Log Homes, Log Home Kits and Prices

Planning

Log Cabin Energy Code Compliance

State and local governments have had building codes in place for hundreds of years to protect public health, safety and general welfare.  A more recent addition to building codes are energy codes which can cover walls, floors, ceiling insulation, windows, air leakage and duct leakage.  The standards for energy code compliance vary from state to state and from municipality to municipality.  Compliance is the responsibility of those constructing the home.  In most cases, log cabin energy code compliance is expected just as in traditionally built homes.

The Energy Code, R-Value and Log Cabins

R-Value is one of the measurements used to determine energy efficiency.  R-value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow.  The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  According to the US Department of Energy, the R-value for wood ranges between 1.41 per inch (2.54 cm) for most softwoods and 0.71 for most hardwoods. Ignoring the benefits of the thermal mass, a 6-inch (15.24 cm) softwood log wall has a clear-wall (a wall without windows or doors) R-value of just over 8.

Compared to a conventional wood stud wall (3½ inches (8.89 cm) of insulation, sheathing, and wallboard, for a total of about R-14) the log wall is apparently a far inferior insulation system. Based only on this, log walls do not satisfy most building code energy standards. However, to what extent a log building interacts with its surroundings depends greatly on the climate. Because of the log’s heat storage capability, its large mass may result in better overall energy efficiency in some climates than in others.

Logs act like “thermal batteries” and can, under the right circumstances, store heat during the day and gradually release it at night. This generally increases the apparent R-value of a log by 0.1 per inch of thickness in mild, sunny climates that have a substantial temperature swing from day to night. Such climates generally exist in the Earth’s temperate zones between the 15th and 40th parallels.

Because log homes don’t have conventional wood-stud walls and insulation, they often don’t satisfy building code energy standards that require prescribed insulation R-values. However, several states — including Pennsylvania, Maine, and South Carolina — have exempted log-walled homLog Wall Insulation Packagees from normal energy compliance regulations. Others, such as Washington, have approved “prescriptive packages” for various sizes of logs, but these may or may not make sense in terms of energy efficiency.

Log Cabin Insulation Kits

When log walls do not meet code on their own, other measures can be considered.  This is especially
necessary in cold climates.  Conestoga has optional insulation kits for walls, floors and ceilings.  With an insulation kit, there is no reason a log cabin shouldn’t be just as comfortable in Alaska as it is in Alabama.

What Is an Engineered Log?

Engineered Logs – The Best Choice for Your Log Cabin

Log cabins have been admired for their beauty and durability for centuriesWhat is Glulam. Building materials have evolved significantly since the first log cabins were built hundreds of years ago. Traditional logs are often being replaced with engineered logs. Engineered logs are also referred to as glulam or laminated logs. This is different than laminated flooring that just looks like wood. Engineered logs/laminated logs are real wood.

So What’s an Engineered Log?

Engineered logs begin their transformation in sawmills just like traditional lumber, where they are sawed and kiln-dried. Kiln drying reduces the wood’s moisture content making it more resistant to movement and decay. After kiln drying pieces of lumber are bonded together with pressure and resin. To be more specific, engineered logs are stress-rated wood beams composed of wood laminations, or “lams,” that are bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant adhesives. The end result provides extraordinary benefits without sacrificing the look of traditional logs.

Benefits of Engineered Logs

• Structurally stronger than traditional logs because they are resistant to warping, twisting and settling making them the more stable choice for log cabins
• Have a more uniform appearance than traditional lumber
• Resistant to decay because of low moisture contentGlulam Ceiling
• Avoid problems associated with traditional logs such as settling and shrinking as they dry out
• Approximately 50% stronger than traditional timber
• Offer versatility ranging from simple, straight beams to complex, curved products
• Pound for pound, stronger than steel and have greater strength and stiffness than comparably sized dimensional lumber.
• Lighter but stronger logs make them easier to work with which improves product performance
• Available in stock and custom sizes for adjustable widths, depths and lengths
• Longer lengths eliminate unsightly wall joints in log cabinsEverlast-Log-tight-fit-300x279
• Appropriate for residential and commercial applications

Conestoga Log Cabins & Homes uses Everlast™ engineered logs. More information.

Deck Out Your Log Cabin

Log Cabin Decks

Log cabin decks are made for relaxing, socializing end enjoying the great outdoors.  By adding a Dog at Deck Gatedeck, you extend your living space, while increasing the value of your log cabin.  But before you rush off to the local hardware store to buy supplies, consider a few important factors.  First, check with local zoning authorities to obtain the appropriate permits.  Next you will want to consider:

Deck Location

Cabin Deck RailingSeriously consider where to place your deck.  Do you want to take advantage of the view of a nearby mountain range or lake?  Is it important to see the sunrise or the sunset?  Will the blistering setting sun cook your guests at summer barbecues?  Can it be conveniently located off the kitchen to ease outdoor dining?  Since the deck will probably be in place for decades, make sure it’s where you want it.

Deck Function

How do you plan to use your log cabin deck?  Grilling?  Dining?  Hanging out?  Does it need to be enclosed and gated to corral kids and pets?  Do you need seating built into the railing to capitalize on space?  Does your deck need to have electrical access and be reinforced to support a hot tub?  These considerations can impact size and shape.

Deck Material

Gone are the days when natural wood was the only option for log cabin decks.  With more options come more decisions.  When selecting a material, go with what suits the style of your log home, your personal taste and your budget.

Natural Wood

Pressure treated lumber has always been the number one choice for deck material.  It’s chemically treated to be resistant to insects and fungus. Unfortunately, it will take a beating from the elements and is very susceptible to splitting and warping.  Regular power washing and sealing is required to keep mold, mildew and dirt at bay.  Other natural wood choices include cedar and redwood.  Both are beautiful, naturally resistant to rot and sturdier than pressure treated lumber, but cost three times more.

Composite

Made of wood fibers and recycled plastic, composite deck material is more expensive than wood up

Composite Deck

Composite Deck

front but requires less maintenance.  In the long run, it will cost less.  Although there is a wide range of colors and stains, composite does not have the look and feel of hard wood.  It is weather and stain resistant

Plastic

This material is all plastic, sometimes using recycled components.  It will not crack or splinter and is resistant to decay.  Plastic tends to be slightly more expensive than composite.

Aluminum

If you’re looking for a powerhouse and don’t care if it looks like wood, aluminum may suit your log cabin deck.  Its tough, slip-resistant surface will not rust, rot, warp, splinter, crack or check.  Aluminum is lighter than wood but stronger.  You can find products with interlocking sections to prevent rain from leaking beneath.  As the most expensive option, the biggest drawback is the price.

Deck Decorating

Lastly, personalize your log cabin deck.  Of course you need table and chairs for outdoor dining.  Throw down an indoor/outdoor rug to create an outdoor living room or conversation area.  Create shade with a pergola with climbing plants.  For more ideas on creating outdoor spaces, check out our blog on Outdoor Living Space.

Firm Foundation

One of the most important decisions you make in building your log cabin is the foundation selection.  According to The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterACHI) the purpose of a foundation is to “transfer the load of a structure to the earth and resist loads imposed by the earth.”  Several factors impact your foundation decision including climate, geography, water tables, topography, properties of the soil, local code requirements, personal preference and budget. Continue reading

Passing the Cabin Onto the Next Generation

Many years of happy memories have been created at the family log cabin.  Parents often want to keep tradition alive and pass the cabin down to their children.  Sometimes parents discover that while their children may have expressed an interest in keeping the cabin in the family after their parents’ deaths, not all of the children have the same level of interest.  The daughter may have fond Family at cabinrecollections of baking with mom in the kitchen and fishing with dad at the nearby pond while the son only remembers mosquitoes and spotty Wi-Fi.  Unless carefully planned, a gift that is intended to bring joy can cause tension and discord among family members. Continue reading

What is a Construction Loan?

Designing and building your dream log cabin home can be an exciting experience.  Don’t let concerns over financing the construction derail you.  There are options available if you don’t have cash upfront to cover building costs.

Many lenders offer construction loans to cover expenses during the log cabin building process.  These loans are usually available for single unit, detached properties that are primary residences or second homes.  The terms can be fixed rate or adjustable.  A schedule of draws is agreed on by the home owner, builder and lender.  Loan disbursements are made as work is completed on the log cabin.  During construction, the home owner makes interest only payments calculated based on the outstanding loan balance.

Continue reading

Loving Your Cabin Loft

Log cabin lofts are great for extra sleeping quarters but they can be so much more!   These multipurpose spaces can be used for a myriad of things.   Here are some creative ways to make your log cabin loft work for you and your family.

Playroom – Kids can feel like they have their own hideout but they are still within supervisory distance.  They can build forts, play games and work on arts and crafts.  When they’re not playing, the loft can be a children’s study area.  It’s not as confined as bedroom but allows students to be part of the family without as many distractions.   Continue reading