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- Log homes are not energy efficient
Most building codes only recognize “R” factor which does not take into account the tightness of a well built log home. It does not take in the mass of wood which holds the heat far better than a flimsy stud home. Recently a client of ours finished his log home manufactured of dry, Western red cedar logs. At that time he needed to get an air-tightness test from the county. It came in as the second tightest home they have ever tested. most of them being stud homes.
In the late 90’s it got down to minus 27 degrees F in Pueblo, Co. We did not have any heat on in our 3,000 sq. ft. model home. The next morning I went in at 10 AM and there wasn’t a problem. The next morning it was minus 10 degrees and on Monday morning it was zero. The model was totally unheated for the whole weekend as we did not work over the weekend. The model had 9 tropical plants in it, including a fern in the window. I lost two African violets which are very sensitive to temperature. The fern in the bay window had no damage what-so-ever.
In short, there is still a reason why log homes are still being built in very cold climates such as Canada and Alaska!
Of course a custom log home with 8 or 10-inch logs will cost more for the logs than a pile of 2×4’s and vinyl siding. But the logs will go up faster saving labor. I have also noted over the years that people who build a log home don’t finish it off with cheap carpeting, sheet rock, and fixtures. As the exterior walls are the least expensive of any home, the amenities installed within (wood flooring and ceilings, a fireplace, a solid wood paneling on the walls) can boost the price of the home substantially.
One of our clients told me many years ago that after the house was closed in from the weather, they felt that they were nearly done with the large expenditures for the construction of the home. They started buying better materials and upgrading the cabinets, carpet, etc. It wasn’t long before they realized that they were going to be running short of money to complete the home.
In short, a log home is comparable to a standard home, if you compare the same apples-to-apples.
Whenever I get a call from someone with a rotting problem, it is due to the fact they have defied basic logic and common sense. Furthermore they spend 4 hours each weekend on their lawn but never seem to be concerned about the home itself. The proof in the pudding is seeing the log structures in Europe (and the United States) that are in great shape after hundreds of years.
A frame home has many steps; stud walls, exterior plywood, exterior roofer’s felt, and siding. For the interior the home is insulated, a vapor barrier installed sheet rock with its taping, sanding, taping, sanding, and finally the paint. Whew!
The first step in the maintenance of the log home is proper design (The Complete Guide to Log Homes). The next step is periodic maintenance with a good stain purchased from a company that specializes in log home products and not something off the shelf of a local discount store.
The exterior of the home is the main area of maintenance that must be taken care of during the life of the home. The interior stained or varnished walls will never need to be redone to any normal failure. If little Johnny smears the walls with marker or crayon, then drastic steps must be taken to bring the walls back to their original condition. Always remember that conventional homes with an exterior of paint must be refurbished periodically as well. There is no free lunch and there is no such thing as minimal or extended maintenance.
Clyde Cremer holds a Master degree in Forestry from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in New Haven, CT, and has over 35 years of experience in the forestry industry.