The 9 Biggest Misconceptions about Owning a Log Home

Log homes. A part of American history that remind Americans of a simpler time dating back hundreds of years to when pioneers lived off the land in rustic log cabins built with their own two hands. Today, log cabins are more of a luxury than a necessity. Many people yearn for the rustic lifestyle that comes from living in a log home, yet have reservations about making the switch. Want to know the real story? Read on to learn the top 9 biggest myths about log homes!

Aren’t they Energy Hogs?

One of the more common myths about log homes is that they are not energy efficient. This rumor was probably started by individuals who have never lived in a log home or are “concerned” relatives giving free advice to other relatives who are considering building a log home. Understand that like anything else, the ideal log home is one that is well designed, manufactured to modern standards and built by people who know what they are doing. 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. In short, there is still a reason why log homes are still being built in very cold climates such as Canada and Alaska!

Log Home

American-style log house. Image: wikipedia

Aren’t Termites and Wood Boring Insects a problem?

A very common myth about log homes is that termites and other wood boring insects will be attracted to them and set about devouring them. Wood boring insects are not attracted to large quantities of wood. If the logs are constructed of green, unseasoned logs with the bark still on the logs, then some wood boring insects can become established under the bark during the summer and live there for several years. However, once the wood is dry these insects are not attracted to the logs.

Don’t they cost a fortune?

Some believe that log homes are more expensive than conventional homes. First of all, what is a “conventional” home? Is it a double wide or a modular? Is it a 2×4 framed home with vinyl siding? Is it a Tudor home with field stone exterior? Of course a custom log home with 8 or 10-inch logs will cost more for the logs than a pile of 2x4s and vinyl siding. But the logs will go up faster, saving labor. Generally, people who build log homes don’t finish them 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. Some folks believe that after their houses were closed in from the weather, they felt that they were nearly done with the large expenditures for the construction of the home. They start buying better materials and upgrading the cabinets, carpet, etc. Then it isn’t long before they realize that they are 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.

I’ve heard they are not fire-safe.

This myth states that log homes are a fire hazard. Again this is an argument that goes against common sense and logic. When you start a fire in the fireplace or build a campfire, you start with small pieces of wood…. not large, solid logs. When a fire gets into the walls of a frame home, a chimney is formed in the walls and the spread is rapid. A solid log wall is very resistant to heat due to its mass. When a log home burns, the sub floor, interior walls and the conventional roofing is the first to go. The log walls would be last.

Won’t I pay through the roof for insurance?

There are those who think insurance rates are higher for log homes. This could be the case in some insurance companies. However, generally, insurance rates are comparable to those premiums incurred for any type of house.

Banks will not make a loan on a log home. Of course there are banks that do not want to make a loan on a home that they know nothing about. But most banks will locate comparables in the area in which the log home is being built…so they know how much they can loan to the client for construction. Most banks will treat your loan request as a normal real estate investment.

What about rot?

A very common myth is that log homes will rot easily. Yes, wood does rot, but only between the moisture content of 30% to 60%. There is no such thing as dry rot as wood must be quite moist to rot. So a properly designed log home (or any home for that matter) with adequate roof overhangs, rain gutters, down spouts and periodic maintenance will endure of generations. Most rotting problems are due to the fact that the property owners have defied basic logic and common sense. Furthermore they’ll spend 4 hours each weekend on their lawns, but never seem to be concerned about their homes. 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.

Don’t they take a lot of time to build?

Log homes require more time to build than a conventional home is yet another common myth. The log walls go up quickly by those who are knowledgeable about log construction. If the weekend do-it-yourself family does it, it takes quite a bit longer. Here is the secret to log construction… when you place a log you have the interior of your home, the exterior of the home, the structural component and the insulation all in one component. After the log walls are up, you are done with the exterior of the home, except for the interior and exterior stain or finish. 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!

Contractors won’t build log homes.

Most contractors cannot build a log home. This is not true. If they do not want to build it, it is not because the system is too complex, but rather they are like the old dog that doesn’t want to learn new tricks! Even first-time contractors can build a log home. The final product will depend on his willingness to put the same degree of craftsmanship into the log home as he does the frame home that he has built in the past.

I don’t want to deal with the maintenance!

There exists a myth that log homes are hard to maintain. In our present era of “space age” materials, the public has been swamped with claims of low maintenance. When motor vehicles used to have the oil changed at 1,500 miles, now the claim is to change the oil at 6,000 miles. Counter tops, siding, windows and roofing all give the claim of longevity and low maintenance. Well, to use an old adage, if it is worth owning it is worth taking care of. The first step in the maintenance of the log home is proper design. 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.

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