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Creating the Perfect Log Home Floor Plan

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/24/2006 | Home Improvement
Creating a great floor plan is essential to building your dream log home. Let's assume you have decided on the basic structure of your log home, such as cabin style, chalet, ranch, cape cod, or traditional.

And we will also assume that you have created your "must have" and "want if possible" lists of features for your house.

With those things done, the next task is to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together into a floor plan - one that not only meets all your needs, but actually excites you! After all, you're going to be living in your log home for many years to come, so it's critical to get everything right before the building starts.

In some cases, your floor plan may be completely flexible within an empty shell, constrained only by the outline of the external walls.

If you are starting with a clean sheet like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin. One useful technique is to start with your existing house and consider what you like about its layout and what you dislike. What works well, and what have you always wished you could change?

It doesn't matter if styles of your old and new house are very different... here you should be thinking about things like:

-The absolute or relative sizes of the different rooms.

-How they are positioned in relation to each other.

-How the daily traffic flows between rooms and around the house.

In most cases, finding the perfect floor plan is achieved by taking some form of pre-designed layout and adapting it to suit you more precisely. Just how much you can modify the plan will vary from supplier to supplier and log home design to log home design. So, the first thing to establish is exactly how much flexibility you have.

Ideally, there will only be a few structural elements than can't be moved or changed, but there may be other reasons why your ideal log home layout can't be achieved. The most common obstacles are cost (it may be prohibitively expensive to do what you want) and officialdom (there may be a building code that is violated by your ideal layout). So, it's always a good idea to get your rough layout checked before you get too attached to it!

Let's look at some of the factors to consider when arriving at your perfect floor plan.

Room Sizes
Most off-the-shelf plans allow you to move internal walls around to change the proportions of different rooms. But you have to be sure that each of the resulting rooms is adequate for its purpose. Use the dimensions of your current rooms to help you get an accurate feel for what the dimensions on the plan really mean.

How Many Rooms
One area where your new log home is likely to differ from your current home is that most log and timber frame homes have more open spaces, combining most or all the public rooms into one large space. Think carefully about how this will apply to your lifestyle.

Use All Three Dimensions
While a few log homes are only single story, most are at least one and a half stories, and you may also have a basement to include in your planning. This means you have to consider not only the layout of each floor, but also how these floors relate to each other vertically. For example, keeping water supply and waste drainage on one side of the building is most cost effective. Your log home builder can be of great help here.

Storage
Few home designs include enough built-in storage to begin with, especially those that are based on designs for vacation homes. Be realistic about how much storage space you need, again using your existing home as a starting point.

Extra Spaces
Designing a log home gives you the chance to include some different forms of space that add little to the cost of the home, but can greatly enhance the flexibility of the design. The first space you might plan in is a loft that can be used as an extra living room, a guest room, an office -- or with a little planning, perhaps all three.

The other space to include in your planning is a porch or deck (or both). If you plan the location of porches and decks carefully and integrate them into the internal floor plan, they can add lots of value and enjoyment.

While you may be satisfied with sketching your plans out roughly before handing them over to the professionals, you may find it useful to look at some of the low cost packages for home computers. These can be very powerful and will allow you to make many trial modifications to your floor plan. Most will even give you a three-dimensional view of your new home design.

And using home design software enables you to hand over a very accurate representation of your vision to the architect or designer to make sure the finished building is just what you planned.

Another place to find great floor plans is to simply search on the internet. There are many floor plan websites that offer thousands of plans. They can give you some really great ideas.

And, of course, perhaps the easiest and simplest way to come up with a great floor plan is to just ask your builder to come up with one for you. They will be glad to take your input of home features that you want and create a design that will meet your every need.

Remember, with just a little thought and planning, you can easily create your own perfect log home floor plan.