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Archive for December, 2006

Construction cost estimator

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Before you all get carried away, I must point out that currently this program is only available in Finnish. It is based on the research done by the Construction faculty of the Tampere University of Technology.

Results speak for themselves. For example, my friend did crude cost calculation for his house project and walked away with estimation figure of 162 000 euros. Year and a half later he had his final inspection and the tab for construction cost was closed. The real total cost for the whole project came to 159 thousand euros – pretty accurate.

So I decided to set a price for a log home made by Honkarakenne Oyj with this tool, let’s see how it turned out:

First of all, I chose Honka’s Aikamatka as the test model. Aikamatka means “time travel” in English, but that is not why I chose it. I chose it because of the simple structural design, which is as close to ordinary house as possible. Also, later it is easier to do some comparative cost estimating with different materials, while maintaining the basic floor plan and design.

Biggest problem here is that Honka doesn’t give out their prices, so the program has to set an average pricing for a log cabin kit. Here is a PDF-file if you care to check out some details (still everything is in Finnish).

On the right bottom corner you can see a box with overall costs. I set the land price to 12 000 euros and that extra 1 200 euros goes to obtaining construction permits. Cost of construction with those specifications tallies 121 172 euros, but because I’m willing (and able) to do major part of constructing by myself, 36 350 euros can be deducted making the totaling 98 000 euros. 1 180 euro per square meter sounds quite high to me, what about you?

Post and beam cabin

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

This is another cabin that is very close to me. I built it for my cousin together with my father. Cabin has been standing tall for almost ten years now, but unfortunately it doesn’t get used much these days.

postandbeamcabin

Cabin has the look of a squared log home, but actually using post and beam technique with wood paneling as siding makes it look like one. In case you want to know more about post and beam building, please go and read this book.

Environmental infiltrating

Friday, December 8th, 2006

I had my log cabin kit and my winding forest road to my lot. Cabin kit was supposed to function as a lakeside sauna. Having sauna this close to the lake is going to enrich the lake water. Therefore I had to get myself a small infiltrating system to treat the wash water produced by the use of sauna.

washwaterinfiltration

I turned to Labko® Saunakaivo 300, which is very small system, designed for minimal usage. Unfortunately I wasn’t clever enough to photograph the installation process (I also should have done that for the road construction). I’ll be a tad wiser next time.

McCartney must smash his log cabin

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Old and tested trick doesn’t always work. I don’t know if you are familiar with this traditional trick. First you pick a nice spot, which is free of any structures, quite possibly because that particular spot can’t be built. When officials come asking after licenses and permits, it’s time to start applying them. Usually this process can be ironed out with little negotiations and under the table offers.

Sir McCartney hasn’t been able to convince authorities and he has been ordered to tear down the one million pounds log cabin that he constructed. Tough luck, so be prepared and get to know the people who sit in district councils that way you know beforehand if you can secure a retrospective planning permission. Can’t buy me permit…

Corner cut

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Back in the old days, log homes were technology, which almost every man mastered. As time went on specialized carpenters kept on developing log home designs and their own skills. Eventually things developed so far that builder would hire a master carpenter to oversee and run log home building project. These carpenters wanted to leave a mark on their work from which they could be recognized, something of business cards. Solid corners were needed to keep log structure in one piece therefore corner became natural spot for carpenters to leave their trademark. There were as many variations of corners as there were proud carpenters. Nowadays we have lost our animal sense of log home building and therefore we fall as a prey of marketing, trademarked or patented corner cut this and that and so what…

cornerfastening

Check the picture, there is a model-protected corner cut as well as model-protected thru-bolted log fastening system. Every modern log home and log cabin has those features, so what’s so high-tech about it? Anyway I thought that we are talking about natural way of living here.

Kiln-dried logs

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Are kiln-dried logs such a technological breakthrough as log home companies market them to be? What does this technology do anyway?

logcabincorner

Freshly felled logs will shrink as they slowly dry out. General rule of thumb is that it takes about 3 years of drying before logs can be used as log home raw material, without experiencing drastic settling.

This means that somebody has to attend those logs for 3 years before they can be used. Processing and storage costs keep on piling continuously. Few log home company has the resources to keep their own storages. Moreover, ramping the production up and down according the demand is very difficult if one has to think about raw material cycle.

It is pretty clear that log drying costs money. If outside party does this natural drying process, it will most certainly want to set higher price for their product than normal logs have. Therefore, big enough log home companies prefer to set up technology, which they can use to kiln-dry their logs. They can get logs cheaper and adjust the drying process according their production needs.

To the customer they can sell this money saving idea by saying that this way logs are high-tech products that cost more, but boy what a quality. Watch out the marketing terminology while shopping a log cabin or log home.

Road nowhere

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Lakeside property and beautiful view are nothing if you can’t get there, hence road was needed. Several trees had to be felled in order to clear the way for the passage. Then we turned over the soil and drove some gravel and sand on the spot. Tedious work but at the end of the day (took couple of months in real life) we had our road.

Do you want to see it? Here is a picture, nice view, eh?

mountainroad

Oh, you know it! I was just pulling your leg. We didn’t manage anything as grand as that, but the road we cleared is enough for us. Here is a picture of our road and as evidence a tractor parked on it so you know that it is solid.

theroad

Now that we have convenient access to the lot, it will be lot easier to service the construction site. However, that is a subject for another post.

Land ahoy

Friday, December 1st, 2006

The story so far:

Get a phone call – check!
Get a crazy idea – check!
Get a cabin kit – check!
Get a piece of land – what?

Honestly it didn’t come as a surprise for me. I already knew that land was coming my way, so I only had to come up with an idea what to do with it. Newly bought log cabin kit gave a purpose for the lakeside lot.

tinyisland

  • Log home photos

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