Understanding Pricing for Handcrafted Log Homes

Sue | February 5th, 2014 - 5:21 am

Handcrafted Log Homes are one of the styles of log and timber home construction that we offer. The handcrafts were part of history centuries before the milled log homes were even invented. The use of the round raw logs, huge diameters, and hand scribing are characteristics that only about 10% of the log homes in the United States today possess. While the style is timeless let’s look at the breakdown in pricing for Handcrafted Log Homes

big handcrafted log homes

Big Handcrafted Logs in Handcrafted Log Homes

Turnkey Pricing for Handcrafted Log Homes

The turnkey is the total price that your home will cost to have fully built, so you can move into it. Turnkeys include the foundation, excavation, log shell cost, stacking the log shell, installing all of the dry in materials of first floor subfloor, exterior doors, windows, roofing, soffit, fascia, interior framing, porches, decks, decking, door knobs, and exterior door and window trim, and then all of the finish work on the interior. Then the home is entirely ready for you to move into. A full turnkey on a handcrafted log home in Montana and Wyoming currently is about $205 to $220 per square foot in most areas. So you would take the total square footage of the living space of the home and multiply it by $205 and $220 to get a rough ballpark of what a turnkey price would cost. Bare in mind that areas such as Big Sky, Montana, Jackson, Wyoming are high priced areas and do not fall into this turnkey range. For Big Sky, Montana a price of $250+ per square foot would be a reasonable starting place for a turnkey on an 8 inch milled log home.

Things not included in a turnkey estimate are items like: cost of property, well, septic, bringing utilities to the home, driveway, landscaping, garages, alternative energy sources, etc. These are very job site specific and can’t be estimated without taking a specific job site into consideration.

Log Shell Pricing for Handcrafted Log Homes

Within a turnkey price there are many ways to break down costs. The turnkey is EVERYTHING (except what I listed in the paragraph directly above this one.) When we price a log home we usually begin with a log shell estimate. The log shell includes the log walls, log roof system, log support posts, log floor joists, log staircase, log railing for the interior, log header beam and support posts for any covered porches, log wall assembly materials, and construction drawings. A log shell can be built from any of several wood species including: Lodgepole Pine, Engelmann Spruce, Douglas Fir, Western Larch, and Western Red Cedar. Of these wood species the Western Red Cedar log homes are the most expensive. An economical log that works well is the Lodgepole Pine. Handcrafted log shells usually cost between about $45 to $60 per square foot depending on the log species, size of the home, and features of the exterior and interior.  Log homes under about 900 square feet cost more per square foot as there is less square footage over which to spread the cost but still the same number of log corners to craft. Homes with multiple roof lines, extra corners, and many interior log walls increase in cost as well.

Dryin Packages for Handcrafted Log Homes

A dryin package is a log home package or ‘kit’ that includes not only the log shell but also all of the materials needed to keep the weather out of the log home. The log shell cost is not included in the dryin materials cost (unless it is noted that way in your pricing sheet.) The dryin materials include the exterior doors, windows, roofing, soffit, fascia, first floor subfloor, upper subfloor, exterior door and window trim, interior framing lumber, and 1×6 pine tongue and groove for soffits and ceilings. For the dryin materials we usually budget about $18 to $25 per square foot. This cost can vary, but as you build out your log home budget this is a good price range to keep in mind if your log home is over 900 square feet. So to reach the total number take the square footage of the home and multiply it by the total square footage of the first and second floor of the home– the total living space, not including any square footage in the basement. If a basement is included it is always calculated as an unfinished basement unless otherwise specified.

Things not included in a Dryin Package are insulation, any finish materials for the interior, paint, stain, door knobs, caulking, nails, screws, staples, etc. The owners need to select their own paint and stain. Caulking should be done when the exterior staining is done and not before hand. And staples, screws, air-nailer nails, and nails should be purchased by the contractor because he knows what size he wants, what kind his air-nailers receive, etc.

When we price out a log home the log shell is quoted first. Then we provide a range of about $18 to $25 per square foot for the other dryin materials.

labor for handcrafted log homes

Building Handcrafted Log Homes

Dryin Labor for Handcrafted Log Homes

The next breakdown within the turnkey pricing is the dryin labor. The dryin labor is the labor required to install the first floor subfloor, stack the logs, and install all of the dryin materials except the 1×6 pine tongue and groove on the ceilings. The 1×6 pine tongue and groove is considered a finish cost because it cannot be installed until all of the insulation is installed and the electric is roughed in. The dryin labor for a handcrafted log home is currently running between about $30 to $35 per square foot in most areas of Montana and Wyoming. Costs may vary depending on your exact location. Insulation is also not included in a dryin labor cost.

Foundation Costs and Excavation for Handcrafted Log Homes

Foundation and excavation costs are also included in the total turnkey. Anytime you receive a bid for excavation remember it is based on ‘normal digging’. Under the surface of your property lurks the most un-knowns for you and your budget. Obstacles in excavation that can increase the costs are boulders in your foundation hole, too soft of ground, etc. On one job site here in Montana we had to bring in a dynamite blaster from a local mine and do some blasting to get a boulder shaved back so we could fit the foundation in. For another job site near a river bed the ground was too soft so we had to have an engineer visit the job site and then do a geo-grid build up. This cost an additional $18,000. But it is vital to make sure that your handcrafted log home has a solid foundation to sit on or your home could sink. Foundation costs vary so much depending on your job location and type of foundation — crawl space, cement slab, or full basement— that you choose that is it almost impossible to estimate that cost ahead of time.

Other Costs For Handcrafted Log Homes

Within our original $205 to $220 per square foot we are estimating for a turnkey is mainly the utilities of heating, plumbing, and electric, the finish materials, and the labor to install them. If you are only thinking you need a dryin, then you should focus on the log shell estimate, dryin labor, and dryin materials cost while also including a line for excavation and foundation. If you don’t want to have to do anything for your new log home except go shopping for finish materials and move in when it is completed then a turnkey is the level of service you should focus on.

We are happy to also say that we have builders throughout the western United States that can handle a dryin or a full turnkey in almost any area. We also have builders that service the east coast. So we can assist you with your handcrafted log home even past the planning and log shell phases.

For more on handcrafted log homes be sure to visit our PROJECTS page and our VIDEOS page. On these two sections of our website we detail the build of the Bear Creek Plan handcrafted log home from start to finish. If big logs appeal to you then a handcraft may be the style you have been dreaming of.

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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