Log Home Pricing: the key to happy outcomes, is a realistic budget

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One of the most frequent questions we get asked at Confederation is “how much does a log home cost?” or “what’s your price per square foot?”

It’s a tricky question to answer because every single home is unique.

We always say that “every home is a custom home”… but “custom home” can sometimes read as “expensive home,” which isn’t necessarily the case.

The key to your happy ending begins with a realistic quote.

We see it all the time: people come to us with their plans quoted by another company at unrealistically low prices in order to get a deposit only to quickly see the price go up, up, up as the process moves along.

We want you to go into the planning and designing of your new home with accurate budget expectations. It pains us to have another company’s customers approach us, deposit already paid and costs ballooning.

We’re also committed to giving you realistic expectations and honest, transparent pricing. So we’ve put together this guide (and a bonus downloadable budget worksheet) to help you figure out how to start building a budget for your dream home.

Comparing Apples to Apples: What Does the Price Include?

Before we talk numbers, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what those numbers include.

Be sure to compare apples to apples. Some companies advertise just the pricing of the shell, and those low numbers can look like a better deal on the surface.

At Confederation, we provide a Total Log & Timber Frame Package that includes custom design and total support along the way.

IMPORTANT NOTE: While we always provide a quote for your log or timber frame package, our job is to help you understand the bottom line by working with you to estimate the total cost of your finished home. The prices we’ll talk about in this article are for an all-in, finished home with a foundation and unfinished basement (we’re not including decks and garages here as they vary greatly depending on the plan*) – because, let’s face it, you’re building a home, not a shell. At the end of the day, you need to estimate the total cost.

What Does a Log Home Cost, Really?

So, without further ado, let’s get into some real numbers:

A Confederation log home can be anywhere from $275 per square foot on the low end, to $375+ per square foot on the high end.

Now, those are Canadian dollars, so if you’re American, there’s some very good news for you: due to the current strength of the American dollar, US buyers enjoy savings of 25%-35% from the USD to CDN dollar.

That means a $350,000 CDN package for buyers in the United States would be just $260,000 to $280,000 USD depending on the exchange rate.. That’s a HUGE difference.

If you’re planning on building a small log home, keep in mind no matter the square footage, it’s going to be pretty difficult to build a log home with a budget under $400,000 CDN. So that’s a realistic starting point for a basic log home.

Though, building a smaller home and finishing the basement is a much less expensive way to double the size of your home, as your basement could be finished at $25-$75+/sq.ft.

When setting your budget, keep in mind on average, most people spend 10-15% above their new home “contract price” due to making changes and upgrades along the way. It’s a good idea to start below your budget as a precaution.

Custom Designed for Your Budget

When we say our homes are all “custom designed,” that means they’re designed not just to fit your lifestyle, but also your budget.

Looking at our log home floor plans, the Hillcrest might be $800,000 for me but just $675,000 for you, because I went with lots of timber accents throughout and a high-end kitchen.

Speaking of kitchens, you know you can do a new kitchen for $20,000 or you can do one for $150,000+ – it all really depends on what you’re designing.

It’s what makes the question we’re asked most often — how much does this plan cost to build? — so difficult to answer.

Bottom line: we want you to be able to build the home of your dreams, within your budget. Since all our packages include a custom design, we’ll work with you to include the features that are your priority while working within your budget.

The Biggest Factors in Pricing Your Home

Every choice you make will have some impact on your budget, but there are the main factors to keep in mind that will have a big impact on the price of your home.

DIY vs. Turnkey

Deciding how your home will be built is key to how much it will cost. Will you do it yourself (DIY), or have a builder build it for you? Maybe you know a builder who can give you some good pricing? In any case, we can help!

DIY is going to be the most cost effective option. Roughly ten percent of our buyers build their own homes. Usually they’re contractors by trade, or have home building experience.

For our DIYers, we host special educational days here at our head office to teach you all the tips and tricks of the log and timber trade that will help you erect your shell like a pro.

The other 90% of our home buyers go with an experienced contractor, which we can help with. We have a number of experienced and qualified builders we’re happy to suggest.

Once you’ve chosen a contractor, you’ll hire them directly; there are no additional administrative or “middle-man” fees.

And just like our DIY builders, we’ll be there to support you and your builder every step of the way.

You could also do a mix of both, and have the shell erected for you and act as general contractor for the interior – whatever fits your budget and comfort level.

Timber Frame vs. Log Home

This is another decision that’ll have a huge impact on the budget. And like everything else with a custom home, you have options!

A true timber frame home is a “structural timber frame” home, because the posts that meet the timber beams overhead and connect to the roof truss actually support the house.

It provides a skeleton for the home and then walls are built inside, or around this structure – essentially a house within a house. And that’s what makes it more expensive.

The popularity of timber frame has exploded. And for good reason – it’s strong and dynamic and it offers up a host of design options that allow you to create something truly unique. It has that “wow” factor. A true timber frame home will come in at the top end of the range ($375+/sq.ft.).

On the other hand, a log home has a solid wood perimeter. But that doesn’t mean the entire inside has to be wood. All your interior partition walls can be finished in either log siding (if you prefer the all wood look), or drywall (for those who want a contrast to the log walls). There is a lot of design flexibility in a log home.

Of course, you can still get that great timber frame look in a log home, using posts and beams and timber trusses that create all the drama without all the engineering.

It’s a great way to achieve the timber frame look at a fraction of the price! Decorative timber frame accents allow you to control your budget because you are in charge of how much or how little you would like.

What’s Your Dream Home Budget?

Want to get an idea of how much your ideal log home will cost?

We’ve created this free budget calculator so you can just plug in your options and get a rough estimate of how much it will cost. (This worksheet is a simplified version of the one we walk through with our customers, so you can get an idea of the price range you’re looking at before we get into the nitty-gritty details.)

Just choose the version based on your location get started!

* Please note all prices and square-foot costs are estimates at time of writing. These numbers as well as exchange rate examples are subject to change without further notice. On the other hand, why delay – prices generally only go one way over time! Let’s plan your perfect home today.