What Are the Best Tips for Building a Log Cabin?

Elizabeth West

Building a log cabin is an option for those who wish to have a home with unique, rustic style. Log cabins have been around since the Bronze Age in Europe and were widely used by pioneers in 18th and 19th century America. Modern log homes are spacious and luxurious compared to the cramped and crude dwellings then. Buyers will have to consider several elements such as building a log cabin on their own, the weather where they live, and interior finishing.

A rustic fireplace could be a great addition to a cozy cabin.
A rustic fireplace could be a great addition to a cozy cabin.

Prospective buyers should visit a variety of log home builders and see if the styles they use match personal preferences. They should learn as much as possible about the methods of construction used when building a log cabin. Even if a contractor will ultimately be doing the work, knowing how the home is put together can keep buyers from making expensive mistakes on inferior kits, or tolerating poor work that could be costly later. Taking the time to learn about various building techniques ensures that the design of the house is feasible in terms of actual construction.

For smaller homes, many people prefer pre-made kits, especially if they plan on building a log cabin themselves. These promise to make the process easier and faster, and less expensively, than hiring a contractor. The lot should be large enough to build the kit and store materials while the project is being completed. It is possible, however, to get a kit that doesn’t include finishing elements, so a list of excluded items should be provided. Before beginning, buyers need to be sure they have the experience and resources to complete the project on their own.

The two styles of log cabins, handcrafted and milled, have different looks. Handcrafted logs are not hewn into timber and result in the familiar rustic pioneer style. Milled logs have been cut into predetermined shapes, making them easier and faster to assemble. They fight tightly together with a tongue-in-groove system that seals out moisture without the need for chinking. The finished cabin more closely resembles a traditional home.

Weather is a prime consideration when building a log cabin. A humid climate will incur elevated maintenance costs on a log home, since timber is very prone to deteriorating in damp conditions. Design elements such as large roof overhangs to keep snow and water away from the sides of the house can make a difference, as can choices in weatherproofing. A cabin by the sea will have to contend not only with moisture, but potentially with salt and stormy conditions as well.

Many people want log homes specifically for the timbered look, inside and out. Interior finishes are the final touch when building a log cabin. Protecting the logs in bathrooms and other wet areas is extremely important, since constant exposure to water will cause deterioration. With thinner milled logs and in places where extra insulation against extreme cold is needed, exterior walls may have to be covered with plasterboard. This material can offer extra protection against fire and may be acceptable in areas where fire treatment is not required.

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