The turning of the calendar leads many of us to some self-examination and setting new goals. While we won’t comment on your dietary or exercise resolutions, we do have some suggestions for your log home resolutions in the coming year to help you reach your goals.  Here are seven tips for making the new year a productive one when planning your dream log home:

1. Compare apples to apples. —One of the most challenging aspects of planning a new home is the variety of options available for log homes.  We’ve developed our complete package based on years of experience to provide you with a high quality cedar log home at affordable prices. When researching log home companies, make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples, materials, construction, designs and delivery. We’ve made it easy to keep this resolution: just download our Katahdin Challenge, a helpful guide to comparing log home manufacturers.

2. Review your needs.—It’s amazing how many couples start out looking for a log home without defining what their present and future needs are. Will this new log home be your primary residence?  Will you be retiring soon? Do you have a large family living with you? Do you entertain a lot? Will this be a personal vacation home or an investment property in a ski or resort area?  Once you’ve defined these needs and have them written down, you’ll save a lot of time and effort in your research.

3. Prepare for the log home show.—Nothing can be more intimidating than tackling a log home show without some preparation. You’ll be amazed at how many choices there are and how many different ways to construct a log home exist. Check out websites or other information sources and narrow your choices to two to three manufacturers. Develop a specific list of questions that you need to ask each representative, including: availability of an in-house design team; whether the logs pre-cut and pre-drilled for economic construction; how does one wood species compare to others available; what kind of maintenance will my log home require?

4. Go on an energy diet.—Building a new home is a great time to incorporate energy saving options or even an alternative energy source into the design.  These energy features need not be expensive. There are many innovative solutions to energy needs on the market and each day the list grows. Sometimes just taking a look at the window placement on your home or the addition of a tankless water heater can provide some pretty dramatic savings. Recycled materials can also cut down on the energy used to build your new home. Keep energy in the forefront of your mind when you’re researching options for your new home.

5. Start your log home notebook. —Start collecting your ideas in one place so that once you’ve decided on a manufacturer, you’ll be sure to have all those great ideas at the tips of your fingers.  Consider a loose leaf notebook with pocket inserts to hold clips, sample swatches, brochures, literature and other items you compile.

6. Check references. — It’s remarkable how many people decide to build a log home but don’t ask for references.  One of your best sources of information is a past customer, as they’ve gone through the process and will also have some great advice based on personal experience.  Don’t be afraid to ask for references.  Most dealers and builders are happy to provide them.  If the reference isn’t as glowing as you had hoped, following up to get the details. Sometimes situations arise that are out of the hands of the parties involved. Reviewing these issues with the dealer or builder will help to ensure fewer misunderstandings down the road.

7. Read your contract.— Your contract should be a detailed account of what is included, and more importantly what is not included, in your log home package. If you don’t see something that you assumed was included in the price, discuss it with your dealer or builder. Check to make sure that key elements like delivery, doors and windows, plan revisions, code compliance, staining and topcoat treatments and other details are included, if you expect them to be.