The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Log Home Construction Bids - How do Builders Charge?

Posted on Fri, Jan 23, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

Sorting out the differences between ‘fixed bid’ and ‘cost plus’.

log home constructionEven if you plan on doing some or all of the work on your log home yourself, you will still need specialty contractors, including plumbers, electricians and HVAC installers. This is why you need to understand how these trade professionals charge for their services.

You will be contracting with a builder or subcontractors to provide labor and materials in one of three ways.

1) Fixed bid
2) Cost plus (also known as time and materials or an hourly rate)
3) Combination of the above two

Which is better? Read on to discover what to expect when you are making that dream log home a reality. This information is provided by the Log Homes Council, an association of log home manufacturers. Their goal is to enable you to make the most informed decisions when buying and building your log home.

Fixed Bid

Builder or subcontractor furnishes you with a bid that tells you exactly how much you will pay to have a finished home by such and such date. Sounds straight forward, right? You get what you want, the contractor gets what they want and everyone goes home happy. Just like the rest of life, it’s more complicated than you might think.

Fixed Bid Advantages:

• If there’s no surprises, fixed bid can be a good option
• To keep their bid competitive, contractor will be looking for the best deal on all materials
• The contractor will try to get the job done as fast as possible, so he can move on to the next job
• Fixed bid employed by trade contractors, such as electricians, HVAC installers and plumbers
• Common contract clause is “per the plans, in place and to code”
• Once it passes inspection, the trade contractor expects to be paid
 
Fixed Bid Disadvantages:
• The contractor has to ensure he or she doesn’t lose money on a wide range of challenges that may—or may not—come up
• Example scenario: Mountainous terrain.
The builder may need to factor in the blasting of bedrock and excavation to install the basement. This can increase yours costs by thousands of dollars—and that’s all before concrete is poured for the basement.
• You may not get the most competitive price with a fixed bid, because the contractor will have to add in contingency funds for what-if situations

Cost Plus

• A contractor will base their estimate on the amount of time and labor it will take to construct your home, plus a percentage markup on all material that goes into your home
• This tactic is used on projects where costs are harder to predict
• Many log home builders use this formula, largely because there are so many unknowns in log home construction

Cost Plus Advantages:

• If you and your builder keep track of your budget and avoid change orders, this can be the most competitively priced way to get your home built

Cost Plus Disadvantages:

• No incentive to do the job as fast as possible
• No incentive to wisely purchase materials, since everything that goes into the home is marked up

Combo Deal

A combination of these two is increasingly common in log home construction. Some parts of the house are done on a fixed bid, some on an hourly rate and other parts on a time and materials basis, plus a percentage.

Combination Advantages:

• If you invest your time in choosing cabinets, why should a builder take a percentage for ordering them
• A combination bid can help make the process easier for both builder and buyer, while building trust

Combination Disadvantages:

• Not all builders will offer this
• Log home builders are specialists
• If you find a reputable one who is available, you may need to compensate them for their expertise in whatever manner they see fit 
 
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This is a re-printed article from the Log Homes Council library (http://loghomes.org).

Tags: log cabin home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, log cabin homes, log and timber homes, log cabin, dream log cabin home, log cabins

Is YOUR Log Home Manufacturer a Log Homes Council Member?

Posted on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 @ 12:28 PM

custom log homeBuilding your dream log home is likely one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. But you’re not the only stakeholder in this project. Your local building department requires the log cabin home be constructed to code. Your lender wants the log home to be valued correctly. The builder wants to earn more business through word-of-mouth, as does the log home manufacturer.

With so much riding on this decision, who do you trust? We suggest limiting your choices to members of the Log Homes Council like Appalachian Log Structures. Why? Because for decades now, new log homes buyers have trusted members of the Log Homes Council to make their dream home a reality. That’s because all council members must:

  • Abide by a strict code of ethics
  • Grade their logs and timbers by third party agencies to ensure quality
  • Provide construction manuals to ensure correct construction techniques
  • Sponsor scientific studies that advance log building technologies
  • Provide information to help consumers make smart choices

"This means when you buy from a Log Homes Council member, you are getting quality building materials that will stand the test of time," says the Chair of the Log Homes Council.

But those aren't the only advantages in choosing a company that belongs to the Log Homes Council. While member companies compete fairly for your dream home while adhering to the membership requirements, they are united in their passion for their work.

"When was the last time you bought anything from anyone who not only harvests the raw materials, but also designs and crafts the finished product?," asks the Log Homes Council. "You will find everyone from the sales rep to the owner of the company have something in common with you: They share the same passion for living in a log home as you do."

Learn More About the Council
The Log Homes Council is a national organization with membership comprised of manufacturers of log homes. The council is part of the National Association of Home Builders. Appalachian Log Structures is proud to be one of the companies that first formed this organization and throughout the years have had two of our employees being Chair of the Council as well as serving on numerous advisory boards and committies. We proud of our association with the Log Home Council and their efforts to promote and support our industry.

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Tags: dream log home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, custom log home, dream log cabin home

The Log Home: An American Dream!

Posted on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:41 PM

Custom log home, log cabin home, cozy log cabinOver the centuries log homes have come a long way. The resurgence in log home construction came in the mid-1970's and along with it several opportunities to improve on what our forefathers taught us about constructing homes with full logs.

Of course when log home construction started in this country, our virgin timbers were HUGE and contained a lot of heart wood. Heartwood of all wood species is naturally resistant to insects and decay. Preservatives weren't so necessary then and what was used to help protect the wood was organic.

Now that we're on our 3rd or 4th harvesting of timbers there is a lot more sapwood exposed when the logs are milled or hewn. Sapwood of ALL wood species (yes - even cypress and cedar) is susceptible to decay and insects so preservation is very important today. It's the reason we started in 1977 to pressure treat our log wall building materials - something that no one had tried before - and we have never had a homeowner with insect or decay problems. In addition, just like our forefathers we're using an organic preservative in our pressure treating process - borates.

In the infancy of the new log home building industry the Log Home Council (LHC) was formed and became a division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Appalachian Log Structures was one of the companies that helped form and support the LHC and still does today. Over the years several white papers have been produced by the LHC and one of them is featured here today. Click Here for an overview of the Log Home Industry and be prepared to learn some interesting and useful facts that you can take with you and use in your own dream log home project.

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Consultant when you have questions or are ready to turn your dream log home in to reality!

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Tags: dream log home, dream log cabin, custom log home, borate pressure treatment, borates, dream log cabin home, build a log cabin

Energy Performance of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 12:40 PM

custom log homeA lot has been written about the energy efficiency of log homes.  When discussing this topic with those "non-believer's", I usually ask them the square footage of their home, how high the ceilings are in their home and what types of energy they use to power their home.

After determining all of this and then comparing the costs to my own log cabin home, they are quite surprised at the differences between the energy costs of the two homes. You see, you can read, calculate, research and argue this topic for a good long while however the proof is in the monthly power bill. My home continually out performs my next door neighbors who live in conventional built homes with 8' or 9' tall ceilings.

Thanks to the physical characteristics of logs, when you build your new log home you can watch your energy bills go down, which really adds up. Log homes are able to achieve excellent energy efficiency, thanks to “thermal mass,” a natural property in the logs that helps keep inside temperatures comfortable in all seasons. This enables log homes to stay
cool in summer and warm in winter. Indeed, in studies by the Department of Energy and performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, log homes were found to outperform other forms of construction. Read all about it in the Log Home Council's white paper, The Energy Performance of Log Homes.

Although a very technical paper it does provide some insight in to the "thermal mass" phenomenon that is really at the heart of the topic. It's this mass that gives the log home the energy efficiency that they are known for. Our forefathers understood the energy efficiency of log structures. That's one of the reasons why so many were built.

When you are ready to begin your new energy efficient, dream log home, be sure to contact your nearest Log Home Building Consultant to assist you. We're here to help when you're ready to start.

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Tags: log cabin home, dream log home, log and timber home, dream log cabin, dream log cabin home

We're MORE Than a Producer of Log Homes!

Posted on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

home with log sidingMost people think of Appalachian Log Structures as a producer of log cabin homes, but we're SO much more than that.

In the past few years there has been a resurgence of remodel, repair and restoration of existing homes and log homes. In addition, there has been an increasing interest in hybrid homes which are those structures built using different building techniques like log walls with timber frame roof components or a conventional frame home with timber frame accents.

As a mill that produces wood items, we've been busy making these types of products (not necessarily log walls) for just such projects for years.

Recently we had a client interested in using some of our timber frame materials for his conventional framed house. They liked the look of the heavy timbers for the 2nd floor framing as well as the exposed heavy timber rafters and tongue and groove in the roof and dormers of the home even though they were not building a log home. In addition, they also like the heavy timber look for the exterior porches. Our porch railings were used on the wrap around porches to finish off the project and tie all of the wood features, both inside and out, together. It's a wonderful combination of both conventional framing and timber framing. Visit our facebook page to view a photo album of this "hybrid home".

Along with some considerations of placing timber framing on a conventional frame structure, the builder also had to be in on the design to make sure that a good understanding on how certain construction techniques would be accomplished when marrying these two construction types together. Good communication and understanding is key when building not only a hybrid home, but any type of construction project.

We've also milled custom log siding profiles for some clients who had a certain look they were going for. In addition there are folks who have had log siding on their home for years and are now putting an addition on to their existing home. They don't know where the original siding came from so they brought a piece to us and we custom cut their siding for them.

How about a custom log profile? In 2012 some high winds in Virginia did some damage to a cedar log cabin home. Not only was it a profile/shape that was unusual, but they needed it in Western Red Cedar species to match the rest of the house. With the dimensions and a sketch of the existing log profile, we purchased the Western Red Cedar raw materials and custom milled the logs for their repair job.

So although not everyone may be looking for a log home, if you are looking for wood components in your new (or existing) home consider Appalachian Log Structures as a resource for your project. We offer structural as well as decorative beams/rafters/timbers, exterior and interior log siding as well as log siding corners. If you are looking for a smaller log to use for a storage shed, camping cabin, man room, hobby room or a back yard get-a-way we also produce a 3"x7" Sportsman log. Need some hardware to put your timber framing together? Give us a call - we may have what you need in stock.

If you need a finish for your exterior wood items we offer a line of water or oil based products in addition to additives that help repel carpenter bees and other insects as well as a mildewcide additive.

Trim lumber, board & batten and various other wood products are also offered and all it takes is a quick phone call to your Local Log Home Building Consultant or a visit to our website www.applog.com to find out more. To help you get started, click here to view our Component Price list that will show you just a few of the items we do everyday!

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Tags: dream log home, log and timber home, dream log cabin, borate pressue treatment, dream log cabin home, build a log cabin

Halloween, Trick or Treat and Appalachian Log Structures

Posted on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 @ 12:16 PM

custom log cabin homeRemember 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.

In our current promotion you have the same opportunity to make some choices to save on your materials depending on when you are ready to start your dream log home. By placing an order early on you will earn the most savings. By taking delivery early in 2015 you can receive a nice rebate as well.

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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Tags: dream log home, log cabin kits, dream log cabin, custom log home, dream log cabin home

A Fireside Chat about Fireplaces in Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 @ 12:30 PM

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, log cabin home, dream log home, dream log cabin home

A Company's Legacy of Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 @ 12:27 PM

custom log homeLooking back 22 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 home and the construction business in general. Over the past 22 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 homes (lots of sweat equity there!), our VP of Marketing has built and lived in two log 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 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 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 home – 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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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, log home building consultant, dream log cabin home

Celebrate Log Home Month - Visit our Open House This Weekend

Posted on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 @ 02:07 PM

Log Home MonthOn June 7th 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives formally recognized the log home industry in the United States.

"America’s log cabin industry as a quintessential symbol of the American pioneering spirit, embodying America’s strength and ingenuity," said Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI) in the Congressional Record.

"Log cabins, whether used for recreation or as primary residences, are economically sustainable, reducing waste and employing materials that put Mother Nature’s beauty at center stage," Ribble said. "The industry is experiencing renewed growth, exporting this American icon to nations from Germany to China."

The Log Homes Council, part of the National Association of Home Builders, was instrumental in helping Congressman Ribble bring attention to the log home industry. Council members are holding an open house this July, to help educate log home enthusiasts about the joys of log home living.

"Log cabin production directly supports thousands of jobs from builders to sales professionals, as well as the housing market, lending institutions, and many others. The people of this industry are hard-working, charitable, and deserving of recognition for their centuries of accomplishment," Ribble said.

This is not the first time that the log home industry has been honored with historic significance. In 2009, the United States Mint launched the Lincoln Log Cabin Penny at the National Park Service's Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, in Hodgenville, Kentucky. The day was appropriate, as it was the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Appalachian Log Structures will be celebrating National Log Home month in July with some exciting and money saving news. Stop by our Open House in Ripley, WV or at one of our Independent Representatives Model Homes in your area to learn more about the special savings we're offering ALL month long!  

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultant, dream log cabin home

8 Stratagies for Reducing Log Home Construction Costs

Posted on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 @ 11:43 AM

 

custom log home construction In addition to being a motivation for much of what we do, money is energy. It enables us to go places and do things, including taking care of our families or buying and building a new home. Most of us have a finite amount of this energy, mainly through long years of hard work, patient savings and perhaps the sale of a conventional home.

Now you’re ready to use all that energy to create your dream log home. But is it enough? Where can you conserve? That’s why the Log Homes Council created this Buyer’s Guide, to help consumers make wise choices on the Perfect Path to Your Dream Home.

Begin by sitting down with a lender who specializes in log homes to discuss financing options. By being pre-qualified by your lender, you will how know exactly much energy you have to work with on your dream log cabin home.

How Much Do Professional Builders Spend?
What do the pros typically spend on new home construction? Are there any ballpark figures out there that can help you see if anything is out of line? Indeed there is.

The total cost of an average new home in the U.S. breaks down thusly, according to the 2004 Cost of Doing Business Study: The Business of Building, published by BuilderBooks.com, a division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
• Finished lot costs 20-25% of the total selling price, with half of that reflecting infrastructure costs, such as utilities and driveway.
• Building materials, everything from foundation and flooring, to porches and roofs, cost 25-30% of the total.
• Onsite labor costs 20-25%.
• General overhead is about 6%.
• Financing costs are about 2%.

Thinking of being your own general contractor to save money? Small-volume builders (constructing an average 4.9 homes a year) who built exclusively on their clients’ land had average gross profit margin of 18.9% and an average net profit of 4.8%, according to the study.

If you decide to build your own log home, you won’t earn all of that 4.8%. You will pay far more for labor, since subcontractors will see you as a one-time job and price their services accordingly. You will also pay more for specialty tools needed in log construction. Professional log home builders pro-rate their tools costs over several jobs. You will also pay more for insurance, since insurance companies will see you as a greater risk. It’s also almost guaranteed you will make costly mistakes that pros won’t, which will cost you more in time, materials and labor.

Value Engineering
Want to do more with less? This is called value engineering. Your log home producer and builder have an assortment of cost cutting tricks. Use their expertise. Simply communicate that you need to save money on your budget. They can provide all kinds of helpful advice, including:

1. Reducing Square Footage
One way to dramtically reduce costs is to just reduce the square footage of the entire home. Think small and cozy to slash costs. Another smart strategy is to build upward with a two-story design rather than outward, such as with a ranch design.

2. Choosing a Stock Design
Custom designs cost more in design time, materials and labor. Most log home manufacturers have dozens of stock plans that they have built time and time again. Many errors have been eliminated in these designs, which makes them go up smoothly, saving you time and money.

3. Reducing Lineal Feet of Logs
Adding decorative stone, cedar shake or stucco can actually accent logs and reduce costs.

4. Opt for a Simple Roof System
The roof is one of the most expensive material and labor line items in your budget. This is why the simpler the roof system, the less expensive it will be. The most inexpensive roof is a simple, single ridgeline with a shallow pitch. More complicated roof systems, called hips and valleys with a steeper pitch, are more visually interesting. But they are also a lot more expensive.

5. Use Drywall On Interior
Pine paneling on the interior of your partition walls looks great. However, it’s roughly twice the cost of drywall—and cedar paneling is even more expensive than pine.

6. More Modest Kitchen
If your marriage can take the heat, down grade your kitchen appliances and amenities. Almost everything in a kitchen can be upgraded later, including flooring, appliances and cabinetry.

7. Don’t Take A Bath on Your Bath
Much like kitchens, bathrooms have a variety of materials that can be upgraded later. If you want that jetted tub in the master bath but can’t afford it now, specify a soaking tub of the same size from the same manufacturer. Swapping it out in the future will be a snap.

8. Avoid Change Orders
Last minute changes in design or materials are called “change orders” and they can quickly take a toll on your budget. Save these for correcting any serious errors.

For more insight in to cost saving ideas when building your dream log home, be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant for an appointment and to visit their model home.  We're all here to assist you.

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This article taken in part from the Log Homes Council library.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, custom log home, log construction, dream log cabin home