Answers From The Experts: Q&A With A Log Cabin Kit Expert
Over the past couple of months our bloggers at Log Cabin Hub have been running the “Answers from the Experts” blogging series. As part four of this blogging series we have interviewed Mark Feder, the Vice President of Sales at Appalachian Log Structures and a log cabin kit expert, on the most frequently asked questions on log cabin kits.
This fantastic interview will help you with the most important elements of log cabin kit construction and how to tell the best quality log home kits.
A full transcript of our interview with Mark can be read below:
What is typically included when you purchase a log cabin kit and what do you normally need to purchase separately?
There are no two log home manufacturers that include the same items in their kits. Many manufacturers offer different levels of packaging such as Log Walls only, Logs & Beams and Dry-In. But even with all manufacturers just supplying a log wall, the content of the kit may not be as inclusive from manufacturer to manufacturer. With that said, we suggest that the customer requests pricing from the manufacturer based on the items they wish to purchase. Make sure that the same floorplan is being used so there will be an “apples to apples” comparison.
Are all log cabin kits the same, if not, how I can I tell a good quality kit from a cheap kit?
Although many prospects believe that all log home kits are essentially the same, they are not. Careful research determines what makes a good quality kit. Here are some of the things to consider:
· Grade stamped materials: All building codes require grade stamped materials for structural members that are used in residential and commercial construction. A construction standard has been developed that is specific to log wall construction. The International Code Council (ICC) 400-2007 Standard on the Design and Construction of Log Structures, states that “all logs used in the construction of log structures shall be stress graded and identified by the grade mark issued by an accredited log agency.”
· Warranty: Is a written warranty offered on the kit? If so, how long is the warranty good for? What does the warranty cover…just cut & fit or is structural damage caused by rot/decay and wood digesting insects covered? What does the homeowner need to do to maintain the warranty?
· Pre-cut vs Linear Foot: Less expensive kits typically do not offer any degree of pre-cutting…therefore all corner notches and door/windows openings are cut on the jobsite. Higher quality kits will be extensively pre-cut with precise measurements and tolerances.
· Engineered for settling: Is the kit engineered for settling and if so are those hardware products (post/beam adjusters, thru-bolts) included in the kit price?
· Thickness of logs: Are the logs that are being supplied full thickness or nominal? Most manufacturers mill a full size timber to a nominal sized finished product.
What’s the best type of wood to select when purchasing a log cabin kit?
The late Fletcher R. Parsons, originator of Appalachian Log Structures, Inc. authored an article Which Tree should be used for log wall construction? The article suggests that there is no one best wood to use…or all log home manufacturers would probably be using it! There are 80 or more commercial wood species in the United States and Canada that can, and have been used for constructing log structures. Supply and Demand economic principles apply to log home manufacturers the same as it does in any other business. Most manufacturers offer woods that are readily available (locally) because they can purchase the raw materials at a reasonable cost. That is one of the reasons most log homes are constructed using various species of pine.
Regarding durability, some wood species offer a greater resistance to degradation from rot/decay fungi and wood digesting insects. The highest concentrations of naturally produced toxins are present in the Heartwood of the tree. The Sapwood of all trees has very little resistance to insect and decay damage. All wood species that are not treated with non-leaching materials require maintenance applications of wood preservatives to protect against fungi and insects. This includes Western Red Cedar, Cypress, Redwood – all well known, highly promoted, naturally resistant wood species. Sodium Borate is the wood preservative most commonly used and may be applied by brush, spray or pressure treatment.
How are log cabin kits shipped and is this normally included in the price?
Typically log cabin kits are shipped by tractor trailer. Based on size of the structure and content of the kit, many orders will take more than 1 truckload for delivery. Some companies offer “Free Freight” by incorporating an average freight cost into their kit price while others prefer to add the freight charges as a separate line item.
What are your best quick tips for ensuring that the assembly phase of a log cabin kit is stress free and successful?
· Most log home manufacturers provide a Construction Manual and/or Construction video. Read and view this information in advance to familiarize yourself with the process.
· If your home is not being constructed by an experienced log crew, ask if Start Up assistance is included in the package price and if not can it be provided for an additional fee. A good quality log home kit will include this service in the price.
· Rent or provide the proper equipment as directed in the Construction Manual. An all-terrain extended boom forklift with a 6000 lb. lift capacity is necessary on day of delivery and is very helpful to have on site while the logs and beams are being erect.
We hope you are now prepared with all the information and questions to ask your log home provider when you are looking for a kit. If you have any further follow-up questions please feel free to ask them below and one of our bloggers will be sure to provide you with an answer.