The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

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

Posted on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 @ 09:51 AM

log cabin kitNow 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 19 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 kits, log home manufacturer

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

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

Posted on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 @ 10:34 AM

fair oaks log 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 prequalification 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, log homes, log home kits, build a log cabin

Building A Log Home - Research is #1 Key to Planning Success

Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 @ 10:16 AM

Modified RichmondIt’s true.  Planning is the most time-consuming and important part of building a log home.  Over the next few weeks we will be reviewing ten steps that will bring you closer to making your best move yet!

Step #1 – RESEARCH.  Magazines, books, web pages, seminars, factory visits, etc are all excellent ways to start your research.  Look at the different shapes, sizes and corner styles that are offered and determine which one(s) you like best.  How do you want your log home building materials manufactured, in random length where you/your builder cut and fits the product at the job site, or pre-cut where product arrives ready to be assembled (or maybe a little of both)?  What  building materials do you want in your log home kit?  How is the wood protected from wood digesting insects and decay?  Does the log home manufacturer offer a warranty against decay?  Are the building components grade stamped to meet local building codes? 

These are just a sample of the many questions our homeowners asked us before investing in an Appalachian Log Structures Inc. material package.  They also tell us that this is the step they spent the most time doing, taking up to 12 months to gather, study and finally decide on a manufacturer.  By choosing your log home manufacturer as early in the process as possible, you’ll save time and effort as you continue to take the rest of the steps.

When you have questions call your local Log Home Consultant.  We’re here to assist you along the way.

Next time: Step #2 – Prequalify and Establishing a Budget.

Tags: log home, log home manufacturer, log home kits

October Log Home Maintenance Checklist

Posted on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 @ 09:39 AM

Log Home MaintenanceOctober is the first full month of fall; by the end of this month, most of your winterization should be completed. Falling leaves and dwindling daylight signal a final opportunity to do some outdoor organizing before winter settles in.

Reinforce windows
Replace your screens with storm windows. If your screens are dirty or damaged, repair and clean before storing them to prevent further deterioration. Light scrubbing followed by a blast from a hose will eliminate bird droppings and other grime. Small tears can be sewn up with thin wire. If you have older single-pane windows and no storm coverings, apply heat-shrink plastic to the inner or outer window frame to create an insulating air space and save heating expense.

Fire fluency
Make sure your damper is in good working order by opening and shutting it prior to lighting the first fire of the season. If you didn't clean your chimney at the end of the heating season, do it now — especially if you burn soft woods, which release more creosote. Often the first indication that a chimney needs cleaning is a chimney fire, so preventive maintenance is important.  The fireplace/wood stove in your log cabin home is now ready to enjoy on those soon to be cold nights!

Detect deadly gas
If you heat your home with wood heat or a gas heater, a carbon-monoxide detector is a must. These devices look and sound like smoke detectors, but they detect carbon-monoxide gas instead. Units that plug into an outlet are also available.  Protect your loved ones as well as your dream log home investment!

Check batteries in smoke detectors
Daylight saving time ends Nov. 7. Get into the habit of checking smoke-detector batteries when you "fall back" and "spring ahead." Also make sure household fire extinguishers are fully pressurized and in good working order.

Close seasonal air conditioners
If you live in a place where air conditioners are used seasonally instead of year-round, this is a good month to close them down. Switch off power, make sure the condensate drain is clear, and clean condenser coils and filters (a vacuum will do). Either remove window units or cover them, to protect your home from drafts and the units from inclement weather.

Bleed air from radiators
Radiators can get air pockets in them when not in use. If air pockets stay, they will keep the unit from heating up to its full capacity. If your unit doesn't have automatic air valves, you need to bleed it prior to every heating season. To bleed air out, turn on the furnace and circulator and open the supply valve to the radiator. Find the bleeder valve (it's usually opposite the supply valve) and open it while holding a pan to it. Air should be released, followed by hot water (thus the pan). Close the valve as the water comes out. Lightly feel the radiator to make sure it is heated along its entire surface; if there are gaps, repeat the procedure.

Cut brush back from the house
Before stowing all of your gardening equipment for the winter, walk around your house with a weed whacker and a pair of pruners and cut back any brush, weeds or branches that contact your house. This task will eliminate a common access point for insects, rodents and rot. It will also keep branches and shrubs from scraping away at your siding during windstorms.

Watch those leaves
If you don't want the tannin in fall leaves to leave hard-to-clean imprints on your deck and concrete walkways, keep those surfaces leaf-free. If you do get some leaf prints, try a solution of half water and half bleach (test it first in an unobtrusive spot — it may lighten the wood on your deck) or trisodium phosphate (commonly known as TSP) and warm water. Or, just leave the prints and consider them an artistic addition to your exterior look.

Store outdoor furniture
Scrub and store outdoor furniture; even furniture designed to stay out year-round will last longer if protected from extreme cold and wet. Store or cover your barbecue unless you cook with it all year. Empty and store large planters — clay or terra-cotta units will crack if left out to freeze and thaw. Clean and store your gardening tools, but don't put them completely out of reach — shovels are useful year-round.

Winterize external plumbing systems
This is the most important job of fall if you live in an area that freezes in the winter. The simple fact that water expands upon freezing has caused countless homeowners innumerable woes. Ignore this job and flooding, water damage and thousands of dollars worth of plumbing bills will be your constant winter companions.

Here's your to-do list:

  • Drain underground sprinkler systems

  • Have outdoor pools drained and professionally serviced.  

  • Drain exterior water pipes and any pipes that run through unheated areas (such as a garage, crawl space or unheated porch). If draining these pipes isn't possible, wrap them with foam insulation or heat tape. 

  • Cover exposed spigots with foam covers. Or, if cosmetics and ease of removal don't matter, wrap spigots in layers of newspaper, cover the newspaper with a plastic bag, and seal the whole affair with duct tape. 

  • Drain and store garden hoses. Leave one hose and nozzle somewhere that's easily accessible; you'll need it for gutter cleaning and car washing.

Preparing now will save you time and money next spring when the thaw comes.  Take care of your log home and it will take good care of you!

Parts of the article above was reproduced from a posting by By Anne Erickson of MSN Real Estate

Tags: log home, dream log home

On My Honor - Appalachian Log Structures & The Boy Scouts

Posted on Sat, Oct 13, 2012 @ 11:27 AM

Boy Scout Camp

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

I'm sure there are plenty of you who remember growing up in the "scouts".  Whether it was Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, there are a lot of grown ups today who have fond memories of the great times spent with other youngsters doing a lot of fun things. 

I remember the uniforms, the meetings, gathering in the Fellowship Hall at our Church to race the Pine Wood Derby car that Dad and I worked so hard on.  There were also some camp outings, cooking over an open camp fire and other such activities that bring back LOTS of good memories.

Today's Scouting is MUCH different with all sorts of new activities that young people can get in to.  In 2013, the Boy Scouts National Jamboree will be held at the Summit in West Virginia (our Home State!) and you should see what they have in store....(see video below)!

In 2011 Appalachian Log Structures was asked by one of the sub-contractors on the Summit project to pre-assemble some of the 300+ bathhouses that are being built on the site.  Since we are known for our manufacturing of log homes and other wood building components it was a good match.  We worked with the sub contractor to come up with a mass production type of assembly for all of the panels and other pre-built components for these structures.  When the pre-assembled components were off-loaded at the site, they were quickly installed and completed by the contractor (see photo above). 

We are honored to be chosen to assist the Boy Scouts in their new venture and are excited to see how it all turns out next year when the Summit is visited by the thousands of Boy Scouts from all over the world.  Not only will it bring awareness to the Boy Scouts, but also to West Virginia and Appalachian Log Structures.

As you will see from the video, West Virginia has lots of outdoor activities to offer which makes it a wonderful destination even if you are not a Boy Scout.  Lots of folks who plan a visit to one of our Plant Tour/Seminars held in Princeton, WV will also schedule a long weekend to take advantage of the outdoor adventures that are located close by.

Whether it's a log home, log siding, log railing or other log home building materials that you need, or other wood components that need some milling, pre-cutting or pre-assembly, Appalachian Log Structures is just the company to provide you with quality products and workmanship.

If you are considering some type of commercial structure instead of a residential structure we can also assist you.  We've done several hundred of these commercial type structures over the past 35+ years and will be happy to assist you as well.  Contact one of your Local Log Home Building Consultants to help you get started.

BE PREPARED!

 

Tags: log home, log siding

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