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Thread: Log cabin / home - need advice & info

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Buford, GA
    Posts
    2

    Log cabin / home - need advice & info

    I am planning on "potentially" purchasing a 25 yo true log cabin on a lake NE of Atlanta. The cabin seems like a great deal (even better once the water in the lake starts to return to full pool and the dock gets to float again! Very severe drought here). The cabin "appears" to be in good condition, however I need some advice:
    1. There are gaps (max width appears to be about 1/4" or so) in the chinking (it appears due to logs shrinking over the years - after 25 yrs I guess most of the shrinking is done). wondering if I could use a calk to fill the gaps between the chinking and the logs? Or is there something better?
    2. Is there anything that I need to check out that is related to the log construction (not sure if I can find a home inspector that has much experience with log structures)?

    Any advice / tips on log structures (or links to sites) would be appreciated.

    BTW the cabin has great dove tail type joints between the logs at the corners!

    Thanks,
    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    13,453
    My sister and my aunt each have log cabins. My brother-in-law seals the joints between the logs with a caulk called "Log Builder" (info below). It's made for log construction and can fill gaps up to 2" (reading the tube I have, stolen to seal around a window) He usually does this every other year and puts a new coat of water barrier on. My aunts is about 25 years old. They've had to replace some logs around the windows that rotted due to moisture. Hard to tell you what to look for. I'd take an awl with you and prod here and there looking for soft spots.

    Log Builder - Made by:
    Sashco
    10300 E. 107th Place
    Brighton, CO 80601
    1-800-767-5656
    www.sashco.com
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
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    BTW Bill, Welcome to the family!
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Buford, GA
    Posts
    2
    Thanks for the info Darren. In this economy its hard to pull the trigger on a "vacation" home (looks like if we wanted to we could move / retire there - I did check if there was enough room to build a workshop!). Seems like a good buy but want to check and recheck all I can before make the decision.

  5. #5
    First off welcome aboard Bill, and second of all, your question is one that is indeed perfect for this place. While I am not an expert in anything, I know there are a few contractors (Steve Ash) and Professional Home Inspectors on here that can keep you straight. Darren has already given you good advice. I got a few things to add too, though as I said I am not an expert by any means.

    First off realize that log homes are unique right from the get go. They are a lot more heavy then conventional homes and settle unevenly. The building should be settled out by now, but if the foundation is not in perfect condition or thereabouts, I would run away as fast as you can. I would think a foundation problem on a log home would be a money pit.

    With a log home replacing a rotted sill is not an easy job. Its not easy on a conventional house, but on a log home, I would think it would be worse, with more weight, more uneven jacking to contend with and the like. I would really look at the bottom sills of the house and make sure they are not rotted or infested with termites. (We don't have those in Maine, but I think that is a concern in Georgia)

    Now in Maine,log homes are kind of undesirable. They are prone to a lot of air leakage due to their loose joinery and lack of chinking. Heating them can be a bear. With wood only having an r factor of .7 per cubic inch of wood, a 8 inch wide wall only gives you an r-factor of 5.5. Pretty slim considering what conventional homes get 11 with just 3˝ walls. Our heavy frost and thaw cycles also make the settling of the logs unpredictable. Of course seeing that this is a vacation home, and located in Georgia, I don't see some of the downsides of log homes being an issue here.

    I would inspect carefully, proceed slowly since its truly a buyers markets now, and make sure you are getting a place that will be enjoyable in the years to come and not a structure of added anxiety.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,833
    There is much information on log homes out there. We are not that far removed from the days when folks had to live in them. Do searches on the subject, you will be amazed at what you find. The Fox Fire series is one place to start. Roy Underhill is another. And look for books by W. Ben Hunt, great reading and very informative. And, do take Travis' warnings seriously. You don't need a disappointing waste of money.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Tokyo Japan
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    15,807
    I'd add that you really got to check the roof, too often the roofs on the older cabins did not last.

    My Buddy CJ Herbert recently built his own log house, go to the various pages listed below!

    My Place 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

    I'm sure that he would answer questions you may have, tell him Stu in Tokyo sent you

    If you can get some pics of the cabin, it would be great!

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Stuart Ablett; 03-14-2008 at 03:05 PM.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    I'd add that you really got to check the roof, too often the roofs on the older cabins did not last.

    My Buddy CJ Herbert recently built his own log house, go >> HERE << to see the beginning of his journey!

    I'm sure that he would answer questions you may have, tell him Stu in Tokyo sent you

    If you can get some pics of the cabin, it would be great!

    Cheers!
    Not to morph the thread here, but a good roof is absolutely critical with timber frames. (Log homes not far behind). A timber frame can twist,flex and rack and still last for 300 years, but only if the roof keeps water off the frame. Once the roof or foundation goes, the building is junk within a few years.

    I saw this happen on my Grandfathers barn. It was a timber frame and lasted for 200 years. Once the roof starting going though, and the size and cost of roofing materials were more then he could afford...within 10 years the building was caved in.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Oliver Springs, TN
    Posts
    1,726
    In the early 70's my family purchased the land where I grew up. I was little about 4. I can remember a two story log cabin that was on the place. My dad had it dozed and burnt. I asked dad a few years ago why he didn't fix it up and move in. His reply was "heck son we were trying to get out of log cabins not move back in"!
    Last edited by John Daugherty; 03-15-2008 at 03:09 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    The Heart of Dixie
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    4,268
    Bill, I am a home inspector but as you suspected, very little experience with log homes. My suggestion would be call the Inspectors and see if you can find one that has some experience. You never know.

    But one thing to keep in mind. There are two things in the South that destroy homes. Besides tornadoes and renters that is. That is water and termites. If you have cracks or gaps in the chinking that is prime place for water to enter. Once water gets in, it's hard for it to get out and rot starts. So I would check those areas closely.

    And as others have said, the roof. But I would be more concerned in this case with the logs. It's not like you can replace a log easy!

    As for repairing chinking, I would think more chinking would the obvious material to use.
    Last edited by Jeff Horton; 03-15-2008 at 02:27 PM.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


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