The Real Cost of Building a Log Home

Log cabins and log homes have a beauty and charm that appeals to many people. Many would-be log home builders shy away from actually taking the plunge and building the style of home they most desire. This isn’t usually due to the costs associated with this type of structure.

But, many log homes don’t actually cost significantly more than a stick-built home of similar size. The real costs of building a log home don’t really start to add up until construction is finished, and the home begins to settle.

Log Homes vs Stick Built Homes

In a stick built home, lumber is used to construct the frame of the home, which is then covered in plywood, and given an exterior cladding. The interior walls are usually stud framed, filled with insulation, then given a cover of sheetrock or drywall before finishing as well. 

For most people building a stick home, the biggest costs come in the finish material. For example, if you finish with a premium cladding or you opt for plaster walls inside. And once the home is built, you can generally expect that you won’t have a lot of associated repair or maintenance costs for at least a few years. After that, the costs are generally negligible and easy to budget for, particularly if you keep up with maintenance.

Log homes are a bit different in this regard. First, the building material itself – the logs – tends to be more expensive upfront than the lumber. This is because the logs need to be carefully selected for grade, size, and shape, while lumber can hide a lot of visual flaws, since you’ll be covering it over with cladding inside and out.

Log homes have logs exposed on the exterior and often on the interior as well. So the look and shape of the logs is important. You don’t have as many finishing costs, however, so even though the building material itself may be more costly, the finished building itself doesn’t tend to cost tremendously more once you subtract costs for things like siding. If you choose to leave the interior showing the natural logs as well, rather than finishing them in other ways, you can often keep costs down even more.

The problem for log homes, however, is that the costs don’t stop at the time of building completion. First, the logs often settle within the first year or two, creating a lot of chinks and exposures that need to be sealed. Sometimes this can also impact the windows and doors, and the home may need some serious help straightening things back out after a very short period of time. 

Next comes the ongoing costs. Log homes need to be pressure washed, stained, sealed, and rechinked very frequently. This adds up costs very quickly in terms of ongoing maintenance for the home. 

Natural surfaces tend to require a lot more in terms of ongoing maintenance and costs, and with log homes that feature those surfaces at least on the exterior if not on the interior as well, this leads to a very expensive property to maintain. This has little to do with the cost of building it, but more to do with the ongoing cost of maintaining it that a stick built home won’t have. 

Alternatives to High Cost Log Homes

For many people, it’s about the look of the log home, and not necessarily about what the property is built from. It’s possible to get a rustic-looking interior for stick-built homes by using natural wood flooring and wall cladding, as well as antique and reclaimed materials. 

For the exterior of the home, it’s possible to use log-look siding to give a stick-built home the appearance of a log cabin. Log-look siding can be installed over an existing home or a new stick-built home, often with costs that are similar to other types of siding. By using a log-look siding that’s made of a low or no-maintenance material like steel, you can achieve the style and appearance of a log home, but without the constant ongoing maintenance that makes them so expensive. 

Log-look steel siding has other advantages as well that can offset even more costs. It doesn’t require painting, comes backed with insulation which can lower energy costs, and can help seal up the exterior better than a traditional log home.

Get the Look for Less

If it’s the style of a log home that’s appealing, there are ways that you can achieve that look without needing to break the bank. Start with a stick-built home, finish the interiors in a rustic style, and invest in log-look steel siding from TruLog for the exterior. The finished result will be beautiful, comfortable, and lower in ongoing costs than a true log home. Get the look you want for less, and enjoy years of low maintenance living.

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