The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Carpenter Bees, Log Homes and Other Exterior Wood Structures

Posted on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 @ 01:37 PM

carpenter bee trapWelcome Spring!  With such a light winter in the South this year it seems that the carpenter bees are beginning to hatch a bit earlier than normal.  If you live in a home (log home or otherwise) with wooden structures like porches, decks, fascia trim, etc. now is the time to begin thinking about how to protect these area of your home from this wood destroying insect.

Besides the badminton/tennis racket method which will give you a good workout while swatting at these pests, there are several other products on the market today that will help you reduce and in some cases eliminate the drilling bees.  Keep in mind that since these bees are not ingesting the wood just drilling in to it - topical coats of borates will do little to deter the carpenter bee. 

If you live in a log home or a wood sided home you may want to try a great "green" product called NBS-30.  This liquid additive may be mixed with the finish that you are using on the exterior of your home.  By mixing NBS-30 with a good penetrating product the effects of the additive will last longer as it is not only on the surface of the wood, but penetrates in to the wood as well.  You can use NBS-30 as a topical treatment by mixing it with water - but it works the best with penetrating finishes.  The main ingredient is citronella - the same natural ingredient that is put in candles and burned around outdoor areas where people gather.  Not only does the carpenter bee not like the smell, but spiders, flies, lady bugs and most other insects don't like the smell either.  I've used this product on my dream log home with great success and like the fact that I'm not using a chemical around my house.

If you don't live in a log cabin home but have wooden structures or wooden members on your log home you may want to try one of the traps that are offered.  Most homeowners have seen some of the damage that carpenter bees can do to fascia boards around the perimeter of the roof structure.  A clever individual came up with the idea that by drilling holes the same size as the carpenter bee in a piece of lumber, then making a channel on the back of the wood and placing a glue like substance in these channels - the lazy carpenter bee will enter the pre-drilled hole and get stuck in the glue on the back side.  After initial installation, these traps can be taken down and cleaned and used year after year.  These facia bee chambers are great to use in these areas since the 1" lumber is what the bees like best.

Another trap that I've used for the past two years is pretty ingenious.  Although a very simple design - it works GREAT.  When I first hung the carpenter bee traps at the peak and tips of my log cabin homes gable end I thought I had wasted my time and money.  After less than 4 hours about 1/2 the bottle was FULL of carpenter bees!  I was laughing at how simple a trap it is but what a fantastic job it was doing.  I've almost eliminated the carpenter bees around my house since I've trapped so many over the past two year which means they've not been able to re-produce.

If you have a pretty severe case of carpenter bees (barns, outbuilding, sheds, etc) where you don't do a lot of upkeep or maintenance the carpenter bee kit will be a good solution as well.  Although it does use a chemical dust - it is effective.  You'll need to read the directions and follow them carefully to eliminate the problems but it does work well.

Using a combination of the above products will help eliminate carpenter bees around your home and keep them from coming back.  After all - you spend enough time taking care of your home (both inside and out) so why not spend a little time now so you can save a LOT of time later taking care of those nasty carpenter bees. 

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

It's Not Easy Being Green - Log Homes & the Environment

Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

green log home For those of us log home enthusiasts who remember Kermit the Frog, we’ll also remember his song “It’s not easy being green”.  Of course back then he was singing about something other than saving the environment.  In today’s world of marketing, the word green has taken on a whole different meaning. Google search “environmentally green” and you get over 41 million hits – everyone from the National Geographic, the EPA and even Wikipedia have pages of information on green.  Seems everyone has their own idea, definition and interpretation of what “green” really is.  We’re marketed on a daily basis about green products from dishwashing liquid to clothing and sometimes it gets to be more of a joke rather than a cause.

It may not be easy being green since it can also be rather expensive.  Take housing for example.  By using a lot of newgen or nextgen products in your home you may wind up investing a lot more in your log home project than expected.  You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions – is this product really green (did it ship from overseas or was it made locally?) and will it really help save the environment (was it made from products that are not green?).

Common sense will come in to play here.  I’ve lived in a log home now for over 18 years, a home that used natures only renewable building resource – wood – as the main structural elements.  The logs were local to my area, were pressure treated with Borates to inhibit decay and attack from wood digesting insects and will help the home be around for generations.  Borate is a natural/organic preservative and insecticide.  How much greener a home can you get?

By having a well and septic system we use and recycle water naturally without chemicals.  We compost some of our food waste, use the recycle bins at our local garbage facility and keep our thermostats at temperatures that ease the use of the heat pumps in summer and winter.  I don’t consider myself an environmentalist.  I just use common sense to make every day decisions about leaving a minimal foot print on this wonderful and beautiful planet we call earth.  So really – it’s not that difficult being green when you live in a log home.

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Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log cabin kits

Build Your Log Home NOW - and save $$

Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 @ 10:28 AM

log cabin homeYou probably have heard it before from one of our Log Home Building Consultants - "Now is the Time to Buy" or "It won't cost any less than today".  I'm sure there are those of you who thought it a marketing ploy or a way to stir up some business.  There are several of you who listened and have already made the commitment to build your dream log home either last or this year - and you'll be happy you did.

Although the housing industry has been hit hard by the recent downturn in the economy, the past few months have seen a turn towards the positive.  With this up tick in building permits, residential construction loan approvals and other new residential home building activities, the lumber yards and other building supply companies are starting to see shortages in inventory as well as an increase in pricing to replace their inventories.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that since October of 2012 the price for framing lumber (per 1000 board feet) has risen from $319 per thousand to over $400 per thousand in January 2013.  In addition the Wood Markets web page (www.woodmarkets.com) also is predicting an increase in lumber prices through 2015 due to several factors including the reduction of available lumber for production and the increase in demand. 

The re-building that is currently taking place in the Northeast due to Hurricane Sandy also places a heavy demand on framing lumber and other building materials that are in short supply making for higher prices.  With some lumber being in short supply already, the immediate need for building supplies to replace or repair damaged homes placed a burden on the supply chain causing some prices to increase already.  Remember Economics 101 - Supply and Demand?

We've also heard from several builders who will insert an "escalation clause" in their building contracts to take in to account the cost of materials from the date their contract is signed to the actual prices for materials on the date they are purchased.  In the past when building supply prices were volatile these escalation clauses were used quite often and in most cases were a permanent part of the contract.  So it should be something you could expect to see in a building contract this year.  Although this is a log cabin home blog for log home buyers, the same increases will be seen in all sectors of residential home construction (frame home, brick homes, modular, panelized, etc.) during 2013 and beyond. 

The purpose of the article is to educate and inform people who are looking to build this year of the possibilities in future pricing so they can plan and budget accordingly.  Better decisions are made with good and timely information.  If you want to do some investigating of your own, make a visit to your local lumber yard and ask what they are seeing as far a lumber prices are concerned and what they expect to happen in 2013.  While you're there also get an idea if other building supplies are expected to do the same (plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc.). 

Take all of this in consideration as you continue to plan and budget for your dream log home.  When you are ready to take the next step - give your Local Log Home Building Consultant a call and we'll be happy to help you get started!

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

Construction Loan Application - Step #9 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 09:44 AM

log cabin 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 homes, log cabin home, dream log home, dream log cabin, log home floor plans

Choosing a General Contractor - Step #8 in Planning for Success

Posted on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 @ 09:07 AM

log home contractor

Unless 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 homes, log cabin home, dream log cabin, log home manufacturer, log home design

Designing Your New Log Home - Step #4 in Planning for Success

Posted on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 @ 11:50 AM

Step #4 in the Successful Planning series is Designing Your Log Home.

What style of home are you dreaming of building, a single story ranch style for retirement (or just to give your knees a break) or a home with a 2nd story or loft? Does one of our pre-designed models fit your wants/needs perfectly or would you want to make some modificationlog home designs to one? Have your own custom design with rooms sizes and locations exactly where you want them? Any of our Log Home Consultants can help you get started with any of these options.

When designing your log cabin home, remember what furniture you have now and what you plan to take with you. Is there room enough for the 9 foot tall custom made wall unit you will bring to your new log home? How about Grandma’s dining room table that seats 12 for all the family dinners you have – will the new design accommodate this precious piece of furniture? What is in your attic or basement now and where will it go in the new house? What features in your existing home would you want to duplicate in your new design. What features do you NOT want to duplicate?

Consider your lifestyles too. For 2nd story models with the master bedroom on the main floor – do you want a bedroom above yours? All bedrooms on one side of the house or do you want separate sleeping areas with you on one side of the house and kids/guests on the other? Need a large kitchen since you cook a lot or just a galley kitchen since you plan on ordering take out frequently?

Get your ideas together and contact your local Log Home Consultant. We’re a great resource for your log home project.

Next in the 10 step series is Step #5 – Developing a Timeline.
 
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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home consultant, log home design, log cabin home design

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

Posted on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 02:20 PM

dogwood log home
Having a successful log home building project requires lots of planning.  Last time we discussed the importance of prequalifying 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, build a log cabin

The World Through the Windows of my Log Home.

Posted on Sun, Oct 7, 2012 @ 09:47 AM

Custom Log HomeThe 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 make 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 scale 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.

Click here for more photos of windows.

 

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

Cook up a Classic Kitchen in your Log Home

Posted on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

Log Home KitchenWith all of the cooking shows on TV and the inspiration and creativity they inspire it's a wonder anyone eats out anymore!  However if you've been to a restaurant lately, you may wonder who is cooking at home!  I think the shows are just making us food snobs so we can intelligently criticize the meals that are served to us and either praise the chef or have him "Chopped"!

Either way, at some point in the design of your own custom log cabin home you will need to decide a few things about the design and layout of your own kitchen.

There are several on-line services that can help and seemingly unlimited web pages with suggestions and tips on how to design a well functioning kitchen.  Local building supply stores have LOTS of kitchen displays and most cities and towns have kitchen specialty stores with in-house design.  There's lots of information out there to assist you.

The first question to ask may be "How much time am I really going to spend in the kitchen preparing food?"  If you are one of the creative folks who love cooking for family and friends you may want to consider a larger kitchen area than someone who keeps all the take-out menues by the kitchen telephone for quick and easy meals.  Your personal lifestyle should dictate the size and layout of the workspace needed for your individual cooking purposes. 

To get started, look in your cabinets and pantry today and take an inventory of the pots, pans, mixers, blenders, food processors, etc. that you have on hand AND that you plan to take with you.  If you are considering a larger kitchen than you have today, think of the appliances that you may want to add to your kitchen and where they will fit. 

Don't forget things like electrical outlets and lighting.  Plan on having one of those corner cabinet "garages" for storage of appliances?  It would be a good idea to have an outlet or two inside this garage to plug these appliances in to.  If you are considering an island in your log home kitchen, think and plan how you will use it.  We put electrical outlets on the island as well so when we're using any of the appliances, the cords are not draped in the walkways surrounding the island.

Both overhead and undercounter lighting is important in any kitchen.  Getting good overhead lighting on your workspace is imperative when trying to read lables, measuring cups/spoons or your Grandmothers handwritten reciepe cards.  We installed undercounter lighting since we knew that the countertops underneath the wall cabinets can get pretty dark at times.

Take a close look at how you prefer to do dishes and which side of the sink you like to work on.  Many professional kitchen designers will put the dishwasher on the right hand side of the sink - is this where YOU want it?  Although right-handed, I prefer to do dishes in the left hand side of the sink with the dishwasher beside it so that is how we designed our kitchen.

If you do a lot of entertaining you can make the living/great room as large as you want, but we all know where people wind up - in the kitchen.  We built our kitchen large enough for folks to stand around and help, to talk or just be part of the creative process that is taking place when preparing a meal.  If you have kids, a place for them to do homework while meals are being assembled and have easy access to you when they have questions.  The kitchen is also a great place for kids to learn reading (receipies), math (liquid and solid measurements), science (how baking powder and salt make dough rise) and all kinds of other neat stuff.

Desingning our kitchen was probably the most fun we had in the process of designing our log home floor plan.  It was exciting to see it come to life as we had it installed and finally to cook our first meal together.

Be sure to contact your Local Log Home Building Consultant when you are ready to get started on your home.  We're here to help and hope you will invite us to one of the first meals prepared after you get moved in to your dream log home!

Click here for more log home kitchen photos.

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

A Fireside Chat about Fireplaces in Log Homes

Posted on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 @ 12:45 PM

Log Home Fireplace

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

  • 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 Sunday School and 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 backed cornbread coming out of the oven to have with it makes me drool 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 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!

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