11. Design for protection.
You can reduce maintenance costs with purposeful design to protect logs from the weather by including wide roof overhangs and porches, elevating your logs well off the ground, ensuring no plants touch logs to trap moisture against the wood and clearing enough trees around the house to avoid constant shade and promote air circulation.

12. Design for the future.
Plan additions so they’ll go with your design. If they’re never built, the house won’t appear incomplete. If they are, they’ll fit in with the existing house. Consider all main rooms on one level. Today’s popular open floor plans also promote access and mobility.

13. Choose a company that offers the look you love.
There are hundreds of log-home producers. You’ll go crazy trying to scrutinize all aspects of the way they do business and weigh the differences. Don’t be distracted by technical matters, but do satisfy yourself that they are provided for.

14. Understand how your producer provides for settlement.
All buildings settle. Logs shrink. Shrinkage isn’t a problem but the natural response of wood in use, through evaporation and compression. As a result of this shrinkage, logs move. Efforts to stabilize logs begin with drying methods, usually air-dried or kiln-dried. The key is that the logs work with the company’s detailed engineered building system, which is designed to accommodate and minimize log movement.

Log walls aren’t just the building material. They are engineered to work in conjunction with fastening and sealing systems to create a weathertight component able to adjust to log shrinkage and movement and to function as a unit. There’s even a benefit to shrinkage that might occur from compression after the home is assembled. It makes the fit between logs even snugger.

15. Learn the common log-home myths and why they are myths.
The biggest myth is that there is one best wood. Fact: There is NO best wood. Twenty-five species are commonly used; all work satisfactorily. If there were a best wood, any company that didn’t use it would be at a competitive disadvantage. If you have a wood preference, by all means find a company that uses that wood. Otherwise, don’t concern yourself. Find a company you like and accept the wood it uses
Another myth is that homes require no maintenance. Fact: Wood in use, exposed to the elements, must be protected, and that protection requires ongoing vigilance and renewal.

A third, lingering myth is that log homes are a cheap alternative. Fact: The quality and substance of the building material and the expertise required to turn it into a finished home make log homes as costly as other custom homes, occasionally more so.

This article ran longer, in its entirety and with pictures in the 2008 Annual Buyer’s Directory issue of Log Homes Illustrated.

Go to Part IV.