The Oak Leaf - April 2017 By Lynn Gastineau President of Gastineau Log Homes, Inc. Welcome to the April 2017 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers


The Oak Leaf - April 2017

By Lynn Gastineau
President of Gastineau Log Homes, Inc.

Welcome to the April 2017 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers, this is a monthly newsletter that is sent by e-mail to those that have expressed an interest in Gastineau Log Homes. We use this as a way of communicating technical, design and industry information. For more information, check out our web site at

Please "Like" Gastineau Log Homes on Facebook! There are LOTS of photographs of our homes in the Photo section!


This is the rear view of a highly modified Caroline Loft B design on a walk out basement. Notice the steel on the walk out wall that matches the metal roof. Choices such as this affect your "Cost per square foot."

This Month: The Myth of Cost Per Square Foot: Every day, someone asks us "What does it cost per square foot to build a log home?" The best answer is "What is the cost per square foot for a custom home built in the area where you want to build? Because it is going to be about the same price if they are built to the same level of amenities and design." Why is this the best answer? Explaining the Myth of Cost per Square Foot is the focus of the April Oak Leaf.

Trivia Question: What US state has the highest % of timberland? (See the answer at the end of the newsletter.)


The square footage of a garage is not included in the house size, but the cost is added when calculating cost per square foot. These custom garage doors are an example of items that can change the cost per square foot of your construction.

First: How Cost per Square Foot is Calculated: In construction, the cost per sq ft is based on the total sq ftg of floor space that is heated. In other words, unfinished basements, garages, porches, decks, and vaulted areas are not included. This "number" is then divided by the total cost of construction but NOT including site improvements like roads, septic, and getting water and electricity to the site. It is a mathematical formula: A (heated sq feet) divided by B (all construction costs) = Cost per Sq Ft

ashton ext rear

The Ashton is a standard GLH design that has a full second story vs a story and a half with dormers. This provides the most ueseable square footage on the second floor.

What affects the cost per square foot.: Lets look at the Ashton design, one of our standard plans. The rear of the home is shown above and the floor plan for the first and second floor is shown below. The heated living space for this home is 2100 square feet. That is what you use for "A" in the square footage calculation above. But there is also a 643 sq ft full log garage. And 962 square foot of porch. The COST for the log garage and porches would be included in "B". Making the "cost per sq ft" much higher for this home than if the house did not have the garage and porches. In just looking at the GLH Deluxe materials package, the materials for this home is $74.60 per sq ft. Lets now look at one that is much less per square foot for the materials.

ashton first floor plan

This is the floor plan for the first floor of the Ashton.

ashton second floor plan

And here is the second story floor plan of the Ashton. The vaulted space over the living room is not counted in "A", the square footage.

ballew ext sunset

The Homesteader is another standard Gastineau Log Home design.

The Homesteader: The Homesteader above has a distinctive "barn" or "gambrel" roof design which provides a lot of space on the second floor for a small amount of money. This home has around 1700 square feet and almost 200 sq feet of porch. The GLH Deluxe package for this home is only $43.94 per square foot. So this comparison between the Ashton and the Homesteader demonstrates why it is impossible to quote an exact "cost per square foot" for a home.

homesteader first floor plan

This is the floor plan for the first floor of the Homesteader.

homesteader second floor plan

And here is the Homesteader second floor plan.

Location, location, location: Your site and the cost of subcontractors and local labor have an impact on the cost of the home. Building a home in central Missouri is less expensive than building one in the mountains of Colorado or North Carolina. Building a home that is 30 miles from a town may cost more because your subcontractors have to drive so far to get to your location. If you site is fairly flat and you want a walk out basement, you will need retaining walls which add to the cost. Two identical homes can have different costs when built on different sites.


Inside a highly modified Caroline. The type of railing is another choice you make that affects the final price per square foot.

The cost of items you choose: Do you want forced air heat and A/C or do you want ground source heat pump? Do you want hardwood floors throughout? Do you want a 8' custom shower with glass tiles? Do you plan on an extra kitchen in the basement? Do you want wood on all the walls and ceilings in the entire home or do you want some drywall? Do you want a metal roof? Do you want a "real"rock fireplace or simulated rock? Or just a wood stove? All these costs are part of the total cost of your home (B above) but you have to make these decisions first and then the cost per square foot can be calculated.

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Note the block base under all the porch and deck supports. This is going to be covered with stone. This is the type of finish that will impact your cost per square foot.

All rooms are not created equal: Some rooms are much more expensive than others. For example, kitchens include cabinets, appliances and countertops. They have more lights as well as electric, gas and plumbing connections and sometimes expensive backsplashes and other custom features. Bathrooms have a lot of plumbing and fixtures, as well as tile. The cost of these rooms have to be divided among the other living space. Meaning that a 2500 sq ft home with a kitchen and 2 bathrooms could result in higher cost per square foot than a similar 1500 square foot home with an identical kitchen and 2 bathrooms. Approximately $10 per sq ft average just simply because the cost of those rooms has to be divided by a different number (A.)


Custom trusses like these are beautiful but obviously they are going to add to your cost per square foot.

What you may hear on the street about Cost per Square Foot: Have you heard a builder quoting "cost per square foot" for his homes? In those cases, HE is the person setting the specifications. If he builds you a home with his level of amenities and finishes, it will cost a certain amount per sq ft. But if you vary or change those specifications, the price will change. Also, he is quoting that based on a geographical proximity and many times even just within a particular neighborhood. Many builders will quote a very low price per sq ft and then up charge for virtually everything. Most of our customers do not want a "track home" or something that looks like every other home around them. They want something unique and built to their lifestyle and preferences.


The cost of a pool is not included in your cost per square foot. In an appraisal, a pool is "added on" to your appraisal and not treated as part of your home.

Why do people use price per square foot to sell their homes? Because it is easy and appeals to a decision based on price alone. It takes time to develop a cost for a custom home. Simply quoting a "$ amount" to a prospect is easier than taking the time to find out exactly what you want. Any log home producer and/or builder can give you the price per square foot that they built a home for in the past. However, this will probably not be the price per square foot that YOU will spend for YOUR dream log home. Let us help you meet your financial investment requirements and find a home that will be beautiful, strong, healthy AND fit your financial requirements. But we will price it by features, design and your specifications.


Barn doors can add from $300 to $2000 each depending on the hardware and door.

Construction Seminar Schedule for 2017:

April 8, 2017
October 7, 2017

Click here for information on our one day construction seminars.

Log Raisings:

We are planning a Log Raising in Lawrence, KS and in the St. Louis MO Area in May. Watch for an email announcing the date(s) and location(s).

Home Show:

No more home shows until Fall 2017!

Open Houses:

Remember that the GLH Model Home Center on I 70 in central MO is AGAIN open 7 days a week! We have three houses there that you can tour!

Answer to Trivia Question: Maine! The state of Maine is 89% timberland! (My guess would have been Alaska, but it is #28!)

Quote of the Month: "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." — Andrew Jackson

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