Archive for the 'Books' Category

Log homes made easy by Jim Cooper

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Of all the log home books that I have read, this is the best book by far to read as an introductory to buying, contracting or building a log home. Jim Cooper is extraordinarily well qualified to write this book and it shows as quality writing and quality information. The book has reached second edition and is updated to meet current issues, not that there are too many “latest” in this industry, but every now and then something splashes over to our secluded lifestyle. You should read this book as soon as possible. I guarantee that if you are really moving on with your log home building project, this book will save you a lot of money starting from planning and financing all the way through completion of the log home.

Jim’s book contains eleven chapters, first being introduction (now that’s a surprise), followed by the most natural flow of steps that we must take on our way to log home living. The single most important thing you can walk away with from this chapter (and for book that matter) is Jim’s approach to the topic - owner-contracting. You can choose the middle road, no need to be obsessed by the dream of building a log home with your own hands nor is building a log home so terrible a task that you can only have it if you buy it.

About log homes
To really start the book off with a bang, Jim tackles some myths and realities about log homes. This chapter is a dead-on starter, an eye opener, I know this, because I constantly come across people with nothing more than a dream in their head and naive expectation that every expert will salute their log home enthusiasm and immediately start planning their dream house (free of charge of course). Jim is a man who really knows what he’s writing about.

Acquiring land
In this chapter, takes Jim readers through important topics considering the land to build your log home on. You learn that it is not just about location, location and location, but also about terrain, roads, wells, regulations, financing. Some enlightening first hand experiences are also on the menu. You will be amazed to notice how many unexpected difficulties are associated with buying land.

Defining your goals
From the book I got the impression that land is actually more important than the log home or log cabin. It can be remarkably difficult to purchase land and when you finally have it, well, you have to choose your log home according the lot. Behind everything else there is the all powerful buck that stops at credit manager’s desk. Dreams, money and reality are hard to match. Defining your goals for the most of us means compromises between all those three aspects. Jim gives some excellent pointers how to compromise with your dreams as little as possible.

For most people financing is the maker of dreams. Without good understanding on how credit institutions work (this is especially true in harsh economic climate) it is difficult to get your log home or log cabin project qualified for financing. Jim identifies three main points that make it so difficult to get financing for log homes. I don’t want to ruin your reading experience for you, it all makes much more sense with extensive numbers analysis that Jim presents to back up his writing.

General contracting
As a contractor, you need to have very thorough understanding of the big picture. If you don’t you are in danger of trusting to wrong people in your log home building process. This chapter deals with all the methods how to find right subcontractors and organize their work flow - a good read for any log home builder.

Sweat equity
The most common equity available for anyone with some enthusiasm and elbow grease comes in the form of their own work. Sweat equity is a good way to make some real estate equity, but Jim is not talking about going flat out and building your log home with your own hands. Jim still approaches the log home project from the point of view of owner-contractor and not that much from the point of view of owner-builder. You can read about Jim’s recommendations about work stages, which are good candidates for sweat equity. This way you will learn the best ways to save money while building your log home.

Construction process
Physical construction process is the manifestation of all your hard planning and preparation. Finally it comes down to this phase and you better get it right. Owner-contractor doesn’t know how to hold a hammer, but he must know what it is supposed to do and when. Knowing the outline of building process is vital for right working order of various subcontractors and therefore smooth progress of the building site. Together these will result huge savings.

This chapter is the most important one, Jim goes through some tools that every log home person should know how to handle. Then he proceeds from site planning to actual building, outlining excellent roadmap for making a log home.

When your log home is finally (or already) done, you can’t just walk in, shut the door behind you and rest. Every home needs maintenance, not just log homes, however, log homes do need special kind of care and this chapter is all about that.

Resources and supplies

Just as it says, information leads for log home contractor.

Jim has included many appendixes among others kit comparison sheet, example building contract, cost estimate check list…

Log home book to read

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Log homes made easy by Jim Cooper is the book to read before you embark on the quest of log home building. Here Jim has written the most down to earth book about log homes that I know of. I really have to get back to reviewing log home books. Anyway to cut the story short, this book takes general approach to having your log home dream. Nothing fancy just plain simple advice, which help you to take necessary steps. Expect review during the month of July.

Book review - The Craft of Post and Beam

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

This book has the most amazing start! Mr. Mitchell tells about his life experiences and how they made him the man he is today. He combines the passion to build and create into philosophy and financial freedom. Such a great motivational writer he is that I read the book in one day, it is that exciting (If you are in a hurry, you can now jump to the end of review to check the summary).

I will briefly go through every chapter of this book, but at first, here are the contents:

Introduction/Author’s Preface
1. Evolution of Post and Beam
2. Design
3. Wood
4. Tools
5. Hewing and Milling Methods
6. Joinery
7. Modern Timber Post and Beam: Wall System
8. Traditional Timber Post and Beam: Wall System
9. Log Post and Beam: Wall System
10. Log Blockwork: Wall System
11. Openings
12. Roof Structures
13. Floor Systems
14. Foundations
15. Utilities and Finishing
16. Wood Finishes

In this chapter, Mr. Mitchell tells us the brief history of log building and how it evolved on Northern hemisphere. This chapter also gives a light overall introduction on different log home building methods. How log homes were developed? You have to read this chapter to know.

Basic design philosophy of modular construction follows in this chapter. Also practical design issues like space and aesthetics can be found here. This chapter helps reader to grasp the idea of building functional log homes in modular manner.

Wood is very flexible raw material. This chapter focuses on what are the qualities of wood, how to collect it, use it and preserve it.

Tools that you need to build a log home, starting from felling the trees all the way to finishing the log home or log cabin. This chapter also has descriptions on how to use tools and what sort of working methods are related with them.

After rather general start, this is where the reader is bombarded with detailed and clear pictures of various building methods, focusing especially on preparing the logs.

Joinery has its own chapter and after reading it, you are well prepared to go forward and understand structures in various wall systems.

At this point, basic building methods are dealt with and aspiring owner builder can wonder to the countryside and start felling trees for coming log home. Well, not quite, but this is the phase where we get to dig into the actual structure of timber post and beam wall systems and also into log post and beam and log blockwork wall systems.

This section is divided between different styles of post and beam building. Someone might feel that book could go deeper if it focused on only one tradition. However, for me this was only positive, because I have been building in blockwork style and gaining wider understanding on other styles was easier because I could compare between them and the one that I personally master. To my opinion, this makes the book more appealing for wider audience.

Walls standing and all, it is time to make those window and door openings or alternatively introduce it as a vacation location for in-laws (can’t get in or can’t get out). This comes before the chapter about roof systems, which makes sense because openings are easier to do while still building the walls.

Roof systems have a chapter worthy of their complexity. Settling is a major problem while designing roofs for log homes and log cabins. Luckily by using post and beam method one can work out settling problems quite nicely.

Floors are on the menu after we have sheltered the log home from rain. Main issue in this chapter is to understand needed support for floors. But then we have something that strikes me as somewhat peculiar.

Foundations are discussed at the end of the book. How can this be, log homes and log cabins are built on foundations, if not they rot (hey, it rhymed).

On other note, I do understand that utilities are finally discussed here. This is the usual phase of construction for them. However, in this chapter you will notice that utilities must be taken into consideration while designing the log home or log cabin. It is very awkward to start ripping logs apart to mount some electricity sockets.

Wood finishes are done last as the building is finally standing. Good finishing gives extra years for your log home.

Other resources in the book include several helpful appendices. Now that we have Internet, bibliography isn’t that useful, but does give good sources and gives credit to other experts on this area. Index is always helpful in search of information, but for me as a non-native English speaker, glossary was the best resource. Understanding terms and sticking them on things I already know greatly lowered my learning curve.

Mr. Mitchell, thank you for writing such an excellent book I am really happy I bought it. This book helped me to organize my existing knowledge and gain more information on many areas. This is a great general resource book on building log homes and log cabins by using post and beam techniques. Absolutely worth its price and much more but how much more that depends on your motivation and passion. Get it now and finally make your log home dream a reality. Order it.

  • Log home photos

Blogarama - The Blog Directory All-Blogs.net directory logo Top Real Estate blogs Real Estate blogs Blog Directory & Search engine blog search directory Find Blogs in the Blog Directory Link With Us - Web Directory Blog Sweet - Web Directory