The Log Home Neighborhood

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As I begin to type these first few words, my brain screams… “NO, you do not want to start another project”! I’m sure you know that feeling and I’ll bet that your ‘To Do’ list is also lengthier than you would like it to be.

Ignoring the urging from my left brain, the right hemisphere seizes control and I convince myself that getting involved with THIS blog will be different. These are all ‘log home people’, a community of like-minded people interested in the same things. Okay, now that I’ve committed myself, I’ll toss out some thoughts.

Being more of a creative type, I don’t typically follow politics or economic news as closely as I should, but one cannot escape what is happening in America of late. We’re embroiled in a hot political race for the Presidency, and our economy is teetering on recession… or not. The economic woes have cast a dark cloud on the real estate market that has also affected the log and timber home segment of what is considered to be an up-scale segment of the industry. Ask any builder or manufacturer and most will admit that sales are off, but we’re not feeling the pinch that the conventional home building market is suffering... small consolation. Maybe it is time that we all move to China.

Obviously, I’m not talking about political asylum, but our friends across the pond have an economy that is mindboggling in its scope and they love all things western. If you browse North America’s log home manufacturers’ websites, you’ll discover that many boast that they ship homes all over the globe. Well, if we are supposed to “fish where the fish are biting”, maybe we all need to move to China…. figuratively. The Internet permits us to invade China and never leave the office.

Just a random thought, but is it time that we create pages on our websites to cater to this off-shore market? They have the money and the desire, and we have the knowledge, raw materials and experience. Should we be hiring Chinese translators?

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Comment by Jarkko on August 5, 2008 at 8:48am
Thanks Tom, I'll try to contribute something new, but it is so darn hard since you have already written down just about anything there is worth to write about log homes (it's not seldom that I visit Log Home Directory).

Anyway, read Mr. Cui's comments here and he sure gets it right that log homes in China follow "Finland style". However, out of tens of Finnish log home manufacturers, Honka is probably the only one that has officially delivered log homes to China. Rest of the log homes are of local and American origin. You might want to check Alibaba directory, you'll find many Asian companies providing "authentic" Finnish log homes.
Comment by Tom Heatherington on August 4, 2008 at 6:30pm
Jarkko, welcome aboard. It is great to have members such as you to bring another perspective to this community. I’m sure that many of us are curious about your market and what’s happening off our shores.

Great comments about the China market, I have no experience with it – I was only thinking that with their new affluence and appreciation for so many western products that log homes may be included there someday. We actually have one member, Mr. Cui Yongli, from China that bought a log home from Appalachian Log Structures, so we know of ONE log home being built there. :-)

It is great to have you in our community; I look forward to hearing more from you.
Comment by Jarkko on August 4, 2008 at 11:42am
I would say that there is no market for individually sold log homes in China. Possibly some markets for projects, but it takes time to dig them out. To my understanding they get cheap wood just across Russian border, process it on China's side of border and then transport it to factory, which lies in close proximity of any harbour, from there it is easy to ship to Japan (or other markets) or to sell domestically.

Style for many Chinese log homes seems to be planed log or planed glue-laminated log. Sizes vary between 2 and 6 inches, not to mention those stick-built houses with log paneling. Massive logs are rare, just too expensive.

Right connections could break the market for a cheap manufacturer, especially Russia is lifting staggering duty fees for timber within a year. That should cut Chinese their source of cheap wood. Then there would be only two problems to tackle, cheap labor and hard to find contacts.
Comment by Michael McCarthy on May 2, 2008 at 4:14pm
To be sure, Asia is giant that will be reckoned with over the course of the next two to three decades. But the market economy that Americans embraced at the beginning of the "American Century" is vastly different for millions of Chinese who are living under a regime that doesn't adhere to the tenets of democracy (recent events in Tibet remind us that the rosy picture painted about the Beijing Games are just that----a two-week facade created as one of the greatest communist PR efforts of all time...Madison Avenue should be so lucky).

OK, all that said, I'm an optimist and believer in a capitalistic tendencies. If you look at the grand sweep of contemporary China, you see a country brimming with inconsistencies: a largely agrarian-based society with a manufacturing stranglehold on much of the West (look at our trade deficit)...but also a place that boasts the excesses of Hong Kong and massive human-rights violations in rural provinces.

But here's why a democratic shift will take place: the Internet...and the free flow of money from the manufacturing sector. Wealth (or at least the prospect of wealth) begets more wealth, as well as the desire for luxury goods. This train can't be stopped, which means the truth about the rest of the world----conveyed via the web----can't be stopped. Even if millions of Chinese don't know a Google from a noodle right now, within a decade they will.

In short term, Tom, we should focus our log-home marketing efforts on North America; the bosom of capitalism resides here, as do millions of people who still don't know about the energy-efficient qualities and gorgeous design of log homes. Seems tough to sell here right now, but giving up should never be an alternative---we have much too good a story to tell.

Great post! Happy weekend!
Comment by Sara Brown on May 2, 2008 at 1:04pm
At our recent log home show in Somerset, NJ, I talked to a few exhibitors who had recently showcased their handcrafted log homes at a home show in Tokyo—and they did great!
Comment by Leah Kerkman on May 2, 2008 at 12:42pm
Well, there is a silver lining, though. If prospective log homeowners are able to sell their stick-framed homes, they can catch an awesome deal on building their log homes, which we talked about here.

Personally, as a homeowner looking to "sell up" soon, I'm certainly anxious about the market. I'll probably have to make a lot of updates to my old home, offer incentives, and consider all offers (which was unheard of a few years ago). But I'll recoup a lot of those losses on the bargain I'll get on my new home. I hope those postponing their log home dreams remember that.... If they have money to put down, they'll end up saving in the long run.

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