The Log Home Neighborhood

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In the midst of our property search we came across a log cabin that suits our needs. It is 20 years old and consists of a 3000 square foot cabin attached to a 1000 sq ft in law cabin. My inlaws have wanted to downsize for a while and it is perfect for them. I have spent all summer in negotiation with the owners and it seems like the deal is going to go through. but soon we will enter home inspection and I am concerned as to what things I should pay particular attention to in a 20 year old home. The owners had quarterly termite inspections. I noticed a rather significant carpenter bee issue this spring. The owners have credited us 600$ to remedy it. Does anyone have any other ideas of potential issues I should investigate?
Also, we want to add a bed and bath addition onto the inlaw cabin. I was going to go with stick built construction with log siding to make it match.
Any and all help is appreciated!

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Comment by Joe on August 12, 2008 at 2:32pm
Personally, I would hire a home inspector knowledgable in log homes as they have different problems then a normal home. I didn't see where this home is but I know that until January of 2008, as an example, most counties in TN did not require any inspections during home building except for septic and electrical. This leds to many unknowns in used homes.

I would be very concerned in these areas as well as others such as the roof insulation in an older home and any possible hidden mold due to leaks. Aluminum wiring was used in many cases for 220 volt electrical stoves and furnances which can lead to problems with the wiring conection clamps working loose. Settling of the house due to log shrinkage has been a major problem in the past leading to window and door leaks and kitchen cabinets out of plumb, etc. There are several companies in the log home repair business with excellent backgrounds, I would start with them. A professional inspection can be a cheap investment in the long run and it is better to negotiate repairs now as it wouldn't be available once you sign off.

When you plan on expanding you will need to know that your electrical service can handle the extra load. Older homes in many cases used 100 amp. Most homes are now 200 amp. You want to make sure that everything done especially electrical was to code to protect your investment.

Comment by Thomas A. Gaskell on August 11, 2008 at 11:45pm

Being that this is a long standing log home, you need to be concerned with the treatment by the previous owners. No matter what kind of wood the logs are made of they need to be treated. When was the last time it was treated? What type of material did they use?

Also, and this may sound simplistic, go around the exterior of the log home and hit on the logs with a hard, rubber mallet. If you hit get solid hits, you are in good shape. If you come across some places that give a more of a dead hit, you may have wood damage to the internal parts of the logs. This can be repaired but could be expensive if the problem is wide spread.

The carpenter bee problem can be solved by inserting powdered borate into the holes. Make sure that you have a small hose to insert into the hole since it will turn as soon as it clears the surface. Let the powder sit in the holes for several days and then fill the hole with a cork stopper and cut it at the surface of the log. By doing this you allow for the bees to return and get covered with the powder, you close up the hole in case any eggs were laid (the powder will stay dry and when the eggs hatch, they will come in contact with the powder and will die.) Also, the cork will take the stain of the logs and will not show up too much. When you treat the logs your first time use a product such as Wood Guard which will soak in (unless your logs are kiln dried). Add to the Wood Guard a mildewcide and NBS30 which is a strong insecticide that will greatly reduce the carpenter bee and powder post beetle problem.

As for additions, when attaching to an existing log home, we recommend stick building the addition. There is no way that you can integrate the new logs with the old logs since the old ones have settled and the new ones will need to settle. They will never match! Also, the company that provided the package may not be in business or you may not be able to match the existing log profile. If you can't match the siding to the existing logs, you can always go for a completely different log shape and the contrast should work well.

If I can be of any further help, just contact me.

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