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Author Topic: Looking for ideas on log home construction  (Read 3407 times)

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Offline customcutter01

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Looking for ideas on log home construction
« on: November 28, 2017, 10:09:26 AM »
My wife and I retired earlier this year, and we are looking for property in SE Alabama.  There are few building codes, restrictions, permits, etc. and taxes are far more reasonable than where we presently live in Fl.   We are finding it difficult to find property with mature pines, so I may have to go with slightly smaller pines 15-20", instead of 20", at knee height, or maybe even less.  I don't know, now I'm hearing reading about thermal mass, so I'll find out more about that.

We want to build a log home approx 2-3000 sq ft., single story, with notched joinery.  I was planning on cutting 3 sided cant's approximately 10-12" in height and approx 15" in thickness, 21' long.  Maybe I need to plan on smaller logs for less thermal mass, I don't know.  This will be a full time residence.

I know that rot is the main concern, and my wife wants a covered porch on all 4 sides of the house.  So I was planning on extending the roof 4-6' minimum for the porches, maybe more.  This will keep the weather off of the sides of the logs, and any splashing off of the lower layers as well.   Can I use a concrete slab construction?  Pt 2X12 below the first log, or should I still use an elevated foundation of some sort with a crawl space beneath.  Not sure what the cost of concrete slab vs elevated foundation, stone work might be?

Another thought is harvesting of logs?  I've read on one site to ring the bark several months before harvesting the timber.  This will kill the tree and cause the sap/moisture to drain back out of the vertical log.  They will be lighter to handle and easier to deal with.  I've also read on another site that reducing the sap content reduce the quality of the wood?  Is that only a concern of milled lumber, or would it also be a concern in the logs for  the log home?

Thanks for reading all the way through this, if you can recommend any books, magazines, other sources, etc.  I'm sure I'll have lots more questions as I'm only beginning this journey, but I've tried to read as much as possible for several months before posting questions.

thanks in advance,
Ken

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Online thecfarm

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 02:11:00 PM »
I have no idea how Alabama is with electricity. Here in Maine it can be pricey to have it run a mile. Lots of factors when I was checking it out.
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Offline bugpeople

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 02:46:12 PM »
I'm building in N. Alabama- near Huntsville. I had to get a permit since I'm within city limits. Building a "butt and pass" style home, 40x40, 2 stories, about 3,000 sq ft. Harvesting my own logs off mine and the neighbor's property. They are 30+ yr old SYP (southern yellow pine), averaging about 18" at the butt, and 10-12" tips. In keeping with the butt & pass philosophy, I'm peeling the logs by hand with a spud, and stacking them using lifting poles. The logs are treated with a borate solution. They are held in place with rebar pins every 2 feet.

since SYP is not the most decay resistant wood, the roof overhangs will be about 5-7 feet, and I'll be installing a 10' full wrap-around porch.

I got certified through https://www.buildloghomes.org/ (LHBA) in 2016 after taking a 2 day class in Las Vegas. I figure this home will cost me about $60k when all is said and done, and its being done without a loan.

You said you're retired-so you should know it's a lot of work. Most people start with a lot more cash than me and opt for a telehandler, and are able to stack their wall logs within 2 weeks. I have a full-time job, so can't do much until after work. The rope and pulleys cost me less than $400. We just started stacking in June of this year: https://loghomejourney.wordpress.com/

This is just what worked for us, hopefully it'll give you some ideas. Best of luck to you- Alabama is a great place to live!

Offline starmac

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 07:50:57 PM »
As far as thermal mass, I do not know what a guy needs in Alabama, maybe more to keep it cool, But here most houses built with 3 sided logs are 8 inchers, a lot of cabins are built with 6 inchers, and they heat easily even at our extreme temps.
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Offline customcutter01

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 08:09:48 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  Yes, power is one concern.  I had thought about going solar last year at the house.  If it's too expensive to run power to the house, I'll just go off grid and go solar.  They might have to run a power line to me to purchase from me if I can prove I'm creating an excess.  LOL 

I looked at the Butt-n-Pass, I think I will stick with more traditional joints.  Hope it works out for you.  I do plan on purchasing some type of equipment to lift my logs, if necessary.  My in-laws have several tractors, two with hyd lifting forks. 

I'm not worried about the thermal mass, so much as wanting to keep the R value up for insulation purposes.

Hoping to do very little financing if possible, but will have to finance the land for a while, at least until our present home is sold.

thanks,
Ken
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2017, 08:17:02 PM »
Welcome to the forum bugpeople.  I am about 100 miles from you over in northeast Mississippi.  Pictures posted to the forum of your project would sure be nice.  Banjo
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Offline starmac

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2017, 09:53:54 PM »
Log homes heats and cools all out of proportion compared to what their r value is suppose to be.

Lots of folks use butt and pass on 3 sided log homes here, even round turned logs, with no ill affects.
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Offline bugpeople

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2017, 11:10:55 PM »
Welcome to the forum bugpeople.  I am about 100 miles from you over in northeast Mississippi.  Pictures posted to the forum of your project would sure be nice.  Banjo

Thanks! trying to figure out how to post pics- but they are all on my blog- and I can't figure out how to get them over here. Anyway, I'll work on it.

Offline LeeB

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2017, 11:51:32 AM »
If you finance the land, be sure the lender will allow you to harvest the logs from it.
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Offline Raider Bill

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2017, 12:14:44 PM »
You never know, When I built the Tennessee house I budgeted in a bunch of $$$ for the power figuring almost half a mile in total run from the County Road. They ended up billing me for a whooping $814.00.

Good thing because the well cost 2.5 times what I had planned so all the power money plus some went into getting water.
The First 60 years of childhood is always the hardest.

Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2017, 01:19:57 PM »
Our farmhouse is a half mile off the road, and I have a 4 foot trencher  bobcat attachment which I proposed  to dig the trench for them with, to get our power underground. Enter TERF.  The utility gets charged a 30% special federal tax on the value of anything that is "given" to them.  I am a CPA, and I'd never heard of TERF until then.

I think they left fixing that out of the new tax bill that is being debated.

Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2017, 05:04:23 PM »
If you finance the land, be sure the lender will allow you to harvest the logs from it.
Good point, but usually not a problem except where you intend to sell the timber,  involving executing a timber deed for the logger.  "Mileage" may vary from state to state.  It is rather hard for a lender to police stuff that doesn't show up in the records.   I have never read a deed of trust ( that's what we call mortgage is in Virginia, simple answer) or note that prohibited the cutting of timber explicitly. The general prohibition against committing waste could conceivably apply if you did a bad timbering job.

 But just think what Jeff, Ian, et als, would do to you if you were dumb enough to damage your land in cutting your timber.  You would probably wish for vengeance from the lender instead.

 smiley_deadheader alligator

 When we consider that lenders almost never ask for deficiency judgments these days, where the loan foreclosure proceeds doesn't cover the debt, it's not likely they're going to get wonky about owners cutting timber to build a house.

Offline LeeB

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2017, 10:33:01 PM »
I haven't had a problem with it either but have heard of it. Just thought I would put it out there.
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Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2017, 12:34:40 AM »
smiley_lit_bulb
One argument might be that by building even with timbering for materials on the property you're increasing the lender's security.

Offline dgrover13

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2017, 12:12:43 PM »
I'm building in N. Alabama- near Huntsville. I had to get a permit since I'm within city limits. Building a "butt and pass" style home, 40x40, 2 stories, about 3,000 sq ft. Harvesting my own logs off mine and the neighbor's property. They are 30+ yr old SYP (southern yellow pine), averaging about 18" at the butt, and 10-12" tips. In keeping with the butt & pass philosophy, I'm peeling the logs by hand with a spud, and stacking them using lifting poles. The logs are treated with a borate solution. They are held in place with rebar pins every 2 feet.

since SYP is not the most decay resistant wood, the roof overhangs will be about 5-7 feet, and I'll be installing a 10' full wrap-around porch.

I got certified through https://www.buildloghomes.org/ (LHBA) in 2016 after taking a 2 day class in Las Vegas. I figure this home will cost me about $60k when all is said and done, and its being done without a loan.

You said you're retired-so you should know it's a lot of work. Most people start with a lot more cash than me and opt for a telehandler, and are able to stack their wall logs within 2 weeks. I have a full-time job, so can't do much until after work. The rope and pulleys cost me less than $400. We just started stacking in June of this year: https://loghomejourney.wordpress.com/

This is just what worked for us, hopefully it'll give you some ideas. Best of luck to you- Alabama is a great place to live!

Hey BugPeople - I am also building a LHBA inspired butt and pass.  I plan to get into the classes at some point.  I have also started a thread on my build as well - you are way ahead of me.

My question is - for those LBHA style homes - what restrictions should I be aware of when putting in windows and doors?

For example - I know any window and door needs to be at least 4 feet away from any corner.  Would I have any restrictions on putting in a sliding glass door?  Would that be too large of cavity for a butt and pass?

For the top logs on the structure - could I cut in any voids in the top log to install 2nd level door?  My guess is for butt and pass I will want the top log to run the length of each wall (no breaks in between). 
-Darren

Offline starmac

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2017, 07:56:49 PM »
I have seen no houses built with d logs, or lathe turned logs that have any logs running the entire length of the structure, unless we are talking about a small cabin. I do see the natural full scribed logs running the entire length.

What one friend did on his house that was built from 10 inch turned logs, was slot the ends of the logs on door openings, Especially where there was a short run of logs, and install a piece of 3 in angle iron, which he drilled on an angle so the nails would be angled down, when the logs shrunk it would just slide instead of breaking the nail, or the nail trying to hold it up.
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Offline ChrisGermany

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2017, 04:19:34 PM »
My recommendation would be to take lessons from the old folks who built log homes in your area. They may not be there to answer your questions anymore, but the houses that are left should tell you what methods work best where you are. At least as far as construction techniques go.

From what I've seen, a raised foundation 18-30" off the ground to avoid moisture and termites, deep overhangs to block the sun and cool the air around the house, and porches are common. Logs are usually in the 6-8" range. The idea in the old days was to leave cracks between the floorboards to draw cool air up from the ground and into the house. When the air warmed up, it would go up through the wooden shingles and out of the house. Any air coming in the open windows and doors was cooler, as well, from passing through the shades porch. Every picture I've seen of the older houses my folks lived in during the winter shows them with rugs on the floor, doors wide open, and fireplaces blazing, so I don't think they worried about insulation.  :D

Then again, it's not 1870 and we have different ideas of what is comfortable.  ;D  I've examined a pile of houses in the piney woods area of Mississippi and that's just a few things I've noticed. May not be of much use to you, but it's a start. Best of luck on your house. I admire folks who tackle a project like that.

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." -- Matthew 6:34

Offline MbfVA

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2017, 01:29:44 AM »
In the 1500 square-foot added area of our timber frame log cabin restaurant, we found evidence of a chimney in each corner going through to the second floor and out the roof. Apparently they heated the place with some sort of woodstove connected to each one. Virginia weather is definitely different from Mississippi so I don't think they or we would consider leaving the windows and doors open in the winter time, and our floors don't have any cracks in them for that type of circulation.

What you're describing reminds me a little bit of something we saw in Ashe County NC (high elevation) which was referred to as a double envelope house.  It used a house within a house design that allowed for the all season air circulation you describe.  Cooling air was pulled from below in summer, and I just do not recall the winter theory but I do know that it required some sort of air circulation in the envelope.  Wife hated the house because its design elements left her with claustrophobia.

 My recollection is that the company that supplied the kit was based somewhere in North Carolina, also.

 With a bit of stretching, the principles involved could be considered as related to those of geothermal.





Offline customcutter01

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #18 on: December 12, 2017, 08:48:23 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  I have been sick for the past 3+ weeks with a bad cold/sinus infection.  Didn't feel like leaving the house for the past 10 days until yesterday.  Went and got a truck and trailer load of pine logs and another load today, and 2 more loads tomorrow.  I am going to try and mill some lumber for my cousin while I am learning to use the mill.  He wants to build a shed in the back yard, so we'll have plenty of logs to practice with.

I am going back up to Al on Thursday to buy a TN67 New Holland tractor, to handle the logs with.  Also will be stopping by Alabama Ag Credit and dropping off the application for the loan on the 55 acres we want to buy.  It actually has power, 4" deep well, septic tanks, 2 carport/shed metal buildings, food plots under irrigation, several pecan trees, and lots of local fruit trees.  35 acres of mature hardwoods, and 15 acres of loblolly pines ready to be thinned.  I saw several hardwoods that were 30-36" diameter at waist height, so these are some old trees.  It also has a small pond fed by an artisian spring and 2 creeks that cross/border it, and it is surrounded on 3 sides with similar sized hardwoods. 

Can't wait to close on the property and get busy building.
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Offline bugpeople

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Re: Looking for ideas on log home construction
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2017, 10:27:01 PM »
Customcutter01-
My build is in N. Alabama- You should stop by while you're here. message me- I'll be out there tomorrow and Saturday stacking logs.


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