The Log Blog by Appalachian Log Structures

Are ALL Log Home LOGS Created Equal?

Posted on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

log cabin home log profiles

There are some that think the logs used in log homes are all 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.

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log home building consultants, log home building materials, borate pressure treatment

Miley Cyrus and Log Homes: 10 Surprising Things They Have in Common – NOT!

Posted on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 @ 02:27 PM

custom log cabin homeWhen a social network guru suggested the topic of this blog (without the “NOT”) I was pretty much at a loss.  Since I don’t have any children,  don’t watch a lot of TV (especially any of the “Reality” shows) and really don’t like any of today’s music (however, Classic Rock - ROCKS), I was lacking a good understanding of some of the personality/character traits of this person called Miley Cyrus.

Living in a log home, and selling them for the past 22 years, I have a GREAT understanding and appreciation of the traits of a log home AND the folks who purchase them.   After some quick research on Ms. Cyrus, it was quite obvious that the social network guru was not quite in touch with us “loggies”,  however I believe he suggested the topic as it has a highly visible celebrity name included in the title.  A good way to have a search engine pick up your blog.

With all of the search engine optimization, google searches and numerous matrixes’ and other ways that web masters try to get folks to look and stay on your web page, I figured why not give it a shot.  Then after fully researching the celebrity – I decided to add the “NOT” to the title.

So what follows are the 10 Surprising Things (maybe not so surprising if you’ve read about her) that Log Homes Have that are NOT common with Miley Cyrus:

  1. Class – look at any log home and you’ll see a well refined structure that has stature.  Not fussy or stuffy by any means, but well behaved and liked by most everyone.  Whether in the country, suburbs or downtown – a log home fits in most anywhere.
  2. Warmth – not only energy efficient, but ask most folks what they feel when entering a log home and usually one of the top 5 things mentioned is warmth.  It’s not only the natural surroundings a log cabin home offers that contributes to this characteristic, but the people living in log homes are usually just as warm and welcoming as well.
  3. Family Friendly – We supply a lot of log homes to families with lots of children.  These rough, tough, knock about log homes withstand the childhood years and it’s usually where all of the neighborhood kids wind up.  When it’s time to play Pioneer Fort – guess where they go.  Not a PG-13 or R-Rated type of home – something you’ll feel safe in when kids are around.
  4. Sturdy Character – never wavering, always there and a place to escape the storm.  Not flashy and never obnoxious.
  5. Long Lasting – here today and here tomorrow, log homes are built to last.  No one-hit wonders or flash-in-the-pans here.
  6. Transparent – with all the large windows to let the outdoors in, it’s hard to hide in a log home.  Log homes love to welcome in all the beautiful views of nature as well as family, friends and neighbors.  What you see is what you get – no pretentions here
  7. Welcoming to ALL ages – young families, recent empty nesters or retirees – folks of all ages LOVE log homes. 
  8. Steady in a Storm – when the going gets tough – log homes will withstand the worst mother nature has in store.  Bring on the paparazzi (hurricanes), the press (tornados with LOTS of hot air), the fans (floods) and the critics (fire) – you won’t find a log home apologizing for anything and you’ll see who and what is still standing when it’s all over.
  9. Age beautifully – no one is young forever – it’s how you age, not what is your age.  Log homes will age gracefully.  Through the good and bad times and when you just want to sit and rock on the porch and grow old together – your log home will be right there with you.  Log homes won’t trade you in on a younger owner, richer owner or an owner that will get it more publicity.
  10. CAN’T (and would NEVER) TWERK! – enough said.

Hope you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek look at comparing log homes and an over exposed Hollywood celebrity.

When you are ready to get serious about taking the next step in building a log home give one of our Log Home Building Consultants a call to set an appointment.  We’d love to hear more about your dream log home and have the pleasure to assist you along the way to making it a reality!

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log structure

The History of Log Homes

Posted on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 @ 11:38 AM

old log home wallThe origin of the log structure is uncertain. It is probable that it began in northern Europe sometime in the Bronze Age (c. 3,500 B.C.). By the time Europeans began to settle in America, there was a long tradition of using logs for houses, barns, and other outbuildings in the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and Northern Russia. These regions had vast stands of softwood timber that could easily be worked with simple hand tools. According to C. A. Weslager, whose book on log cabins is considered a classic, the Finns, as well as the Swedes, had a "close attunement" with the forests, and both groups had well-developed forest industries. Weslager goes on to say:

"The Finns were accomplished in building several forms of log housing, having different methods of corner timbering, and they utilized both round and hewn logs. Their log building had undergone an evolutionary process from the crude "pirtii"...a small gabled-roof cabin of round logs with an opening in the roof to vent smoke, to more sophisticated squared logs with interlocking double-notch joints, the timber extending beyond the corners. Log saunas or bathhouses of this type are still found in rural Finland."

When the Finns and the Swedes began to arrive in New Sweden (along both banks of the Delaware River into modern Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland), they brought their knowledge of such wood construction with them. So did later immigrants from Germany. The Scots, Irish, and Scots-Irish had no tradition of building with logs, but they quickly adopted the technique. The log cabin suited early settlers and later pioneers. It would have been nearly impossible to carry building materials across the ocean in the small sailing ships of the time. It would have been equally difficult to transport building materials on horseback or even in the wagons or river barges pioneers used to cross mountains and valleys in their search for their own land. So, wherever there were forested areas, the log cabin became the preferred type of initial dwelling. Log cabins did not even need nails or spikes to hold them together. Until the 19th century nails were made by hand by blacksmiths, which meant they were quite expensive, and like lumber, they were also heavy.

Log cabins were relatively easy to build. Weslager reports that a record was set by three men who cut down trees, trimmed them, dragged the logs to the building site, notched the logs, and built a one-room cabin with chimney and fireplace in two days. For most people it took a bit longer, but it was possible for a man working alone to build a cabin in one to two weeks. However, a man alone faced some problems. Because it is physically difficult to lift a heavy log above one's head, most men could build cabins only six to eight logs high. With help, it was possible to build several logs higher--even two-story log houses were possible. First, skids of two logs were placed against the wall at an angle to serve as an inclined plane. Then forked sticks or ropes were used to position the logs.

Most log cabins had a single room, or "pen," some 12 to 16 feet square. There was one door, and usually no windows. If windows were cut into the walls, animal skins or boards fixed to slide across the openings were used. Some builders used paper greased with animal fat, which made it both translucent and waterproof. Most log cabin builders placed the fireplace at one end of the cabin and built the chimney of wattle. Stone or clay was used for the hearth and the interior of the fireplace. As these were not very safe constructions, later builders used brick or stone if they could be obtained. Fireplaces provided warmth, light, and fuel for cooking. Back bars and cranes made of forged iron were used to hold cooking pots. Not until the 1840s were cast-iron ranges available that would burn wood or coal, so cooking over a fireplace did not seem a hardship.

Inside walls were often chinked with clay or cloth. Most floors were simply beaten earth, although some cabins had floors of puncheons--logs split lengthwise and laid close together with the flat sides up. A family often built a sleeping loft if the roof were high enough. The loft could be reached by pegs pounded into the walls or by a ladder built from tree limbs. The loft also was used to store foodstuffs.

Log cabins were never meant to be permanent, but many log houses were. The difference between the two was primarily one of size and attention to detail. Most pioneers preferred "flat" walls to rounded log walls, and so most used hewn logs for building. These not only made the houses look (from a distance) more "real," but also withstood the elements much better, since the bark and the decay-prone outside wood were removed from the logs. When milled lumber became available either from a local sawmill or by railroad transport, most people chose it for their homes.

It seemed that as the frontier disappeared, so would the log cabin. However, at about the same time the Finnish homesteaders were, of necessity, building their first homes of logs, Easterners were rediscovering the log structure. William A. Durant, land developer and president of the Adirondack Railroad, pushed the idea of Great Camps in the Adirondacks. These camps were enclaves where the very wealthy could escape the summer heat of the cities and retreat to the "simple life" of log-cabin living in the country. Such "cabins" were hardly simple. Designed by architects, they were huge structures with many rooms and fireplaces and porches. But their log exteriors recalled the "good old days". National park structures also fueled the revival of log cabin living. Many park lodges were made of logs so they would fit their surroundings. The Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park is a prime example. Built in 1904, the inn has an eight-story lobby some 185 feet high. There are 140 guest rooms and three sets of balconies.

Another factor that kept the tradition of log building alive was the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) worked with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service to build thousands of log structures throughout the national forests and parks. Had it not been for these the log cabin might have disappeared, but because people saw the log structures and liked what they saw, many began to build modern log cabins and log houses. These homes seemed to represent all that a family could want: a sturdy shelter from the elements and a simple, self-sufficient lifestyle. The log cabin remains a popular building style.

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Special thanks to the National Parks Service the provider of this article and C. A. Weslager, The Log Cabin in America: From Pioneer Days to the Present (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1969); Virginia and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984); visitor's guides to several western national parks; and other sources on the history of the western frontier. 

Tags: log home, log structure, log cabin homes, log cabin

Log Home Construction Bids - How do Builders Charge?

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

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

custom log cabin homeEven if you plan on doing some or all of the work on your log home yourself, you will still need specialty contractors, including plumbers, electricians and HVAC installers. This is why you need to understand how these trade professionals charge for their services.

You will be contracting with a builder or subcontractors to provide labor and materials in one of three ways.

1) Fixed bid
2) Cost plus (also known as time and materials or an hourly rate)
3) Combination of the above two

Which is better? Read on to discover what to expect when you are making that dream log home a reality. This information is provided by the Log Homes Council, an association of log home manufacturers. Their goal is to enable you to make the most informed decisions when buying and building your log home.

Fixed Bid

Builder or subcontractor furnishes you with a bid that tells you exactly how much you will pay to have a finished home by such and such date. Sounds straight forward, right? You get what you want, the contractor gets what they want and everyone goes home happy. Just like the rest of life, it’s more complicated than you might think.

Fixed Bid Advantages:

• If there’s no surprises, fixed bid can be a good option
• To keep their bid competitive, contractor will be looking for the best deal on all materials
• The contractor will try to get the job done as fast as possible, so he can move on to the next job
• Fixed bid employed by trade contractors, such as electricians, HVAC installers and plumbers
• Common contract clause is “per the plans, in place and to code”
• Once it passes inspection, the trade contractor expects to be paid
 
Fixed Bid Disadvantages:
• The contractor has to ensure he or she doesn’t lose money on a wide range of challenges that may—or may not—come up
• Example scenario: Mountainous terrain.
The builder may need to factor in the blasting of bedrock and excavation to install the basement. This can increase yours costs by thousands of dollars—and that’s all before concrete is poured for the basement.
• You may not get the most competitive price with a fixed bid, because the contractor will have to add in contingency funds for what-if situations

Cost Plus

• A contractor will base their estimate on the amount of time and labor it will take to construct your home, plus a percentage markup on all material that goes into your home
• This tactic is used on projects where costs are harder to predict
• Many log home builders use this formula, largely because there are so many unknowns in log home construction

Cost Plus Advantages:

• If you and your builder keep track of your budget and avoid change orders, this can be the most competitively priced way to get your home built

Cost Plus Disadvantages:

• No incentive to do the job as fast as possible
• No incentive to wisely purchase materials, since everything that goes into the home is marked up

Combo Deal

A combination of these two is increasingly common in log home construction. Some parts of the house are done on a fixed bid, some on an hourly rate and other parts on a time and materials basis, plus a percentage.

Combination Advantages:

• If you invest your time in choosing cabinets, why should a builder take a percentage for ordering them
• A combination bid can help make the process easier for both builder and buyer, while building trust

Combination Disadvantages:

• Not all builders will offer this
• Log home builders are specialists
• If you find a reputable one who is available, you may need to compensate them for their expertise in whatever manner they see fit 
 
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This is a re-printed article from the Log Homes Council library (http://loghomes.org).

Tags: log home, dream log home, log cabin homes, log and timber homes, log cabin

NC Log Home Owners use Strategic Planning

Posted on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

Nantahala floor plan, log cabin home, log home

Good strategy, communication, vision and hard work eventually pay off for two homeowners who used all of the planning tools in their tool belt to build their dream log home.

It was not planned or executed overnight but over several years.  Cultivating the dream, envisioning the finished product and working towards a common goal all paid off in the end.  Now this beautiful log home is the Shaffer's dream log home come true.

A lot of their own blood, sweat and tears went in to their retirement home in Western North Carolina and it really shows.  For the protection of their investment, they chose to use logs pressure treated with borates to guarantee against wood digesting insects and decay.  In addition, they also liked the advantages that the spring loaded thru-bolt offered - keeping their log cabin home tight and energy efficient over the years.

Now that it's complete - they enjoy their time on the porch looking over the picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Their home was featured in Country's Best Log home magazine and you can CLICK HERE to see more photos and read about their experiences.

When planning your dream log home, take your time, think it through and don't forget to work with a Log Home Consultant that has your best interest at heart.

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log structures, custom log home

A Happy Log Home NEW YEAR!

Posted on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 @ 12:24 PM

log home, log cabin home, log home christmas, log structuresThis greeting comes with heartfelt thanks to all of you who took time from your life to call us, visit us, or write us an email about the dream of living in a log home of your own. Having experienced owning, building and living in a log home for over 20 years, I understand the overwhelming desire to live in a quiet, warm, and comforting environment that leads one back to a simpler time of living. Log homes provide this ambiance. Appalachian Log Structures looks forward to it's continued mission of providing not only the highest quality log home building material components, but also timely, educational and important information concerning the numerous choices to be made during the log home buying and building process. We hope our blog has helped you explore some of these important choices, and we have given practical and logical information to be used in making the best choice for you. We will continue to bring you the best information and suggestions concerning log homes, and look forward to hearing from you for input on topics for discussion.

As we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome the New Year of 2014 our wish for you and yours is a healthy and prosperous New Year, and that we may help you realize your dream of owning a log home in the near future.

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Tags: log cabin home, log structures, log lome

Modifying Pre-Designed Log Home Plans to Meet YOUR Needs

Posted on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 @ 12:39 PM

Fair Oaks, log home, log cabin home, pre-designed plan

modified fair oaks, custom log home, modified log home floor plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although Appalachian Log Structures offers over 60 pre-designed log home floor plans, the majority of our homeowners have chosen to either modify or fully customize a floor plan to suite their lifestyle.  In over 32 years of manufacturing log home packages we've rarely cut the same log house twice!

Take for instance the Fair Oaks floor plan above (left).  We modified the Fair Oaks floor plan (above right) to take advantage of a beautiful lake front view for homeowners in Tennessee.  We reversed the kitchen/dining area on the left hand side of the plan so the dining room could flow out on to a covered porch through beautiful sliding glass doors (with sliding screens).  This offers wonderful opportunities for entertaining family and friends with traffic flowing easily from the kitchen and dining room to the specatular views from the porch and deck beyond.

The first floor 1/2 bath and utility area was re-designed to make easier access to the kitchen from the front door and to add a nice pantry to the kitchen area.

Upstairs, the two doghouse dormers on the front of the original plan were moved to the back of the house in order for both of the upstairs bedroom to have views of the lake and mountains beyond.

To take advantage of the sloping lot, a drive under two-car garage was designed for the basement and included another full bath and large gathering area with access to another deck below the 1st floor deck.

The modifications were done keeping in mind where the views would be, how the traffic would flow through the home and to take advantage of the wonderful weather in Eastern Tennessee and access to the lake from the home itself.

When viewing our pre-designed log floor plans, keep in mind that these are just a "starting place" from which your ideas can flow.  Based on the building site, slope of land, the directional orientation, lifestyle, want/needs and especially your BUDGET, our experienced Log Home Sales Consultants are ready to help you modify or customize a floor plan to suite you.  Let us help make your dream log home become reality!

View the two log home magazine articles that featured this Modified Fair Oaks by clicking on the links below:

Mail Order Log Home and Coming Together in Tennessee

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Tags: log home, log cabin home, log structures, log home sales consultant

Is YOUR Log Home Manufacturer a Log Homes Council Member?

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

custom log home, log cabin home, log structuresBuilding your dream log home is likely one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. But you’re not the only stakeholder in this project. Your local building department requires the log cabin home be constructed to code. Your lender wants the log home to be valued correctly. The builder wants to earn more business through word-of-mouth, as does the log home manufacturer.

With so much riding on this decision, who do you trust? We suggest limiting your choices to members of the Log Homes Council like Appalachian Log Structures. Why? Because for decades now, new log homes buyers have trusted members of the Log Homes Council to make their dream home a reality. That’s because all council members must:

  • Abide by a strict code of ethics
  • Grade their logs and timbers by third party agencies to ensure quality
  • Provide construction manuals to ensure correct construction techniques
  • Sponsor scientific studies that advance log building technologies
  • Provide information to help consumers make smart choices

"This means when you buy from a Log Homes Council member, you are getting quality building materials that will stand the test of time," says the Chair of the Log Homes Council.

But those aren't the only advantages in choosing a company that belongs to the Log Homes Council. While member companies compete fairly for your dream home while adhering to the membership requirements, they are united in their passion for their work.

"When was the last time you bought anything from anyone who not only harvests the raw materials, but also designs and crafts the finished product?," asks Robinson. "You will find everyone from the sales rep to the owner of the company have something in common with you: They share the same passion for living in a log home as you do."

Learn More About the Council
The Log Homes Council is a national organization with membership comprised of manufacturers of log homes. The council is part of the National Association of Home Builders.  Appalachian Log Structures is proud to be one of the companies that first formed this organization and throughout the years have had two of our employees being Chair of the Council as well as serving on numerous advisory boards and committies.  We proud of our association with the Log Home Council and their efforts to promote and support our industry.

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Information above is taken in part from the Log Home Council's web page.

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

The Log Home: An American Dream!

Posted on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 @ 11:41 AM

Custom log home, log cabin home, cozy log cabinOver the centuries log homes have come a long way.  The resurgence in log home construction came in the mid-1970's and along with it several opportunities to improve on what our forefathers taught us about constructing homes with full logs.

Of course when log home construction started in this country, our virgin timbers were HUGE and contained a lot of heart wood.  Heartwood of all wood species is naturally resistant to insects and decay. Preservatives weren't so necessary then and what was used to help protect the wood was organic.

Now that we're on our 3rd or 4th harvesting of timbers there is a lot more sapwood exposed when the logs are milled or hewn.  Sapwood of ALL wood species (yes - even cypress and cedar) is susceptible to decay and insects so preservation is very important today.  It's the reason we started in 1977 to pressure treat our log wall building materials - something that no one had tried before - and we have never had a homeowner with insect or decay problems.  In addition, just like our forefathers we're using an organic preservative in our pressure treating process - borates.

In the infancy of the new log home building industry the Log Home Council (LHC) was formed and became a division of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).  Appalachian Log Structures was one of the companies that helped form and support the LHC and still does today.  Over the years several white papers have been produced by the LHC and one of them is featured here today.  Click Here for an overview of the Log Home Industry and be prepared to learn some interesting and useful facts that you can take with you and use in your own dream log home project.

Don't forget to contact your local Log Home Consultant when you have questions or are ready to turn your dream log home in to reality!

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

Energy Performance of Log Homes

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

log home, custom log home, warm log homeA lot has been written about the energy efficiency of log homes. 
When discussing this topic with those "none believer's", I usually ask
them the square footage of their home, how high the ceilings are in
their home and what types of energy they use to power their home.

After determining all of this and then comparing the costs to my own
log cabin home, they are quite surprised at the differences between the
energy costs of the two homes.  You see, you can read, calculate,
research and argue this topic for a good long while however the proof is
in the monthly power bill.  My home continually out performs my next
door neighbors who live in conventional built homes with 8' or 9' tall
ceilings.

Thanks to the physical characteristics of logs, when you build your
new log home you can watch your energy bills go down, which really adds
up. Log homes are able to achieve excellent energy efficiency, thanks to
“thermal mass,” a natural property in the logs that helps keep inside
temperatures comfortable in all seasons. This enables log homes to stay
cool in summer and warm in winter. Indeed, in studies by the Department
of Energy and performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, log homes were
found to outperform other forms of construction. Read all about it in
the Log Home Council's white paper, The Energy Performance of Log Homes.

Although a very technical paper it does provide some insight in to
the "thermal mass" phenomanom that is really at the heart of the topic. 
It's this mass that gives the log home the energy efficiency that they
are known for.  Our forefathers understood the energy efficiency of log
structures.  That's one of the reasons why so many were built.

When you are ready to begin your new energy efficient, dream log home, be sure to contact your nearest Log Home Building Consultant to assist you.  We're here to help when you're ready to start.

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