Modern Log Homes

Attractive, energy-efficient, sturdy, and cost-effective: those are the qualities of modern log homes.


| May/June 1979



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Relatively simple cabins like this one are still available. 


MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

When European settlers first came to the North American continent, their dwellings were, naturally, constructed of whatever materials were readily available—in most cases, timber cut right from the forests and hand-hewn to the desired dimensions. Of course, most of these early log cabins were primitive affairs, but they provided excellent shelter with a minimum of upkeep. And as testimony to the durability of such home-made structures, there are log buildings standing today that date back to before the American Revolution!

As the years went by building styles and materials changed to the point where steel, concrete, and even glass are now used to construct dwellings that often don't resemble residences at all. However, the high price of goods and rising labor costs are rapidly turning these "dream" houses into nightmares, and paving the way for a new period of popularity for modern log homes.

They're Not Just "Cabins" Anymore

To most folks, the idea of a log building conjures up visions of Daniel Boone and a drafty, ramshackle timber hut. In reality, though, twentieth-century technology has improved on that concept. Today's log dwellings not only are well-constructed, weather tight units, but also can be designed and furnished to rival the most palatial of conventional houses.

Furthermore, contemporary log homes offer many advantages that more conventional structures (because of their design) simply cannot equal. For the most part, log buildings are sturdy, durable units that [a] require little, if any, attention after construction and final weatherproofing, [b] need a minimum of insulation—or none at all—to achieve sufficient thermal protection from the elements, and [c] can be built for a lower cost than can the "typical" home, especially if the owner is willing to devote his or her share of time and labor to the project.

Scratch-Built ... or Factory Kits?

Understandably enough, even though there are excellent factory-made log home kits available, many farmsteaders (and even suburban homeowners) attempt to build their own timber dwellings from the ground up. And, although their intentions are well-meant, such do-it-yourselfers sometimes run into three major obstacles right from the start:

[1] Even the homesteader who's fortunate enough to live on wooded acreage doesn't often have enough raw material to complete a fair-sized dwelling. It takes at least 10 dozen logs (some over 30 feet in length) just to build a large cabin, and the straight, disease-free specimens required for structural soundness just aren't available on the typical small woodlot On top of this, some tree species simply cannot be used in log home construction. The most acceptable varieties are cedar, Douglas fir, yellow pine, poplar, or spruce. If these particular woods aren't native to an area, the prospective builder will have to have quality timbers shipped in or settle for a less desirable (and often not as durable) species.





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