Designing and building a new log home is a big investment of your time and money. And so it’s important to perform your own due diligence when selecting a log home manufacturer— you want to be certain there are no unpleasant surprises down the road!
After 21 years in the log home business, Katahdin’s Barry Ivey has seen his share of challenges. Many folks are intrigued by special offers, free garages, low prices and discounts for large deposits. However, as the saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” We’ve identified some red flags that should encourage you to look deeper into the package offer on the table. And for true comparison value, we invite anyone to take the Katahdin Challenge, where we compare apples to apples on packages.
Red Flag 1: The Incomplete Proposal. At Katahdin, we provide a great deal of detail in our package quotes, including all the materials included in the package being quoted. This way you’ll know exactly what you are paying for, what brands we are supplying and other important, specific details. For example, we provide Andersen windows in our packages, because they’ve provided superior performance for our customers over the years.
Ivey notes, “We often see vague terms not specifically completed in a proposal.” These might include the “2 by [blank]” listing for dimensional lumber used in framing a floor or roof system. This “fill-in-the-blank” becomes very important when it comes time to build. If the supplied lumber for roof rafters are 2 x 8s, but to meet code you’ll need 2 x 12s to accommodate all the insulation your roof requires, that can be a big additional expense.
Red Flag 2: The Big Deal: This offer can be especially appealing— the opportunity to save 25% or 50% by putting down a deposit (sometimes a large deposit!) and usually within a very tight timeframe. The question to ask is “25% off of what?” Is it a complete package or just the shell? The big deal is exactly the right time to read the fine print. Many customers submit the deep discount pricing to us for comparison in a Katahdin Challenge. Many times they learn that we can be very competitive and often outright beat that special price.
Another version of the Big Deal is the Free Garage. If this is the option, it may be worth checking the company’s website to see what value they put on their garages, and then confirm what size —one-car, two-car—and what is included in the garage package. You may find it’s not such a great buy. Besides, basing your log home investment on a free accessory building is a little like buying a car because free snow tires are included.
Red Flag 3: Large Deposits & Strict Deposit Terms Even the deposit can be tricky to negotiate. If a company requires a deposit (more than 20%) for a discount on the package price, this may be indicative of deeper problems in the company. Ask to speak to the company’s bank to see if their financial health is strong. A deposit paid to a company that later cannot fulfill its commitments is a no-win situation.
As with any major financial transaction, it is very important to review the terms of the contract, and terms for the deposit money. Is the deposit refundable, and under what circumstances? Will some percentage be forfeited if you need to cancel the contract? Spending a few minutes reading the documentation can save lots of difficulty later on should circumstances require a change in plans.
Red Flag 4: Cedar Log Upcharge: We are fond of saying in our ads that we offer cedar for the price of pine. Given the superior qualities of the Northern White Cedar logs we use for our homes, it’s easy to see how folks would think it was much costlier. And for companies who don’t normally manufacture log homes using cedar, it can be more expensive for them to source quality grade cedar. With more than 40 years of experience, Katahdin is the largest processor of Northern White Cedar in North America. We know cedar, and because we buy it direct from cedar loggers, we can offer very competitive pricing. Check out just how competitive by sending us your plans and estimates for a Katahdin Challenge!
Red Flag 5: “Complete” Package but No Package List: Buying a log home package is exciting! But we strongly recommend that you review the complete package list, along with other contract information. Taking the time now will provide peace of mind and clear up any questions you may still have. It can be a long list, but you’ll want to see that the package includes floor and roof systems, stairs and porch materials, windows and shingles. If there’s a construction element you thought would be included but it is not listed, now is the time to raise the question!
Red Flag 6: The “TBD” Builder: If the company is providing or recommending a builder, make sure you have a chance to meet before signing on the dotted line. If you haven’t met your builder or one will be identified later, it may be time to reconsider. Building a log home requires some specific skills, and an experienced builder can make all the difference in the construction of your log home. Ask for references and follow up with calls to make sure the builder meets your expectations!
As with any big decision, buying a log home package has a lot of details. We encourage all our customers to complete their thorough due diligence in advance of signing contracts. You’ll be happy you did!