The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Log Home Living - Safe in ANY Storm!

Posted on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 @ 12:47 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, dream log home, log home building consultants

Where in the World is Appalachian Log Structures?

Posted on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 @ 12:35 PM

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

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

How To Properly Compare Log Home Material Packages

Posted on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 @ 02:13 PM

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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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log cabin kits, log home consultant

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

Posted on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 @ 01:41 PM

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 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 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 home 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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Tags: log home, log cabin home, dream log home, log home manufacturer, log home package

Log Home Construction Loan Application - Step #9

Posted on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 @ 02:24 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.

Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultants, log home package

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

Posted on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 @ 02:56 PM

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 build project it will be.

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

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

Log Home Construction Costs - Step #7 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, May 29, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

custom log cabin homeNow that you’ve got your floor plans drawn by your log home manufacturer, you can start gathering more accurate construction costs.  Up until now any estimates or quotes you have received have been “any ones guess”.  Most quality contractors we hear from won’t provide any type of pricing until a set of log home floor plans has been produced and folks are ready to spend some time discussing their wants/needs and budget for their log home project.  Once a floor plan drawing is completed contractors now have something specific to associate bulding costs to.

For financing purposes, you will not only need a set of your log home floor plans to submit with the rest of your documents, but your construction estimates as well.  If you have chosen to have your home professionally built by a general contractor, they will provide to you the estimated construction costs. 

If you plan on being your own General Contractor or building the log cabin kit yourself, our Cost Estimating Worksheet will be of great assistance.  When I built my log home 22 years ago, we used this very form to gather our costs and budget our money accordingly.  Not only did we come in on time (we developed and executed a realistic construction time line) but we came in on budget as well thanks to this form.

Be sure to add in about 10% in cost overruns for unanticipated expenses, price increases, or in case you forgot to include an item you REALLY wanted in your new dream log home.  Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Consultant and use their experience as a great resource tool for your building project.

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Next up – Step #8 Choosing a General Contractor.

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

Purchase Log Home Floor Plans - Step #6 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 12:45 PM

custom log home floor plans

Assuming that you have progressed through the first 5 steps in the Successful Planning series you have now completed your research, set a realistic budget, know where you are going to build your log cabin home, sketched some log home floor plan ideas on paper and are within the building/move in timeline you have set for yourself, it's now time to have your preferred log home manufacturer start drawing your dream log home design.  Whether it is a floor plan that the log home manufacturer already has pre-designed, there are some slight modifications you want made to that plan or if you have your own custom log home design, gather your ideas, sketches and other information and get with your Log Home Consultant to get underway.

For folks wanting one of our pre-designed plans we offer a Study Set of plans that will help you gather building costs and/or provide to your lending institution for appraisal purposes.  For those wanting to modify a pre-designed plan or customize their own plan we have a Preliminary Plan option that provides the same type of information as the Study Set of plans include.  Contact your local Log Home Consultant for more information and pricing on the Preliminary Plan option.

Over the year's we have found that those homeowners who start working on their log home floor plans early are the most confident and well prepared when construction actually begins.  You should be very relaxed and not rushed through this step as it is your dream log cabin home.  Both your log home manufacturer and your Log Home Consultant are very interested in assisting you through this process.

Coming soon - Step #7 Obtaining Construction Estimate.

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

Timelines for Your New Log Home - Step #5 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, May 8, 2014 @ 02:45 PM

custom log cabin homeSome folks will set a date that they want to be moved in to their new log home like Christmas, Thanksgiving or a special anniversary or birthday.  Setting goals is a great idea but they need to be matched with realistic expectations.  If you’ve never had a custom home built before, now may be the time to investigate a bit further.

There are several factors that will affect how long a log home building project will take.  Here are just a few:

  • Complexity and size of the house plan
  • Location of the building site
  • Availability of building supplies
  • Weather
  • Size/experience of construction crew

On average our homeowners have told us that from the time they started clearing their lot until the time they moved in, it took them approximately 12 months to complete.  Remember, this is an “average” so some folks building smaller, simpler designs may have spent fewer than 6 months and some with very large (7000+ sq ft) complex houses on difficult building sites may have spent 18 months or longer.

If you have a move-in date selected be sure to keep the time lines and what can effect them in mind so you know when you have to start.  To help you along, click here for a sample time line to help you along in planning.  For further assistance, use your local Log Home Consultant as a wonderful resource for insights in to the time line planning process.

Our next topic is Step #6 – Ordering Blueprints

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