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For our homestead, we wanted and built a log home.  After much internet research, visiting a log home show and attending as many of the workshops as we could squeeze into one afternoon, we sketched a rough floor plan and started looking for the log home company from which we would buy our home kit.  It turned out one of the companies was only three towns south east of us and it would save us a ton of shipping costs.  This company would take our floor plan and work up the plans and then put together the kit.  Once the plans had been adjusted to fit furniture, add a coat closet and a few other minor changes, the kit was ordered, 4 tractor trailer loads.  We probably would have saved more money if we had hired a company that put the kit together and built the house.

We had hired a local contractor that our son who general contracted for us had located and interviewed.  He wasn’t our first choice, but  the first choice required that the crew would have had to be picked up each morning and returned home each evening, almost an hour each way as they are Amish and then they didn’t have a truck.  It turns out that the one we hired had never built a log home and he was a master at spending our money, trying to get us to add more and more to the house.  He also had no experience with a water catchment system that we wanted for animal watering.

He made so many mistakes that have cost us.  The house design has a dog-run dormer on the back side.

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This design gives us much more living area upstairs in our loft, master bedroom and master bath, but it results in a steep metal roof that is set back from a narrow metal roof.  The water catchment system involves gutters with downspouts that feed into pvc pipe around the foundation of the house and leading over to three 1500 gallon concrete tanks joined together off the southwest corner of the house and downhill.

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Part of the problems are not his incompetence totally, but he didn’t have the foresight to envision some of the problems that his techniques would produce.  Instead of subcontracting out the roof installation, he decided he could do it himself, more money in his pocket.  He failed to put snow spikes on the upper roof which isn’t an issue except once or twice a  year when the snow piles up on the roof then slides off the offset upper roof, hits the narrow lower roof, taking out the lower gutter which shouldn’t even be there as most of the rain hits the upper roof and the downspouts from the upper gutter should feed the tanks.  The snow then slides off the lower roof and crashes on the heat pump unit.  After having it repaired 4 times in one winter season, our son built the shed roof over it.

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Though that solves the problem, it could have been avoided with the snow spikes or having moved the heat pump unit around the corner to the west side of the house.

His solution to the water catchment system had an overflow pipe that was a full 18 inches above the top of the water storage tanks and there was no way to get water out of the tanks.  This resulted in us digging the tops of the tanks out a few summers ago and our son redesigned the system, we drained the tanks and he climbed inside the southern most one to drill a hole in the lower southeast side to install a water line that we ran in a trench more than 400 feet to a downhill yard hydrant that is gravity fed.  He also drilled an overflow hole in the upper southeast side to install an overflow pipe that drains off to a rock pile on the edge of a low spot that is outside of our hay field area.  That solved that problem at additional expense to us.

Other issues on the inside of the house, I have blogged about previously, such as putting the water to the utility room on the sheltered north wall instead of the sun basted south wall and hall wall that had to be shifted a foot by our son so that the stove and refrigerator did not touch in the kitchen.

When we bought the logs, they had a special that gave us a “free” garage.  “Free” meant the logs, not the slab, roof and extra door.  We thought this might be good to have, but we virtually never parked our cars in the garage, instead it stores tools, coolers, ladders, etc. most of which could have been stored in the basement that he also talked us into adding.  The basement has finally been converted into a rec room and a 4th bedroom, but there is still a huge area that houses the heating/cooling and water heater and that area could have been fitted out with shelving and a workbench for the tools and coolers at a much lower cost than the “free” garage.

Hindsight is 20/20 but many things would have been done differently if we had known.  If you ever plan a house, try to envision the problems that design can cause and check references on your contractor.  We are fortunate to have a son that could see and repair some of the issues.

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