Cabin Kits???

Baerman

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Does anyone have input on whether or not its economical to purchase and pay a builder to install a cabin kit? I just question if it's more economical to go kit or custom. I also question if the kits are quality. We are looking at possibly purchasing a Yellowstone Log Home, model in the link below. I know some of you have experience in cabins and others in construction.

The kit only includes all materials to make it water tight, deck and interior wall, floor and step finish work. Still required for customization would be the fire place, kitchen, bathroom, electrical and plumbing. Plus any other customization we would want.

Any input you have would be appreciated.

Kit we are considering...
http://yellowstoneloghomes.com/sites/default/files/floor-plans/Yellowstone_Log_Homes_Forester.pdf
 

SFC B

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How much experience do you have? How much TIME do you have? Is this something you would enjoy or would it build resentment in you? Personally, I would love to build my self a timberframe cabin when I get retired because I love working with wood and would rather do it myself. I would say if you have any question about it you should have someone else do it....not really something you want to "trial and error" on. My $.02
 

roadhunter

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Trying to buy the kit yourself and then find someone to put it together for you is a recipe for disaster. Many contractors won't enter into a situation like that and if they do you will be responsible for any issues with the cabin as you supplied the materials. Mix in a really busy construction season which will make things more difficult and a few more subs (plumber, electrician, concrete, etc) and you will be attempting to be a GC. If you like babysitting adults you might enjoy it but most people have no business trying to act as their own GC.

Much easier to find a log home builder who will handle the entire project for you so you don't deal with the headaches.

Or if you really want to go crazy buy a sawmill and build it yourself!
 

hank4elk

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As a retired builder/GC I would say get someone to build it for you that has exp. and good rep. if you have the $. You can custumize it later.
Most folks no matter how well they mean have no clue on how to build one,particularly a log home.
That said,I was going to build my dream cabin shop on my NM ranch myself, but in this day and age and overpriced .50 cent turned $5.00 part,it's out of the ?
The barn kit I was looking at 5 yrs ago now costs 16k instead of 15k,but the nails,screws,lumber,and all that goes into it costs hundreds of x's more today. And it's mostly crap.IMHO Getting subs to show up is hard enough when your a GC ,so good luck with that as owner/builder.

I'm now thinking of moving an older place here(myself,as no one is available that is worth spit) or getting a used mobile to remodel and my shop will be made from a couple containers.
And I'm so happy I'm not in the trades anymore,or a Park Ranger dealing with people.............and what passes for a halfway decent finished product these days is what Grandpa called junk.
 
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Festus

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I put log home kits together for a living - not build them (anymore), but put the actual kits together and ship them out. We have a CNC machine that notches every piece and is accurate to 1/32 of an inch. If you have any amount of construction skills, these kits can be done yourself, but you will still need to do footers, foundation, subfloor, metal/shingles, electrical, plumbing, treatment, staining, well, septic, etc, etc....
You definitely don't want to act as your own GC, unless you have experience - like said above 'baby sitting adults' and then you are still responsible for everything.
It seems every company out there sells a 'pre-cut' kit, but most just cut the logs and pieces to length. The actual joinery and notches must still be done in the field. Make sure you know exactly what is meant by 'kit' or especially 'pre-cut'. I've seen actual contracts and plans that state on every page "cuts accurate to +-3 inches"!!!!!!!!!! Not something you want to deal with without the proper tools and know-how.
I recommend all my customers get an experienced contractor to review my kit quote and then fill in the blanks for a total and complete job without any surprises.

With that being said, I've had no experience with Yellowstone Log Homes.
 

hank4elk

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Festus,
You guys do SIP/log type kits for across country? Trusses or beams/logs? Floor systems?
I'm building a barn now and digging tube footers I'll do one at a time myself.

Sorry for the sort of hijack Bman, but there are several log kit guys nearby in AZ and they are either Real Good and Very Expensive or the with-in-3"when finished school..............lol.
That kits floorplan looks pretty clean and has all I need.

I'm lucky I moved to NM were a building code is unheard of just about and I built to the toughest standards in the country my whole life, I worked for Grandpa first.....
 
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Baerman

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Thanks for the info guys. I have not intention of being a general on it. I would certainly hire someone to build it and line up the subs. I'm mostly curious if the kits are a good way to go and if they would save time for a builder. Good points made by the accuracy of what is delivered, including notches, etc. I'll look into this for sure now.
 

hank4elk

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I've done the felling and all when I was 25...lol. Never again tho,hah.
Some kits I did were real clean,some I think are still moving all due to how they were produced/built.
Granted I only built 5 log places,but I did do 15 post and beam and I mixed 3 with SIPs and logs and they came out sweet.
The machinery and computerization has changed the game big time IMHO and if a company has it together they can produce a quality/cheaper product .Their choice.
I just had some trusses delivered that cost me a 1/4 what everyone else quoted, and my Grandpa would have been pleased with the product too.
Saw the local "Custom Builder" having some delivered by "The Other Guys" on a jobsite he has nearby...............I could see the gaps in the cuts/joints from sloppy work driving by while they were still bundled.What will they look like in a year? Hah,custom air flow..........all hot.
 

Pagosa

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Sounds like a great idea and it would be fun to build it. One thing about log homes is prices for electrical and plumbing are about double the price as compared to stick built. If you can design either 2x6 or 2x4 walls for interior and run most of wiring, plumbing, and venting through those walls it will save you a lot of money and headaches.
 

Festus

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Thanks for the info guys. I have not intention of being a general on it. I would certainly hire someone to build it and line up the subs. I'm mostly curious if the kits are a good way to go and if they would save time for a builder. Good points made by the accuracy of what is delivered, including notches, etc. I'll look into this for sure now.

Yes, a quality/accurate kit will definitely save time in the field, but you also pay the mill to do it. Long and short of it is (no pun intended) somebody has to notch and fit everything - it all depends on the end result you're looking for (and willing to pay for). Pieces milled by a specialized computerized machine, with wire chases pre-drilled and receptacles/switches pre mortised, with exterior window/door trim recessed; logs/timbers custom cut in the field by a notable contractor; or hacked and stacked on weekends by 2 guys with a chain saw...

I just had a roofing contractor and his son (no log home experience) stack their log cabin kit from our machine, 26'x26' in 2 days.
The last one that I helped on, a 30'x44' ranch, the logs were stacked by 4 experienced men in one long Saturday. They were setting roof trusses Monday morning.

On the other hand, you would be better off with a log home contractor that knows what he's doing with blank logs than with a poorly cut, sloppy fitting 'kit'.
My 'professional' experience...
 
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ERSS

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10 + years ago, we were kind of in the same position / decision tree. I ended up designing my own cabin, taking what I liked best from several kit plans, log home mags, etc.. Took the custom plan to Yellowstone Log and they got the structural engineering done and set up the log package. They have several builders that are independent, but experienced with working with their log packages, both kits and custom. We used a guy that is still around, Jason Donnelly, out of Rigby to stack the logs, put the roof on, internal log staircase and then we did the rest. This worked out great, we had no experience or the equipment necessary to stack 12 inch logs. Been very happy with the way it all worked out. Would do it again....and probably will.
 

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sierrahunter

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My wife and I purchased a kit from Conestoga Log cabins several years ago. We love it. Since the kit came prewired and weathertight, it was easy to serve as the GC. We hired someone to clear the trees, then someone to lay the foundation and dig the septic. We had the company assemble the cabin, which we think was the best decision we've ever made. It wasn't even straight forward for the company's crew in some ways, so I would have failed miserably myself. After the structure is assembled, you can take your time with the interior. Do what you can yourself, and hire out the rest.
Good luck with your project!
 

Hem

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My focus as a contractor is mostly residential and conventional construction.There was a period early in my career where I was involved with many log structures.So I have experience on both sides.I have seen quality and i have seen swag when it comes to log homes.IMO log homes are pretty to look at but the biggest waste of money out there.Its one thing to have a little bity cabin that the purpose IS to be rustic and back to the basics.But to build a log structure the size of an average house is simply NOT the most bang for your buck.The most alarming aspect of log structures is the R-value,or insulation value. A ten inch log is worth about two inches of insulation, (batt variety).So dont expect a comfortable building in either extreme seasons unless you dump money in to heating/cooling. ching ching. As for quality, I would do everything possible to visit actual homes built by a company to insure decent craftsmanship.I have seen green logs used and cured logs,this is important to understand because for obvious reasons as material cures it shrinks.Some log designs anticipate log shrinking and have provisions to manage this.For example some of the homes I worked on we had to allow 4" slip joints over doors/windows to allow for settling.
I could go on.
Log homes are charming, and maybe a modest vacation home could be fun but I would think long and hard about a more sizable structure.I would recommend slowing the process down and doing as much homework as possible. Finding a builder that will truly manage a quality job from start to finish is probably your best bet but could be a challenge to find.
p.s. log homes=mega flies year round inside.Bet on it.
 

Festus

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Obviously I'm going to be biased because I make and sell log homes for a living, and this is an internet forum so you are going to get every opinion out there, but it is a proven fact that log homes are actually (or could/should be) more efficient than stick built homes as far as heating and cooling. It is a HUGE misconception that log homes are drafty, hard to heat, and full of bugs. Maybe in the pioneer days but this is 2015 and it doesn't have to be that way.

The biggest heat loss in any structure (other than glass - wins/doors) occurs at the connections at windows, doors, top and bottom of walls, etc, and yes, log homes do typically have more of these connections, but when these trouble spots are done correctly you will end up with a more efficient structure overall. Fact. A log is a solid thermal mass and R-value rating is treated differently with them. A few minutes searching online will explain common misconceptions of logs and R-value.
Most areas even have separate codes just for this type of construction. In our area of VA code requires R-13 in framed walls, and an R-value of 5 in mass walls (solid timbers/logs). http://evstudio.com/mass-walls-and-required-insulation-r-value-energy-code/

I would also add that with properly dried (or even laminated) logs, shrinkage, settling, bowing, and warping are things of the past as well. Our standard recommendation with our kiln dried or laminated logs is 1/2" above doors and windows - same as stick framing.

With that said, they do tend to require more maintenance than a typical framed/siding or brick structure.
 
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greatwhitebuffalo

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I would also add that with properly dried (or even laminated) logs, shrinkage, settling, bowing, and warping are things of the past as well. Our standard recommendation with our kiln dried or laminated logs is 1/2" above doors and windows - same as stick framing.

With that said, they do tend to require more maintenance than a typical framed/siding or brick structure.



Will slash pine work?
 

Festus

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Will slash pine work?

I'm not familiar with slash pine, but I see it is a type of yellow pine. Yellow pine is very commonly used in this area for cabin logs.
The company I'm with has an excess supply of eastern white pine so that is what we exclusively use these past 8 or 10 years.
 

greatwhitebuffalo

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I'm sure poplar and oak would be all the better. By my estimate, I've got about four cabins behind my house that need to be cut and put together.
 

ERSS

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Obviously I'm going to be biased because I make and sell log homes for a living, and this is an internet forum so you are going to get every opinion out there, but it is a proven fact that log homes are actually (or could/should be) more efficient than stick built homes as far as heating and cooling. It is a HUGE misconception that log homes are drafty, hard to heat, and full of bugs. Maybe in the pioneer days but this is 2015 and it doesn't have to be that way.

The biggest heat loss in any structure (other than glass - wins/doors) occurs at the connections at windows, doors, top and bottom of walls, etc, and yes, log homes do typically have more of these connections, but when these trouble spots are done correctly you will end up with a more efficient structure overall. Fact. A log is a solid thermal mass and R-value rating is treated differently with them. A few minutes searching online will explain common misconceptions of logs and R-value.
Most areas even have separate codes just for this type of construction. In our area of VA code requires R-13 in framed walls, and an R-value of 5 in mass walls (solid timbers/logs). http://evstudio.com/mass-walls-and-required-insulation-r-value-energy-code/

I would also add that with properly dried (or even laminated) logs, shrinkage, settling, bowing, and warping are things of the past as well. Our standard recommendation with our kiln dried or laminated logs is 1/2" above doors and windows - same as stick framing.

With that said, they do tend to require more maintenance than a typical framed/siding or brick structure.

I know ours, with 12 inch logs, can be a bugger to heat up when its single digits or lower outside. But once its heated up, it holds it real well. Almost like the logs hold on to the heat. As long as your windows and doors are sealed up tight, and max insulation in roof, I would agree...they are pretty efficient. One variable is how many windows, that is probably the biggest source of heat loss. So many cabins, mine included, are in an area where the view is amazing and should be maximized. Log homes get a bad rap when it comes to heating efficiency, but truly the culprits are more likely a full wall of windows and large, lofted ceiling great rooms.
 

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