beam Home turnkeys for about $210 to $240 per square foot depending on the home design and wood species the owners choose. Western Red Cedar is always more expensive than other wood species.

As you choose a home style for yourself, I would encourage you to remember that part of the turnkey pricing is based on the finish materials you select. Things like expensive flooring throughout the house, $20,000 real antler chandeliers, and bathrooms teeming with custom tile work increase the cost. Our cost estimates above are based on good quality materials, some hardwood floors, tile, and moderately priced kitchen cabinets, bathroom fixtures, and light fixtures. Really, you the homeowner, dictates the final turnkey price more than you may realize.

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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