Second Heaven: The Perfect Vacation Home

You'll enjoy your second or vacation home a lot more if you successfully plan on the front end.

If you’ve been thinking of building a vacation log home, you’re in good company—and lots of it. Second homes are becoming increasingly popular, especially among baby boomers seeking that leisurely lifestyle they’ve worked long and hard to enjoy. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the record-breaking housing boom through 2005 included a healthy boost from the second-home market.

The second-home market remains strong, even as overall housing slumps. More and more folks are enjoying the advantages of a second or vacation home. Why not you? If you’re considering turning your dreams of building a vacation log home into reality, here are some tips worth noting to help you get the most out of your investment. Many points relate to that time-honored real-estate maxim: location, location, location.

The first has to do with having easy access to your vacation home. Research shows that two-thirds of second homes are located within 150 miles of an owner’s primary residence. Experts advise that the best vacation or second-home location should be reachable in no more than four to five hours. Why? Quite simply, if it’s too far away or too expensive to get to, you won’t get much use out of it. Another point when considering where to build a vacation log home involves avoiding areas where the only thing to do is watch the grass grow.

So buyer beware: Even the special aesthetic appeal and comfort of a log home can’t conquer the specter of boredom. It’s advisable to build where there are sufficient recreational opportunities. And not just shopping, but year-round activities like skiing, hitting a nearby beach or hiking up a scenic mountain range. Similarly, consider cultural amenities, which are always enriching to have nearby. No one says a vacation home can’t be within reasonable distance to a night at the theater, a tour of an art museum or, at the very least, a movie theater screening the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

Experts counsel that anyone looking to build a vacation log home should also make sure the town has a long-term plan for its development. If you’re like most, you’ll probably want to retire to a place that has a sense of order and community. In addition, experts on the second-home boom suggest your location ought to be just a couple of hours drive from a major city. This convenience is likely to increase the demand for your property and, again, put you within reasonable distance of more things to do. Just as with your primary residence, security is always important with vacation homes. That doesn’t mean getting an alarm system or a pair of Dobermans.

Indeed, many suggest that if you feel you need an alarm system in the first place, you may not have picked the right location. Ideally you’ll want to select a vacation home location where you can feel safe walking outside, and where kids or grandkids—if any are part of the picture—can play freely without worry on their part or yours.

This story ran longer in the October 2007 issue of Log Homes Illustrated. Tracy Keyser is vice president of System Built Lending for M&T Bank and can be reached toll-free at (888) 539-1160.