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Honka vs. Kontio

February 17, 2016
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And the winner is: Well, it isn’t unfortunately the local log home manufacturer Jämsän Huvilarakentajat. It isn’t either a manufacturer, which we haven’t tried yet. But it is the biggest log home manufacturer in Finland (which wasn’t the reason why we made the order from them). Let’s go few steps back…

We asked for offers for the workshop from three log home manufacturers in Finland: Kontio, Honka, and Jämsän Huvilanrankentajat. Unfortunately, Jämsän Huvilarakentajat decided not to make an offer at all because they couldn’t supply the kind of roof we want. (see image below). That left us with two offers for the workshop.

Roof specification

The scope of the workshop order included: Laminated logs approximately 100 mm to 130 mm in strength, the complete roof including roof truss, the roof material, the dormer windows, and the windows. The offer did not include doors or insulation material. We didn’t order the doors because the log manufacturers typically don’t offer garage doors and we also have had challenges to find rustic doors we like when we bought the Villa. We didn’t order the insulation material yet because that part of the project will be done only later and insulation material is always at risk of getting wet without proper storage place. The order did include the drawings for the building permit and the delivery to the site but did not include any assembly.

The offers from Honka and Kontio were fairly comparable in scope while the selection of laminated logs meant some challenge in the comparisons. Honka only offers one kind of slim log of 112 mm thickness. Kontio offers a significantly bigger selection of laminated logs and made offers for both 135 mm as well for 95 mm laminated logs. Both manufacturers struggled a bit with the drive-through part of the workshop as this concept is rather unusual but after some ad-hoc planning the necessary materials for the ceiling of the drive-through area made of wind proofing boards and covering boards were included. The walls of the sides of the mansard-style roof (everything higher than 3,4 meters) are designed to be build with a wood frame structure covered with log-like panels.

Honka’s first (and only offer) came it at 46.000 Euro for 112 mm laminated logs with an additional discount if we order within 4 weeks of 10% bringing it down to an actual price to 42.700 Euro. I don’t understand that 10% discount because I doubt if I’ll make an order 4 weeks plus one day the salesman would dare to raise the price by 10%, but maybe Honka intended to communicate that they don’t want to go lower in price anymore.

Kontio’s first offer came at 44.100 Euro for 135 mm laminated logs (21 rows of them). In addition, Kontio offered a 6600 Euro discount for the same scope but with 95 mm laminated logs. However, Kontio had forgotten 2 of the upper windows in the offer in the first offer. I let three weeks pass and then contacted Kontio again to ask for an extension of the validity of the offer because I was hoping to pay closer to 35.000 Euros for the workshop and I would want to ask for a third offer from another manufacturer. Instead of granting an extension of the offer validity (which is a silly condition anyway 15 months ahead of scheduled delivery), Kontio surpringly chose to include the two missing windows and dropped the price of the 135 mm logs to 42.000 Euros and the 95 mm logs to 35.200 Euros. Now the decision was easy. I could either get the thicker logs for 42.000 Euro from Kontio (instead of the thinner logs from Honka for the same price) or I could save 7.000 Euro and go for the thinner 95 mm logs.

Because we do have the same 95 mm logs already for the sauna and the guest cabin, and the 95 mm logs are easier to lift during the assembly without a crane (one meter of 95 mm log weighs 6.8 kg), we decided to go with Kontio for the workshop.

In general, I have to admit that Honka is only a shadow of the greatness it used to portray some 8 years ago. I remember still the days when Honka was the shiny star of the log home market investing heavily into marketing. Honka was first to display a tower model on their exhibition area in Southern Finland which was a source of inspiration for the Villa design. When I visited Honka’s main site in Southern Finland on a Sunday afternoon during January this year, a lonely salesman greeted me. All the exhibition cabins (and there used to be tens of them) were sold and removed with only the foundation pillars left standing their waiting for a new purpose in life.

I’m not impressed by size and being “the biggest” like Kontio claims. Actually, I’m a strong believer that being the biggest is not a value proposition itself and sometimes carries the risk of complacency. However, Kontio did have the more competitive offer and did take our wishes better into account.

Now we are waiting for the order confirmation and the first 500 Euro invoice which should cover the cost of the building drawings. Meanwhile at the Villa, a lonely man is waiting for spring to come…

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