Twenty Questions

by | Jul 9, 2021 | How-To, Planning

Researching Log Homes

1. How can I tour an existing log home?
Many dealers have model homes that they are happy to show off. Check listings for log home dealers in your area and contact a few of them. If they don’t have models available for touring, they may be willing to contact satisfied customers who would welcome you for a quick walkthrough.

2. Who finances log homes?
Surprisingly, there are numerous institutions that will finance your log home, and it has become easier in recent years to find financing. The first source of financing that comes to mind is a commercial bank or community bank. Then there are savings and loans, savings banks, credit unions, and even brokerage houses with mortgage lending divisions. Some dealers may even have subsidiary finance companies that do nothing but financing for log home owners. It always pays off to do some research and select a lender that has a history of financing log homes.

3. Are log homes energy efficient?
Absolutely! With today’s energy efficient heating and air conditioning packages, electric, natural gas, solar, and wind options, insulation with high “R” values, caulking, chinking, windows that manage radiated heat, and log building components specially engineered for extremes of temperature, log homes are more energy efficient than ever.

4. Can log homes be built in the suburbs?
Certainly, log homes can and are being built in the suburbs. A few years ago, log homes in the suburbs were not common. While the image of the log home in a secluded, open meadow or situated on a majestic mountaintop may still be most prevalent, more and more suburban log homes are being built. Consult the building restrictions or covenants in any platted subdivision to make sure certain styles of homes are allowed. Be aware that building of a home that does not conform to the general style in the neighborhood may affect its value.

5. Are there log home communities in the United States?
Log home communities are thriving across the United States and Canada. These communities are planned especially for the log home owner or prospective buyer to find the perfect place to live.

Designing a Log Home

1. Can I change a standard plan?
A standard log home plan often serves as a starting point. Standard plans are routinely altered for a variety of reasons. An owner may wish to “flop” a plan and build its mirror image to take advantage of a spectacular view or the topography of the lot. A plan may also be altered to accommodate the possibility of a future addition.

2. Can drywall be used for much of the interior?
The use of drywall is often the owner’s choice. Selective use of drywall may decrease construction costs and allow for wider décor options. Drywall is regularly used in log home interiors. Personal preference determines its extent.

3. What’s the best floorplan if I decide to add onto my home later?
Depending on the complexity of the addition, just about any log home floorplan can accommodate more square footage. Situating the home on the lot so that an addition is possible is the key initial step. Plans with simple lines and clean corners with few odd twists facilitate additions best.

4. What’s the best wood for a log home?
The desired look the homeowner hopes to achieve is a key factor in determining the right wood for a log home. The availability of certain types of wood in particular areas impacts both cost and delivery of a log package. Homes in the North, East and South are often constructed of cedar, white, red, or yellow pine, or cyprus. In the West, cedar, hemlock, fir, and ponderosa pine are popular. Select the wood you like best—that’s the best wood for your home.

5. Do I need a special type of roof for a log home?
Log home roofs run the gamut in looks, durability, and cost. Owners typically choose from basic asphalt shingles, metal, slate or imitation slate, clay, ceramic, concrete, or shakes and shingles of wood.

Photo by Heidi Long

Building A Log Home

1. How much does it cost to build a log home?
The cost of building a log home depends on many variables, particularly the tastes and financial capacity of the owners. Developing a budget and staying within it is a must. Factors such as the investment in the building lot, site preparation, square footage, floorplan, construction materials, selection of lighting, cabinets, countertops, and other finishes, landscaping, and financing are among the influencers of overall cost.

2. Can I build my home myself?
Sometimes. Local building and construction codes must be followed, and such responsibility may be best left to a professional. Also, many lenders require a licensed contractor for construction. Owners who choose to build their own homes are assuming virtually all of the construction risk and investing a tremendous amount time in the management of subcontractors, materials deliveries, and other aspects of the project.

3. How do I find a great log home builder?
Ask your log home producer or dealer for recommendations. They often have lists of reputable contractors that they have previously recommended. Check references. Log homeowners may be ready and willing to tell you about the positive and negative aspects of their relationship with a particular builder. If possible, it’s a good idea to visit a homesite where a contractor has a project in progress.

4. How long does it take to build a log home?
From clearing the lot to move-in day the timeframe for completion of a log home construction project (or any home building project) varies. The best laid plans of a future homeowner remain subject to weather conditions, availability of selected materials, contractor backlog, availability of subcontractors when their time comes to perform, and other variables.

5. Are log homes expensive to heat and cool?
Well-constructed log homes are generally no more expensive to heat and cool than conventional homes. In fact, they may be cheaper in some respects. Location and climate impact heating and cooling costs, while orienting the home on the building site to minimize the effect of afternoon sun and take advantage of the prevailing winds for cooling may help. Consider energy efficient heating and cooling systems to keep your heating and cooling costs low.

Maintaining a Log Home

1. Is maintaining a log home easier or harder than maintaining a traditional home?
Like any other substantial investment, log homes require regular maintenance. Climate and materials influence maintenance, just as they do in traditional homes. Water, dirt, and insects are any home’s arch enemies. Maintain a checklist and perform a maintenance related walkaround with the change of seasons. Take care of little maintenance issues before they become big.

2. What’s the best log home finish?
Think about the desired exterior look when your log home is completed. Finishes come in a variety of colors. Homeowners also must consider the maintenance schedule they are willing to commit to, along with the cost. You will get what you pay for. Ask your log home producer, dealer, and/or builder for recommendations that fit your climate and lifestyle.

3. Can I paint the interior and exterior of a log home?

If you choose to paint, proceed with caution. The general consensus is that paint should not be used on logs. Paint may hide maintenance issues. Paint doesn’t breathe and may trap moisture. Interior painting is less likely to cause problems but may still be ill advised. A good rule of thumb is to paint the drywall, not the logs.

4. Is log home chinking easy to clean?
Generally, chinking should be easy to clean. Get product advice from your log home producer, dealer, or builder. Before choosing a chinking material, read the directions, which should include optimal cleaning methods.

5. How do I check to make sure the logs are in optimum condition? What are the signs of potential problems?
For new construction, check the fit and finish of the logs. If something raises a concern, ask questions. If you are considering an existing log home, ask about the maintenance schedule that has been followed and for any notes the seller has taken. In both cases, look for checking or cracks in logs. These can trap moisture or invite insects to take up residence. Watch for flaking or chipping of sealant and finishes. Excessive dirt may be a sign that the home needs better maintenance and upkeep.