Log Homes

Log home

There is no other type of dwelling that has so much importance in the history of North America as the log cabin. They were sturdy, snug and kept out the harshest of winter conditions. In addition they were easy to build with materials close at hand - trees and mud.

Log cabins have come a long way from these rustic beginnings. Today's log houses have progressed from the cozy, one-room, fur-trapping structures to big, luxurious homes and even hotels. The very materials that provide the living space are sturdy enough to withstand even the worst hurricane conditions.

The very mention of a log home conjures up the childhood dreams of many prospective homeowners. It might be from the illustrations in a child's book or the many log homes that adorn the movie screens. But is it a wise move to build one or even own one?

There are many benefits from both building and owning a log home:

  1. Energy-Efficient: Logs have great thermal mass which means that if the home is constructed well it will be an energy efficient structure. The thickness of the logs (8”- 12”) and denseness of the wood means lower energy bills. In Canada, many log home builders use douglas fir which are readily available and relatively inexpensive compared to hemlock or cedar.
  2. Low Noise: The noise-dampening factor is also a plus. In fact the thermal mass of the wood also means that the home is quieter than stick-built homes. It is the dense mass of the logs has the sound-deadening capability.
  3. Higher Resale: Because of the strict building codes log homes have to be made to a high standard. Therefore, log homes generally appraise a lot higher than conventional stick-built homes of the same size. This means a higher resale value when the time comes.
  4. Long Lasting: Log homes can handle a great deal of punishment from the elements. There are log homes still standing after 200 years.
  5. Easy to Maintain: Because there are few enclosures in the walls of a log home it is easy to clean and inspect the walls to catch any abnormalities before they become problems.

Cost of Log Homes

Whatever anyone says a log home will cost 10-15% more than a conventional home. However, since the resale value is higher, and real estate agents agree that log homes sell faster than the other type of housing, this is not too big a deal for a home with all the features of a log home. However, like a conventional home this depends on a few other considerations:

  1. Who is doing the building? This depends if you are building the place yourself with some handy friends or if a log home company is supplying and building everything.
  2. Cost: If you are building yourself the cost depends on where you are getting the materials. For example, one fellow bought the standing trees for $1 each and got 2 logs from each. So, if you don't count the sweat equity, each log cost 50 cents.

  3. Where is the property? How much does it cost to get the logs on site or are they readily available?
  4. Utilities: How far from the utility main line are you?

Skills for Building a Log Home

It is true that anyone who is a little bit handy and has log building tools can build a log home. However, it is recommended that first-timers go to a log building school to get up to speed. You can learn from reading the direction but a local log home course can help you through the difficulties you may encounter building a log home in your area. For example, there are different challenges that a builder would encounter in a desert area that he would not in a more temperate climate. This includes shrinkage of the materials along with air conditioning installation. Conversely, the person building in an area with more-than-average rainfall will have to recognize the greater possibility of mold and water leaks.

“Real” logs vs. “Dowels” and Others

Traditional log homes are built from logs that are taken from the trees without altering the shape. They are peeled and selected for their similar shape. Home using these logs are more difficult to build because they differences have to be even out by hand shaping.

The Dowel Log: Once a log has been taken to a lumberyard and has been turned on a lathe purists consider it a “dowel” and not a real log. According to this group of builders the log has lost its “personality.” As in many other pursuits, in log home building you have the traditionalists and the people who want the look but not necessarily the “ship in a bottle” experience of building a home in the manner of the pioneers.

Log Kits: Some logs in kit form are already notched on the ends and grooved on the sides so that they will slip into the log below. These kits cost a lot more than if you go your own plans and purchased your own logs and other supplies. Sometimes these kit companies buy the logs from other log home manufacturers and mark them up considerably.

Log Look: The last group is the log home that resembles a log house on the outside but is actually a built with a tongue-and-groove board system that is finished off inside either in a rustic or modern style. These are actually timbers that are just rounded on the outside.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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