Where to Get Information About Building a Log Home
For the last three years, my husband and I have gathered information about building our own log home.
Before beginning our research, we knew what we basically wanted: a relatively small retirement home with a large kitchen, a basement "man cave," a detached garage and a writing loft with a view, just for me.
Recently, we decided that we had enough information to decide upon two key elements: a building company that specializes in log homes and house plans that (with a little tinkering) will include all of our must-haves.
Reaching this point in our journey has been relatively painless, in part because we've taken our time, but mostly because of my husband's planning ability (or as he calls it, his tendency to overthink).
Thanks to him, we've gathered quite a bit of useful information from a variety of helpful sources. If you're considering building a log home, these sources might be of use to you, too.
Log and Timber Home Shows
Log and Timber Home Shows are a good place to begin if you're thinking about building a log house.
At a log home show, under one very large roof, you'll meet myriad vendors who are hawking just about everything you could think of for a log home: rustic furniture, custom windows, antler lighting, unique kitchen sinks, wood flooring, artwork, custom doors, tile chimneys....The list could go on and on.
At a log home show, you'll also meets lots of log home building companies. At both of the log home shows we've attended, the builders have been happy to discuss the superiority of their wood, explain their construction techniques and provide informational material, including books of house plans. Some of the builders' displays include miniature cabins so that you can actually see their logs "in action," so to speak.
We have spoken with numerous company representatives at log home shows, including South Coast Cypress Log & Stone Homes, Barna Log Homes, Appalachian Log Structures, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, Blue Ridge Log Cabins and Honest Abe Log Homes.
Because the area where we intend to build is pine country, to keep costs down we opted to go with a company that uses borate pressure treated white pine rather than with a cedar, cypress or oak log company.
My dream retirement home? A ...
If you're interested in attending a log home show, check out upcoming Log and Timber Home Shows to find an event near you.
They are sponsored by Log Home Living, Country's Best Cabins and Timber Home Living magazines.
Log Home Websites
Finding a log-home-friendly lender; deciding upon the best log home materials for your taste, purpose and location; choosing a builder who knows state building codes—the Log Homes Council website can help you with these decisions and more.
The Log Homes Council is a national organization of log home manufacturers in the United States.
The website has several cool pages, including a featured home section, a buyer's guide and a list of links to its members, all log home manufacturers in the United States.
The websites of log home builders also contain lots of useful information, but ... you must of course keep in mind that they're not just a source for facts; they're also trying to sell you their particular type of log house.
Log Home Seminars
Log home companies often sponsor seminars to explain their building process and offer potential customers practical advice about getting out of the 'burbs and into a cabin in the woods.
We attended one such seminar in Princeton, WV. Sponsored by Appalachian Log Structures, it included a morning session about log home materials and the building process, and an afternoon tour of the company's local factory.
Attending a seminar had one great advantage over books and magazines and websites: we could ask questions, receive immediate answers, ask more questions and get additional clarification.
The seminar also had at least two advantages over a log home show. As participants helped to build a small cabin at the Appalachian Log Structures factory that afternoon, we got to see how the logs are actually put together and sealed. And we were able to see what cabin-grade logs actually look and feel like.
Although we won't actually be doing the construction ourselves, those are good things to know! Now, as we watch our cabin "going up," we'll have a basis for judging how well our builders are doing.
Books & Magazines About Building a Log Home
There are numerous books and magazines for people who are interested in building a log home. Log Homes Illustrated, , Timber Home Living, and Country's Best Cabins are just some of them. Log Home Living
My favorite is a special issue magazine from Log Homes Illustrated called Log & Timber Home Workbook, which focuses on basic information that's primarily aimed at people like us, who are in the planning stages of building a log home. I'm not sure how many issues of have been published, but we have two of them, and they're both keepers. Log & Timber Home Workbook
Because our cabin will be off the grid, we've also researched solar home technology. At a log home show, we picked up a real find at half price, a book that combined both of our topics in one handy package, Rex Ewing and Yvonne Ewing's Crafting Log Homes Solar Style.
Crafting Log Homes Solar Style, subtitled An Inspiring Guide to Self-Sufficiency, is the Ewings' second book on the subject. (The first, Logs, Wind and Sun is now sadly out of print.)
As its subtitle claims, Crafting really is inspiring, detailing the Ewings' challenges and triumphs as they cut and prep their own logs, frame their own cabin and complete all the finishing work on their off-the-grid home in the woods.
Although my husband and I intend to buy log home materials and hire a builder, the book was useful to us, providing us with sound advice about building sites, water, heating, cooling and other important issues—from experienced people who really know what they're talking about.
Of course, many other log home building books are available at bookstores, on Amazon and at log home shows. Finding a few that pertain to the kind of cabin you prefer is well worth it if you're seriously considering building a log house.
When I was in high school, both my mom and I drove 'Vettes. Mine was a Chevette, hers a Corvette.
On the rare occasions I was allowed to drive Mom's car, I was amazed at the friendliness of other Corvette drivers, who would wave and honk as if we were old friends.
Log cabin owners are apparently just as friendly: happy to share their knowledge and show their homes to others, especially other potential log home owners.
Model Log Homes
We've visited two log homes so far, and this summer we'll visit a third. All three are demonstration models that the companies use as offices.
We could also arrange to tour log homes in the area where we intend to build.
Although we haven't taken the companies up on it, this option has been presented to us by several who are willing to contact former customers to arrange tours. Apparently, such tours aren't uncommon as log home owners are happy to show off their homes.
As we've gone through the process of researching log homes, my husband has encouraged me to maintain a book of ideas—for our log cabin in general, the landscaping, the garage and shed, and for each room in the house. Builders have recommended this too, and I've done my best to comply, filling a tub with magazine clippings, brochures and booklets of good ideas.
I've also collected ideas on Pinterest, using three of my boards as virtual clipping banks for kitchen islands possibilities, landscaping ideas and cabin furniture and architectural elements.
I've also started following other pinners who are collected log home ideas. Like magazines and books, their boards are a great source of information and inspiration.