The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Log Homes Meet GREEN Building Guidelines

Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 @ 09:15 AM

Here is an article from the NAHB Log & Timber Homes Council website that reviews the GREEN advantages of log home living. Although I've been in my log home for 20+ years and have been telling folks about these advantages, it's GREAT to see the Log Homes Council put these in a concise list that pretty much covers it all!L.jpg

"Whether the goal is to save money, fuel, the planet or all of the above, American homeowners are increasingly going green. And while the average household spends $1,900 a year on energy, log home owners typically report that they spend far less than their neighbors on heating, air conditioning, hot water and lighting.

Energy efficiency is among several ways modern log homes qualify as “Green”-- an approach to building that started in 1993 with the belief that we can all pitch in to make the places where we live, work and play more environmentally friendly. The hallmark of “green” is to use less energy, renewable resources, limit C02 or “greenhouse gas” emissions and create indoor environments free of mold, formaldehyde, carcinogens, and other allergens.

The most obvious factor that makes engineered log homes “green” is their building material -- solid timbers grown from trees -- a renewable resource. During the milling process, manufacturers utilize all portions of the log, from bark and other sources for mulch, scrap from cut-offs for raw material used in carvings and other home products, sawdust used by farmers as bedding material, etc. The homes are sold as kits or “packages” with the bulk of the building materials delivered at one time. These packages consolidate delivery and generally travel shorter distances conserving fuel, says the Log Homes Council, which represents nearly 60 of North America’s leading manufacturers and promulgates industry and product standards. And, logs require less energy and man-made materials than stick-built construction. With the completion of a log home, you have walls that serve both the structural and insulative needs of a home, as opposed to using many products from siding, house wrap, plywood, dimensional lumber, insulation, drywall, and paints in traditional homes.

Heating and Air Conditioning
The massiveness of the logs plays a vital role in conserving energy. According to studies by the University of Maine at Orono, the logs absorb heat energy during the day and radiate it at night to even out the temperature, which makes the occupants feel more comfortable while using less energy.

In addition to the benefits of solid timber construction, Log Homes Council member companies engineer their log wall joinery and roof systems to eliminate air infiltration and moisture, conserve energy and increase comfort. This engineered approach continues with every product included in a log home package such as brand-name, double-paned windows and patio doors with low-e glass, proper venting and subflooring structures.

Engineered for Energy Conservation and Safety
Companies that belong to the Log Homes Council are up on latest developments in building technology and safety and maintain relationships with suppliers of roofing materials, heating systems, windows and other components. Council members constantly test and evaluate newer components to make sure they contribute to energy efficient, safe and trouble-free homes. Even the interior and exterior stains and finishes are evaluated for their suitability as solid timber coatings and to make sure they meet low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) clean air standards, in their quest for the ultimate green home.

The Builder
While a green philosophy begins with the log home manufacturer at the design stage, it has to continue with the builder who erects the home. The Log Homes Council’s parent organization, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), has been getting local builders on board by providing them with the knowledge they need to build green. As part of its effort, NAHB has partnered with the International Code Council to develop a consensus committee based Green Building Standard that provides a practical, nationally recognized baseline for resource-efficient, cost-effective home building.

The NAHB Green Building Standard and Certification Program addresses seven key green construction areas including site, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, homeowner education, and global impact. Direct ways log home owners can reduce their footprint include less impact on natural features and vegetation during building site preparation, choosing environmentally friendly components for subflooring, trusses and other conventional materials that go into a log home, choosing energy-efficient appliances, conserving water with low-flow plumbing fixtures and taking steps to increase occupant comfort and indoor environmental quality.


Log homeowners play a big part in going green too. These individuals embrace nature and consider their homes permanent dream homes where they are willing to invest in energy efficiency upfront to reap savings over the years. Their design preferences lean toward open flooorplans that allow for the flow of warmth throughout the home – in many cases, a wood-burning stove is the principal heat source.
From the manufacturer, to the builder to the homeowner, log homes are doing their part for a greener planet. Thankfully, log home construction is and always has been green. With new technologies and products available, log home owners can go the extra step to make their homes even greener."

When you are ready to start your dream log home and realize all of the benefits of eco-friendly living, give one of our Local Log Home Building Consultants a call to set an appointment.

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Log Home Lending - What's New and What to Expect

Posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

The Log Home Lending Landscape


If you’re applying for financing to build your log home, here’s what you can expect on the lending horizon.

Most log home buyers finance their purchase. The tax write-off alone makes getting a mortgage enticing even for those rare few who can pay cash. But how do you determine how much house you can afford, and how much of that will come from the bank?

When you’re ready to buy your log home, calculate your target budget by adding your assets and how much you can borrow. It’s that simple. However, even though interest rates are still hovering at historical lows, the days of “no money down/no equity required” and so-called “exotic loans” are long gone. Like everyone else, banks need to protect their investments and doing so means reducing risk with sizeable down payments and proof of real collateral.

“Money is still readily available for qualified buyers,” according to log home mortgage specialist Tom Coronato with Citizens Bank. “A lot of these loans are going to be more lender specific or portfolio based, meaning that the banks that grant them and service them are one and the same.”

In other words, the bank is carrying the full risk. Lending expert Greg Ebersole with BB&T agrees. “The idea that qualified borrowers have been rejected is a lot of media hype,” he says. “I’ve never seen a qualified customer not be able to obtain a mortgage. The real difference now is that we need a lot more documentation than what was required in the past.”

“Log home loan applicants are a little different, because we typically have a well-educated, sophisticated buyer; but often we find they still have difficulty with the basics and don’t understand why we have to ask for so much information,” Tom explains. “They think they can leverage their relationship with a bank or get a light-document loan, but TRID changed all the rules.”

Construction Loans and Draw Schedules

Once you have what it takes to qualify, financing proceeds. If you are purchasing a pre-existing log home, the process mirrors every other kind of home loan. But if you are like most log home buyers, the biggest difference from a conventional loan and yours is the fact you’ll need two. One is the standard mortgage, ranging from 15 to 30 years. The other is a short-term construction loan.

The construction loan pays for the materials and labor needed to build your home. These loans are made for periods from six to 18 months and have higher interest rates than mortgage loans because as far as banks are concerned, they carry more risk. According to Greg, lenders will want at least a 20 percent deposit on a construction loan because of that risk. Typically, you pay only the interest until the project is completed and the mortgage takes over and adds the construction loan principal.


As a general rule, the lending process works smoother and should be less expensive if one lender handles both loans. You may even be able to get a one-time-close loan (a definite advantage in terms of reducing paperwork and closing costs), though Greg says these are tougher to come by than they used to be. Otherwise, you’ll qualify for the mortgage first and get a letter from the mortgage lender that assures the construction-loan lender its loan will be repaid.

Before granting construction loans, lenders carefully study the project and evaluate the builder’s ability to complete the home according to the plans, budget and schedule. Once the loan is granted, the lender disburses the money according to a draw schedule, which pays certain amounts at various milestones to cover work completed up to that point. Progress is verified by onsite inspections, which determine that the labor was performed and specified materials were used.

Typical draw schedules include five or six payments. The first might be made when the foundation is completed, the second when the log shell is erected and under roof. The next-to-last draw will probably occur when the house is completed and the certificate of occupancy issued. The last draw generally comes 60 to 90 days after completion to allow sufficient time for any subcontractors or suppliers to have filed mechanics’ liens. As the balance of the loan dwindles because of these draws, the interest amount also goes down thanks to this lower balance.

A big difference between construction loans for log homes and other custom homes is that the log home company providing the package expects to be paid a substantial down payment before cutting and shipping the logs. Avoid making a large down payment for your package until you’ve secured your financing; then there are several ways to proceed.

Some lenders view a log package as just another load of lumber or as work under way at the producer’s plant. They’ll release funds when you or the manufacturer request them. In other cases, the lender may refuse to release any money until the package is delivered to your lot. If this occurs, ask your lender to issue a promissory note to the log home company guaranteeing that payment will be made on delivery. Often, the lender can wire transfer the money the same day as the logs arrive.

In any circumstance, your Log Home Building Consultant should be able to help you make arrangements for the most convenient financing of your log package. If you would like to save some money on lending fees, see our special offer from BB&T.

Comps and Appraisals

The most formidable obstacle, apart from the down payment, is the appraisal process, specifically comparables (aka, “comps”). Why? In most areas, log homes are few and far between, and there are even fewer recent sales to establish comparable resale values. (The fact that you never intend to sell your log home is of no consequence to the lender.) Some appraisers will consider non-log custom homes of a rustic or wood-sided nature as comps, but even these can prove scarce. Distressed sales during the housing crash haven’t helped matters either. A helpful sales rep should be well equipped to explain a log home’s true value to lenders and their appraisers.

When the time comes to submit a formal application, lenders will require 20 percent down. Some may accept a smaller deposit, if you qualify, but expect to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance). On the flip side, according to Greg, if your appraisal comes in short, your lender may ask for a bit more up front.

Other factors that affect their decision to approve you are the ratio between your income and the expected mortgage payment and the ratio between your income and total long-term debt. These ratios can fluctuate, but as a rule, the expected mortgage payment cannot exceed 28 percent of your family’s monthly gross income. In addition, your total monthly expenses, including the mortgage payment, shouldn’t exceed 36 percent of your monthly household gross income.

Other Requirements

Besides your financial status, lenders will want to know exactly what you’re going to build, how much it will cost, how long it will take and who’ll be doing the work. This will help the lender estimate the home’s potential value and determine how much it will lend. Here’s some information you’re likely to need:

Building Permits.

Blueprints or construction documents that comply with local building codes will have to be presented to the local permitting office for approval before you can obtain a building permit.

Sales Contract for the Log Home Package.

This should include a complete bill of materials that your log home producer will supply.

Plans and Specifications.

A floor plan in a producer’s catalog isn’t enough. Bring working plans, detailed materials specifications and descriptions of building materials. These documents will tell the lender exactly what is being financed and help the loan officer assess its value.


Complete Cost Estimates.

You’ll need copies of written bids and estimates to determine a detailed cost estimate.

Builder Contract.

If you are hiring a general contractor to build your home, you must have a copy of the agreement showing costs and specifications. Note that to keep risk in check, most lenders are more comfortable approving a loan if a professional, not an owner/builder, is at the helm.

Statement of Your Construction Abilities.

If you do intend doing some or all of the work yourself, supply the lender with information on your qualifications, such as photos of projects you’ve completed or other evidence that you’re capable of tackling — and completing — the construction of your log home. The more you can reduce risk of default in the bank’s eyes, the better your chances of getting approved.

Survey or Plot Plan.

This plan shows the exact location of your land and provides a legal description of the property.

Land Deed.

This document shows the title and mortgage information on the property where you intend to build.

Information on the Log Home Producer.

Anything that explains what kind of home and services you’re buying will be helpful, including a copy of the company’s annual report and its construction manual.

When giving the above information, be sure the lender clearly outlines its fees and provides a written estimate of all closing costs associated with your loan. Charges vary among banks, so this information will let you shop for the best rate among the lenders willing to finance your log home.

What Do You Need to be Prepared?

Tom Coronato from Citizens Bank has helped scores of buyers secure log home loans by helping them put together a complete picture of their current financial positions. Here’s what he says he and other lenders need to help you qualify for cash:

  • A 700+ credit score is ideal
  • Two years of W2, 1099 and full 1040 (federal, not state) forms, both personal and business, plus K-1 form (if applicable)
  • Thirty days of paystubs or monthly pension advisements
  • Your Social Security or pension award letter
  • Two months of complete bank statements for accounts, including savings, checking, stocks, etc. — every page, not just the summary
  • Your most recent quarterly 401k statement and/or other retirement accounts
  • A letter of explanation on any negative credit (if applicable)
  • A mortgage statement for your current home and any additional properties you own
  • An estimated contract for your new log home plan to justify the amount you want to borrow
  • A contract for the land on which you intend to build (a HUD-1 prior to October 2015; a CD after that date)
  • A 20 percent down payment

With this information, lenders will look at your income-to-debt ratio, any large or unusual deposits (per The Patriot Act) and your work history to help them determine your ability to repay the loan. If the bank deems you a qualified borrower for the amount you are requesting, there is plenty of money to be had.

Navigating the New Lending Regulations

If you’ve purchased a home in the past 40 years, you likely recall terms like TILA (the Truth in Lending Act) and RESPA (the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act). But as of August 1, 2015, these processes and forms that have been around since the mid-1970s were replaced with something called the TRID, which stands for the “TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure” rule.

In addition, the previous use of the Good Faith Estimate and Truth in Lending disclosures were eliminated in favor of a new single Loan Estimate form, or “LE,” and the HUD-1 Settlement Statement was replaced by the Closing Disclosure, or “CD.” All of these changes sprung from the Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010 by President Obama, which placed major regulations on the banking industry in the hopes of preventing another financial collapse like the one experienced in 2008.

So what do these changes mean for you? The most relevant and impactful change to home buyers applying for a loan today is that the CD must be provided to you a full three days prior to closing so you have time to review it thoroughly. (The new rules also mandate that the LE be provided to you no later than three business days after a lender receives your loan application.)

Previously, you reviewed the HUD-1 at the closing table with your loan officer present. Changes were made on the spot. Now, if there are changes, your lender must make the revisions and provide you with yet another 72 hours to review that new statement before closing.

The intent behind these new regulations is not to cause you headaches or delays — it’s to make it easier for home buyers to understand the terms and streamline the loan application process by placing all the relevant details on one page. In addition, the LE and the CD look very similar so you can better compare your actual charges (the CD) to the estimated charges (the LE) when you applied for the loan. Each provides true dollar amounts down to the cents, rather than rounding to whole numbers as previously done with the HUD-1, for total accuracy and disclosure.

Since TRID went into effect in 2015, there have been some concerns that the new rules will delay closings or make it harder for people to qualify for a mortgage. This is not the case. In truth, these guidelines are in place to protect you from mistakes or other factors that could cause you to default on the loan, placing both you and the bank at risk.

Sources: National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Realtors, Citizens Bank and AmeriFirst Home Mortgage

This article was taken in part from

A Fireside Chat about the Choices of Fireplaces for Your Dream Log Home

Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 @ 10:04 AM

maggie valley fireplace.jpg

When speaking with folks about their dream log cabin home the 3 features of the home that they are most excited to talk about are:

  • Master Bedroom/Bath
  • Porches
  • Fireplace

We had fireplaces in the homes I grew up in. Dad always put in the iron swing bar so we could cook over the hot coals from the fires he would build. I have wonderful memories of coming home on a Sunday afternoon after Church to a big iron pot of White beans with ham hocks that had been cooking all morning and afternoon in the fireplace. The smell of the fresh baked cornbread coming out of the oven to have with it makes my mouth water even today!

When Dad and Mom built their last log home they installed a vented, gas stove. As we age it becomes harder and harder to swing an ax and haul wood. Dad always said that wood will heat 3 times – once when you cut it, once when you haul it and once when you burn it! Over the years I’ve come to understand what he meant and if you have a wood burning fireplace I’m sure you do too.

The other issue with a true, open hearth fireplace, is that the heat you’ve paid so dearly for to heat your home with is being used to fuel the flames of the fire and then it’s going right up the chimney.  Although open hearth fire places are the most beautiful, they are also the most heat in-efficient.

Now days there are several energy efficient fireplace options to choose from – vented and non-vented fireplaces and gas stoves, wood pellet stoves, zero clearance fireplaces, inserts and wood burning stoves. Each option has its own appeal for different reasons and you should chose and carefully research each option when deciding what to put in your dream log home.

As we started to design our custom log home in 1992 we considered all of the fireplace options and decided upon a wood stove. We live out in the country with only electricity to power our home. In case of power outages we needed a source of heat in the winter as well as something to cook on. Fortunately, the longest we’ve been without power (so far) is 4 days in a bad ice/snow storm. When we know an ice or snow storm is coming, we usually cook some food in advance and use the wood stove to re-heat or to cook chili, fry eggs/bacon, etc. to keep ourselves going.  So it’s a multi-purpose unit that is nice to look at and such a comfort on a cold winter night to set by and watch the flames and listen to the crackle of the wood as it burns.

We positioned the wood stove in the center of the house so even with the power out the house never gets below 68 degrees. During construction, I also consulted with the HVAC contractor and we put a cold air return up in the gable end where the stove pipe exits the roof. This allows all of the heat up in the cathedral ceiling as well as the heat being generated from the stove pipe to be circulated when then heat pump is on. By leaving the upstairs bedroom door open just a bit the upstairs HVAC unit rarely comes on as the heat from the stove naturally rises.

The type of wood stove we chose also offered a catalytic converter that will burn the smoke coming off of the wood so that what goes up to stove pipe is 98% clean. In essence we have a heat source that burns a natural renewing resource, it burns very clean and hot, can be used to cook on, was made in the USA and provides a source of exercise (have you ever chopped wood?) that is much needed in the Winter time! Does it get any greener/better than that?

When you are ready to start planning you log home and deciding where to put your fireplace, wood stove or other heating feature be sure to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant. We’re here to help “light the fire under you” to get you started on your Dream Log Home!

Click Here to view more photos of log home fireplaces!

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Trick or Treat, Halloween and Appalachian Log Structures

Posted on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

halloween_mt_vernon_exterior-resized-600.jpgRemember the good old days - when you would put on your home made or store bought costume and walk the neighborhood with your friends trick-or-treating from door to door? We used to use paper bags from the grocery store or pillow cases to hold all the goodies that were being handed out.

Some houses would have candy, some fruit (candied apples), some had home made treats like popcorn balls or cupcakes. At some houses people put the treats in your bag but the ones we liked the MOST were the houses where you could pick and choose what you could take with you.

At Appalachian Log Structures we've taken a similar "pick what you want" approach with our pricing of log home building materials as well as our promotions that save you thousands of dollars.

Not only do we offer a choice of pre-cut or random length building materials but you can also choose what items you want to purchase. Although we have 3 levels of packages (Log Wall, Log and Beam and PLUS) you can customize your own package and choose what materials you want. If you want a pre-cut log wall with random length beams and rafters - it is not a problem. If you want a PLUS package but want to remove the loft decking - it can be done! You have the opportunity to take the materials you want for your project and your budget. We make it as easy as possible for you.

At Appalachian Log Structures it's all about choices and what we have to offer that will fit your price point. Whether it is a full log and timber frame log home, a log wall with truss or conventional built roof, log siding and log siding corners for your conventional built home or modular/mobile home, decorative timbers for a hybrid home or log railing to finish out a re-model project - we offer it all. Don't see a manufactured wood item on our list that you may be interested in?  Contact you Local Log Home Building Consultant and ask if we can custom mill something for you (custom log profiles, custom log siding profiles, hand peeled posts, etc.). We've done PLENTY of that, so don't be shy about asking.

Oh - and by the way - HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Hope you get everything you want in your trick-or-treat bag this year!

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How the ClearTreat Process Saves you Money on Your Log Home

Posted on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 @ 09:20 AM


How much does a borate pressure treated log home really save you? To answer that question you have to think of the LONG TERM investment you are making. Initially, these ClearTreat-Borate pressure treated log home materials are "priced" about the same as kiln dried, green, laminated, modular or panelized log home products, however the "cost" is far lower in the long term. How so?

Consider the growth in the log home restoration/repair industry. At each of the log home shows and in the log home magazines you will find more and more businesses offering this type of service, and for a good reason - log homes built with non pressure treated wood products are needing logs in walls or other exterior wood replaced or repaired!

There are log home manufacturers that will tell you that dip-treating with borates or applying borates with a sprayer or brush is "just as good" as pressure treating. Others supply you with a type of "penetrating" borate solution that "supposedly" will be "just as good" as pressure treating; however what they don't offer is a WRITTEN GUARANTEE that you won't have problems with wood digesting insects or rot/decay. The reason - none of these applications will penetrate the wood adequately nor will it deliver the amount of, or retain the amount of borates in the wood, that pressure treating offers. Now compare that to the 25 Year Warranty on the pressure treated borate log wall product that Appalachian Log Structures offer! With over 25 years of history, ALSI has never had a log wall warranty claim! What a testament to the quality of our Borate pressure treated log home components.

Don't be mis-led by those who talk about "chemically" treated logs. Sodium Borate is an organic product that is mined from the earth. They are commonally used in everyday products like denture cream, make-up, laundry detergent (20-Mule Team Borax) and the like. CLICK HERE for an informative article on borates and the advantages of using them. Not only are the borates safe and EPA approved but also a very GREEN (environmentally friendly) product!

Now - how does all of this SAVE you money? With a borate pressure treated log home you don't have to worry about having logs or log siding (or other pressure treated wood products) replaced due to rot/decay or wood digesting insect attack. If you want a dollar amount placed on the 25 Year Warranty we offer - just ask the businesses that do the restoration/repair work what the average amount a homeowner spends when this type of work is required (replacing decayed logs, ridding a structure of powder post beetles, etc). You'll quickly find that by investing in an Appalachian Log Structures home, you'll not only have a nice home with quality log home building products, but you'll never have to find out, or pay for, these expensive repair services.

The next time you see or speak with a company offering log home restoration, ask what their services cost, ask about the manufacturers of the log homes they have made repairs on due to rot/decay or wood digesting insects, and ask their opinion of a Borate pressure treated log home. Besides the comment that they'll never have to repair one - you'll also be pleasantly surprised at the other positive responses they offer.

Call or visit your Local Log Home Sales Consultant to learn more about our money saving ideas on your log home investment.

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Cook Up a GREAT Kitchen Design with these 11 Insightful Ideas!

Posted on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

modified-spencer-kitchen.jpgLog homes are renowned for their informality. Mealtime is no exception. The question is where to eat. Few log-home floor plans show dining rooms. Usually the eating space is identified as a dining area, often carved out of the great room. Many families want a big kitchen with either a breakfast nook or an eat-at island or counter, making a designated dining space seem superfluous. Don’t let it be. If you have a log home, you may find yourself nominated to host holiday meals with families. Or volunteering.

Here are 11 ways you can create the perfect dining area.

  1. Place the space. Unless you want an enclosed dining room, pick a spot convenient to the kitchen. In an open layout, it can be adjacent to both the kitchen and living areas. Novel but effective arrangements are between the living room and kitchen or isolated altogether, such as in a turret or other bump-out that allows windows — and views — on three sides.
  2. Decide how much log. Dining areas along the perimeter wall will include logs, or you may want log walls on three sides. Or no logs at all. A formal dining room might work better with framed, painted walls.
  3. Lay out the space. Dining tables usually are in the center of the space, but if yours opens to the living area, consider off-centering the table to strike a balance. Then arrange other furniture to promote the flow between the two spaces. If you want a more defined break, add a tall furniture piece between them. A two-sided fireplace makes a dramatic divider.
  4. Make the connection. Wide-open layouts let the dining space flow from and into other areas, but you can define the territory without enclosing it by carving a wide archway in a log wall that would otherwise separate it from other rooms.
  5. Choose your style. Formal or informal? The former calls for a more dignified decor, whereas informality allows for more fanciful furnishings.
  6. Start with the table. Get the right shape for the space: square, round or rectangular. For a small table in a space that allows more seating, buy a table you can expand. Coordinate the chairs and other furniture around the table to fully define the area.
  7. Illuminate the setting. Dining areas need natural and artificial light. A ceiling fixture over the center of the table is common, although it doesn’t always have to be an antler chandelier. Don’t forget windows, or at least borrow light from neighboring spaces.
  8. Focus on the floor. Wood is the most common dining-area flooring, usually matching that of the living area, although sometimes it’s the kitchen. Food, drink and perhaps wax from candles will eventually fall to the floor, so choose a material that’s easy to clean and care for. Or cover wood with an area rug.
  9. Create overhead interest. Many dining rooms share the cathedral ceiling that tops the great room. If yours will, embellish the space above the table with a truss. If your ceiling will be lower, consider log beams supporting a tongue-and-groove ceiling.
  10. Full or part time? Will you be eating all or most of your meals in the dining area, or only when company calls? For occasional use, especially in a compact home, consider devoting only a section of the great room for the table and chairs.
  11. Stay in character. If your home is decorated in North Woods style, avoid a cowboy dining room. Link your dining space with the rest of the look, even if it’s fully enclosed. But do look for opportunities to give the dining area its own identify.

When you're ready to start planning or designing your dream log cabin home remember to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to help you with your ideas.

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This article was reproduced from and would like to thank Roland Sweet for his article.

A Legacy of Log Home Living

Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

feder_log_home-resized-600Looking back 24 years ago, my wife and I were putting the finishing touches on our log home and preparing to move in. Over the previous 18 months, we planned, sketched, met with banks, met with builders, scheduled the work to be done and prepared for our journey in to the building process. We started construction in March of 1992 and by mid-September were moved in. Building a log cabin home in South Carolina during the summer months is NOT the best of planning but we successfully pulled it off.

Along the way we learned quite a few things about building a log cabin home and the construction business in general. Over the past 24 years I’ve been willing to share these experiences and assist several hundred homeowners to successfully move in to their dream log homes.

There are several employees, including myself, at Appalachian Log Structures Inc. that live in log homes and have done so for quite a few years – over 200 years combined in total. My father, the founder of Appalachian Log Structures, who passed away in 2010, lived in two log homes along with my Mom, Doug Parsons, the President of Appalachian personally built both of his log structures (lots of sweat equity there!), our past President had built and lived in two log and timber frame homes and our VP Sales, Mark Feder lives in #13, the 13th log home to roll off our line over 34 years ago (see photo above). The Manager of both our production facilities in Princeton, WV built his home in 1992 as did my oldest sister and her husband who since has moved in to my Grandmothers log home and remodeled it. Over the years we’ve had other employees and family members build log and timber frame homes and they are still living in them today.

In addition to employees, most all of our Independent Representatives either live in or work from a log cabin model home (or sometimes both!). Several of these Independent Representatives are also experienced builders who have become expert log home builders.

So you see, when you contact someone at Appalachian Log Structures you have the opportunity to speak with someone that has first hand experience of building and maintaining a log structure – experience that is valuable to someone just starting the process. In addition, all of us are willing to share our knowledge and experiences so that you too can have the opportunity to live the log home life like so many us have been blessed to do.

When you are ready to start your log cabin home, we’re here and waiting to assist you. We’re only a phone call or a short drive away so come on by for a visit and let’s get you started on your dream log cabin home. Contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant today!

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Log Home Living Provides Safe Shelter in Any Storm

Posted on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

log home bedroomPeople often ask me what the advantages are of living in a log cabin home. Because I lived in Florida and now live in South Carolina, I tell them that for safety sake, as well as other personal reasons, my custom log home will weather most any storm and survive where frame homes and brick homes will not.

In September 1989, Hurricane Hugo made landfall on South Carolina beaches in the early morning. What followed was a devastating event that destroyed not only homes but roads, power lines and other necessities in every day living. In 1992 South Florida experienced Hurricane Andrew which blew ashore with the same type of destructive force causing even more heartache for those in and around Homestead, Florida.

We moved from Florida to South Carolina in 1991, but had friends and relatives in the South Florida area when Andrew came through. We also had relatives in Florence, SC when Hugo blew threw so we knew what type of life altering events these natural disasters can have on houses and everyday life.

It never occurred to me the strength of a log home until reading a few articles over the span of about 3 years as well as a comment made by the person who constructed my home.

In 1990, a log home magazine featured an aerial photo of a log home in South Florida shortly after Andrew. You could see that the structure lost some shingles, but the home was intact as well as all the windows and doors. What really caught my eye were the concrete pads on either side of the log home where frame homes used to be! Those homes were wiped completely off of their concrete slab foundations and blown away.

In the mid 1980's, Appalachian Log Structures featured an article and photos (before and after shots) of one of our homes in South Charleston, WV. A freak tornado touched down and brought a 52" diameter oak tree across this home. The solid log wall construction along with the strength of the heavy timber roof framing and 2" thick tongue and groove, split the tree in two. Of course some of the shingles were damaged along with some of the OSB and solid insulation. In addition the heavy timber ridge beam was cracked and needed replacing, but otherwise the house withstood the impact. Their insurance agent, after inspecting and photographing the damages stated that if it had been a frame home, it would have been destroyed - a complete loss!

In 1992 while our custom log cabin home was under construction, the builder took me aside one day and said that over the past three years he had been repairing a lot of homes from the damages that Hugo left behind. Damaged roofs, porches and the like were all effects of the up-lift from the high winds. As he was putting our heavy timber roof together he could not help but share with me that "if this house were here when Hugo came through, it would not have touched it"! He was very impressed with the strength and stability of the roof structure and was convinced it would take a lot more that a Category 4 Hurricane to take apart my log home.

Over the years I've read even more stories about log home surviving floods, when frame and brick homes were washed away. And because of the solid wood walls, the flooded homes were quicker to move back in to since the pink fluff/batten insulation did not have to be replaced (batten insulation looses about 1/2 of the R-value when exposed to moisture) and there were no worries about mold/mildew because of the lack of batten insulation and dry wall.

Another story out of California where a wildfire jumped a team of firefighters who found themselves caught between two burning fronts. Fortunately, there was a log home with a metal roof close by which they escaped to. The photo shows this log home to be the only survivor in the subdivision and saved all of the firefighters. Once again, the solid wood walls withstood the flames with some charring. As a thank you for saving their lives, the firefighters removed the char from the log walls and the house was like new again.

Not only are log homes beautiful, but they will keep you and your family safe from the storms and other events that Mother Nature may throw your way. When you are ready to build your beautiful, strong and protective log home for your family, contact one of our Log Home Building Consultants to help you get started.

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Tips on Making your Log Home Energy Efficient

Posted on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 @ 09:30 AM

A good article from a friend of ours (Paul Peebles) in the Log Home Industry that provides energy audits for log and other type of homes.  When you begin the process of designing your dream log home, don't forget to incorporate some of these techiniques to make your new home more energy efficient.

After a flood soaked his family’s log home, Paul Peebles thought he just had a water problem, but soon he discovered air leakage was a bigger issue. Thanks to a thorough energy audit, he could see exactly where and how to fix it.

By Paul Peebles

Thirty years ago, I became a log home owner by default when my parents purchased a farm near our home in Nashville. The property came with a broken-down log house that my mother was determined to restore, and she did.

In 1995, my mother’s beloved pet project burned down, so my brothers and I built her a new, modern log home. We worked hard and used the best materials and practices available at the time to make the home as comfortable and energy efficient as we could. We enjoyed this new cabin for many years.

Flash forward to May 2010 when catastrophic flooding hit our area and deposited 10 inches of water in our log home. This is when my eyes were truly opened to the advances in building materials and construction practices that had occurred in the past 15 years.

But it wasn’t just the materials that had changed — I had also. In this span, I began a career in the log home sealants and coatings business and had become a qualified and practicing Energy Star rater. (Raters are people who measure buildings using tools and technology to ensure homes perform efficiently.)

Because we had to dismantle a good part of the home, we were able to pinpoint many faults in the way we’d originally built it. We set our home on a crawlspace, a common practice in Tennessee. I had conscientiously vented the area, used a good-quality vapor barrier, insulated the subflooring with fiberglass batts and installed the HVAC system, electrical and plumbing under the floor.

After the water receded, we saw that the interior walls were fine, but the insulation was ruined. We dried everything out and then began to replace damaged components with new systems and materials. I learned that venting was smart, but creating a conditioned crawl space was smarter. (More on that later.)

Donning my new Energy Star rater’s hat, I conducted an energy audit on the house. The procedure consists of using a device called a blower-door unit, which is a piece of equipment that creates a vacuum comparable to 25 MPH winds coming from all directions at once. Gauges attached to the machine calculate how many openings to the outside are present in the building envelope and how often the total volume of air in the home is exchanged per hour. This sounds complicated, but ultimately what it tells you is how many gaps exist in the walls, ceiling and floor, allowing air to escape or come in.

While that machine was running, I also examined every nook and cranny in the cabin with an infrared camera to determine exactly where air leaks were. I was surprised to find leaks in places I thought were well sealed. I photographed and documented each breach as a reference. I attached still more equipment to the home’s ductwork to test for air-tightness and recorded the results.

With the problem areas identified, we formed a plan for restoring our home. For our purposes here, I’ll cover the two areas that have most bearing on energy efficiency.


Create a Conditioned Crawl Space

This is not a new concept, but was relatively new to my part of the country at the time. We first installed a padded multi-layer vapor barrier to the ground in the crawl space. This material was taped where seams were needed, run up the wall and then cleated to the walls with pressure-treated 2-by-4s.

We added concrete blocks to seal the old vents in the walls. Sprayfoam insulation was then applied from the cleats, up the walls and onto the rim joists. All penetrations (holes drilled in the subfloor and rim-joists for wires and pipes) were sealed with caulking and/or sprayfoam.

Finally, we added a commercial dehumidifier and piped the water to the outside. This resulted in a low-humidity space that is controlled by the temperature of the earth below the vapor barrier. (It tends to be dry and about 55 degrees year-round.)

This is much more efficient than vented crawl spaces in which the temperature fluctuates according to the conditions outside. Sprayfoam insulation was also applied to all of the rigid ductwork, replacing the damaged batt insulation and making the ducts absolutely air tight.

Seal the Space

An air-tight structure is as important as the R-value of the walls and ceiling or roof insulation — maybe even more so. You cannot have good R-Value in walls or ceilings that leak air. We used the infrared pictures we took to guide our efforts.

Using quality caulking material made specifically for log homes, we sealed the bottom logs to the subfloor along the entire perimeter of the home. Then we caulked all of the interior window and door trim to the logs, the top of each log wall to the adjoining ceiling and the tongue-and-groove to the gable-end walls.

The result made our home about 15 percent more energy efficient than it was before the flood. It saves us money on utilities, but surprisingly, the savings has not turned out to be the most pleasing aspect. By minimizing air leakage, we also reduced or eliminated dust, moisture, pollen and insect infiltration. The fact that the home is cleaner and more comfortable is our best return on investment.

I hope the experience you have with your new or existing log home is as fulfilling as ours has been. We worked hard, but we did it together as a family to provide a place where we’ve watched our parents grow older and our children grow up. With a better, more energy-efficient home, we hope the future will hold as much enjoyment for our children’s children as it has for us.

When you're read to start your dream log home be sure to give your local Log Home Buildng Consultants a call.  We're here to help you. 

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Part of this article was taken from

Where in the World will YOU Build Your Log Home?

Posted on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 @ 11:30 AM

100_45371.jpgSince 1979 we've been manufacturing and pressure treating quality log homes and log home building products. Today, we're continuing the tradition and are proud to be one of the few log home manufacturers to be owned and operated by the same family that conceived our company so many years ago. During these years we've successfully delivered thousands of dream log homes. Although our main market is North America, we've had quite a few go beyond our borders and quite literally, half way around the world.

One of the first exports shipped was to a US citizen living in Japan. Due to the limited logging on this island nation they had to look elsewhere for the supply of timbers as well as a design and a building system that would be approved by the Japanese. West Virginia's economic development department in association with their counterparts in Japan brought together this homeowner and Appalachian Log Structures. We helped the homeowner design his dream log cabin home and engineered it to Japanese standards to withstand the frequent earthquakes that country is known for. Not only did they purchase the log home building materials from us, but they also loaded in to the container countless "western style" finish items (lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, etc.) that were hard to come by over there. It was quite an interesting project and a good one to cut our teeth on.

We also fielded a call from Australia where a gentleman learned about our use of borates in the pressure treatment of our log home building materials. The ever present termite in western Australia had this homeowner look the world over to find a product that would withstand this insect and one that would protect his dream log home investment. After visiting our home office in Ripley, WV and our mill in Southern West Virginia he was satisfied that he found the right company and the right product to meet his needs. Needless to say, the person sent from Appalachian Log Structures to do the Technical start up on this job had quite a bit of Frequent Flyer miles built up upon his return!

Over several decades we've supplied Jamaica with more than 30 structures not only for residences but also for resorts and Inn's. Our first foray in to this market was also driven by clients looking for log home building materials that would withstand not only the humid/moist climate and termites that Jamaica has but also the pounding of hurricanes that frequent the island. This time we had several folks from Jamaica visit our facilities and took orders for not only several houses but also for a commercial structure. Recently we assisted a client with adding a 2nd story to his existing Inn near Negril which was followed by shipping three smaller rental cabins using our Sportsman log on the same property.

In 2006 we were contacted by a company in China inquiring about our log homes. After numerous emails and research they decided to send a representative to visit our facilities. We were glad to show him our National Headquarters in Ripley, WV as well as our mills in Princeton, WV. Once he saw the logs coming through the mill and could put his hands on the finished product, he was sold. All other product he had been using previously (coming from Russia or Norway) had not been as large or as finished. That it was also pressure treated with borates was icing on the cake! Quality product was what he had been searching for worldwide - only to discover it in West Virginia! The photo above is the first structure they built which was a "Refreshment Hut" on a golf course. I called it the "19th hole"!

Just as we like it here at home in the USA, sometimes folks in other countries just want to have someone listen to their dreams and show an interest in what they want to accomplish. The log home building materials we shipped to Mexico all started with an email stating that he liked on of our floor plans and thought it would look nice setting on his mountain top. Others thought he was crazy but he had a dream and we helped him achieve it. He loves his log home and it does look GREAT sitting on that mountain top.

Whether you live next door to us or half way around the world, we're interested in helping you with your dream log cabin home no matter how big, small or crazy in design. When you're ready to come and see what folks from all over the world have searched us out for, we're ready to show you what we've got. Be sure to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant and set an appointment to talk about your log home project.

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