The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

A Perfect Log Home Setting - Step #3 in Planning For Success

Posted on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 @ 03:10 PM

Custom Log HomeHaving a successful log home building project requires lots of planning. Last time we discussed the importance of pre-qualifying and establishing a budget.

Today we’re on to Step #3 – Selecting a Building Site. If you already own the property on which you will be building your log cabin home then you are “one step” ahead of the game. You may want to read along anyway to see if there was anything you may have overlooked or forgot to ask.

It usually is easier to adapt a log house design to fit your building site than to find land that fits your design. One of the most important questions to ask when investing in property that is not on a city sewer system is if the land “perks”. A perk test is required where a septic system is necessary and is important because the system will need to be placed on the property according to where the waste water will best be absorbed in to the ground. This may require you moving the building site in order to accommodate the septic system.

Other questions you may want to consider asking before purchasing:

  • Restrictions (if any) of the type/size of homes that are allowed to be built here?
  • Are there architectural review boards that need to review my plans before I build?
  • Are there any deed restrictions, easements or right of ways that affect the property?
  • Is there a homeowners association that I will need to join? Annual fees?
  • Who maintains the roads (county, state, city, owners association)?
  • Is the land in a flood zone?
  • When was the last survey done?
  • What services are available (electric, cable, telephone, cell signals, DSL, water, sewer, garbage pick up, etc)

Asking now will save time and money in the future. Don’t forget to use your local Log Home Consultant as a resource. We’re here to assist you!

Look for Step #4 – Designing your Home in the near future.

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home

Log Home Building Budget - Step #2 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Apr 4, 2014 @ 02:27 PM

Custom log cabin homePlanning is the KEY to a successful log home building project. Last time we reviewed the first of ten important steps when planning your dream log home - RESEARCH.

Step #2 – Prequalify and Establish your Budget. Even if you are in a cash equity situation and do not have to have a lending institution involved in your building project it is recommended that you set a budget for the project. Be realistic when setting your budget and like any goal you set for yourself – write it down.

If you decide to use a lending institution, start the pre-qualification process early. Keep in mind that “prequalified” means that the dollar amount determined by the lending institution is their best guess loan amout based on un-verified information that you have provided to them (income, debt, liabilities, etc). Once you choose a lender and submit a loan application fee along with all of the other documentation required (Taxes, pay stubs, bank accounts, portfolios, floor plan, cost estimates, etc) they can determine an exact loan amount.

Once you have been prequalified and have set a realistic budget it will be easier to start investigating the size of log home or log home kit you can build for the amount determined. We suggest not getting your heart set on a floor plan before being prequalified and setting a budget. Knowing how much you can borrow will help you budget accordingly and to properly size your log home floor plan.

Your local Log Home Building Consultants have assisted thousands of homeowners through this process so when you have questions, contact one of them.

Next time – Step #3 – Selecting Your building site.

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

Different Paths to your Dream Log Home

Posted on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 @ 12:40 PM

Dream Log Home

It’s rare these days to hear the phrase, “money is no object.” In this new economic climate, we’re all interested in making smart investments. Building a log home is no exception.

On the path to realizing your dream log cabin home, you will have to make a number of decisions. You will have to determine:

How much home you can afford

Where it will be located

Who will finance it

What kind of design

Who will manufacture the log package

These are decisions all log home buyers have to make.

Where the path to this goal diverges slightly is on the topic of who will construct it. Log homes often attract those with a pioneer spirit. As a result, you may be considering building all or part of the home yourself. Some want to craft their dream home with their own hands. Others think they will save money that would otherwise go to a builder.

But we encourage you to start pondering this decision at the outset of this journey, because it’s one of the most important decisions you will make. Your decision will impact the whole scope of the project, from financing and insurance to budget and completion time. You have to determine what path is right for you. You have three paths to choose from and the degree of challenge increases with your involvement.

Hire a Builder or Contractor

This is the easiest path. If you follow this course, you will be intimately involved in designing your home and picking a log home producer. Once the design plans are finalized, the log home package is cut and you turn the project over to the builder. The builder gives you a set of keys and a garage door opener when the home is finished. Then you move in. What could be simpler than that?

Choosing the right builder or contractor with experience in log home construction is not without challenges. But it is this path we recommend if you want to get your home completed on time and on budget. A professional will help you overcome countless obstacles and avoid mistakes that can add more costs, as well as delays in completion time.

Be Your Own General Contractor

A more difficult path is to act as your own general contractor or “GC.” You will need a great deal of talent for organization and delegation if you go this route. It’s also a full-time job, so make sure you have room for this role in your life. Tasks include:

• Locate and evaluate all subcontractors

• Prepare all construction specifications for each trade

• Obtain all subcontractor bids

• Prepare a complete cost estimate of the project

• Establish legal contracts between you and your subcontractors

• Obtain insurance

• Educate yourself on all local building codes, regulations and restrictions

• Obtain building permits

• Create construction schedule for all trades

• Order all building materials

• Manage the job site

• Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Be An Owner-Builder

This the most difficult path. In this role, you will be responsible for everything the general contractor is responsible for, plus you will perform most—if not all—of the labor yourself. The cost of labor can be as much as 30% to 40% of the total cost of a home.

If visions of dollar signs are suddenly dancing in your head, be aware that construction is physically dangerous and difficult work. A moment of inattention on the jobsite at the end of a tiring day can lead to disasterous results. If you get hurt in an accident, you could spend months healing while watching your construction schedule and budget spiral out of control. That’s why you will have to budget as if you were paying a professional to build the home. That way if you get hurt or injured, you can still have your dream of log home ownership fulfilled.

Another difficulty is obtaining financing as an owner-builder. Many lenders are reluctant to loan to owner-builders. Discuss this with your lender early in the planning stages, to determine if it’s even an option.  As Owner/Builder Be Prepared To:

• Report on the progress of the project to local building officials and your lender

• Rise at half-dark thirty and confront a phyiscally demanding job, rain or shine

• Fire subcontractors when they don’t perform to your expectations

• Resolve conflicts between different teams of tradesmen

• Be adept at project management and scheduling

• Be able to bounce back from the unexpected events

• Expect that all those friends and family members who said they’d help you build your home, suddenly have other commitments to attend to

Although the above paths are different they will all result in your dream log home becoming reality.  Once you choose your path, enjoy the journey and keep the end goal in mind.

When you're ready to begin your journey, contact your local Log Home Building Consultant and we'll walk the path together.

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This article was taken in part from the Log Homes Council web page www.loghomes.org

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

How to Choose a Builder for Your Dream Log Home

Posted on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 @ 02:30 PM

custom log home builderFinding the right building professional to turn your dream of log home living into reality will take time and research.

When you buy from Appalachian Log Structures, a Log Homes Council member, they will provide graded logs and timbers, as well as construction drawings or a construction manual and 8-hours of on-site technical assistance, to help builders become familiar with their building system.

Although a few log home producers offer construction services, the vast majority of council members like Appalachian Log Structures leave construction to independent builders and contractors. It’s up to these individuals to turn that log home package into a comfortable and well-crafted home. Choosing the right professional for this job can be a daunting task. But that’s why the Log Homes Council created this Buyer’s Guide, to help consumers make educated decisions when making their dream home a reality.

Identify Your Role
Before you can move farther along The Perfect Path to Your Dream Home, you will need to identify your role in this construction process. This decision will affect a host of issues, including your budget. With the downturn in the housing market, the cost of labor accounts for three-fifths or 60% of the total cost to build, according to a recent reports from the National Association of Home Builders. You may be able to save some of this cost by doing some of the work yourself. Essentially you have three options, all discussed here at more length:

Professionally Built
When choosing this path, you will work with Appalachian Log Structures, a Log Home Council member, and a builder/contractor or a builder/dealer to finalize the design of the home. Then the manufacturer cuts the log home package while the builder performs infrastructure improvements, including installing foundation, driveway, water, sewer or septic and more. Once the log home package arrives and is inventoried, construction begins. When the home is finished, the builder obtains a certification of occupancy from the local building inspector and you move in. This is the easiest path and it’s often recommended if you want to have a home completed on time and on budget.

Owner-Contractor
This is a more difficult path. As the owner-contractor (general contractor or GC), you will be responsible for hiring talent to do the work. However, this is not without risks or long hours. In fact, it’s a full-time gig.

You will have to prepare all the specifications for each trade (specifications are the instructions for what materials to use and description of the job they are expected to perform), locate subcontractors, obtain bids, prepare cost estimate and budget, maintain a comprehensive construction schedule and finalize all contracts. (Hint: Have an attorney familiar with construction review all contracts before signing.)

You will also to educate yourself on all local building codes, insurance rules, safety regulations, plus attend to a raft of other details. This includes obtaining building permits, dealing with building inspectors and your lender, ordering and inventorying building materials and managing the job site.

Another duty that you will have to reluctantly perform as a GC is make mistakes. It could be scheduling errors, building materials broken or overlooked, a bad choice in a subcontractor or any number of other drop-the-ball blunders. Even professionals make mistakes, from time to time. But if you are new to construction, it’s nearly guaranteed you will make far more. This will cost you more in time and money.

Owner-Builder
This is the most difficult path. Think of it as several full-time gigs. This means you will likely be working days, nights and weekends. You will be responsible for everything the general contractor is responsible for, plus you will perform much of the labor yourself.

Work for Your Builder
Yet another option is to find a builder who is willing to be flexible and allow you to perform some of the labor yourself. If you have some home improvement skills, you can tackle any number of construction tasks and eliminate the cost of that labor. Scores of log home buyers have saved on thieir building budgets by installing landscaping, staining logs, cleaning up the jobsite and more.

Lender May Decide For You
Unless you just arrived here in a hot tub time machine, you already know that lenders and banks are much more conservative. In this new lending environment, they may require a veteran log builder construct your home. Explore your options with your lender.

Which Role is Right for You?
How much time do you have in your life for this project? Reviewing your schedules can bring some clarity to the decision of whether to tackle this job or hire a pro.

Budget for A Pro
Even if you are going to tackle some of the construction yourself, you should budget the project as if you were having it turnkeyed by a builder. This creates a safety net that ensures your project will get done. If you get hurt on the job and can’t finish the project, you will have enough to bring in a professional to finish the job.

Shopping for Builder/Contractor
The company you have chosen to cut your log package will likely have lists of builders they have done business with before. You can also contact building associations in your area. Select several to consider and evaluate each carefully.

Check References & Rapport
Review each company’s standing in the building community. Also weigh their communication skills and whether you have good rapport. After all, you will be spending anywhere from a few months to a year interacting. You want a good working relationship.

Tour Completed Homes
Visit log homes the builder has built before. Closely inspect crafting and sealing at corners and around doors and windows. A three- to five-year-old home is probably the best example of a builder’s art.

Check Official Channels
Contact the local contractors’ board or similar state or regional authority, to see if the individual is in good standing. Make sure the builder is licensed and bonded. Check online with your state’s Attorney General’s office to see if the builder has been involved with litigation or judgments in the past. In today’s litigious society, don’t expect a spotless record in a career spanning decades. But multiple incidents in a shorter time frame can be an alarm bell.

Trust Your Intuition
Interview each individual, to get a feel for their communication style and customer service. Talk with their past clients to see how they performed in real world situations. It’s likely that at least one individual will click with you.

When you are ready to begin the process of building your dream log cabin home be sure to look up your nearest Log Home Building Consultant and schedule a meeting with them at your job site.  We're excited to assist you and get you in your log home as soon as possible.

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This article was taken in part from the Log Homes Council web site www.loghomes.org.

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

10 Simple Ways to Save Energy and "Green" Your Log Home

Posted on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 12:26 PM

custom log homeAdopting a “green” philosophy is easier than you think and it does not require wind turbines, solar panels or wearing extra sweaters in January. Here are 10 conventional, easy to implement suggestions from the Log Homes Council on ways to reduce energy costs, increase comfort and make your dream log home a little greener.

 Passive Solar

Situate the home to take advantage of the sun. In colder climates, a southern exposure for the family room and kitchen is ideal. Rely on existing trees to lower energy costs. When clearing the site for construction, maintain fir trees as a barrier along the cold and windier north and west elevations. Plant or preserve existing deciduous trees along the south and east elevations. The leaves will provide shade in summer and in the winter; the bare trees will let in plenty of sunlight and warmth.

Energy  Star

ENERGY STAR© is a government-backed program helping businesses and consumers protect the environment through greater energy efficiency. Look for the Energy Star label and rating on products you buy for your home.  The distinctive yellow label gives consumers guidelines for a wide range of components and savings can be significant. When compared to single pane windows, Energy Star rated low-e glass with solar shading, cut energy bills by $110 to $400 while increasing comfort, protecting furniture from sun damage and reducing condensation.

 The Kitchen

 Again, ENERGY STAR rated appliances such as refrigerators; dishwashers and vent fans incorporate advanced technologies that use 10% to 50% less energy and water than standard models -- more than making up for the slightly higher costs of these products.

Tip – old refrigerators are energy hogs; so keeping that extra fridge to occasionally store beverages and extra food is wasteful.

 Lighting

 Compact Fluorescents cut energy by 70 percent. Wherever possible install fluorescent fixtures and switch lamps to compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs have been improved in terms of ambient color, but if you still have trouble getting used compact fluorescents, start with utility areas such as the laundry and basement. Combine compact fluorescents with incandescents in bedrooms and living areas.  In addition, automatic lighting controls, ranging from outdoor light fixtures with built-in photo sensors to motion detectors to whole-house programmable controls eliminate waste.

 Heat Pump Systems

 For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, heat pumps offer an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. During the heating season, heat pumps take advantage of the outdoor “heat” and move it into the home.  During warm weather, the process is reversed. Because they move rather than generate heat, heat pumps can deliver up to four times the amount of energy they consume. In moderate climates, air source heat pumps use the ambient air. In severe climates, geo-thermal heat pumps, which are more costly, take advantage of the heat below the ground, which remains above 50 degrees.

 Hot Water

 Consider an on-demand heating system that eliminates having to keep an 80 or so gallon tank of water warm around the clock.  In addition to natural gas or propane, units that have to be vented or installed on an outside wall, on demand hot water heating systems are available in electric models that can be installed anywhere.  Additionally, solar water heating can be considered.

 Indoor Air Quality

 Consider incorporating a HEPA filter to the heating system. A HEPA (High- Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system, removes up to 99.97% of small particles - pollutants that standard disposable filters simply do not touch.

 Ceiling Fans

 Ceiling fan and light units circulate warm air in the winter and make occupants feel cooler in the summer. Look for ENERGY STAR rated models, as they are 50 percent more efficient than conventional units. This saves $15-$20 per year on utility bills to say nothing of the air conditioning and heating savings gained.

Tip: In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counter-clockwise direction to create a wind-chill effect. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the fan at low speed in the clockwise direction to produce a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space.

Keep these tips in mind when designing your log home and be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant for more insights in to the design of your dream log cabin.

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This article was taken in part from the article "Today's Log Homes Go Green" by the Log Homes Council.

Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, dream log home, log home building consultants, Log Homes Council, dream log cabin

Log Home Construction Bids - How do Builders Charge?

Posted on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 @ 02:17 PM

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

custom log cabin homeEven 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 home, dream log home, log cabin homes, log and timber homes, log cabin

Is YOUR Log Home Manufacturer a Log Homes Council Member?

Posted on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

custom log home, log cabin home, log structuresBuilding 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 Robinson. "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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Information above is taken in part from the Log Home Council's web page.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, log structures

Energy Performance of Log Homes

Posted on Fri, Nov 29, 2013 @ 11:24 AM

log home, custom log home, warm log homeA lot has been written about the energy efficiency of log homes. 
When discussing this topic with those "none 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" phenomanom 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 homes, dream log home, log home building consultant, log cabin homes

The World Through the Windows of My Log Home

Posted on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 @ 02:08 PM

custom log cabin home

The weather is now cooler and I can work in my home office with the windows open and take advantage of the nice breezes and lower humidity.  I over look a small part of the back lawn and on in to the back 10 acres or so of woods.  Recently a clutch of turkey have been making their morning and evening tour of the back yard foraging for food as have the doe and her four fawns.  Just this morning as I was making some phone calls someone commented that they could hear the crows calling in the background.  I'm very blessed to have this to listen to and watch rather than the noise of the city or suburbs.  My wife is known to comment on our drive way as the "entrance to a beautiful State Park".

Soon enough the windows will need to be closed in order to retain the heat inside the office as the winter months approach.  Although it's nice to have windows to look through, I really like the fresh air.  A lot of folks building log cabin homes will design with lots of windows in order to "bring the out-of-doors, inside".  I know exactly what they mean!

Windows not only allow us to see what is going on outside, they also protect us and our belonging from weather and the sun outside.  When considering what type of windows you will use in your custom log home be sure to think not only how you will use them, but where you want to place them.

Most every window manufacturer has a broad range of offerings not only in the quality of the window but also in the operation of the window sashes.  For instance, one of the most popular windows is a double-hung window where BOTH the sashes are operable up/down.  Also popular are the casement windows that crank open and close and the sliding windows where the sashes slide back/forth.  The awning windows also crank open/close but are hinged at the top of the window where the sash will swing open from the bottom of the sash.

In addition to the types of windows offered, the quality that is available also needs to be considered.  Most log home manufacturers will offer just the basic window, usually a wood window unless you ask for a better window or are offered an "up-grade"  If you don't mind painting/staining wood windows frequently this type windows is suitable for you.  However, if you want to lower the amount of time and money you'll spend maintaining a wood window you probably should consider investing in a clad window.  At Appalachian Log Structures our Premier and Pioneer packages come with a Premium window that is all wood constructed but the exterior is clad with aluminum. 

The type of glass that is included with windows is also important.  If you've ever had your carpet or an area rug fade along with your curtains it probably because you have just plain glass in your windows.  The use of Low-E glass is more popular today than in years past.  This Low-E glass virtually eliminates the harsh UV sun rays and protects from fading.  The better window manufacturers also offer optional glazing to further reduce UV for those homes built in the south and are interested in reducing the heat transferred into the home through windows.  For more northern climates, triple pane glass may be an option to consider as well - keeping the heat inside the home during those long cold winters.

If you are planning to live in a high wind area (coastal areas where hurricanes need to be considered or mountain tops) you should consider a high DP-Rated window.  In most cases if you are building in an area like this the local building codes will require a higher DP-rated window anyway.  These windows are built to withstand the higher wind loads against the glass and sash that will occur in the area you are building.

One last item to put on your window check list - how easy are they to clean?  If you want to look through the windows, they'll need to be cleaned occasionally.  Do the double-hung windows offer the "tilt-sash" action where the windows are easily tilted in to allow easy cleaning of the exterior glass?  Nobody really wants to climb a ladder to clean windows anymore.  In some cases you can ask for a special glazing to the exterior glass where rain water or water from your garden hose will wash these special windows clean.  Its new technology but one that I would be happy to try out - especially on my fixed glass in the hard to reach gable ends!

As you can see there are lots of things to consider when choosing a window for your dream log home.  Be sure to take the time to do some research and decide for yourself what is going to be best for you.

When you are ready to start designing your log home be sure to visit or give your Local Log Home Building Consultant a call.  We're happy to share our insights and those of our more than 5000+ satisfied homeowners.

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