The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Are all Log Home Logs Created Equal?

Posted on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 @ 01:44 PM

log profilesThere are some that think the logs used in log homes are created equal.  That's why many potential consumers think all logs should all be priced the same.  As with any product, there are differences in quality, thus differences in price.  Let's take a look at a few of these differences.

THICKNESS - Most log home companies will advertise 6", 8" or 10" thick logs.  When you go and actually MEASURE these logs you'll find they are 5.5", 7.5" or 9.5" thick.  Appalachian produces FULL THICKNESS logs for our log cabin homes, thus more wood AND more insulation.

GRADE STAMPED - Know the difference between a graded log and a grade stamped log?  A grade stamped log guarantees that your log home building materials are structurally sound and approved to meet building codes.  Building inspectors will be looking for this stamp on each of your logs to verify that they meet the ASTM specifications.  Many log home companies talk about "graded logs" - BEWARE - these are NOT GRADE STAMPED logs.  Graded could mean a visual grade (not structural) or just that the guy running the mill thinks it looks good so he gave it a good grade.  Quality is the difference - you'll pay less (and get less) with a non-grade stamped log.

SPECIES - Still believe there is one wood species better than the rest?  Do some research and you'll find that besides some color and grain difference they are all about the same.  Think cedar or cypress is impervious to rot/decay or wood digesting insects?  Think again and start doing some research for yourself.  You'll soon discover that these species, just like all the rest of the wood species, need to be protected with preservatives for great looks and longevity.

TREATMENTS - What is the optimum way to protect my log wall?  Research pressure treatment and see why it is the only way to go.  Research Borates and you'll soon learn why we pressure treat with this organic (non-chemical) product.  In the 35+ years we've been providing log home building materials, not one of our homeowners have had to replace/repair any of their pressure treated materials we've provided.

Now that you begin to understand that not all logs are created equal, you'll start to understand some of the differences in QUALITY and pricing.  When creating your dream log home think about the type of products you want surrounding you and your loved ones as well as the quality of materials you plan to use in one of the largest investments you'll be making.

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to discover more about our log home building components and how they can save you time and money not only today, but for the lifetime of your log home.

Tags: log homes, log home building consultant, log home building materials

Log Homes - Made in the USA?

Posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 @ 03:51 PM

log home made in usaMost of us today are PROUD to buy products that are made right here in America, supporting not only the local/regional businesses but also supporting the hard working people these businesses employ.  It's also a GREAT way to help grow our struggling economy.

Appalachian Log Structures is located in the heart of the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains.  We're a proud group of Mountaineers and stand committed behind our 35 years of manufacturing and pressure treating log homes for over 5000 homeowners.  In addition, all of our raw log and timber  materials come from right here in the good ole USA. 

These are some of reasons you'll start to see our emblem, "American Owned / Made in the USA", our our website and in our advertising in the near future.

If supporting our economy and businesses located here in America is important to you, be sure to ask where your log home materials are coming from, and who exactly owns the business.  You may be surprised at some of the answers you receive.

To learn more about the log home building products we make at our Princeton, West Virginia manufacturing facility, contact your local Log Home building consultant.  Keep your log home investment from leaving the USA!  Buy American made products from American owned businesses.

Tags: log homes, log home building consultant, log structures, log home building products, log and timber products

Dressing up your Dream Log Home

Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 @ 02:28 PM

log home railingNow that you have your log home designed its time to take a look at dressing it up a bit.  One way to not only make your log home look better, but also protect the ones you love, is to conisder installing our log railing.  On exterior porches and decks this beautiful railing guards against unexpected falls or those who may unknowingly walk toward (or over) the edge of these platforms.  With 4" round top and bottom rails and 3" round spindles - this railing is sturdy enough to take on these types of potential disasters.  In addition, the railings are pressure treated with sodium borates protecting the wood itself from rot/decay and wood ingesting insects - an added value!  Inside your log cabin home, these railings are used at the edge of lofts or 2nd story floors as well as stairs.  All of our railings are offered in smooth round or rustic round and the posts can either be round or square.  If you really like the "big" stuff - we offer 8" round posts to use between the 8', 10' or 12' sections of railing.  When its time to finish up your design, or if you are re-modeling an existing log home (or any home for that matter) consider our beautiful, strong, well protected log railing.  You'll be happy with the outcome for sure!

Visit our web site or contact your local Log Home Building Consultant to learn more about our log railing.

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

Let There Be Light - Choosing Windows for your Log Home.

Posted on Thu, Jan 5, 2012 @ 03:13 PM

log home

Let There Be Light! – Choosing windows for your Log Home

Most folks like LOTS of windows in their log cabin home in order to let the “outdoors” in.  Whether its beautiful views of mountains, lakes, meadows or trees from your building site, windows allows Mother Nature to come inside your home and become part of your environment.

Since this blog discusses solid log wall construction, which is very energy efficient, we should also be talking about energy efficient windows!  Did you know about 30% of energy loss in any home (frame construction, block construction, log construction, etc) is through windows and doors?  Why would you consider building an energy efficient log home and then put inefficient, inexpensive windows in?

You can reduce this energy loss by using quality energy efficient windows.  Most window manufacturers make different series of windows to choose from.  You usually have a choice ranging from an entry level window (usually all wood or vinyl with clear glass) to Premium level (usually wood construction with the exterior clad in metal or vinyl with Low-E or upgraded glazing on or in the glass). 

At Appalachian Log Structures Inc. we have chosen to include JELD-WEN SiteLine-EX windows – their Premium window.  Not only are the windows extremely energy efficient but also are made from AuraLast treated wood materials offering a 20-year warranty against rot.  In addition they come in a variety of exterior clad colors as well as offering other options in hardware, grilles, glazing, etc.  Our approach is to offer our clients quality, energy efficient materials up-front and then let the customer determine the level of quality they want.

When comparing log home manufacturers quality of included materials – don’t assume that all packages are created equal, or that all windows that may be included are created equal.  If you are looking for energy efficiency, low maintenance and windows constructed of wood that has a warranty against rot – you’ll need to ask questions and get the facts before making the right decision.  Call 866-LOG-HOME or your local Log Home Consultant to discover more about the windows and other log home building materials we offer.

Tags: log home, log homes, log home consultant, log home manufacturer, log wall

Part 3 - Log Homes are Better than Conventional Built Homes

Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 @ 02:44 PM

custom log  home

12 Advantages Log Homes Have Over Stick & Brick Construction

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors.  Here are three more reasons to consider a log cabin home.

7) Super Energy Efficient

Provided the home is sealed properly (between the foundation and the first course of logs, between log-to-log connections and where the roof system meets the log wall), you can have a super energy efficient home. Indeed, some builders routinely build log homes to meet the DOE’s “Energy Star” standards. This means it will be 30% more efficient than what building codes call for, saving you serious coin over the life of the home. “Today we can build a log home to be 15 to 20 percent more energy efficient than a conventional home,” says builder Mike Gingras, owner of Seven North Log Homes in New Haven, Vermont, who has designed and built Energy Star-rated log homes for the past 18 years.

8) A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Hanging a picture in a home with drywall is a big ordeal, involving a stud finder, a hammer or drill and bruised fingers—maybe even a bruised ego, since your spouse may tell you to move the picture, requiring patch work. Homeowners report the simplicity of hanging a picture is one the simple joys of living in a log home.

9) Rustic Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t High Tech

While rugged is appealing, roughing it is definitely out. That’s why today’s log homeowners increasingly want a hideaway that’s connected, automated and secure. Many log homeowners are adding backup generators (in case of power outages), security system and a CAT 5 wiring system that can accommodate high speed video, voice and data, as well as a host of new communication technologies on the horizon.

 

Watch for Part 4 of this 4 part series coming soon!

 

This article is re-printed from a Log Home Council white paper.

Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log and timber homes, log wall, log homeowners

Part 2 - Log Homes are Better than Conventional Built homes.

Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 @ 01:19 PM

log cabin home

                12 Advantages Log Homes Have Over Stick & Brick Construction

Beyond a steady stream of visitors seeking to soak up some rustic ambiance and connect with Mother Nature, there are other advantages for owning a log home over more conventional construction. Longtime homeowners say log and timber homes offer rich rewards over the stick and brick homes of their neighbors.  Here are three more reasons to consider a log cabin home.

4) Fit the Land
Since this organic building material comes from nature, the resulting structures blend into the topography like a 10-point buck on opening day. Log homes naturally integrate right into the landscape, rather than being awkwardly imposed on it.

5) Fast Framing
If you choose to use a precut and pre-drilled log system or a handcrafted home, the shell of your home can be framed on site faster than conventional stick framing, which will reduce the likelihood of weather-related damages or mold and mildew issues. With the right crew and building system, it can be weather tight in as little as two weeks—for an average sized home. In conventional construction, your home is exposed to the elements for far longer, which could lead to mold issues within framing of the home, where it can thrive undetected for years.

6) Warmth of Wood
Warm to the touch (as opposed to the always chilly sheetrock), wood has something called “thermal mass,” a natural property in the logs that helps keep inside temperatures of homes comfortable in all seasons. This allows log walls to collect and store energy, then radiate it back into the home.

Watch for part 3 of this 4 part series soon!

 

This article is re-printed from a Log Home Council white paper.

Tags: log home, log homes, log cabin home, log and timber homes, log walls, log system

Log Home Construction bids - How do builders charge?

Posted on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 @ 02:03 PM

log house under construction

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

Even 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 

This is a re-printed article from the Log Homes Council library (http://loghomes.org).


Tags: log home, log homes, log home construction, log home manufacturers, log home builders

BIOLOGY OF A LOG HOME

Posted on Wed, Oct 12, 2011 @ 03:37 PM

log home cell structure

 

Craig Wilger, Certified Building Biology Environmental  Consultant and Chemical/Environmental Engineer wrote the following after a visit to our log home model in Ripley, WV.

Briefly, the aspects of log homes that make them so attractive are as follows: 

1.   They incorporate in large part, natural and unadulterated building materials from a renewable source that is many times, very near to the building site.
2.   Wood by its nature is "hygroscopic" meaning it has the ability to absorb moisture and then release it to the indoor environment, thus providing an even relative humidity for the occupants - a health promoting property.
3.   The natural wood surfaces minimizes the adsorption of ionic charges in the air thus making them available to remove particulates by agglomeration and increasing the absorption of oxygen into the blood (negative ions particularly).
4.   The thermal mass of a log home retains heat and thus provides a relatively stable indoor temperature.
5.   Wood has good sound absorbing properties and a pleasing natural     appearance and color.
6.   Log structures have relatively good thermal insulation properties.
7.   The transmission of natural earth and cosmic radiations that human beings have evolved under are disturbed to a lesser degree by natural wood materials.
8.   Wood materials are recyclable and therefore ecologically sound.
 

"Aside from these very positive aspects of the log homes you provide, they simply look and feel terrific!  That alone is very uplifting to the entire human being and promotes optimal health. The additional fact that your company pressure treats the logs with a borate solution makes them pest and mold resistant and more fire resistant as well."  Environmentally friendly and a beautiful natural appearance. Everything a new home should provide for a lifetime of memories.

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

Making the grade - log home buying basics

Posted on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 @ 01:55 PM

log home gradeAll building codes require grade stamped materials for structural members that are used in residential and commercial construction. A new construction standard has been developed that is specific to log home wall construction. The International Code Council (ICC) 400-2007 Standard on the Design and Construction of Log Structures, states that “all logs used in the construction of log homes shall be stress graded and identified by the grade mark issued by an accredited log agency.”  The slope of grain, knots per foot and soft knots can weaken a log's structural strength. You may be able to get less expensive logs from a sawmill or log home manufacturer that doesn't grade, but you don't have the assurance that these logs will perform under the stress load of your completed home. Grading also looks for issues such as decay, checks and insect issues. And it's important to keep in mind that these criteria should not only apply to logs used in the walls, but for ridge beams, purlins, rafters—all structural wood components.

This grade stamp assures buyers that the logs that they are purchasing have met the code requirements and are allowed to be used in the construction of that residential or commercial log home project. Using graded logs not only assures you that you are building "legally" anywhere in the US, it gives you the knowledge of the likelihood of the performance of your logs over time. And, it gives you the ability to determine the value you are getting-the price versus quality comparison.

Appalachian Log Structures, Inc. (ALSI) has been providing quality grade stamped logs to our customers for 30 years.  Our graders have been certified and trained by Timber Product Inspection (TPI), the industry leader in inspection services.

Insist on a visual grade stamp to insure that your logs will meet this Standard when building a new log home!

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