8 Myths Traditional Home Builders Are Telling You About Log Homes
Building a log home or hiring a contractor to build one for you is a very exciting time.
Despite the exciting times, it can often be an uncertain time with myths of log cabin construction…. log cabins are much more expensive than the conventional home, they are a fire hazard, take longer to build, and you’ll struggle to find insurance…
How many of these things have you heard on your quest to build a log cabin?
Whilst it is true that it is not an easy task building your own log cabin, builders may play on this fact and insist only qualified builders with years’ worth of experience can build cabins, however, we are here to disprove the common myths and with some patience, time to learn new skills and dedication; you too can build a good quality log home.
Whilst building a log home certainly does require a different set of skills and is an alternative construction type, don’t let it put you off building your log home.
This article is sure to put your mind at ease that most of the myths you’ve heard are simply not true.
1. Log cabins take longer to build than conventional stud homes
If you choose to build a log cabin yourself, it is obviously going to take a little longer to build, but generally, those who have knowledge in putting up log walls can do so very quickly.
If you buy a pre-cut kit, once the walls start going up, they go up a lot quicker than a conventional house. If you notch the logs yourself, you may find the process takes a little longer, but still no longer than building a regular house from scratch.
It’s estimated that a 1,200 square foot cabin, with fully functioning mains electricity, services and water, will take two contractors 9 weeks to construct. In comparison a traditional bricks and mortar home, like-for-like will take between 12-15 weeks to build.
The beauty of log homes, is that the log provides the outside wall, the inside wall, and the insulation all in one step.
Other homes require a lot more steps such as stud walls, exterior finishes and siding, insulation, plastering and painting to name a few!
2. Log homes are too complex for novices to build!
The complexity of your build obviously depends on lots of factors:
- Kit build or build from scratch
- On grid or off grid
- Single level or multiple levels
However, providing you’re building a sensible log home it’s a simple process. This woman built her own log cabin from a kit, she says ‘If I can do it – you can do it!’
There are lots of people, with relatively few DIY skills, who have successfully built log cabins. Read our article where 21 log home owners share their best tips for building a new log cabin to hear from them.
Let’s not be unrealistic here – we are not saying building a log home will be a walk in the park, but it is definitely achievable.
Not only is it achievable, but it will teach you plenty of brand new skills and challenge you along the way, and you will also gain an immense sense of pride in living in the property you have built.
3. Log homes are not energy efficient
A well designed and well-built log home can be very energy efficient – it is not a coincidence that they are very popular housing options for people living in cold climates like Alaska.
Houses built with solid log walls can be between 5 to 15% more energy efficient than standard stick frame houses according to the National Bureau of Standards and The Research Centre of the National Association of Home Builders. This is due to their thermal mass effect when used in residential construction.
Logs are natural insulators and have the unique ability to act like thermal batteries. This means they can store heat during the day and gradually release it at night – making them perfect insulators.
So as long as you insulate the floors and roof properly, and your log cabin is air-tight and well built, it will be a very energy efficient home. Read our article on insulating your log cabin for more information on this topic.
4. Log homes are not fire resistant
It sounds like a dichotomy… but, log cabins are actually much less likely to ignite than a standard wooden frame house, and should they ignite, they can provide exceptional endurance and integrity in a fire.
This is due to a number of properties of logs, including the way in which a log home is built and the performance of log homes as a fire retardant.
Logs are able to be restored after a fire and a fire does not affect the structural integrity of the building unlike many other homes. How? When logs are on fire, the char that forms on the outer layer of the log stops oxygen from spreading to the rest of the log meaning there is no more fuel for the fire – not so much of a fire hazard!
5. Log cabins are very difficult to maintain
Log cabins are not hard to maintain, they just require a different type of maintenance.
With conventional houses, you need to re-grout, re-paint and clean the outside you your home, whereas maintaining your log cabin could mean giving it another coat of stain every 5-10 years.
The better your log cabin design, the less maintenance work there will be for you – this is known as design prudence:
- By ensuring that your logs are treated properly in the construction process, you will eliminate the chances of bug infestations; read more on keeping insects out of your log cabin.
- By ensuring that your cabin is well designed with a good roof overhang, your logs will be protected from the elements, and if your log is on appropriate foundations, this will also protect it.
- By keeping your logs clean, and free from dust, pollen and mould, you are half way there to maintaining it, and it will make your life easier when it comes to re-staining.
Pay close attention to the south and west walls as the elements hit these the hardest! Have a look at our article on weatherproofing your log cabin for lots of tips.
In the early 1970’s some log and timber home companies marketed their homes as ‘maintenance free,’ this is a slight exaggeration but they definitely don’t require a lot more work than any other normal home.
6. You will struggle to find a log home contractor
In all our years’ experience we have never heard of a client who has not been able to build their log cabin due to a shortage of log home builders.
You may come across old dogs that don’t want to learn new tricks, but there are plenty of contractors who can and will build log homes.
The important part when searching for a log home contractor is to check references, make sure they have a good reputation and you are happy with their standard of work. We would always recommend you visit their previous clients and see examples of their previous work.
This should be a stage which you give much thought to – building your home is likely to be one of the biggest expenses you will ever have so do you research properly.
You can search for contractors through local log home companies, real estate professionals, attorneys, surveyors and building inspectors, as well as contacting the Log Home Council who can provide you with a list of builders with log home experience.
7. Insurance rates are higher for log homes
It is a widely spread rumour that insurance premiums are higher for log cabins. Yet, in all our years’ experience we have never heard directly that this is an issue, in fact, people we have spoken to over the years have found getting log cabin insurance just as simple as regular home insurance.
There are, however, insurance companies out there that will not insure log cabins as they do not know much about them. This is due to their non-standard build properties. Also there are factors that can increase the cost of log home insurance.
However, there are plenty of agencies that know about the benefits of log cabins and provide insurance based on factors such as the thickness of your logs, distance from a fire hydrant and the area in which you live.
8. Log homes are more expensive than conventional homes
It is true that many years ago, log homes used to cost around 30-35% more to build than a conventional home, but over the last ten years the cost has come down to pretty much the same price as a regular home.
Whilst logs are more expensive than 2 x 4 timber, log cabins can be constructed much more quickly thus reducing labour costs. An average home requires many skilled tradesmen to build the house and can take several weeks compared to the two or three days it takes to build pre-cut logs.
It is estimated that it costs 24% less than the cost of buying a new home, to build your own home using builders, and up to 60% less to build if you do all the labour yourself.
A full breakdown of log cabin costs can be seen – showing log cabin construction costing around $20,000 for a 800 square foot cabin. The model can be used as a base to calculate constructing your own log home.
We now hope that those common myths of log cabin construction have been dispelled!
Have you come across anything about log cabins that has put you off making the final leap to actually undertake the build?
Did you research properly and make sure that what you were told was accurate?
Let us know below, we would love to help you achieve your dream home without obstacles standing in your way.