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Hi, We are considering having a log home built and would like to know the pro's and con's from log home owners. Anything from maintenance issues to building and supplier issues would be helpful.
Our property is located in Castle Valley, Utah. The site, driveway and utilities are all in place. I have designed a 2,500 sq. ft. (includes basement). I just need to wrap my head around all that is involved in building and maintaining it. Is there a way to build a log home without having to become a log home pro and at the same time not get hosed?

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What attracts you about log homes?
Hi Rick,
I guess partly because I like the warm, relaxing feel of a log home and partly because our property is located in an area with huge, red rock formations and it seems like a stick home of this size would look drarfed in this setting.
Thanks Kim, I'm guessing you mean dwarfed above. :)
But, do you think just adding log walls will solve the dwarfed look? or are you thinking about redesigning roof lines etc. ?

Alan presents a really good summary below of the pros and cons. Log homes aren't for everyone.
Hi Alan,
thanks so much for the response. When taking into account for settling issues, does the climate and log type make much of a difference or should it be expected regardless? Also, I would be foolish to think that my un-handy husband will be taking care of maintenance on the home, so when you talk about keeping the logs protected, how often does that process have to be done and do you know if it's costly to contract someone to do it?
Precision Craft of Meridian,ID has a non-settling log system. I used there 10" D-profile Douglas fir logs. The use a system of through bolts and metal pipes with flanges. It keeps the logs from moving; they shrink in place.

Hi Forrest,
Thanks for the info...I will check it out. Have you been in your home long enough for the no shrink system to prove itself yet?
The log settling is really nothing you need to be concerned about but just aware of. The designer of the home will have provisions built into the design to handle it. Some log homes settle less than a half inch to almost nothing while others built with green wood could settle 3 inches or more. Some logs will have to be restained or top coated in the places that degrade from the sun and weather every now and then and the whole house would need to be done from 3 - 5- 7 years depending on stain, weather, sun,and other conditions that exist in your location. There are companies that do this. You also have to pay attention to insects just by visually inspecting the outside of the home every once in a while and chase away woodpeckers. The rest of the maintenance is like any other house. An 8" log should roughly compare to a 6" stick built wall around an R-19 including the thermal mass of the wall while the r value of that 8" log would only be from R-7 to just under R-12. The builder is really important that he builds a tightly sealed home and understands the settling of the home. The home is only as good as the builder. Log homes are very quiet and hold heat and a/c very well because of the mass of the logs. They can be energy star approved. They generally need more light on the inside because of the logs. Large overhangs from 2-4' and covered decks help protect the logs. More windows to the south and less on the west and north side of the home for colder climates. For thermal heating face the long length of the home east west and also find the prevailing winds for your area to help sit the home for cooling it and protecting it from the harsh winter winds but also consider your views into this. Research several companies and visit them and model homes. Also research builders and visit homes they built and talk to people that have used them. Log home owners are usually more informed on building their home than others. Best of luck to you and if your dream is a log home, build it.....
I strongly doubt that logs have an R factor that exceeds that of a conventional home. I'm not even certain that a log can be assigned an R factor. Logs are more about thermal mass and the ability to hold heat and cold for a given time. The issue is if you want a log home because you love them, then you should build one. Since you are fairly new to the idea of building one, I'd read this entire website; both the good and bad.
Know that there are crooks out there that will take you for a ride. The builder you choose is THE MOST important decision you will make. DO go and look at the last 3 log homes the builder has constructed and speak at length with the owners. Plan on lots of maintenance- Logs will shrink, swell, Crack (check), and settle. The most weathered side of the home needs lots more attention than other areas meaning that it will likely need re-stained every three years. based on where the home is located. Utah is not as bad to weather a home as say Florida would be. I'd use logs native to your area, but that is not so important. If you go with a "milled log", I'd use one with a flat profile on the inside unless you enjoy dusting as an exercise program.
If you decide to buy a log home package, ask for a financial statement for that log home company. Do NOT buy anything from them except the logs. Have your builder buy the windows, doors, floors, roof decking, shingles-metal roofing, etc... locacally as they need these materials. Why pay a higher price and additional freight on things you can buy locally. After your initial deposit to the company, place all future payments to the company in an escrow account so you can get your money back if that company decides to file for bankruptcy.
I didn't say a log wall had an R factor that exceeds that of a conventional home. You must reread. What I said was that a log wall can be compared to a stick built wall as I stated some real R factors for logs that depend on the species of log. They seem to be posted different in different places but range from just under 1 to 1.45 per inch for R value depending on species. So yes logs can be assigned an R factor. I can't find the study that gave a comparison of the 8" log wall but this is a 7 inch that compares it to R-13 to R-15 performance. Of course factors enter into this such as days of sun to warm the logs.
This is a log home company that states their 8" log wall compares to a 2x6 wall.
If you like the round logs , use them. You would probably need to dust the walls once or twice a year but as RP stated the flat you won't have to dust.
Not always local is cheaper. Some complete package log companies buy enough to get a discounted price can ship and still compete locally with price. That will save you lots of time and you will know things will fit. But if you have time on your hands you can search for sales and come out ahead.
Glenn V, I didn't say you said that. #2 under Alan D's post said that.
As for an "R" factor for logs, it's more of an issue of thermal mass. Logs offer very little insulation, but will store heat for a good period of time and release it. I have read reports where every inch of softwood log has an R factor of 1.4 and hardwoods .70. I can't verify the credibility of these reports
As for the complete packages, I have seen instances of all of these materials arriving on two or three over-priced freight loads, then sit in the weather for months waiting to be used. Quite often, log homes are built in very rural settings, and these materials have a way of vacating the premises overnight.
Well. our home arrived from the "MILL" that I selected on six semi trailers. I personally offloaded them and stacked them. We covered them with plastic except for enough open areas to allow air movement. Obviously, we could not watch the material 24/7 but there was no vandalism. We had the home roughed-in in about three months. That is my wife and I and occasional family member helping.

The argument about R-factor of logs has been going on for years. It is never going to be settled so just be satisfied with the idea that a log home is the top of the "Hill" in comfort, satisfaction, and immense pride when it is properly built.
I'm sorry that I misunderstood RP. Theft is a big concern. I know of one company that doesn't ship windows , doors etc. until they are needed instead of everything all at once. A 2x4 wall which is the most common holds R-13 insulation while a 2x6 wall holds R-19. My idea was to just let Kim know that log homes can be very energy efficient and if I misstated something please correct me.


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