The day you have been dreaming of is happening. You are buying an existing log home. Three bedrooms and two baths is what you know you want. Unfortunately, you do not know what you do not know.
Before you buy, have you considered the pros and cons? Would you know what essential things to look for in a cabin? Will you see if it is in good condition by just a walkthrough? Do you know the cost of maintaining or restoring a log home?
All this is not to deter you, but to let you know. When you have finished reading, I hope you will be well-equipped to make the right decision. In this article, I will briefly go over:
- the pros and cons of buying an existing log home including:
- provide you with ways to recognize trouble areas from and at the listing,
- discuss the importance of an inspection to determine if the log cabin is in good condition
- and the cost to maintain or restore a log cabin before you sign a contract for purchase.
Pros and Cons
While trying to buy an existing log home, you must be mindful of two things: your subjective feelings toward the home and the objective facts about the house. Considering the pros and cons of buying a log home would be best. You most likely have a long list of pros as it reminds you of country living, going back to the “good ole” days, it fits your hunting needs, coziness, the nostalgic American settlers, makes you feel like a Viking, green building, and energy efficiency. “That’s not a very lengthy list of pros,” you may be thinking. I didn’t promise it would be huge.
Regrettably, most of the pros are subjective or prioritize appearance. Sure. It gives you the impression that you are doing more to protect the environment. The pros list is based on individuality, as your pros may be perceived as negatives by others. That is why we will spend most of the section discussing the cons. Is owning one right for you? Let’s first look at the facts over feelings.
Facts over Feelings
First, you must remain objective. Your subjective feelings toward the home can distract you from seeing the truth. While the beautiful charm of a time past can be captivating, you know feelings can fade. It would be best if you looked at the facts.
Congratulations! Just so you know, you have made the wise decision to do your homework. Fact. It is essential not to overlook the cons, such as:
- exterior/interior maintenance costs,
- pest control,
- log homeowner insurance,
- and living in remote areas.
United Country Real Estate does a great job detailing “The Pros & Cons of Owning a Log Home.” I highly recommend reading it over.
Second, if you can, forget the allure and examine your ability to own a log home. This is key. When you buy a log home, you make the first of many investments in holding it. “First of many investments?” Glad you asked.
Your log home will NOT be maintenance-free. Maintenance is critical to the health and safety of your log home. You will need to clean it annually. This will cost you money as you should use a good cleaner for wood surfaces. Using the right products is helpful whether you go with Perma-Chink’s Log Wash or another brand. We highly recommend you read the article regarding maintenance in Perma-Chink’s DIY resources.
Also, you will need a recoat in the future. South and west walls usually suffer the most damage. Even with the best products, you will likely need a recoat in humid climates every 2-3 years and every 4-5 years in arid climates. Recoats are not cheap and can require a professional log master to complete them.
For a quick, hassle-free online estimate before you buy, visit “Checklist for a Free Online Estimate!” Getting an estimate on maintenance costs is beneficial for planning since you will need this in the future. We are excited to hear from you.
In contrast, if your log home has been left unmaintained for multiple years, you may have some log rot. Log rot repairs will be costly. If log rot goes unrepaired, you may need to replace a whole wall of logs. Log rot is a beast that will devour the log home as it spreads like cancer to neighboring logs. Considering the log prices, you will spend a lot of money. Consider reading “What We Consider in a Log Home Restoration Estimate!” The factors in this article will give you information that could determine if the existing log home is right for you.
Lastly, insurance on a log home can be complicated and, depending on the location, costly. Not all insurance companies cover log homes. Ask your insurance provider for information on insuring a log home. Or visit Liberty Mutual for a free online quote.
Existing Log Home Vs. Kit Log Home
And finally, the pros and cons of buying an existing log home versus a kit log home. This is where you will need to do a lot of research as it depends on what you hope to get that cannot be found in an existing log home.
With a kit home, you will want to research the land you want to purchase and what HOA covenant/county permits are allowed. You may need to consider:
- How the kit will be dropped off?
- Will they be able to access the property easily, or will you need bring up the materials yourself, one load at a time?
- Will you be putting it together or will you need to pay for labor?
- What kind of equipment will you need to put your kit home together if you are doing it yourself?
- How hard will it be to install water, sewage, electric and internet?
Kit homes are appealing since they cost less, depending on what is included in the assembly. In most cases, you must bear the cost of flooring, walls, interior cabinets/furnishing, foundation, plumbing, electricity, sewage, etc. Some kits require you to have a sales tax applied when they are purchased.
Kit Home Maintenance
Also, in a new kit home with green logs, you will need to have the slip joints and screw jacks adjusted for about three years to accommodate settling. This will require a professional log home builder to make the adjustments. We do not recommend you build with green logs as they create all issues that can easily be avoided with kiln-dried logs. To learn more about settling, screw jacks, and slip joints, read “Signs of Log Home Settling.” Before you decide on a kit, do your homework. Speak with a log home builder.
Important Things to Recognize
After weighing the pros and cons, you have decided to buy an existing log home. Now begins the search for the perfect log home. But how will you know what to look for in a good log home? Which ones can you eliminate?
From the Listing
First, when you examine the listings, consider how old it is. New log homes could experience some settling in the first three years as the logs compress from drying out. Well-maintained older log homes generally have less settling since the logs are no longer green. Even with regular maintenance, external factors like a bad foundation can make an old log home continue to settle. In this case, could you contact a professional foundation repair company?
Photos and Description
Second, examine the listing photos and description. There you may be able to determine if:
- it appears to have been maintained inside and out
- the logs are high enough off the ground to avoid upward splashing or wet grass
- the condition of the stain such as cracked, peeling, and blistering issues
- there are long horizontal lateral lines on the exterior
- the roof overhangs the sidewalls by more than a foot
- they used chinking or caulking only and it’s condition
- it has gutters
Google Map It
Finally, could you determine the structure’s position on the landscape? Hopefully, the address will bring up a Google Maps image. From there, you may be able to answer these questions:
- Will you have a river running through it?
- What trees are near the home?
- Are there a lot of shrubs?
- Is it on a hill side or high in the mountains?
- How remote is it?
These are everyday things to examine while doing homework before visiting the listing. However, those things are very much on the surface, and there are more important aspects to evaluate once you reach the home.
At the Listing
After all your research, you made it to a listing. First impressions look good. Now, the most critical inspection begins. “Facts over feelings,” you’ve repeated to yourself, being mindful not to let the appearance distract you from the future expenses and labor. You have a prepared list of the things you want to discover. You did your research.
However, you may be concerned about how to recognize trouble areas. There are three significant things you should familiarize yourself with knowing. Click on the following to learn more.
These three are the most destructive conditions of a log home. Knowing these three things will give you insight as you narrow your search. You will appreciate the advice in A Novices Guide to Buying a Second-Hand Log Cabin. Log Cabin Hub provides a checklist and top tips.
Is It In Good Condition?
You have inspected it yourself, but now you wonder, “Is it in good condition?” The most straightforward answer is to invest money and contact a log home inspector by going to InterNACHI Certified Home Inspectors to find one near you.
“Log homes have some characteristics that are very different from conventional homes, and it’s crucial for home inspectors to understand them.”—Nick Gromicko, CMI and Kenton Shepard01/12/2021 https://www.nachi.org/inspecting-log-homes.htm
A certified log home inspector can do a more in-depth evaluation of the condition. Remember that not all inspectors are trained to inspect a log home. Once your inspector has completed the inspection, ask them to walk you (and the homeowner, if possible) through his inspection and provide insight into the structural needs.
Bring along the homeowner if you think you will need to do some repairs before or after you buy. All too common, you will find out that homeowners need to be made aware of underlying issues and how they can depreciate the value of their log home until the problems are resolved. This leads us to our final section of discussion—the cost to maintain or restore the log home you are buying.
Cost to Maintain or Restore
To sum up, there are a lot of factors to consider before buying an existing log home. We know we have given you a lot to think about and consider. I hope you’ll be able to make this investment decision wisely. However, I would reiterate one more thing.
Before you buy, we recommend discovering your future maintenance needs. Many new log homeowners often need to pay more attention to this final step. As a result, you may need more financial preparation for the upkeep cost. Log homes need regular maintenance to keep them in their best condition for years. However, if the home is not in good condition, you must consider the repair cost. Will you pay for the repairs, or will the homeowner? Call a professional log master to get an estimate on restoration and maintenance.
If you still want a log home, but wonder if money will be an issue, we offer financing upon request. Perhaps you feel we have given you some valuable insight; please leave a comment or email us at [email protected]. Please send us your feedback if we have provided valuable insight.