Log home kits are generally defined as a materials package that has been pre-cut and prepared to give you all the necessary logs and materials to enable you to build a defined amount of your log home. Unfortunately, there is no standard for defining the various levels of completeness among log home manufacturers. This oftentimes makes comparing the kits from manufacturer to manufacturer a difficult process. The process becomes even more complicated because the differences in type and quality of materials vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
For example, let's say you have kit materials lists from two different manufacturers that are identical down to the number of screws. One manufacturer's kit cost is 20% less than the other's. At face value it would seem the less expensive package is the better deal. But this is not necessarily the case, particularly if the lower-priced kit is comprised of green pine log and low-quality single pane windows and the other kit is made up of kiln-dried cedar logs and top of the line dual-pane windows with a 25-year warranty.
However, as a general rule of thumb, most log home manufacturers offer some variation of three packages: log and timber shell, weather-tight shell and a complete turn-key materials package.
The Log & Timber Package (LTP) is best suited for developers, builders and/or general contractors who have experience building log homes and also have access to wholesale building materials. LTPs typically include the precut, fitted and numbered logs for the exterior walls and timber for joists, beams, posts and trusses (sealant/caulking tape, lag bolts, splines, nails, screws, nuts, bolts and washers are included). Windows, doors, flooring, interior studding, sheetrock/drywall, moldings, roof decking, roofing or other finished materials are not included. When purchasing a LTP, understand that the total cost of materials can be more than double the LTP kit cost, so plan accordingly.
The Weather-Tight Shell Package (WTS) is the most popular for log home enthusiasts who are building their first log home. As its name suggest, this package typically contains all the material necessary to erect a weather-tight shell that allows a new home-owner to seal the home off from the elements and continue working on the interior at whatever pace or budget that suits them best. Like the LTP, the WST kit includes all the exterior logs and timer to frame the house. Also included in most WTS kits are the windows and exterior doors (including bucks and trim), roofing materials, interior framing materials (2X4 / 2X6), second story floor joists and sub-flooring (as applicable) and all porch/decking material. Sealant/caulking tape, lag bolts, splines, nails, screws, nuts, bolts and washers are also included. A WTS package typically gets builders to 70% completion. Finished flooring, interior walls and appliances are not included.
Turn-Key Packages (TKP) are typically more expensive, but they include everything you will need to build your new log home so that you just turn the key and move into your new home. A TKP offers some advantages: by sourcing all the materials from a single supplier, most buyers can save money compared to buying smaller quantities of materials from several different vendors, plus there are fewer invoices and payments to manage. If there happens to be a problem with any of the materials, supplies or appliances, you have one point of contact to call to get things resolved. Because of the volume of kits produced, some of the larger log home manufacturing companies, like Cedar Knoll Log Homes, get wholesale pricing on non-log materials and pass that savings on to their customers.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference and budgetary constraints. The best advice I can offer is to work with a log home company that makes you feel at ease and comfortable; one that is willing to work with you to give you what you want, not one that tries hard to push on you what they want to sell because it is the most profitable (for them). Lastly, while I still believe that a handshake means a deal, get everything in writing: a signed contract by both parties protects everyone.
Ron Marx is president of Cedar Knoll Log Homes, a leading log home and log cabin manufacturer. Ron has more than 25 years of log home building experience. Cedar Knoll Log Homes has been designing and manufacturing custom log home kits and log cabin kits since 1980. Cedar Knoll Log Homes’ corporate headquarters and 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art milling facility, along with a 1680 square foot beautifully appointed log home model, are situated just off the shores of Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, NY. Cedar Knoll Log Homes uses only the finest Adirondack cedar and pine available and dries logs at the company's onsite kiln. Prospective log home / log cabin buyers, builders, contractors, wholesalers or dealers are encouraged to call 800-315-0626 for additional information or visit loghomeslogcabins.com