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Anyone attempted a DIY Log Cabin?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Rockey, Jan 9, 2008.

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  1. Rockey

    Rockey Minister of Fire

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    I have been doing some research for a couple of years on and off and hope someday (5-10 years) it will be an attainable project. I have read some of the horror stories and seen some of the successful attempts. Are there any hearth members that have or know of anyone that has had success with such a big project? I would like to hear some of the things to watch out for and what to expect and not expect.

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  2. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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    Rockey are you talking about from a kit or old school - dropping trees, peeling and scribing logs.

    I haven't done either but I am considering building a small log sauna the old school way. Or, maybe what is sometimes called the 'Alaskan' log cabin style with vertical logs. I understand it's a lot easier to build. I found an example here
  3. MANIAC

    MANIAC New Member

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    Rocky,

    I recently had a 32X24 D-log home built in Maine that I basically chronicled most of the construction with my digital camera. I did not build this myself but I would be happy to share with you my experiences.

    Let me know.
  4. Rockey

    Rockey Minister of Fire

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    I'm talking more of an old school but I'm noit sure how much of it I would be willing to learn how to do. I really want a large somewhat upscale log cabin (3500 + sg ft) I have heard the horror stories about kits and the lies associated with them.
  5. WILDSOURDOUGH

    WILDSOURDOUGH New Member

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    Not trying to discourage you...cuz I we are in the last 5% of finishing our new SIP (half-log sided) home- so I say go for it !

    Things to REALLY consider...Do you have and are you willing to spend 8+ Hours a Day /7 Days a week, for two or more years to complete it yourself, or can you afford to have someone do most/all the work ?

    Very carefully figure a budget, trying to include everything you can think of- then times it by 2 and make sure you have extra reserve funds. (We did everything ourselfs except the standing seam metal roof, sitework, foundation and sheetrock and I can tell you it is very expensive to build a new home- we went through 90,000 nails !)

    If you are thinking old school- you will need hundreds (300+/-) logs- good, straight ones. You will need to buy them or you will need 500 acres of good forest and all the equipment to get em out. (I'd buy em- easier)

    Are you tough enough ????
    You will be tried many, many ways- many, many, many days.

    We have been married 28 years- a good girl from Vermont and a 'tough' kid from Detroit- found her in Fairbanks Alaska- a keeper ! Owned a business together for 8 years- but can honestly tell you that this was the biggest challange of all.... we made it- but we are both in our fiftys now and ready to start living here and will be very glad to 'finish' building.

    Best to You.
  6. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Agreed, home building is not for the faint of heart.

    That said we had our Lincoln Logs custom kit built for us. The labor cost was roughly half the kit cost and IMHO was mostly worth every penny...I've made some corrections to the work done, most of it was by the contractor's apprentice...but the bulk of it was done to a high level of quality.

    You're going to need alot of new tools...if you're doing old school hand peeled logs you're probably staring a $10k+ tool bill in the face...if you buy the logs you're looking at 25% or less of that cost.

    For budgeting purposes...figure out all the costs you can...and then triple it. Get multiple quotes for things that you need to either buy or have done by a contracotr (septic field and well for example) and pad each quote by 25% at least to cover the surprise ledge thats only a foot underground where your septic tank goes.

    Good luck...this will very likely be the biggest project you do in your lifetime...and certainly the coolest.
  7. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

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    At 3500 sq. ft. I assume this will be a residence, not a hunting camp. One thing to remember is that log cabins, by design, are not as efficient as a stick built structure. Wood typically has an R value of around 1 per inch of thickness, so most log cabin walls have an R value in the 6-8 range. Most conventionally built houses have 2x6 walls with a minimum of R 19 insulation. Logs can also twist, check, and shrink leaving gaps between them. Depending on wood species and moisture content this may or may not be an issue.

    If you live in a reasonable climate none of this probably matters, up here a lot of the log cabin owners complain about the wind whistling through the walls and high heating bills.

    Dont get me wrong I like log buildings, especially when the logs are scribed. Just be aware of what you are getting into and that like anything else you get what you pay for.
  8. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Save yourself alot of headache & time.
    Build a stick built with 2"x6" walls, for great insulation. Then use log siding to do the outside. You can also use it inside too.
    Great insulation value this way, and look of log home. Best of both worlds. I suggest using a white or red cedar to repel insects. Also keep in mind you will need to maintain the exterior over the years. Wood exteriors are much more maintenance than anything else.
  9. amkazen

    amkazen New Member

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    Hi,

    I am typing this reply in a 3,200 sq. ft., pitched roof, 2-story 3-bedroom, 2 3/4 bath, 4-car garage house. The 2nd story is 6" solid cedar logs. The 1st story is the American Polysteel Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). We ordered a random length log home kit from Cedar Knoll Log Homes in Plattsburgh, NY, where I was stationed when I was active duty Air Force and where my wife and stepson are from. We researched a LOT of log home companies and Cedar Knol was the last one we decided to look into and we liked them the best. The logs were shipped in on one semi-truck and we unloaded the semi and put the logs on a flat bed tariler
    and used a Ford dually pick-up to haul the logs to the building site as the semi could not get to the site. The kit came with Caradco awning windows and the logs.

    So, to answer your question if any of us have built a home with a DIY kit...the answer is yes. Would I do it again? Yes. Are there some things we leaned and would do differently? A resounding yes!

    Let's talk about the efficiency of this house: no insulation in the walls....remember, they are solid cedar. The ICF forms have 2" of styrofoam on the interior and exterior with 10" of concrete in between the styrofoam. The ceiling of the 2nd story has about 12" of fibergalss batt insulation the ceiling of the 1st story has about the same. The temperature up here in the mornings the past 3 weeks has been between 6 and 18 degrees. Up here is at 7,000 ft. elevation snuggled right tight against the base of the 10,000 foot Sandia Mountains. The last 1 1/2 miles to our house is a dirt road and we are 2 miles from the nearest subdivision. We have 15 homes in our neighborhoood spread over approx. 150 acres and we are surrounded on all sides by the Cibola National Forest and the Sandia Indian Pueblo. I am describing this to you because there is no "residual" heat in this area from other buildings. When I ride my motorcycle into town I notice a tremendous difference in air temperature once I get into Albuquerque, just like when I used to ride from Cadyville into Plattsburgh, NY. My house is the only house like this in this neighborhood and our house is as warm and cold as any body else's "standard" stick frame built house in this neighborhood. We will wake up to 60 - 64 degrees in the house without any heat at all, as we are not using our in-floor radiant heat due to propane costs this year. And, until this past summer, we had no cooling in the house and the hottest our house has ever been in the summer has been about 90 degrees, and that was when we had 105 degree days. And, the ceiling fans cooled the house off very, very quickly. The moral on efficiency is: do not worry about it. Follow the caulking and weatherstripping instructions when building a log house and you will be fine! Our neighbor's houses are doing the same temperature wise.

    Lessons learned:
    1) Use random length logs if you have the time & desire to cut the logs to length, other-wise go with a pre-measured and pre-cut kit, which is kind of like a paint-by numbers type set-up...log A goes here, followed by log B, etc. a random length kit means you choose which log to use where and how long it should be, etc.
    2) Do not try to drill the electrical wire chase through more than 2 log courses unless you have a special drill set-up to guide the drill bit.... :)
    3) Drilling and cutting the electrical wire chases, the outlet & switch openings, and cutting the corner butt & pass joints is very, very time consuming..do you have the time to do this?
    4) Have the logs shipped factory stained...protects from any possible road grime during the shipping and saves you the hassle of doing it. We have not restained our logs yet and the log shell has been up since October 2001. We get some direct and very hot sun on the south & west side, and I just noticed this past summer when the sun hits the house just right that the west side probably could use restaining..but not the north, east or south sides. Go with larger than normal roof overhangs...we went about 12" longer than normal and that works fine. I might even go 18" next time but no more than that.
    5) Use some of the logs for interior walls, vs. just the exterior walls like we did...adds more log home ambience
    6) Try to not use a bank.....they were the # one problem issue for us, as it took us 14 months of weekend and work night evening (towards the end) work to get this house ready for us to move into. Who is us? Me, my wife, our two friends who are commercial construction contractors (museums, public schools, etc.), and one of our friend's two teenage boys who were 15 & 17 yrs old at the time. We were about 5 months behind the bank's worst case schedule for an outstanding construction loan and they were not happy....
    7) try to do as much of the work yourself as you can...we hired a plumber after we had already done the 1st floor plumbing and we should not have hired him as he thought the house was his...ask us what we wanted, we would tell him, and then he would do what he wanted...We hired an electrician who discovered that a log home and ICF has uses a lot more wiring than normal and that he had underbid, and so he put us on "a slow boat to China" work schedule and delayed us tremendously....we hired a roofing company to install the metal pro-panel roof as they had the equipment to cut it. We hired some laborers to pour & finish the 56' x 44' monolith concrete slab & footer foundation of the first floor. We hired a retired master tile craftsman to tile the house (only the theater room downstairs has carpet...the rest is ceramic tile with laminate flooring, that my wife installed, in the bedrooms).
    8) Would we do this again? You bet, and we have already done so, and we also hope to sell this house this Spring and rehab one of our neighbor's houses....what do I do for a living? Budget & Database Analyst..the trick is knowing where to go to get your answers and when to get get help. I learned by reading, talking, and doing. This next house I am going to take the homeowner's plumbing & electrical tests and do it myself, on a cash only basis.
    I hope this helps.
  10. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    Alright... I just gotta say... THIS THREAD IS USELESS WITHOUT PICS!!!

    Bring 'em on guys! We want to see these beautiful log homes!

    -SF
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    amkazen,
    sounds like quite an adventure. And pics would be great.
    You have to realize though, Rockey is in Ohio, where heat is humid and sticky. So much so, on this side of the country when its hot, you sweat bigtime.
    Out west there, you have no humidity. In fact the only a/c really on houses is swamp coolers, which add humidity. So as far as heat goes. 90 there is nothing as you don't sweat with the dry heat. Out in Colorado, I couldn't believe that at 116 degrees out, it felt like 80 does back here. If your in the shade, its not bad at all. But here, you sweat. It gets darn right thick at times. As far as winter, again its sometimes less humid, but compared to out there, its humid. And a moist dry day feels a hell of a lot colder. So my point is, the way a house is built including insulating factors, differs from areas of the country. I don't know how moister here or dryness there, effects the logs. Do the logs check real bad out there due to it being so dry?
  12. amkazen

    amkazen New Member

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    Yes, it was quite an adventure, and it continues to this day. Thge house is still not finished and hence the reason for not having any decent pictures to share. We have lots during the construction but not many since we moved in of the house itself...Lots of pics taken looking out from the house but that is pretty much it.

    I have not seen much checking at all in the cedar logs. The logs that we did not use did twist and curl but not much checking. Also, we have not had a lot of settling at all which is surprising. There was a "builder" near us we interviewed to bouilg our house and he was a Gastineau Log Homes delaer. Gastineau uses oak and this guy did not allow for any settling, and ended up cracking every single window in his house and redoing every door buck in the first 1 1/2 years as the oak dried out. We saw his house just after he had fixed the doors and windows and I did not see much checking even on his.

    I will in the next day opr so to find some of the pics we have taken of the house.
  13. Tink

    Tink New Member

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    Didja ever see the show Northern Exposure? Do you remember the retired astronaut (Maurice)'s log home? Well, it was not a set. It is actually a real person's home, and you can see pics of it online. Skip mostly lives in Asia these days and teaches log home building there, but Ido believe that one or some of his former students teach.

    These are real log cabin homes, and people have built everything from small saunas to big mansions after doing his class. I've seen some of these, they are REALLY nice, the logs fitreallytight, and are solid. Check it out. Even if you don't plan on building one, check out the pics, as his home decorating is really something else. (He is a big time collector.....)

    http://www.loghomeinfo.com/photosofskipshouse2.htm

    Tink
  14. claudian

    claudian New Member

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    eastern Mar
    hi, here's a website for log home DIYers to check.
    http://www.raisearoof.com/
    it provide prefab resource and updated articles about log home construction which might be helpful.
    good luck.
  15. loggie

    loggie New Member

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    I built a pacific log home they are in BC, handcrafted. They craft the shell 14" to 20" butts send it to you on a truck and you stack it back together with a crane.Mine is a little bigger than you are thinking and it took me 4yrs nights and weekends but turned out very special.They have a web site or I could get you some info if you are interested. :coolsmile: and yes you will be very tired!
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