Planning a Log Home | An Overview
A step-by-step approach to understanding how your log home gets built. Are your log home plans in place?
You might have log home plans at the ready and a home site prepped to host years of memories. But to go from construction documents to lounging in the great room requires a little homework and a basic understanding of the work that will be done on your house. This section assumes that you’ll be like the vast majority of log home fans out there: You won’t build the place yourself.
So we’ve mapped out the big milestones that will take place over six to 18 months of building your rustic log home masterpiece.
1. Home-Site Prep
Your general contractor will make sure that your building site provides access to construction vehicles and delivery trucks. After clearing the way, the access road should be covered with crushed stone so it will stand up to frequent heavy-truck traffic.
Once the access road is in place, your site can be cleared of trees and brush. If your home won’t be connected to municipal systems, your General Contractor will arrange to install a well, which can be drilled at this stage.
Now that your well has been established, a subcontractor can install a drainage field and septic tank. Then the builder, excavator, foundation subcontractor or surveyor must map out your home’s location. Once the spot has been surveyed, offset stakes are set in place to mark the boundaries and orientation.
2. Foundation & Subfloor
Your work crew will prepare the footings, which support the foundation or crawl space and are the first signs of construction. Once the local building inspector approves the footings, the foundation walls can be constructed.
Foundations typically are made of concrete block or poured concrete. Poured concrete walls tend to go up faster than concrete blocks do. First, a masonry crew will set up wooden forms that will hold the liquid concrete until it sets. Then, the forms are filled with the concrete mixture, and it’s allowed to cure overnight. The following day, the crew returns to strip the forms, leaving behind brand-new foundation walls.
To ensure a waterproof foundation, your builder will coat the outside of the foundation with tar or another waterproofing compound. Then, around the foundation’s base, he’ll likely install perforated plastic pipe atop a gravel bed that’s sloped to promote drainage. Once the walls have been waterproofed, an insecticide is applied to protect against termites and other insects that live underground and can damage your logs.
Building the actual living space of your home starts with the subfloor. Some log home companies include materials for the subfloor system in their package price; others do not, and your General Contractor will get these materials from a local supplier.
Because the subfloor will help brace the foundation walls against the pressure applied by the soil, backfilling around the foundation typically is done once the subfloor is complete, which usually takes only one to two days.
3. Log Raising!
On log-delivery day—maybe the most exciting day in the process, other than move-in day—several tractor-trailer trucks loaded with logs and other building materials will make their way to your building site. When they arrive, a forklift or crane unloads the trucks. The contents are sorted and inventoried, then it’s time to stack the log walls.
The method and speed of log construction depends on the type of building system your log producer recommends and the size of your building crew. A crane is helpful when stacking large diameter logs. The larger the diameter, the quicker the walls start to emerge. Smaller logs can be set by hand, but will take longer to stack. Raising time can vary from a few days to several weeks.
4. Roof System
There are numerous variations to framing, building and covering a log home. Using conventional trusses and rafters is a quick and inexpensive way to frame the roof. Several types of truss and rafter systems may be used, depending on the design of the house. Many can be installed in a day.
To enclose the roof, a layer of tongue-and- groove decking typically is nailed over the beams. Layers of insulation are then applied, and the whole system is covered with plywood, creating a sandwich of wood and insulation. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) also can be used in vaulted ceilings. Finally, the roof’s exterior plywood is covered with tarpaper and shingles (or another type of roofing material that you choose).
5. Interior Framing
The process of framing the interior of a log home is similar to framing done in conventional homes—with a few variations.
Your home’s partition walls, which are built with horizontal top and bottom plates separated by vertical studs, are made from 2-by-4s. Walls that will accommodate plumbing may be framed with 2-by- 6s. In some log houses, load-bearing walls are used to shoulder a portion of the weight of the second level and roof. While the interior is being framed, the plumber usually arrives to install tubs and prefabricated shower units.
Windows and doors are set in place once the framing is complete—now the house is weathertight.
Either the carpenters or painters will apply one or more coats of a weatherproofing treatment or preservative to the logs to protect them from moisture, mildew and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Caulking or chinking is then applied between the logs, according to the log profile or style.
6. Electrical & Plumbing
First on the scene is the plumber who roughs-in the home’s plumbing system by laying water and waste lines. Because these pipes are rigid and set inside the framing, they’re installed during the framing process before the other subcontractors begin their work.
As the plumber wraps up his work, the HVAC crew arrives to install galvanized ductwork, including the large, pre-fabricated main lines. The HVAC workers may wait to install heating or cooling units and basement ductwork, focusing instead on the elements of the HVAC system that will be concealed behind drywall or interior wood walls.
The electrician is the last mechanical subcontractor to arrive because flexible wiring can be maneuvered around the rigid pipes and ducts that already have been installed. Like the other subcontractors, the electrician will concentrate on wiring those areas that will be concealed within the interior walls or logs.
Then it’s time for the inspector to do his or her work.
7. Finishing Touches
Drywall, sanding, painting—they all come together in this stage. Then the flooring is laid throughout your home, followed by cabinet and appliance installers. Later on, the mechanical subcontractors will attach these appliances to the wiring and plumbing systems. They’ll also set receptacles and fixtures, install toilets and sinks and make the water connection from a well or water line.
The electrician completes the circuits and installs circuit breakers. The HVAC subcontractor sets heating and cooling units and final ductwork, then installs registers and wires the thermostat.
Meanwhile, trim carpenters hang interior doors and set trim and hardware around the home’s doors and windows. These carpenters also are responsible for the final details of the home, including the stairs, railings and moldings.
Outside, the excavator returns to complete the final grading. This project is handled as late in the construction process as possible. That way, the backfill that was placed around the foundation will be completely settled before final grading. After the site is graded, the yard can be covered with sod or seeded and landscaped, and a subcontractor can install the necessary gutters and downspouts.
More: Log Home Design Ideas