Many people believe that building a log home is as easy as putting together an erector set. Several log home companies would have you believe that once you have purchased your log home kit the rest is child's play.
The truth of the matter is, in reality, building a custom home involves many people at many different levels. If it were as easy as inserting part A into part B and then stacking it onto part C, then everyone would be doing it!
Each log home building process will be different. Never two homes are alike. There will always be variables, some controllable and others not e.g. bad weather during construction or defective materials arriving on site.
Unfortunately too many people enter into these projects without sufficient planning. This can cause delays, increased costs and an undetermined completion date.
We are well underway. the house is nearly done. all the finishing touches are coming soon
Learn more about the process, our construction team and our daily challenges, watch as the story unfolds.
|July 10 >>> CURRENT STATUS >>>We have three levels of deck built|
Before purchasing your perfect parcel of land, it is necessary to conduct a pit and percolation test (often referred to as a pit and perc test). This will determine an appropriate location for your septic system leach field, and help identify locations with suitable soils. The results determine what type of septic system will required for your home i.e. above-ground septic, below-ground septic, shallow-trench septic, etc. For the leach field to drain properly it must be located in an area that is far enough away from the water table, and must be able to drain in an environmentally safe fashion. The pit test involves digging a rather large deep hole near the location of the proposed leach field using a backhoe. This enables not only the inspection of the soil layers but also the permeability of the soil, the seasonal high water table and the observed water table. The perc test requires a smaller test hole to be dug in the area of the proposed leach field, approximately five feet away from the pit test. Twelve inches of sand is placed at the bottom and the hole is filled with water. At regular intervals the lowering water level is measured to calculate the percolation rate. This is measured by the time it takes for water to drop one inch over the course of one minute.
A septic system essentially is a scaled-down wastewater treatment plant. All the wastewater from your home, i.e. from sinks, toilets and washing machines flows into your septic system. In order to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water, a septic system must be installed. It must treat and dispose of sewage in a sanitary way. In order to protect the watershed and ensure that acceptable standards of water supplies are maintained, proposed septic systems must be approved by the local county public health department and a registered professional engineer. To obtain a permit, contact your local county health department directly. Upon authorization you will receive a Certificate of Final Approval. Permits vary in cost according to your location and the size of your septic system.
Kit or Package?
Pay close attention to all the details within a log kit/package. The name itself is confusing. Are you buying a kit? Are you buying a package? Are you buying a log home kit package? What’s the difference? There are hundreds, if not thousands of log home companies out there. Before making any quick decisions do your research!
Important Note: 90% of all log homes use log siding on the second floor. i.e. They are not using solid stacked logs all the way to the roof. The manufacturer will not tell you this, unless you ask! This may sound crazy! We fell face first into this one; fortunately, we switched log home company, so that we would have solid logs on the second floor too. Thank you Moosehead Cedar Log Homes!!!
Most companies have different levels of material listings.
The Deluxe package:
This sounds as though it is a complete package - doesn’t it? A ‘marketing genius at work’ has misled you. Usually, this is considered to be the bare bones package and requires the buyer to separately purchase additional materials to complete their log home. These packages provide only the basics for the home. They do not include windows, flooring, interior wall partitions or many other components. If you buy a deluxe package, you can assume that you will spend 20% more in additional materials. Isn’t it strange to think that a home package would be sold without sub-flooring or floor joists?
The Weather Tight, Premium or ‘Dry-In’ package:
This includes all the materials included in the deluxe package and adds other components required for building a weather tight log home. As the name suggests: the house is enclosed, and windows are included. Items such as the sub flooring, floor joists, rafters and stairs are also included in this package.
The Complete Package:
This is not the full Monty. These get you to 90% completion of your log home. They include everything included in the other two packages plus the added benefits of interior wall framing, interior doors, and trim. Even at this level, wood flooring for the entire first floor is not included. This means that you will have to seek out and purchase flooring to cover the first floor. This is an additional cost of at least $5,000 or more.
Ask questions - lots and lots of questions! In fact, ask the same question more than once, at different times, to different people in the same company. Compare answers. Are they the same? Many of the people selling packages are salespeople, looking to meet monthly quotas through commission-related payments. They will say ‘yes’ to everything, until the contract is put onto paper; sometimes things change and additional supplementary items come into play. Check into the log home company status with the Log Home Council, http://www.loghomes.org. Doing research now will ensure a smooth process later.
The preparation of the lot commences with the clearing of the driveway; this enables large vehicles such as backhoes and dump trucks to reach the home site during the construction phase. You may want to consider digging a drain along the side of the driveway or even digging a trench for laying/burying electrical lines at this time.
Before a rough layer of shale is distributed over the driveway, walk along the entire length, to ensure that there are no trees-stumps remaining. Tree-stumps can form sinkholes in your driveway over time, as they dry out and shrivel up. You should get a written guarantee from your excavator to ensure that these have all been removed, and should you come across one they will remove it free of charge. You should also ask that this guarantee be transferable from one owner to the next. Never 'finish' the driveway until the whole construction phase has been completed. You will need a rough shale/gravel surface to prevent vehicles from getting stuck in the mud. The heavy vehicles will push the rough shale and harden the temporary surface of your driveway. A final surface finishing layer at the end of the construction is ideal.
Once your driveway has been cleared and inspected, the home site can be cleared. You should designate areas for your cleared trees, shrubs and rocks to be stored. Smaller shrubs and trees can chipped and mulched, these are great for landscaping of your garden when the construction phase has been completed. Larger trees can be sold as logs; smaller trees can be milled into planks and other wood components. Topsoil should be put aside and used later for your garden area.
You may find rock or shale deposits at the location of your home site. Many rock types will fragment easily when hammered out by an excavator. The more solid forms of bedrock may require blasting. This is an expensive process, so wherever possible place the home site in an area that doesn't require blasting.Other debris from clearing will need to be removed from the site, you should however, try and recycle as much as possible; e.g. tree-stumps should be ground-up and not buried elsewhere on your parcel.
Once your site is cleared, it is time to install the footings for the home. It is important to hire a good mason; for this is a very important part of the construction process. Your masonry contractor will pour your footings and then the foundation of your home. In this instance we definitely recommend not opting for the cheapest masonry contractor, good value comes from good workmanship. A home is only as good as the foundation it is built on. The footing is a concrete base that supports the foundation. Wood or aluminium forms are created, concrete is then poured into these forms. The footings are cut deep into the ground; approximately four foot or more below the frost line. The frost line depth depends on your climate and location. Foundations can be made from brick, concrete slabs or poured concrete.
The foundation wall is constructed so that any water will be diverted away from the home into the surrounding earth where the grading has been applied. Any logs should be at least eight inches above the finished grade, away from moisture in the surrounding earth. This will also help to prevent infestation by keeping bugs away from the logs The finished foundation should be waterproofed and thermally insulated. (Read the section 'Insulation' for further information about this topic).
Green landscaping is also referred to as native or natural landscaping. The practice encourages the use of indigenous plant species and natural landscaping materials such as local stones.
There are many benefits when applying natural landscaping techniques. Namely the environment is safeguarded, there is a reduction of maintenance, and increased cost savings are made for the homeowner. Another key benefit is the reduction of harmful chemical fertilizers and herbicides that seep into the water table.
When planned correctly, a natural garden can reduce the need for an irrigation system. It also aids in the improvement the local water quality while reducing storm water damage. Consequently it will increase the biodiversity in your garden.
Deforestation and draining of natural wetlands has posed increased strain on the survival and proliferation of indigenous plant and animal species. Wetlands help maintain the natural storm-water balance and aid in the prevention of severe flooding.
Urban development and agricultural growth has altered the soil conditions, forcing the change and evolution of plants species. Maintaining a natural landscape ensures plant proliferation and stops the extinction of rare species.
When clearing the parcel in preparation for the home, any rocks, plants and trees can be set aside and used as part of the landscaping process. Natural landscapes provide a greater variety, distinction and diversity across all four seasons, resulting in a vast array of blooms, foliage and berries. However, it is important to note that natural landscaping doesn't mean letting weeds grow out of control. Natural landscaping requires management of plant species, pruning of trees and shrubs to ensure successful, healthy growth. Many people introduce exotic plant species into the ecosystem for aesthetic beauty without realizing it can be harmful to native species, as they compete for the same resources and can result in the extinction of the natural species. A little research into native plants and local stone varieties will provide a good basis for determining the components to be used in your garden. Reducing the size of lawns in favor of local stone and natural grasses will help in the 'green' battle.
The net result of employing natural landscaping techniques will result in less time required to cultivate and manage your garden. The decrease of soil erosion and reduced storm water damage will ensure more constant water levels and eventually lead to the need for less watering of plants on a regular basis.
It is important to find a good surveyor. Get a list of local surveyors, talk to local people for recommendations, Google names, and search the database of licensed surveyors. Never select the first and cheapest surveyor, they might be good, the chances are, they are not the best.
Talk to your surveyor prior to the survey. Agree on exactly what you want done and get it in writing. Just asking for 'a survey' allows the less scrupulous surveyors to cut significant corners and take advantage of your naivety.
We suggest thorough marking of the lot lines; all property boundaries should be clearly marked. A marker on the corner of the parcel is not sufficient. Request markers at 50 foot intervals. Make sure you stipulate not to place markers in tree branches or on trees. Many surveyors do this, it is inaccurate as trees grow over time. Request the use of pins to mark the lines properly. The surveyor should work closely with a 'plat map'; this is a local-government issued document that clearly indicates divisions of land.
A good surveyor should also mark out with you the house site and pathways for utilities to your home, as well as driveways and walkways with stakes, marker paint or marker tape. Your survey should help you identify where any right of ways and easements occur. In some cases these may not be apparent and will need to be verified with your lawyer as part of the deed search.
Get the surveyor to identify any setbacks based on town codes. These show you how close you can build your home to the edge of your property and how far away from adjacent properties. If you do purchase a large parcel of land, the chances are that you wonít have to worry about the proximity of your house in comparison with your neighbors'. The surveyor should also identify the location of any utility lines, such as power lines and any underground pipes.
Lastly, make sure it says in your contract that upon completion, the surveyor will walk the land with you and certify his marks. You may find that your new neighbor may have moved the makers, without this crucial step you would never know. Take pictures of the markers so they may serve as a matter of record.
Once the home has been made weather-tight i.e. logs stacked, windows, doors and roof set in place, the interior can be completed.
The trim is an important part of the log home; it covers unsightly seams between corners, joins, windows and doors. Trim adds a finished look to a somewhat raw interior.
Ordering pre-cut trim as part of a log home package reduces waste at the building site. Specialized precision milling of wood components at the log home company ensures minimal waste and a precision fit.
In order to safeguard your floor from any potential damage, it should be installed at the very last stage. Pre-cut lengths will require on-site cutting. Careful planning will reduce any waste. Off-cuts can be creatively made into a selection of household items e.g. coasters for glasses, under plant-pot holders, etc.
In order to access your own clean supply of water, you will have to construct a well. You will require a specialist-drilling firm to connect you to the water table. The drilling continues until it hits an underground well of clean ground water. Drilling can vary in depths, depending on your location; a three hundred foot borehole is not uncommon.
Once drilled, a small pump (that we aim to power with solar); will bring the water to the surface of the earth. A cold-water storage tank placed in the home (preferably in the basement), will store water, this ensures a constant supply at times where water is in high demand.
You may want to install a small UV light at the point where the water comes into the home; this has the net result of killing any harmful bacteria or microbes that may live in the ground water.
There are different configurations of septic system, namely in-ground, shallow trench and aboveground. The cheapest to build is the in-ground; however the type you need, will depend on the results from your pit and perc test.
Essentially, in-ground and shallow septic systems consist of a network of a septic tank (this is normally a concrete box, this contains the sewage), and a leech field, in which fluid from the tank hygienically biodegrades into the earth (this will have the appearance of a lawn-area placed below the home site approximately two hundred feet away).
While you have your well specialists on site drilling the well, it is a good time to drill two more holes; these ones are required for the geothermal system. These range from one to four hundred feet into the ground, where the earth's temperature is significantly higher than at the surface.
Multiple looped coils are lowered into the drilled holes; water warmed from the heat of the earth (deep below ground) is pumped up into the home. The heat enters the 'geothermal' magic-box, where it converts the heat energy into heat, air-conditioning and hot water.
In keeping with our 'green initiatives' we plan to build a natural swimming pool. It will be chemical-free and will eliminate the need for using concrete, rebar, fibreglass and filtering components during the pool's construction. There's nothing artificial looking about a natural pool. It blends into the surroundings, environment and local ecosystem.
During construction all sides are cut-in as gentle slopes. A gradual incline removes the need for pouring a concrete retaining wall encircling the pool. This prevents earth from falling down into the bottom of the pool, and provides an easy gradient on which plants may flourish. The shallow area of plant growth is known as the 'regeneration zone'. As with any pool, the filtration system must be effective enough to maintain hygienic, clear water in which to swim. Surprisingly, the filtration system is comprised of submerged and floating plants, no pumps and no electricity required!
The pool cleanses itself biologically. Additional nutrients and impurities, including bacteria, are rendered harmless through natural plant filtration and natural water organisms. Excess nutrients that float in the water are absorbed and utilized by the plants, preventing the growth of algae. Using a selection of indigenous plants ensures that the pond life survives and filters the water at optimum performance levels. A ratio of half plants, half clear surface water area must be set aside somewhere in/around the pool. Many people group plants around borders of the swimming area, but nothing stops you from creating 'islands' of plants for a more striking look.
You will need to use a man-made liner for the pool otherwise your water will continually seep into the ground. An alternative is bentonite clay lining the bottom. Using a combination of rocks, packed clays and railroad-ties prevents erosion of soil from the sides.
It is important to ensure that you plant a significant number of aerating plants for the pool; these will enrich the water with oxygen.
As with all pools it is good practice to remove dead leaves and other floating debris. Make sure that you also remove dying plants from the edges. Water naturally circulates around the pool, it moves from the warmer temperatures in the shallow plant habituated areas, to the cooler, deeper swimming areas. The shallow areas work as solar traps, ensuring that the temperature of the swimming area is maintained at an acceptable swimming temperature.
The natural pool harnesses the natural balance of plants, water and the oxygen cycle to create a healthy, swimming pool. Once completed you can enjoy the benefits of pool without the smell and the burning-eye sensation associated with chlorine.
An often-overlooked contractor is a state registered engineer/architect. It is their role to ensure that any plans for the home adhere to state and local codes. Construction codes and laws are becoming increasingly stringent; a good architect can walk you through many of these seemingly complex laws. A registered engineer/architect will be able to approve and stamp and 'REScheck' (Residential Compliance) your building plans.
This is a computer program that is able to assess whether the materials used to construct your home comply with the 'Model Energy Code' (MEC), the 'International Energy Conservation Code' (IECC), as well as a number of state codes. It is an automated process that simplifies 'Energy Code Compliance'. It used a series of computational algorithms to find out the 'trade-off' calculations used in determining the energy code. This complicated process is why you need a registered engineer/architect.
The chimney should be built before the roofing is installed. This will enable the installation of a waterproof layer around the chimney, avoiding any damage to the metal roof when put into place. The fireplace and flue should be installed next.
There are many new types of fireplace on the market that use a super-convection method to heat the home. These fireplaces burn significantly less, emitting less CO2. These are known as 'posi-pressure' fireplaces. 'Posi-pressure' fireplaces use a well-designed system of air ducts that pressurize effective airflow throughout the home, maintaining it at a constant temperature. Amazingly, none of the dangers of carbon monoxide leakage in the home occur with the 'posi-pressure' fireplace, as it regulates airflow, pushing combusted air outdoors.
Although a burning wood fireplace does create a small amount of carbon dioxide emissions, a 'posi-pressure' fireplace reduces emissions by up to 90% compared to regular fireplaces. Delivering up to 76,700 BTU's/hour. If you must have a fireplace, opt for the 'posi-pressure' variety.
The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fire!!
Many people in California were screaming that just a few months back. The dangers of a wild fire spreading are real. The vast majority of houses ignite from burning debris landing on the roof. With a metal roof, this is not a concern for us. A metal roof does not burn. That being the case, it even lowers your homeowners insurance as a fire prevention tool. It may cost a little more upfront, but when it comes to a fire destroying all your possessions, you would have to agree it’s worth the expense. On top of all those great factors is the longevity. A metal roof lasts more than 50 years. The expression a metal roof is the last roof you'll ever have to install is a true statement. Think about the time and expense, not to mention aggravation of replacing a roof every 15 or so years, think smart, go metal. Did we mention it's a recycled green material as well?
Once our chimney has been completed the roof can be installed. We are using a Roll Seam recycled metal roof. Our roof panels will arrive in easily managed sections custom fit to our home. Once in place a roll seamer cinches the different panels together to create a seamless roof system. All fasteners will be hidden underneath the roof. This gives the roof a finished look with nothing to snag on. Being that this roof will have no seams, it will be leak free for many years to come. Often with inferior metal roofing when ice forms on a seam it can pop the panel causing a breach in the otherwise impermeable barrier. Our roofing company, MBCI, is one of the few that have 'Energy Star' ratings and also 'LEED' certification. They operate all over the United States so give them a call to find a local branch.
Once you have found that special parcel of land and picked out the house you want to build, the ever daunting task of building it comes next. Why a log home specialist? Simply put, would you want to have a Ford mechanic work on your Ferrarri? We didn't think so either.
Our project manager, having built many different types of homes over the years, was familiar with the ins and outs of modern home building. Building a log home is not the same as a regular home, and building 'green' is a whole new animal. Many considerations have to be taken into account when it comes to stacking the logs. A proper fit is the difference between a nice cozy warm home and a drafty freezing home. Our home is precision milled to ensure the best fit possible, especially at the corners.
Even though we had precise plans to follow, we had many times where those plans were deviated from. Fred always kept on top of things and was quick to have the crew change things to ensure the plans were followed. Sometimes this meant undoing a lot of work, this did not make the crew happy, but did keep our lifetime warranty on our home intact.
We relied upon our project manager to keep the crew working and on a schedule. We lived over 2 hours away so we had to let go of some quality control until we saw it on weekends. All we can say is no one will work on your house as if it were their own. Our problem was we had one carpenter and 3 guys watching him work.
Overruns will happen, but it can be kept to a minimum with good planning. Our builder cost us a lot of money with mistakes, mismanaged time and disregard for materials. What is a lot, we have added up to about $20,000 of our money wasted. how does one recoup such a large loss in your building budget? You dont.
Watch your money, people are quick to spend and waste what is not their own.
We had an enitre floor installed wrong, 900 sq feet of flooring ruined. We had angles cut wrong which in turn caused our roof to be off and had to make major changes to our plans. The foundation walls are 9 feet high and were supposed to have a 1 inch beam pocket, misread plans made that 1 foot instead, a big issue. We supplied window install instructions, no one read them, all were put in wrong, only to have to correct them as Fred read all the instructions for everything on the house. The caulking plans were modified at our builders discretion, Fred again saw it and made them change it right away.
In short builders build what they think is best. They dont like to follow directions, they like to think they know the way. The only way to be a great modern builder is to learn modern building practices, that is by reading the instructions and adapting to new technology.
We had cameras on site to document the construction. With a crew of 4 men, in the months of Nov and Dec 2008, we lost over 500 man hours due to late starts, early finishes and no shows. When confronted about it, our builder shrugged it off. Our roof in turn took more than 3 months total to build costing us a lot of extra money. What would you do if that was your money?
Would we hire our builder again knowing what we know now? As part of a team, not as a leader of a team. We love our house. In the end it looks fantastic. If Fred was not all over the building of it, watching, measuring, inspecting and rejecting, we would not have half the house we have now.
The type of Photovoltaic mechanisms used will determine how your solar system is installed.
Your solar provider will generally install everything for you. You will need to decide if you want to put the solar system on your roof or a designated area of southern exposed ground. Whichever location you decide, your prime consideration should be to ensure maximum southern exposure. If possible plan on your roof running from east to west. Ensure that any trees or structures do not obscure your panels during day light hours.
It is also important to consider whether to use a mount that can alter the tilt angle of your system, or simply affix the panels directly to the roof.
If you decide to locate your solar system on your roof, then try to get the solar installed right after your roof has been put in place, as you will be able to use the erected scaffolding to work from. Consult your roofing company to make sure of the type of connection you will make to the roof. Making the wrong connection could have catastrophic results, such as: holes in the roof allowing water in, wind blowing the panels off, roofing shingles or metal falling off.
A selection of 'flashed in' mounts attached to your roof will reduce any roof leakage and will make it easier to change any panels should you decide to do so in the future.
If you have never installed solar panels before, it may be worth using professional installer to do this for you. Many warrantees are void if not installed by a certified solar installation professional. As with all products, check the warranties first.
Having secured the parcel of land, passed the 'pit and perc test', and received the local Department of Health's approval for your septic system; you have now reached the point of assembling all the necessary documentation for the work permit.
The requirements for work permits vary slightly from county to county, so you need to contact you local Code Enforcement Officer to identify the exact documentation for your parcel location.
Applying for a building permit can take up to 45 days in some places. You want to ensure that you provide your local Code Enforcement with detailed information in order to prevent any delays during your application process. Your local building inspector can advise you, should you have any queries. The work permit must be obtained before you start any construction, alteration or demolition work whether it's for a home, garage, driveway, fence, etc. You may also be required to obtain a permit before any tree removal, site clearing or demolishing of any existing structures. Check with local code enforcement to be sure.
Most applications must be accompanied by multiple sets of: blueprints all stamped by a state certified engineer or architect, a 'plot plan', electrical plans, plumbing diagrams, approval from the local Health Department (for work relating to the septic system), the official Workman's Compensation and Disability insurance coverage of your contractors (this is very important as it protects you from any liabilities during the construction of your home), a driveway permit from the highway department.
Note: Your construction plans should be comprehensive and include your floor plans, foundation plans, stacking information, plumbing plans, electricity plans and your geothermal plans (HVAC).
On submission, the local Code Enforcement Officer will then verify that all the necessary documents conform to the State building codes and local laws. All of these vary depending on your location.
Some localities will also require a Site Plan application. The local planning board will review and approve, or make modifications/disapprove to your site plans in accordance with local Zoning laws. The board may also undertake an environmental assessment of the plan, deciding on whether your construction will adversely impact the environment. You will need to submit several copies of your site plan, including a location map as well as other supporting documentation e.g. landscaping plans, grading and storm water management etc.
The planning of the kitchen and bathroom should ideally be prepared well before construction starts. Greater savings from bulk purchasing can be achieved when buying all materials together. Purchasing all the components for your bathroom and kitchen should be included in the purchase of all other non-log home kit components.
The rough plumbing and electric work will occur prior to the installation of the bathroom and kitchen, it is at this stage that the holes in the flooring and the log walls are cut for the passage of piping and wires. It now becomes clear for the necessity of having a bathroom and kitchen layout during the early stages of the building process – you cannot afford to cut holes in the logs at any time as it may directly affect the structural integrity of the home!
Plumbing should generally be aligned from floor to floor. That is to say the design of any bathrooms, laundry room, kitchens ensures that they are within close proximity of each other. This reduces the use of long lengths of pipe. Having the bathrooms stacked from one floor to the next enables an easy pipe run for both supply and waste lines.
Once the rough plumbing and electrical wiring has been installed, any sinks, bath and shower pans can be installed. The faucets are usually put into place at this time too. Any electrical outlets in wet areas must be GFCI compliant to avoid electric shock when wet.
Close attention is needed when installing the cabinets; any spaces for appliances should be measured out before cabinet and countertop assembly. Cutting and resizing of cabinets and countertops can be a messy, ugly and expensive procedure.
The final touches such as the tiling and lighting can be installed. Electrical fixtures and lighting for the kitchen and bathroom should ideally be of a water-resistant nature. Condensation can occur within these spaces and can result in a breakdown of the component leading to a fire in the future.
Although it may sound like a simple task, the stacking of logs requires a skilled craftsman. These days, logs are typically milled ready for stacking; they are then delivered to the home site. Milling of the logs makes them a perfect fit and provides a uniform look. Each log has a groove system to ensure a locking fit. A log is not just a log anymore. There are many different profiles and corner styles to choose from. We will cover our favorites in this section, however the combinations are practically endless.
We will be using The ‘D log’ in the construction of our home. As the name suggests, it is shaped in the form of the letter D. This means that the outside wall is ‘round’ while the inside is ‘flat’. There are sets of grooves on top and the bottom of the log, to ensure a tight interlocking fit. This shape allows the homeowner to have beautiful round logs outside, similar to those we have all appreciated over the years. The inside wall is flat, which makes for a clean modern look. Hanging pictures etc. on the walls becomes much easier when you have flat interior walls. When it comes to cleaning the logs, flat logs possess about half the surface area, cleaning is easier and dust does not gather on its curves as on a traditional round log.
As the name would suggest, these logs are round on the outside and round on the inside. The top and bottom of these logs are flat, and are milled with grooves for interlocked stacking.
These logs possess no grooves for interlocking. It is basically a round log, with a concave bottom surface, allowing it to literally sit ‘on top’ of the log below it. As there are no grooves, precise stacking and the use of spikes is essential to hold the logs in place. This is the most labor intensive of the logs styles.
Flat – Flat
This style resembles more of a timber home then that of a traditional log home. As the name suggests the logs are flat on both sides. Curiously, it can be questioned if ‘flat’ logs should be considered a ‘traditional’ log home? A tree and the logs are round, this profile is flat, much wood is removed from the log to ensure ‘flatness’, this method is considered by true environmentalists as wasteful.
There are various types of corners on a log home: The Butt & Pass, The Saddle Notch, and Dovetail to name a few. There are many variations of the aforementioned styles; the three mentioned seem to be, by far, the most popular choices today. Research the corner style that is best for you.
This method makes use of multiple notches, ensuring a tight fitting corner. This style is widely utilized with the D-Profile log. Our home will employ a custom variation of the Saddle Notch corner style, which Moosehead Cedar Log Homes has recently developed to be more energy efficient and resistant to water penetration.
Butt & Pass
Toy log building kits in days gone by were designed with a type of Butt & Pass system corner join. This is one of the all time favorites. Butt and Pass logs are literally butted up against one another. Observations suggest that this technique enables stronger bonding over time throughout the settling period. Air-leaks are greater reduced due to a non-interlocking methodology.
You may have seen ‘Dovetails’ before and never realized it. Finely made antique furniture and hand-crafted solid-wood furniture use a dovetail interlock to hold drawers and cabinet corners together. By cutting the corners on angles, similar to trapezoidal shapes, that interlock like simple ‘jigsaw pieces’ ensures a great bond between the two logs.
There are certain factors that must be ascertained prior to the installation of a wind turbine:
• Measuring wind-speed of prevailing winds
• Identification of the prevailing wind direction
• Placement of turbine on most appropriate terrain or geological features e.g. hill vs gully
• Closeness to natural obstacles e.g. trees
• Closeness to manmade structures e.g. buildings, towers etc.
• Research to identify the construction of future structures in the near vicinity
A wind turbine needs to be at least thirty-foot higher above any physical structure within a three-hundred foot radius.
Maintenance of a wind turbine must not be overlooked, you will need to lower and raise the tower on occasions to perform these tasks. Often they have attached guide wires, so careful consideration of their placement will also be needed.
The length of wire required between the house, the batteries and wind turbine needs to be measured prior to installation as you may want these to be buried to avoid unsightly poles and interconnecting wires running between them. This is an additional cost. If possible, it is preferable to get these dug into the ground at the same time as any other trenches on the home site (for e.g. electrical lines, plumbing, etc.) are being put in.
The longer the wires the greater the resistance, this means loss of electricity generated. Plan carefully before you install any wires, this will save a lot of future disappointment! Larger wires increase installation costs, but also prevent loss of generated electricity. Long wires should preferably be installed as a DC current. Then the conversion of DC to AC can be inverted nearer the home.
The local Code Enforcement Officer normally conducts inspections at different stages during the construction. It is your responsibility to arrange these inspections as and when required, you may arrange with your general contractor to schedule appointments. Typically inspections require a forty-eight hour notice period, although it may vary from location to location.
Note: Septic inspections are generally performed by the local Health Department while electrical is handled by the Board of Fire Underwriters. Again, check with your local Code Enforcement Officer for the relevant inspections pertinent to your locale.
You may need to schedule inspections with the local Code Enforcement Officer for the following: the driveway installation, the stake-out (lot lines and corners of structure marked out), footings, foundations walls, concrete floors, footing drains, waterproofing, framing, enclosure (windows and doors), stairs, rough electric, rough plumbing and testing, septic system, heat, chimney, insulation, fire-guide sheetrock, interior finish and exterior finish.
Before you can move into your home you will require a 'Certificate of Occupancy'. Again, this is obtained from your local Code Enforcement Officer. To obtain this you will need approval from: the local Heath Department for your septic system; the local Town Water Department for the water inspection (test for water potability); the Town, County, State Highway Department for the curb and driveway; Electrical Inspection Agency for the electrical work, Town Planning Boardís 'Site Plan Approval'; local Code Enforcement Office inspections (as listed above).
Did we mention that building your own home wasn't for the faint of heart?
Good insulation comes into play in many areas of our Green Log Home. (Read section on 'Good Insulation' in the chapter 'Our Plans').
A high thermal efficiency rating in all materials ensures prevention of heat loss in winter and over-heating during the summer. All materials used in this project are effective insulators namely: cedar logs; argon filled triple pane windows, recycled roofing (with tiered under-layering: felt paper, insulation, lathing strips, roof-strapping and plywood) and last, but not least, the barrier membrane that insulates the foundation. Many of these insulating materials are discussed at greater length within this chapter 'Construction'.
Once the concrete for the foundation has been poured, and cured; the surface is sprayed with a protective membrane. Next, the insulating barrier is added to the membrane-coated exterior walls. This external insulation creates a thermal mass effect in the basement. Most people use fiberglass insulation on the inside believing they are keeping the cold out. This is wrong, and almost everyone does it. If you insulate the inside, the concrete gets cold and thus creates a 'cold mass effect'. This is why many basements are damp and cold. Insulated external walls keep cold away from the concrete. Inside warmth keeps the walls warm and dry. The last step, is a spray concrete onto the exterior insulation, giving it the appearance of a finished concrete wall. W have decided to use Tremco Barrier solutions, as we fell they have perfected this method. Their products are water-based and meet the VOC requirements for all 50 states.
Critical Insulation Factor:
It is a little known fact that 40% of the basement's heat is lost through poorly insulated basements. The majority of that heat is lost between the grade and the sub-floor. The protective membrane serves as a highly efficient barrier, preventing significant heat loss from this small but crucial region of the home.
Could you imagine the days of no running water? How about having no toilet? These days are long forgotten, we have all become accustomed to the modern day amenities. Having a quality plumbing infrastructure is very important.
We are going to use PEX (Cross-linked Polyethylene) for our water supply needs. PEX is a newer technology that is easy to work with and fairly inexpensive. Traditionally, homes have been built with copper pipes throughout. This has been an effective method for many years. Until now.
Why fix something if it isnt broken?
These days copper is more of a commodity metal. Therefore its price is the highest ever. On top of that, copper piping over ther past 10 years has become less reliable. Inferior copper springs pinhole leaks in your walls and floors. Finding the source of the hole means breaking walls or floors. This is both costly and messy. Copper freezes then breaks during the winter if not properly protected. I am sure many of you know how disasterous this can be, especially in colder climates. If a pipe freezes, the water inside expands until the pipe ruptures. Since the pipe is frozen you wont know until it thaws out and water is spraying everywhere. There is nothing fun about that.
There are many great advantages to using PEX in a home. PEX is very easy to work with. It requires no soldering as it uses compression type fittings. A plumber can pipe an entire house with PEX in about an hour or so, vs. a full day or 2 with copper. Bring on that cold. Instead of freezing and cracking, PEX expands when water freezes. A properly installed PEX system should last as long as your home. If you should break a pipe, it can be easily fixed, using engineered fittings within minutes. PEX is also commonly used in radiant floor heating. We could go on and on about why we chose PEX, look it up for yourself and you too will be a PEX convert. It is also noteworthy that PEX is considered to be a green building product, it requires littles energy to create, it requires no soldering, and no chemical flux.
Flip the switch and let there be light. Yet another must have modern convenience. We will be wiring our home to exceed our electrical needs, leaving room for further expansion. A minimum 200amp is required to adequately power a home. More than 80% of homes are overloading their circuits. I am sure you have seen it, but didnt know what it was. When the Air Conditioner, washing machine, dishwasher, refridgerator or even a blow dryer are turned on, you may have witnessed an overload. Crazy thought huh. When one of those appliances is turned on, if your lights dim for a moment or flicker, you are drawing too much power from the circuit breaker. Although many dismiss it as no big deal, it shortens the lifespan of your appliances.
Solar power and wind power will be used to power our home. We will have a battery back-up system, so that we will never face a black out. Great concept isnt it? Without a battery back up system, even in bright daylight a solar power system is of no use. When the power grid goes down, solar systmes without batteries switch off as a precaution to not overload the circuits. Battery is the only way to have on and off grid electricity.
With this combination of power we will be self-sustainable. In theory, we are generating all the power used, everything we run is using green power. Yes, we will have a hot tub, and no we wont have pay to run it. The sun will do it for us. You can have it all, you just need to wire it correctly from the beginning.