Building a Custom Home in the High Country is complex. We help evaluate the best construction style to meet budget, lifestyle, and aesthetics for our clients. We represent a select group of suppliers to meet these varied requirements. We have over 45 years of combined experience building over 75 custom homes and know how to avoid costly and timely mistakes. Based in Steamboat Springs, we are centrally located to do site visits in multiple mountain communities as the “boots on the ground” eyes and ears for the out of state Timber Suppliers and their Design Team. We have the local resources to meet local code requirements and consult with your local builder as the liaison between the manufacturer, homeowner, and builder. This is especially important for out of town clients.
Most Log and Timber companies are out of state. Their design staff are not able to visit your building site or with you face to face at the property during the initial design. Permitting and code requirements vary greatly both from county to county and nationally. ML&H ensures that the home you design will meet local requirements by verifying snow loads, building heights and other things unique to your site. We have a greater understanding of local building costs and can help guide your design to fit your budget. We work with multiple suppliers to make sure we match you with the right one for your needs.
No, we typically save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes. We charge a nominal $3/sq/ ft. consulting fee that gives you peace of mind throughout the process. We are paid directly by the manufacturers who have a commission structure built into their package costs for EITHER their in-house salesman OR their Regional Distributor Selling Partners.
With a short building season at elevation, you need to complete your plans no later than April to get into the production schedule of most manufactures for a spring or summer delivery in 2022 and 2023. We typically recommend you have a preliminary floor plans and own your lot no later than January to meet a Summer groundbreaking at 7-10,000 ft elevation. We have many resources to find your starting floor plans to shorten the design process...but having soils tests, topographic surveys, and other site related documents is required for a final permit set of engineered plans. We have a list of reocommended subcontractors to do these preliminary site needs by County and can share them with you or manage these subs for you.
This varies by supplier. Please visit the "Supplier Tabs" to see more detail about what is typically included with each package type and videos of home deliveries to better understand the various supplier differences.
Timber Package suppliers do NOT include:
1. Permits and fees, site develpment and surveys, water, sewer.
2. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC
3. Excavation, Foundation, Subfloor Labor or materials
4. General Contracting Fees
5. Crane and Labor for on-site assembly of package
6. Interior wall framing lumber, drywall or insulation
7. Interior finishe materials: flooring, cabinets, counters, lighting
8. Deck framing or decking materials
Woodhouse Timber Frame SIPS homes typically include:
1. All architectural design and structural engineering included
2. All exterior wall and roof structure materials precut with window and door openings (this included exterior insulation package)
3. All exposed Timbers and Trusses
4. Anderson E-Series Windows and Patio doors.
5. Freight to your building site with the tech rep to assist your General Contractor with the delivery and insitial set up
Log Home Package (Caribou Creek/Pioneer)
1. Architectural plans by in-house draftsman, structural engineering quoted seperately by local engineer
2. Log walls and log accents and roof assembly logs
(no freight, dimensional lumber, roof system included in package cost, all purchased locally by your General Contractor)
Whisper Creek Panel Homes
1. Structrually Engineered permit set plans
2. 2x6 framed exterior walls with Siding & Pella Windows (no doors or patio doors, and no windows provided for walkout basement level, must be purchased locally). Siding comes installed, stained and chinked. ($35,000 value on a 3000 sf home)
3. All fastner, hangers, and hardware needed to assemble
4. Framing lumber and sheeting for Roof and loft including pre-engineered trusses and decorative logs and log accents
5. Interior log stairs or log railing with some stock plans
(freight to building site not included, approx. $5000 per truck to Colorado.)
Call for specifics by manufacturer.
The NAHB (National Home Builders Association) created the System Built category of home building that includes many construction styles in which components of the home are manufactured or assembled in part, or in full, in an off-site controlled environment. These are NOT modular homes. The System Built category includes Log Homes, Timber Frame Homes, SIPS Panel and Panelized Wall System Homes. Advantages of System Built packages include:
1. Controlled environment for better quality control
2. Lower labor cost than on-site resort wages ($40-60/hour for skilled carpenters in Resort Communities) or labor affected by on-site weather and other constraints and use of automation for precision lumber cuts.
3. Volume purchasing power for components.
4. Shorter build time
5. Less on site waste
Typical building cycle is 12-18 months from excavation to move in, but you also need to allow 6 - 12 months for design, financing, permitting, engineering and other items needed to get on a builders schedule and permit the home with the local Building Department.
You should sign-off on your final engineer stamped plans and commit to a builder no later than March- April with if you wish to build in Spring or Summer.
Typical building cycle on a 3,000 sq. ft home:
1. Planning, design, permitting - This will vary depending on the complexity of the project. Plans, engineering, permits and site plans this could be 3 months to 1 year depending on the requirements in your area, access to the site, permitting and approvals.
2. Site development and excavation - Allow up to 4-6 weeks for Excavation, foundation and sub-floor The start date is determined by the excavator confirming ground is dry enough, in a big snow year, this can be as late as July.
3. Package delivery and erection - most of the hand-crafted log, SIPs, and Panel Homes can be dried-in in 2-4 weeks.
4. Finishes - Plumbing, electric, insulation, drywall, cabinets flooring etc. typically are an additional 6-8 months.
This term refers to a General Contractor doing the complete job, from planning, permitting and construction and then you only "turn the key" to move in.
When we discuss average or preliminary "cost per square foot" this includes EVERYTHING UNDER ROOF (all conditioned space).
Note: Realtors do NOT include unfinished spaces like garages when discussing square footage.
For construction cost analysis, all "conditioned" (heated) space is included when we calculate 100% of the building cost including plans, engineering, permits and fees to move-in ready divided by the square feet under roof. This has to do with dividing the "common" cost of exacation, permit, fees, roof, foundation etc. over ALL heated, insulated and drywalled spaces excluding decks and patios.
A construction budget is typically a "time line" budget, and not divided by various living space for budget and funds disbursement. So a garage may actually cost $200/foot with less flooring, lighting etc, and Kitchen $600/foot with appliances, cabnets, counters and a bath $400/foot with plumbing, tile, glass etc....but the overall project may average $400/foot wall all spaces accounted for when you factor in all common expenses of the construction process.
Every house is different!
It is exceedingly difficult to quote price as there are too many variables on a home package and design.
Rule of thumb in the ski resort communities, the house package makes up roughly 20-25% of the full turnkey building costs including permits, fees, site work and interior finishes.
A typical 2000 sq. foot "package (not including walkout level) Pioneer Log Homes of BC Western Red Cedar package may be $300-$500,000 and not include any other components than the log walls and exposed roof timbers
A similar Woodhouse Timber Frame home may be around $300,000 will include windows, patio doors, and all roof framing lumber and insulation components. \
A Whisper Creek Panel home in similar size may cost $200,000 and include the walls pre-sided and stained with windows installed and require 30% less labor to build.
Each home package is quoted specific to the home design and window configuration and we will advise you which type home may fit both your design and budget requirements.
This will vary by jurisdiction and your confidence, time, and experience. Log and Timber Frame homes take a much more specialized experience and skill level than a typical stick frame home, and we highly recommend you hire an experienced General Contractor in this type of construction. The nature of the SIPs and Full Log walls require specialized knowledge and tools for plumbing, electrical, and the fit of the timber components.
However, Whisper Creek Panel Homes are very well suited to homeowner builds as much of the framing, siding, window installation and other “heavy lifting” are done in a controlled environment. These are made up of typical 2x6 construction and any framer or local sub-contractor can finish this home with knowledge of local codes on insulation and foundation requirements.
You may wish to hire a local builder to get the home to dry-in, and put your sweat equity into the non-inspection items like paint, tile and flooring, but still use a qualified builder for the structure. You will need to negotiate with a contractor your involvement in the home building process due to liability and permitting.
Mountain Life & Home will walk you through the entire process. First you need to determine if you prefer Full Log, Timber Frame, Log Accented or Panel Home. We will provide some basic floor plan options as a starting point and will work closely with you to adjust the design. We rarely build a floor plan exactly as provided by the timber suppliers “stock” plan, but rather use these as inspiration for your unique vision.
Most of the Timber Manufacturers have a team of draftsmen and architects that will convert our sketches to engineered building plans. Expect to invest $3-10 per square foot for structurally engineered permit set of plans. Once you approve your personalized plan floor plan and elevations customized to fit your building site, we can provide you with a preliminary budget estimate and package cost for your General Contractor to estimate total building costs.
If you have your own architect, bring us your plans for a package quote, and we can evaluate to assure they meet local standards and Building Codes.
Costs vary so greatly from jurisdiction and we need to know more about your building site to give a true idea. A typical Turn-Key Home in the Ski Resort communities of Colorado can range from $350-$700 per square foot for everything under roof. Factors affecting that range: Log species and diameter, interior finish selections, complexity of roof system, development cost of the lot including permits, fees, well, septic, tree removal, retaining walls, utilities, driveway access and excavation, local contracting fees and labor.
Owners have complete control over their finish selections which can affect the end price of the home. If you engage a “cost plus” builder, should provide a detailed line item budget to work from. The more decisions made prior to that budget for your bank financing the more accurate you end cost will be. Otherwise, most builders will give “allotments” on items like flooring, lighting, cabinetry for items not yet finalized at bank budget stage until these choices are finalized.
According to the National Home Builders Association and the Log Homes Council, a typical log home is up to 15% more energy efficient that an identical stick frame structure. Thermal mass of log structures (the ability to absorb, store and slowly release heat over time when temperatures drop) is very high due to the cellular structure, bulk and thickness of the log walls, thus reducing heating and cooling loads. Different species of wood have different R-values. Lodge Pole Pine combined with Thermal Mass factor is 3 per inch giving a 12” diameter log is an R-36 value. Douglas Fir’s combined R-value is a 2, or R-24 for a 12” diameter log. The higher the R-value, the more the wall resists heat loss. Most Stick built framed homes will have average an R-19 value. The R-value and Thermal Mass will keep your high- country home warm in winter and cool in summer.
We prefer to call them "packages." Different suppliers offer different components as part of the package price.
See Whats included in this section for more detail. LOG packages typically only provide the exterior log walls and roof structure and no dimensional framing lumber. The SIPs/Timber Frame supplier includes roof, exterior walls, interior wall framing lumber, cedar siding and windows if requested. Whisper Creek Panel Homes include the exterior walls pre-framed in 2x6 framing with the windows and siding complete with siding, chink and stain, and roof framing lumbers…but do not include decks and doors. Not all package or kits are the same.
So, the key to understanding your package cost is understanding the components included by different suppliers and construction type. Different suppliers offer different components as part of the package price.
Mountain Life & Home uses a variety of resources to help get the starting floor plan to fit your needs. Most clients require a custom plan to fit the lot, views, access and lifestyle. Most Log and Timber Suppliers have a variety of "stock" floor plans meant for inspiration and as a guide for you to take the best features of your favorite homes. You may also submit your own plans for customization to the log company's specs. Whisper Creek Panel Homes has already done 3-5 variations of their stock plans, and because they are more of a production manufacturer, with that supplier using a stock plan with pre-determined option selections is the most efficient.