The wants and needs of log and timber home purchasers vary widely, and dealers respond to individual preferences with everything from a basic package with finishes left at the buyer’s discretion to complete turnkey projects. “We know that ‘one size does not fit all,’ explains Robert Lambert of Natural Element Homes in Athens, Tennessee. “In fact, we never deliver a home that is exactly like any other home we have ever done. There is always some degree of customization, either to the plans or the materials selections or both. Therefore, we do not attempt to steer our clients toward standardization, but rather we encourage them to customize both plan and package to create a one-of-a-kind home with their own DNA and fingerprint.”
Such a perspective on the customer and the log and timber home marketplace is pervasive. Dealers listen to their customers, providing advice and professional consultation. They welcome the differences in customer tastes and desires and work to fulfill their expectations.
At Pennsylvania-based Timberhaven Log Homes, three primary log and timber home packages are regularly offered. They include the standard log and timber package, the weathertight package, and the finish materials package. Timberhaven president Joe Folker notes that the company will provide as little or as much in the way of a package as the customer requests. Even when customers choose some components from Timberhaven and decide to go elsewhere for others, Timberhaven is glad to work with them.
“Because every log home company offers a different level of completeness, we break our packages down to make it easier for an apples to apples comparison,” Folker reasons. “Major variations between what each company provides include quality of materials, quantity of materials, and services provided.”
At Golden Eagle Log Homes in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, prospective clients may choose from virtually unlimited options according to president Jay Parmeter. “Every log home company sells a package, but no two include the same materials,” he remarks. “Ninety-seven percent of Golden Eagle Log Home customers choose our ‘one stop shopping’ complete package, which makes it easy for the buyer with no surprises.”
Parmeter points out that his customers may choose from detailed aspects of the package that include the types of logs, the finishes, cabinetry, flooring, appliances, and extra amenities. The available choices in logs alone can be a bit overwhelming, such as full-log milled, full-log handcrafted, insulated half and quarter log, concrete log, hybrid timber frame, structural timber frame, and numerous sizes and textures. Of course, that is where the consultative aspect comes in. Working with a trusted adviser makes choosing the package an enjoyable experience.
“We believe today’s log or timber home buyer doesn’t want cookie cutter options,” adds Parmeter. “Pick what you want via a-la-carte, and you can count on our assistance. We listen to our customers and then listen some more and then ask questions to help them determine what they really want. We are very good at bringing their ideas together so that in the end buyers get their dream home.”
Step by step, a log or timber home package may be built, just like the home itself. Lambert advises customers to consider a progression toward the completed home. Determine the correct building system. Establish a budget for a turnkey project, considering all related costs from the homesite itself to the landscaping. Use standardized packages and levels of quality as a basis to create a custom package that works within both the budget and the client’s vision of the completed home.
“We call this value engineering,” says Robert. “We offer three primary building systems: log homes, timber frame homes, and hybrid homes. We offer four packaging levels under each building system: standard (best price); premium (best value); premium select (best quality); and custom (the perfect package). Each standardized package has 27 building categories such as subfloor, porch floor, wall system, roof system, windows, doors, and more. We can mix and match selections for each category using the four levels.”
Customers tend to appreciate the hands-on approach, staying involved in the construction process from start to finish. Working with a single dealer has significant advantages since the customer and dealer personnel get to know one another pretty well as the process moves along. Convenience is high on the list for most log and timber home buyers, and dealers often use nationwide networks of representatives to deliver their products. They can also assist in recommending competent builders.
Parmeter sees unlimited possibilities in the Golden Eagle package lineup. He relates that the “complete” package is the company’s most popular. “We offer unlimited variations,” he comments. “All plans are custom designed, and every product in the home is selected by the customer. The options are endless: maintenance-free logs, timber frames, hand-scribed giant logs, milled logs, half logs, hybrids, and other choices. You can put your own package together, and we offer the proper guidance so the experience is fun instead of traumatic.”
Across the spectrum of customer preferences, log and timber home dealers pride themselves on flexibility. Sure enough, few if any plans are exactly the same. Experience tells dealers to expect certain changes to any off-the-shelf package. “The most popular modifications are resizing the rooms during the design phase to meet the customer’s family needs, adding bonus rooms over garages, changing window sizes to accommodate the customer’s property views, and the list goes on and on,” says Folker. “Most of our customers start with a standard design out of our 2016 award-winning plan book, and then we can accommodate anything the customer may be looking for.”
Gearing up to create that log or timber home of a lifetime is a tremendous undertaking; however, realizing that the sky is the limit in terms of packages opens up incredible possibilities. Together, dealers and customers transform hopes, dreams, and ideas into reality in whatever form it may take.