The Building Process

The Design, Estimate, Draft, Cost, Build Process 

George Blackburn

Smoky Mountain Construction Group, Inc. – Smoky Mountain Log & Timber Homes, LLC

In response to the many inquiries we get about the process of designing and building a mountain home I’d like to describe the steps we go through in order to actually ‘break ground’, on a new project.  There are many decisions and compromises involved in getting to that point, and the more detail and information both we, and the client, have about all aspects can insure a build out that contains few surprises and is a source of pleasure for all involved.  

There are many many moving parts to building a home, with many tradesman, carpenters, and vendors coming and going and each contributing an important part of the puzzle.  Our role includes the sourcing of craftsmen and materials, the sequencing and scheduling of supplies and trades, all the while monitoring quality and budget adherence, and most importantly, keeping the client informed of progress (or even a lack thereof), and opportunities that may arise to change or modify design or materials that would provide either an aesthetic or monetary benefit.  

But that assumes the cart has wheels and is harnessed to the horse.

The Building Process hcwi Smoky Mountain Log Homes

Before we can move forward there is much work to do for all parties concerned.

Every client has a budget in mind before they start thinking about building.  The rule of thumb that seems to bear out (with myriad exceptions of course) is the cost of heated square footage averages @ $200-250 per foot.

Furthermore, this excludes site development costs which are always site specific, I.e., well, septic, drives, culverts, gravel, excavation, power and waterlines, gutter drains, and most importantly, footings, foundations and piers.  The rule of thumb costs will vary depending on the type of roof construction (fully timbered or conventional), the amount and type of windows and doors, and the largest variable is the client’s taste in finish materials.  

Homes here in the mountains tend to be very site specific in design to take advantage of views, access, septic or well systems constraints, setbacks, and topography.  Usually everything starts with a building site, a client’s ideas and needs, and a budget.  From these parameters we can begin the process of determining floor plans, initial ideas on types of materials that will fit the needs and budget, and the costs of developing the site.

We have many Floor Plans, both on our website, and in our archives, that have been developed over the years.  Often we can find a plan that may serve as a starting point, or combine features of several plans to create a new, one of a kind, custom design.  A client may also bring us a sketch, a plan from another source, or nothing more than scribbles on a napkin (that has happened, that napkin is framed and hangs on the wall of a 4,500 sq. ft home)!  A helpful habit early on for clients is to collect photos of details and features that they like, to share with us.  This helps us visualize what client’s are seeing in their dreams, and provides valuable insight into what types of budgets may be needed for finish items.

Our charges for the development of the conceptual renderings and completed construction drawings, suitable for permitting, are $2.50 per heated square foot.  We charge a deposit based on SF to begin the conceptual phase, which is deducted from the $2.50 per square foot total charge, with the rest billed 50% when the concept moves to the construction plan phase, and the balance on completion.

The Building Process hcwi2 Smoky Mountain Log Homes