Cost analysis

I got bored while looking for land, so I priced out all the materials I could think of that I will need to build this log home. I went to HomeDepot online, and just looked there for everything. I’m sure that I can get stuff cheaper if I keep my eyes open- for example, I saw an ad recently on Craigslist for 3/4″ OSB for $7.00/sheet.

The cost is very surprising. Assuming I can get the logs for free (I found a Craigslist ad for a guy that wants someone to come take 50 mature trees out of his yard), everything else prices out as below. I’d have to hire a logging truck to come pick up the logs, but I already found out it’s about $300 or less. So, here’s my price list: log-home-cost-analysis

For less than $10,000, I get the shell. That includes a sawmill, a chainsaw, other tools, concrete for the foundation, the logs, the spikes, and the roof. I forgot to add one thing: a tractor. Found out I’m going to need a way to load the logs onto the sawmill, dig holes, drag chains attached to pulleys, level the ground, build driveways, move dirt, and basically lift heavy stuff. I’ve been looking, and it appears I can get one for about $3500, so the shell will cost about $13,000.

The whole thing (not including the land) will cost about $40,000. I’m using the sawmill to make the beams, and also the flooring. We may even do concrete counter-tops like this: concrete-countertop

Our plan right now is 36’x48′ two levels, with 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, an atrium for plants, and a balcony. $40,000 for a 3,000 sq ft log home is pretty darn cheap!


Walk towards the Light

A little crazy this week. We made an offer on the land, and they wouldn’t budge on the price. The other realtor was claiming that there is a septic system on the property. Wha??? It wasn’t disclosed on the MLS info. I called the county health department, but since there are no utilities, and never have been, there is no address. She gave me the address of the property on that road (there are only 4) that had a septic system installed recently. I ended up having to drive out there to verify. This is a big deal. Our payments on the loan would be nearly $200/month, which doesn’t leave much left over for the cost of building. We wanted payments down in the $120/month range. On the way there, I’m praying to God, “Ok, if we are supposed to buy this property, let it all work out. But if not, please let it be something big, because I think I’m spiritually hard of hearing.” I pulled onto the property and took some pictures of what I thought might be some kind of septic system piping. Then I try to find the neighbor again. But this time, the neighbor wasn’t home.

Last time I was out there, I remembered the neighbor telling me that the mother of the guy who was selling the property lived just through the trees, so I decided to walk over there and ask her about it.


Got more than I bargained for.  I walked through the trees, ended up walking through a sod farm, then back into the trees, and came out in someone’s backyard. I heard voices from a shed covered completely with a blue tarp, so I said, “hello!”

A guy comes out- it’s him! M.C., the guy accused of murdering his wife. He looks kinda scary and shifty, but proceeds to talk my ear off for an hour. He’s my age. He didn’t kill her, he says- someone else did, and he knows who- it’s the guy that accused him. But the police granted the other guy immunity to talk, so now he can’t be charged. The more we talk, the more comfortable I get- M.C.’s daughter and her friend come out of the shed and say ‘hi’. He’s been married 8 times- 2 of those to the same woman. M.C.’s parents live in the home, but he smokes, they’re about to die and are on oxygen (thus the tarp covered shed in the backyard), he has 3 or 4 houses that he owns- Chatanooga, Florida, California? etc, about 10 pieces of property around the area. He gave his daughter 3 acres for her 18th birthday. The guy isn’t poor. So he’s talking about the property- he bought it to be close to his parents before they die. He’s actually making payments on it to another guy who sold it as a buildable lot. While he was in jail accused of murder, he missed a payment, so the owner is trying to foreclose. But the lot itself is not actually buildable- failed Perc test twice due to high water table- just 18″ below ground. He’s already spent $20,000 on improvements. Cost to bring in fill dirt to build up the elevation to allow a septic system? $38,000. Cost to bring in utilities? $12,000 for power, $8,000 water, so they have a court date next week. M.C.’s attorney thinks it’s an open and shut case.

Do we need to go on, or is this a spectacular answer to a prayer? “…But if not, please let it be something big, because I think I’m spiritually hard of hearing….”

‘Can you hear me now?’

‘Yes, God. I heard you. Thank you for using a megaphone. ‘

Keep looking.

Found some land:

We found some land. We’ve been looking seriously for about 3 months. We’ve both changed our minds several times. I wanted 5 acres or more, Julie wanted 0.5 acres or more, but thought 5 acres was too big. We started off looking for houses, but with all the problems we’ve seen with the ones we liked (mold, location, high power lines going over the yard, and of course, the ones that are way out of our price range), Julie finally messaged me one day:


So, the journey began. I had been studying the “how” of building a log home ever since I bought my first big piece of land in Idaho- about 15 years ago. We talked about doing it here, but it just didn’t seem possible. Then, this message.

The pursuit of land. Requirements were: close to Huntsville, more than 0.5 acres, hopefully with water, power, sewer or septic, and under $25,000. It was harder than it looked- we found bowl shaped property, rocky hillsides, brambles, swamps- but nothing we just loved. Then I found a piece of land with a house on it- 2 acres and a house for $27,000. Was the house burned down? We went to look. Nope. House was fine, with someone living there, apparently. The area was great- close to Hampton Cove, good schools, walking trails, a Walmart within 5 minutes. Then a lady pulled up next to us- “whatch’yall doin’ here?”  Seems there had been a lot of theft in the area, and she was checking us out. RED FLAG!  Also, the Realtor said the house wasn’t for sale, it was the 2 acres behind it (but the listing says….!) Darn. We went up the road a little further and found our current pick. Complete with  a slightly nosy neighbor, but no thefts. Surrounded by trees, driveway already built, good schools, still 5 minutes from Walmart (maybe 6, now, but still). Google map image:


It’s the cleared out area, plus about 20 feet into the trees on all sides.