The Log Home Neighborhood

An online log home community for log home enthusiasts.

Hi all. I am very new here, just found and joined the site tonight.

My wife and I are starting the planning process to build a modest log home. We have two daughters, and are looking to build a 3 bedroom/2bath home. We are in western Maine. We don't yet have a building site picked out.

I am the one who needs to understand how things are done and what the pros and cons are of different methods. I prefer to rely on experienced and unbiased sources of information. Hence I am trying out this online community.

I have been reading some about building methods, and am encountering terms that I don't yet understand. There is the butt-and-pass method (touted by some as the pure traditional and longest-lasting method with the least amount of settling), the Scandanavian full scribe chinkless, the Canadian chinkless, and then all the various milled products. I really want a simple and more traditional log home that will be durable and provide the maximum insulation, so I am leaning towards building with full logs, not milled products. I don't yet know who are the best log home craftsmen in my area, and I need to learn enough to be able to evaluate the various builders that are available to me.

I found a few posts by a professional chinker on this site, and I admit my own ignorance of what chinking even is...but if there are chinkless methods that have been developed, is that because chinking is something to avoid? or does it change the aesthetics? or is it more costly?

I think that I am really looking for some reliable information resources to help me learn about the different building methods so that I can evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, and relative costs and make an informed decision for myself. Is there anyone here who is willing to weigh in on these questions?

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Check out Koskiloghomes.com. Mine is being built as we speak. I will be in before winter strikes here in the U.P. of Michigan. Koski builds only handcrafted log homes from logs that have been drying for several years. He uses the Scandanavian scribe method and has 36" logs or larger if you wish. I'll be uploading some recent pics over the weekend.
Hi Tim: Julie and I have built our log home with 10" Swedish Cope logs. We love the look and the warmth of our logs. One thing you might consider if you really plan on using 14 to 16" logs, are the weight of the logs as well as the cost. The only logs with a 16" diameter in our home is the ridge beam. I can tell you from personal experience that even a 10" log can be very heavy when you are building without a crane. lol There are pros with a 'D' Style logs that your wife prefers, like the ease of dusting, a flat wall on the inside to work with, etc. We chose to use radiant heating throughout our home also, so we won't have a hugh problem with dust blowing around by a conventional heating system. The most important thing I can suggest, is to do your homework, check out log homes in your area and look for quality. It pays to spend a little more to get the right builder for your home. We sub-contracted what we couldn't do ourselves, and I knew who I would hire and who I wouldn't by the quality of the work they do. One of my favorite builders told me that it isn't always what you see that matters; it is what you don't see. If his crew doesn't do a job to his standards, he has them take it apart and do it over. His home was featured in last year's Parade of Homes in Garden City, Utah. One of be nicest log homes you could ever dream of owning. Don't know if my remarks have helped any, but I wish you the best in your process. P.S. Making the wife happy, is always your best bet. :) Dave
Paul,

Are you thinking of Western Red Cedar? All of the Maine companies (Ward, Katahdin and Moosehead) usually use white cedar from Maine.

Plus, you can get a milled D log at 8" thick over the 6"
Good points. I realized that after my previous post. I was thinking of the cedar I have bought for siding and decking. That is all western red.

As I said above, I have lots to learn. It should be interesting...
Paul,
The following is a Swedish cope log home for sale in TN. The logs were provided by a company in Sweden from what I can tell. This should give you a good idea of what the end result would be as a non chinked finish.

http://lakehouse.com/out.php?id=59922

Joe, Sarasota
Hello Paul,

The log profiles, species, thicknesses and corner type options are endless. The size of your home and the building site (flat or sloping) might dictate the size of log (a 24"' diameter hand-scribed log will look goofy with a 1500 sf design). Everything has a scale.

Chink me now, or caulk me later. You will use one or the other eventually to seal up cracks. If you don't like the aesthetics of chinking, plan for stain grade latex caulking so it blends in with finished product.

All logs shrink and settle to some degree. Most suppliers realize this and have a construction manual to address it. Best to design for it up front.

Don't get too hung up on log species, corner types or insulation values of your wall logs. Only 11% of your home's energy use is tied to lost energy thru walls (data from ORNL). Quicker ROI managing air infiltration (blower door testing during and after construction), thermal imaging to catch gaps in insulation, large overhangs with gutters and covered porches to protect the logs, good passive solar window and masonry design, tankless water heaters, geothermal, etc. The logs certainly play an energy and longetivity role, but not at the expense of fundamentals.

Most people have a "look" in mind when they envision a log home. Chink or no chink, flat, round, big, small. Then the budget plays a role. $150/sf for simple vs. $500/sf for spectacular. If you want spectacular, hire an architect. The log supplier may only be a 25% to 33% portion of the total cost. The rest falls on local general contractor to make or break the project. Once you've narrowed your options, then it's down to matching expectations----with log supplier and local GC. Best to start with suppliers regionally and work out from there.

Try the Log Homes Council www.loghomes.org and ILBA www.logassociation.org for pictures, suppliers and craftsmen in your area. Enjoy the journey. It will be worth the wait.
Chris,

Thanks for all the thoughtful advice. I am beginning to understand that the thermal efficiency of a new home is going to depend much more on other design factors above and beyond the walls.

We are definitely going to be on the simple side of the budget spectrum. Are those $/sf ranges for just the log shell, or for a finished house? I am hoping those are finished house figures cuz our budget is $350k max, and the land my wife has her eye on is in the $70k range. And of course this being Maine, we will blow through a significant portion of that budget just to get a well, septic, driveway and foundation put in. I have seen many a capped foundation in these parts sitting for years at a time...

So we will definitely be on the simple end of the spectrum. But that's not bad. I don't want a mansion, and a smaller house is easier to care for, keep clean, and heat. As long as I can get some sort of man-cave into the design, I should be ok.

So you are a timber-framer too? That is awesome. I love timberframe construction. About 10 years ago I took a week-long course with Steve Chappell at the Fox Maple School of Traditional Building nearby in Brownfield, Maine. I had big dreams at the time which included straw-bale walls and all that. Then the road of life took a few unexpected curves, and, well, you know how it goes... Steve is a great guy and I will remember him as long as I live, even if I never actually get to build a timberframe structure. You can check them out at http://www.foxmaple.com/

Best wishes.
Paul,

The $150/sf turnkey cost (without land or site improvement) is what we see for rather simple turnkey construction in rural areas using conventional roof trusses and WITHOUT the soaring cathedral ceilings and walls of glass. This usually includes an unfinished basement. To finish a basement out with plumbing, electric, HVAC some windows and doors, drywall, etc. add maybe $75/sf for basement space. To add a garage, add $80/sf plus. Building in stages vs. doing it all now while family is young and money is cheap.....

If you are using a bank for financing, make sure there are "comps" of relatively new or good quality construction that have recently sold in the area that you are searching. If you have 50% down payment, you won't have any trouble. If you are needing to borrow 80%, the comps (used existing stuff vs. new construction) start playing a huge role. Your realtor can help with these comps.

Yes, my first love was timber frame. But as the log home market evolved and blended with hand crafting, I strayed. I enjoy mixing the two building styles whenever possible. Maine is known for some outstanding timber frame talent and teachers including Steve Chappell, Jack Sobon and others. Glad to see you 'bit by the bug'. You are not alone.
Paul, 350k can be done but not without a lot of thought on everyone concerned.........Maine is not an inexpensive state to build in........I have done many there and am always shocked at finish prices......this has likely changed recently........Steve is a great guy........I remember him fondly from 28 years ago..........
Click Here for some information on the different types of log homes.
And Here

Personally I recommend the Butt and Pass method. Even though the Butt and Pass method doesn't have the looks of chinkless log homes, but it is more structurally sound and you will encounter less "problems". However, if a chinkless log home is built correctly (many aren't) it will be just as good as a butt and pass.

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