What is the cost of building a log home vs. a timber frame home in 2019?
Still, it’s a question that is on everyone’s mind, so we’ll take a stab at it. For many reasons, dollars per square foot is a terrible way to estimate the cost of a home. But, we all do it. It’s especially misleading when there are a lot of open spaces, vertical design opportunity, porches, basements, limited “head space”, etc. Having said all that: you might expect to spend $170-250 per square foot for a nicely-appointed Log or Timber Frame home in a medium-construction-cost area. It will probably be close to the same price of a very high quality, one-of-a-kind, truly custom conventionally constructed home with an equivalent amount of architectural “wow factor” and personal space.
Are log or timber frame homes more expensive than conventionally constructed homes?
The short answer: The shortest, but not-very-useful, answer is yes. A square foot of a log wall is more expensive than a square foot of 2×4 wall. A square foot of heavy timber, highly insulated cathedral roof with a wooden decking ceiling is more expensive than a square foot of 2×4 truss roof with sheetrock ceiling and fiberglass insulation. That is true no matter who manufactures the logs or Timber Frame. If it is simply shelter you want, then conventional is cheaper. But, that’s an apples and oranges comparison.
If you want to try to do apples to apples (or at least something close), try to consider whether you get any aesthetic, or spiritual, or just feel-good value of a log or Timber Frame home.
Log Homes, Log Home Kits
What is that value worth to you? If you had to build a conventional home with the same amount of attraction, ambiance, architectural wow factor, creativity, personal expression, sense of family, etc. — would you have to add expense to that simplistic evaluation of conventional construction cost? You also get to do interesting things (for example little lofts) in the vertical dimension with a heavy timber roof system. If you tried to duplicate that in a conventional home, it would cost a lot.
If you truly want a Log and Timber Frame home, it is likely that you would have to spend more than you think on a conventionally-constructed home to get sort of some “value-equal”. With log and Timber Frame construction, you basically get a great deal of satisfaction simply from the walls and roof. Using conventional construction techniques, then doing extra things to create equal personal value drives the cost up to the same ballpark as a Log or Timber Frame.
How can I afford a log or timber frame home?
We at Hearthstone have helped thousands of people with this question since 1971. First of all, there’s no magic wand. We can’t make the costs go away and neither can anyone else. But there are things we can do to help.
- Build as much as the home as you can afford with our systems, then build things like garages, or non-essential parts of the home, conventionally.
- Efficient design: once again, we can’t perform miracles. But, if you are already working with a design that you like, there may be some inherently expensive, or wasteful, parts of your design that we can help you with.
- Build a smaller house. Of course, we all can use a bigger, and bigger, and bigger house. But, do we need it? We can help you work on that. This solution is full of caveats, however. The most common regrets we hear from customers are (1) I wish I had done it sooner, and (2) I wish I had made it bigger. Also, understand that small houses can have a high cost per square foot — because frequently some of the most expensive things are still there: a fireplace, a kitchen, the same number of bathrooms, the same entry way, etc. Having said that, however, there is still a chance, with our design and practical experience, we can downsize your home and reduce the cost — and keep most of what you want.
- Build a smaller house with a future addition already designed into the current construction.
- The best solution, financially: buy a FastTrack Hearthstone home. We have a selection of plans that are heavily discounted with one condition: you don’t change anything. All the design and engineering is done, and there is no customization expense to us. You, however, can still turn it into a highly customized home by how you outfit the home. Another big benefit: we can deliver these homes very quickly.
Which costs more — a log or timber frame home?
Most timber frame homes cost more than most log homes. But, once again, that’s a short — and not terribly helpful — answer. There is a pretty big range of price points in log homes. There is a range of price points in timber frame homes as well, but not as big a range. The vast majority of log homes built are milled, “production” homes. The highly handcrafted log homes — built from massive logs, and with handcrafted roof systems, etc. are likely to every bit as expensive as a timber frame home.
How do Hearthstone’s prices compare to other log or timber frame companies?
The various independent log home publications have said over and over that their research shows that regardless of the price of the Log package, the finish costs — to the same quality and appointments — aren’t much different from one manufacturer to the next. The biggest reason is that the appointments and specifications(number of fireplaces, finished flooring, window and door quality, etc.) make up most of the cost of the homes. Another big reason is that, most of the times, the cheaper the Log or Timber package, the more on-site work to do.
You can try to create an apples-to-apples spreadsheet of specs, species, etc. until you fall over exhausted. And, you should do that. But, the truth of the matter is that there is a wide range of skill, competence, and undefinable value in any product from any company in any industry. The old adage “you get what you pay for” didn’t get to be an old adage by accident. It tends to be true — especially in an industry where you can’t really spec out quality, dependability, chemistry, and integrity. But, in our industry, quality, dependability, chemistry, and integrity are paramount. You will probably never spend as much money on something that means as much to you as this home.
Whether you buy from Hearthstone or not, please remember this guidance: quality, dependability, chemistry, and integrity are what will determine whether you spent your money wisely. Find a company who projects those characteristics for you. When you do — then that is your company. Whatever price that company charges is likely to be a true reflection of the value of what you are buying. Free enterprise being what it is, none of us can overcharge much and get away with it for long. The cost is what the cost is. If it seems a bit high, there are probably good reasons. If it seems a bit low, there are also probably good reasons.
Most people who come to us are building a dream that they want to savor for the rest of their lives and they want to pass on for generations. Any difference in the package price between one company and the next is trivial when you consider it at the monthly payment level — and then compare that to the importance of getting what you want.
Find a company that makes what you want, and whose philosophy, reputation, and integrity suits you. Buy from them — build your home right — and enjoy it.