Cost to Build a Log Home

Sue | October 19th, 2012 - 10:20 pm

It is very important to evaluate the cost to build a log home before you proceed very far in your planning. Most construction costs are done on a square foot basis. This means that the builder or log home company will tell you that your home will cost $xxx per square foot to construct your log home. But within that $xxx you may feel more like $???????? So let me try to break down things for you and explain how square foot pricing works, why we have found it to be accurate (if you do it everyday like we do), and how it can help you clarify your dreams into dollars and cents.

Log Home Cost Projections Per Square Foot

First let’s look at cost per square foot and what that means. First you calculate the total square footage of the living space of the home on the first and upper levels. Then you multiply this square footage against the estimate. Right now for turnkey pricing on a milled log home we are seeing about $150 to $160 per square foot. For the Montana Log Home Plan of 1,988 square feet and multiplied it by $150 you get $298,200. If you take the total square footage of 1,988 square feet times $160 this equals $318,080. So roughly I would estimate that the Montana would cost roughly $298,200 to $318,080 to build on a full unfinished basement. These costs are based on good finish materials, not extremely cheap, but not extremely high end either.

Montana Log Home Plan

Things not typically included in a turnkey estimate are cost of the property, well drilling, septic, bringing utilities to the lot, driveway, landscaping, garage, any off-the-grid power options, delivery of the log home package, and finishing the basement. These are very job site specific so we don’t include them.

If you were building a handcrafted log home we would estimate about $180 to $200 per square foot for the full turnkey on a full unfinished basement. The main difference in costs between the two styles are due to the logs themselves and the cost of a crane for the set up days of the handcrafted log home.

Weather Tight Log Home Package

For those who want to build their own log home they are uninterested in a total turnkey price, as I mentioned above. Self builders want a good quality home but they want to do their own labor to save labor. For this type of person a ‘dryin’ contract is very helpful.

So what is a dry-in contract for a log home?

A dry-in is where the log cabin is built to the stage of being ‘weather tight’ or ‘dried in’ but the rest of the interior work is not completed. The dry-in includes: the log stack, installation of exterior doors, windows, roofing, exterior trim, soffit and fascia. Once this is done then the home cannot be damaged by the elements. Note: foundation costs are usually done locally by another contractor and are not included in the dry-in contract but  it is an integral part of getting the home to the dry-in stage.

Log Home Construction Costs

So here are a break down of the foundation costs and the construction costs to get a home to the dry-in stage of completion. These figures are based on turnkey projects that we have bid or built in Montana, Wyoming, and Kentucky over the last 6 to 9 months.

Log work:
Precut milled log home shells cost about $24 to $28 per square foot depending on the log style, size, and options you choose.

Handcrafted log home shells cost an estimated $45 to $60 per square foot, depending on the plan. The log shells only include the log work of four exterior log walls, log or timber ridge beam, log joists to support loft, log staircase and railing first floor to upper, and construction drawings.

Dry-in Materials:
This includes exterior doors, windows, roofing, first floor subfloor, final roofing materials of shingles or metal, soffit, fascia, and exterior door and window trim.

The dry-in materials cost between about $18 to $25 per square foot depending on the choice of windows, doors, and final roofing materials. There is such a wide variety of windows available, greatly contributing to the broad $18 to $25 estimate.

Foundation Costs:
Foundation costs vary area to area with the cost of cement. But overall we are seeing about $10 to $12 per square foot for a 4 foot crawl space. For a full basement with 8″ thick poured walls we are seeing about $18 to $20 per square foot. But again it is best to check with a local contractor.

Dry-in labor on a handcrafted log home ranges between about $25 to $30 per square foot depending on the log home plan. The dry-in labor includes the installation of the first floor subfloor, stacking the logs, installing the exterior doors, windows, roofing, soffit, fascia, and exterior door and window trim. Some contractors will also install the interior framing lumber in this cost. Note: the labor for the foundation is included in the foundation cost. Even if you are building the log cabin yourself many people choose to get a subcontractor to do the foundation work.

Other Log Home Costs

If a log home only has a small porch, then this cost is usually included in the cost estimates. But if the home has a lot square footage in the porches then they are quoted separately.

Another cost that is not standard to include is a fireplace. These are considered an upgrade and are bid based on the fire place insert unit the customer chooses, how much stonework is needed, and if the stone is cultured or real masonry rock.  We usually budget between $3000 and $4000 for a zero clearance fireplace unit and another $4000 to $5000 to build a modest chimney and stone around it– labor and materials.

Given these log home prices and the understanding of how to use the cost per square foot, you are well on your way to estimating your new log home yourself. The cost of building a log cabin never seem to get less expensive, but planning is still important even if you are three or four years away from building you log home.

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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