The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

A Fireside Chat about Fireplaces in Log Homes

Posted on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log home fireplaceWhen 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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Tags: log home

Saving Money on Your Log Home with the ClearTreat Process!

Posted on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 @ 09:27 AM

treatment_cylinderHow 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 - homes built with non pressure treated wood products are needing 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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A Company's Legacy of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

feder_log_home-resized-600Looking back 23 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 23 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 (my mother still does), the President of Appalachian personally built both of his log structures (lots of sweat equity there!), our VP of Marketing has built and lived in two log and timber frame homes, our VP Sales 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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Halloween, Trick or Treat and Appalachian Log Structures

Posted on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 @ 09:15 AM

halloween_mt_vernon_exterior-resized-600Remember 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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Log Home Living - Safe in ANY Storm!

Posted on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

custom-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 cabin 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 structure 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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Where in the World is Appalachian Log Structures?

Posted on Thu, Oct 1, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

100_45371Since 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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How To Properly Compare Log Home Material Packages

Posted on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log homeIf you’ve done any research at all comparing log home companies one of the first things you realized is that they all offer different types of packages or materials. When trying to compare “apples to apples” you soon learn that it is a virtually impossible task since the material packages are different as well as the quality and type of materials.

Some examples:

  • Log wall material is pre-cut or linear foot?
  • Roof system - 2x convention frame, pre-manufactured truss or heavy timber?
  • Thickness of log, nominal or actual?
  • 2nd floor system - 2x, conventional frame, pre-manufactures truss or heavy timber.
  • Quality of windows/doors – wood, vinyl or clad?
  • Quality of sealants/fasteners?
  • Written warranty against wood digesting insects and decay?
  • Engineered for settling?

Assuming that each manufacturer offers the same products is incorrect. It is not uncommon to discover that you have requested pricing from a producer that supplies only log and beam materials that are supplied to you in random length and pricing from another that includes materials that are extensively pre-cut and ready to assemble and supply materials to complete a dried-in structural shell. With the pricing between the two log home producers being several thousands of dollars apart, we often find that folks think the lower priced estimate is better – until they discover the difference. Sometime folks don’t “discover” the difference until it is too late!  It's best to remember to compare MATERIAL LISTS before you compare pricing.

When asking log home producers to provide an estimate for a certain floor plan it will be in your best interest to also provide the list of materials you would like included as well as the type and quality of materials you are expecting. This will get you as close as possible to that “apples to apples” comparison you are looking for.

To help you along, here is our Request for Estimate Checklist. In addition our Packages and Pricing flyer is linked so you may see both the material list and pricing for our pre-cut and random-length materials. For more detailed information please call on your local Independent Log Home Sales Consultant. They are a GREAT resource for you to use throughout your log home building project.

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Ordering your Log Home Package - Step #10 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Sep 11, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log homeNow that you've successfully completed the previous 9 steps in Planning a Successful Log Home Project you are ready to order your log home package of building materials. 

Remember to contact your helpful and knowledgeable Log Home Consultant so they can assist you with this process.  They are a great resource of information.  If you do not plan on financing any part of the project most log cabin home manufacturers require a 10% deposit to complete your construction set of plans and to start planning for your order.  Usually a 40% deposit is needed to begin the manufacturing of your materials with the 50% balance due upon delivery.  If you are planning on taking a loan, most financial institutions that have previously worked with log homeowners will require the borrower to put down at least 10% with the log manufacturer and the 90% balance due will be released from the lender on day of delivery.  This is all subject to the loan closing before any manufacturing occurs. 

From this point it will take an average of 6 to 8 weeks for the materials to be manufactured, packaged and ready to ship.  This gives you time to clear and grade the building site, dig and install the foundation and ready the sub floor.  On the day of delivery all that needs to be done is to put the log bundles on the sub floor and start the installation process.  You can look back over the recent past, re-trace the steps you took and be satisfied with all of the planning you did to make your dream log home become reality!

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Log Home Construction Loan Application - Step #9

Posted on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 @ 02:35 PM

custom log homeThis step can take some time to complete and will take some patience.  There are several items that most financial institutions require you provide when you apply for your loan.  Listed below are just a few:

  • Last 3-4 years of tax returns and/or W-2’s

  • Last 3-4 pay stubs

  • Your address for the last 2+ years

  • Current statements from checking, savings, portfolios, etc

  • Employment addres for last 2 years

  • Copy of deed/title to the land you are building on or being purchased.

  • Set of floor plans and builder contracts/estimates

There is a lot more information that will be requested before the loan is closed so be prepared to keep digging through your files and have patience.  Our Log Home Sales Consultants assist folks everyday who are going through this process, and believe me, you are not the only ones who feel like they are going through the hoops as this process takes place.

At some point in the application process an appraisal will be ordered for your log cabin home building project.  The appraiser will take your log home floor plans along with the contractors contract/estimates and will determine a value of your home setting on the lot you have chosen.  This value will become part of the basis for the amount of funds the lending institution will loan towards your log cabin home.  Once this amount is determined, the draw schedule can be completed, papers can be signed and you can begin building your dream log home.

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Our next and final blog in this series is Step #10 – Placing your Log Home Package order.

Choosing a General Contractor for your Log Home Project - Step #8

Posted on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

custom log homeUnless you are building your dream log cabin yourself, you will be speaking with and interviewing several general contractors or if you plan to act as your own general contractor, numerous sub-contractors. 

In this process not only is it recommended that you ask for references, but also to call and visit those on the reference list from the contractor.  The references should contain both recent projects completed, within the past 12 months, as well as some older references, 2+ years old to see if the service after completion was performed satisfactorily. 

Ask for copies of licenses, certification of insurance and other coverage’s and check with the local building code office or Home Builder Association to get some additional insight of those you are considering.  For vendor references check with the local lumber yard or “big box” store to see if they pays their bills and sub contractors on time.  The folks at these places of business see and hear things that others may not. 

Remember, when choosing a general contractor, you will be working with this person for an average of 6 months +/-.  It is best to make sure that you communicate well, that they understand the scope of your log cabin home project and that all agreements (from BOTH parties) are put in writing so mis-understandings don’t arise.  Don’t be afraid to ask to see a recent or sample contract so that you know what to expect when yours in completed.

Ask questions; take notes on how long it takes to get an answer and just how complete an answer you get.  The more specific your questions and their answers, the better log home build project it will be.  If you need assistance, be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant - we're here to help!

Next time – Step #9 – Applying for your Construction Loan.

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