Pandemic potential customers to log home revenue increase in Maine

Steve Howard, 74, of Berwick has been constructing log households in southern Maine and New Hampshire because the 1970s. He reported he’s under no circumstances been pretty as chaotic as all through the pandemic. Ben McCanna/Team Photographer

CUMBERLAND — Very well into his fourth ten years of constructing log properties in southern Maine, Steve Howard said he’s never been as chaotic as he is now.

“Normally at this time of calendar year I have one deal for future 12 months,” he explained on a new early morning in the course of a crack from putting in insulation inside a two-story log household less than development not considerably from the Rines Forest mother nature protect. “Right now, I have 5.”

Howard, 74, mentioned log house construction has supplied him with continuous work considering that he remaining a desk position in 1974. There is a emotion of nostalgia and romanticism about log homes that can make them an attractive retirement or holiday vacation dwelling.

For the duration of a pandemic, they also appear like a protected haven.

Howard mentioned he’s found an urgency that was not current prior to fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’ve normally had operate,” he mentioned. “Even when the financial state was undesirable, men and women would be arranging, and they’d have their funding in hand, and they’d go ahead with it. But now, there is the urgency – ‘I want to get out of the metropolis! I want to get back to nature!’ – and a log house just matches with their wondering.”

A legitimate log residence is constructed with horizontally stacked logs that interlock at the corners. That differs from a log-sided home, in which a regular stick-built dwelling is protected in log siding to give the visual appeal of a log home.

Quantities are hard to arrive by for the log property market, so it is tough to measure irrespective of whether Howard’s knowledge is comparable to what’s happening through the condition. A countrywide survey of log house builders arrives out just about every two years, and was previous launched in 2019 by the Log and Timber Houses Council.

That group is one of six subsidiaries of the Setting up Programs Council, which alone is one particular of 7 subsidiaries of the Countrywide Affiliation of Residence Builders. Donna Peak, editorial director of Log Home Residing magazine, helps compile the survey and explained details accumulating from 2020 will begin early next year.

“Anecdotally in the course of the overall log property business, we have listened to brands say that business is booming,” Peak wrote in an email reaction to a request for existing information. “Certainly as the pandemic rages on, homeowners’ want for all-natural surroundings and more rural locales have greater, and historically reduced fascination charges as well as a robust stock current market/retirement resources have afforded people the indicates to make these dreams occur correct.”

The oldest log property maker in Maine is Ward Cedar Log Households of Houlton. Bruce Ward launched the firm in 1923 following inventing an interlocking milling strategy. The American Legion log cabin in Yarmouth is a Ward construction crafted in 1932.

Ron Silliboy, director of revenue and advertising, has been with Ward for 15 many years. He claimed he’s witnessed a around 20 p.c raise in product sales from 2019 and he expects that will increase 25 to 30 per cent future yr.

Steve Howard cuts a strip of wood paneling though performing on a new log dwelling in Cumberland on Thursday. Ben McCanna/Personnel Photographer

The last significant jump in revenue came just about a 10 years in the past, just after the financial downturn from 2007 to 2009 when the U.S. housing bubble burst. Silliboy mentioned sales of log households rose 15 percent in 2011.

“I assume the pandemic has fueled it quite a bit,” Silliboy claimed. “People want to get out of congested places and a log dwelling brings them again to nature.”

An regular log household package deal from Ward runs about $110,000. Ward has a sister company, Northeastern Log Residences, that makes pine log properties out of a facility in Kenduskeag. The possession team is the exact same for equally businesses.

Barry Jones, Northeastern basic supervisor, has been with the enterprise for 40 years. He stated the business has been via a large amount of ups and downs throughout his tenure, and the economic downturn compelled some manufacturers to go out of small business.

“Things are seeking a lot brighter proper now,” he said. “Generally, a log household is a very little extra costly but it is not very so much as it was prior to the COVID, due to the fact only the manufactured lumber has absent up in rate, not the uncooked material. So that presents us a minimal little bit of an edge.”

Barry Ivey has been in the log property business for a quarter century, very first with Katahdin and then as a personal specialist. Presently, he is the director of functions for Moosehead Cedar Log Households out of Greenville.

“The log dwelling market is not a division of housing that the government tracks, so the only (sales details) you are likely to obtain is anecdotal,” he claimed. “Nobody displays it in that style.”

Even the biennial countrywide report produced for the Log Property Council, Ivey mentioned, is a compilation of details presented by brands who select to fill out the survey. There is no mechanism for verifying the figures.

Ivey declined to give correct figures for Moosehead, but he noted a 50 per cent growth from 2019 to 2020. In a typical 12 months, he said the hope is to have 10 or even 20 p.c development.

“And 2021 is searching to begin off quite robust,” he explained. “I can see we’re likely to have a fantastic six or 7 months to start with.”

Gabe Gordon, vice president of advertising and gross sales for Katahdin Cedar Log Properties, said his initial panic was that the pandemic would final result in functions remaining shut down for the total yr. In late March, customers from about the place named to put their projects on hold.

Following about a month, activity picked up, then acquired pace.

“It was obvious it was a serious detail by late summertime,” he stated. “People had been stating, ‘Hey, I want to get the hell out of the metropolis.’ And there is nothing extra get-the-hell-out-of-the-metropolis than creating a log house in the center of the woods.”

Gordon, whose grandfather Foster Gordon founded the Oakfield-dependent enterprise in 1973, described the 2nd half of the year as an onslaught.

“Tons and tons of new possible shoppers who have acquired land are coming to us,” Gordon said. “We observed a 90 percent soar (in sales) from 2019 to 2020 just in log homes in the point out of Maine. And suitable now, we’re projecting yet another 100 % raise about that.”

Katahdin has 50 dealers covering parts of 31 states, so in-state gross sales symbolize a fraction of the enterprise. Nevertheless, Gordon claimed the number of log residences sold for building in Maine rose from 11 previous calendar year to 21 this year and he anticipates 42 for 2021.

“It’s upcoming year when the explosion is actually heading to take place, mainly because all these prospects are by now lining up,” he explained. “They’re in the style and design queue, they’re in the planning process, they have their land.”

Bob Ham of Turner is one particular these types of customer. At 65, he is approaching retirement from a task as transportation supervisor of a trucking corporation.

Two several years ago, he procured some land in Eustis with a watch of Sugarloaf Mountain. He had plans to establish an outsized ranch with a lifted roof, but the pandemic gave him and his spouse much more time to believe and strategy. In July, they made the decision to adjust study course and go with a log dwelling, in part due to the fact lumber selling prices rose precipitously, adding around $25,000 to the $125,000 they had budgeted for products.

“I’d constantly wanted a log house,” Ham explained. “I just did not understand how inexpensive they seriously were when you as opposed apples to apples. The kit home is an inclusive package deal, so a good deal of the things you’d be purchasing at lumber yards or materials suppliers are all bundled in the log residence.”

By now Ham has a very well and a driveway along with a foundation hole. He designs on undertaking a great deal of the design operate himself, with assistance from friends and his son, a framing contractor in Massachusetts. Ham custom made one particular of the Katahdin plans by enclosing a porch for a 32-by-32-foot design that incorporates a loft and basement garage.

He claimed he started calling in August to discover a regional contractor who could pour a basis but they ended up all fast paced, so he was pressured to wait around until finally spring.

“I’m hoping to have it watertight within just two months of continuous function on it,” he stated. “It’ll almost certainly consider until the tumble to get it finished.”

Ham reported he has two good friends who are also arranging to create retirement households, one particular in Rangeley and yet another in Eustis. He showed them the log household brochures and development manual.

“It was an enlightenment for them,” he claimed. “They were additional than intrigued and fascinated.”

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