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Come hell or high water

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

I believe in global warming, I believe in melting of polar ice, I believe in rising sea levels, I believe in massive flooding, and so does Johan Huibers who has built a replica of Noah’s Ark. I have to admit, he is much better prepared for coming age of water than me. Check out the official website via above link and get your hands on some additional information. Click this link here to see some beautiful timber framing photos inside the Ark. Renee, thanks for the heads up.

Excellent website on building a log home

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Not every day I come across with a website providing such detailed information as Log Building (dot org). Today I did. Robert Chambers is the person behind all the info and I can’t recommend his site highly enough.

Robert focuses on handcrafted, scribe-fitted log building and amassed tremendous amount of expertise in this area. Real gem of info is a spreadsheet he put together to calculate log selection. If you are more learning-by-watching person then you better check videos he has posted. He has filmed quite a sleuth of them and they are scheduled for release.

If you are looking for information on how to build log homes, this is the website to go to. If you need a book about how to build a log home Robert’s book is your resource. Sigh, yet another book on my list, it’s almost like for every book that I read, I get two unread ones. This way it’s going to be a lifetime of reading log home books! :)

Building class gives new ideas

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Disclaimer
This post was written by Benjamin Kleber and I did some minor editing. Post discusses the way in which a building class gave new ideas about log building and slightly changed Benjamin’s approach to building log homes.

Skip Ellsworth’s building class

Skip’s class gives a basic overview of Canadian chinkless as well as
Scandanavian Chinkless and Butt & Pass, but the one that class goes in depth about is Butt & Pass. Obviously there is no “One
Best Method”, but there are pros and cons to every way of doing
things, and the folks who teach the course try go do two things:
First, give you enough of a general education that you can make
well-informed decisions about your log home, however you choose to go, and Second, teach the Butt & Pass construction method, which is the easiest one for a do-it-yourself first-time builder to succeed at.

Personal experience
Given these two focuses, i’ve never really understood why so many
people have such a negative view of Skip’s classes - it sounds like
they have some broad misconceptions about what is taught. Just like any engineer might be expected to, I had some ideas walking into the class about how I wanted to do things - and I walked away from the class having learned enough to know that my ideas were pretty standard ones, but not necessarily the best ideas for working with logs.

Log home building offer

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Benjamin Kleber’s blog caught my attention, he has very interesting offer over there. He is willing to build you a log home at very affordable cost. The reason why he is doing this is because he already had all the basic preparations ready for building one, but then the plans changed. He still has everything ready to go, just that person needing a log home is now missing - you could be that person. You could very well benefit from this opportunity and get your log home in very affordable price.

What happened?
I asked and Benjamin agreed to do a short interview, a while back already, but surely I had to have some complications and didn’t have time to act on this earlier. For this reason, I just try to push this out as quickly as possible and you can make your own mind whether this something for you. Go to his blog where you can find contact information. My communication with Benjamin has been very natural and I would judge him to be reliable person.

Some basic information
Something you might want to know. Benjamin has completed Skip Ellsworth log home building class so that is his closely related background. Now Skip’s course has somewhat edgy reputation, not least because of strong anti mortgage attitude the course emphasizes. On the course, they also teach solely butt and pass building method so the log home by Benjamin is probably going to follow that, just another thing to keep in mind.

My reservations
I myself have always had trouble with such strong one sided opinions (not to mention supporters, whom occasionally claim to be believers of the system) as e.g. Skip’s course has, but naturally that has nothing to do with Benjamin’s offer. Oh yes, one more thing, to my knowledge, Benjamin is not a professional builder so make a note of that. Anyway, check his blog out, do contact him and make your own decision on this, you could be positively surprised.

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.

Good news!

Monday, July 7th, 2008

How’s that for a positive start, eh? But news are, like I said, good. Norman from Floating Cabins agreed to do a short interview here on Log Homes Cabin blog. Now it is just about finding the right questions. And as this site gets about 50 unique visitors per day, maybe one of you would like to ask a question from Norman about these brilliant mobile, floating log cabins. Well, better watch out there on the water, you don’t want your cabin going mobile, do you? Hmm, then again, it is always very refreshing to see strange new shores ;)

Suggest a question
Anything you want to know, ask away. I can’t guarantee Norman will answer, but he’ll get the questions. Just type your say down to the comments part and I’ll mix them together with my own questions. Let’s see what we can find about these cool products.

Now the only downside here is that because my site traffic is so minimal, I have to wait for quite some time to get even one question. That I can’t help immediately, so I just have to let go at some point and take at least my questionnaire to Norman. Here’s hoping for many questions.

Evergreen log home enthusiast

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Long time ago Mr. Mac Laird wrote in comments about his history as a log home enthusiast. I decided to check out his website to read more about his experiences as a log cabin builder. Interestingly, it turns out the site is mostly about bark canoe (test) building and bow/arrow raw material collecting.

Storyteller
Mr. Mac Laird has written a book about the old days and old ways. Instead of making a boring school book he has chosen to write in narrative manner, bit like being a grand father telling a story to kids. You can’t avoid learning some tips and tricks about living in the great outdoors, good point if you normally start to feel tired after glancing through the index of any given encyclopedic log home book. Tempo seems to be mellow, making it a good companion before bedtime (hey, in a GOOD way).

Slow tempo of log cabin living
Can you relate to canoeing or bow shooting? I can, because I have started to kayak and canoe on the river that flows right on my backyard. Swallows squeak happily as they swoosh by. Fish jump as if to say that they know I don’t have fishing rod with me. I just might have caught some kind of log cabin fever, because we all (yep, people who live in log home or log cabin) tend to have similar hobbies or habits. Is it contagious? Well, I have been thinking to purchase myself a fine bow. Keep updated about my mission to purchase a bow and subscribe to my feed.

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…

Interviewing Kelly Hart

Monday, June 12th, 2006

I came across this wonderful site that is all about green home building. Green building – if traditional building methods are followed – can be very cheap way to build houses, so this site is of special interest for us back-to-the-nature log home builders, who might be discouraged by the high prices of modern log homes and log cabins.

Kelly Hart has a long history in the field of construction and publishes information on green home building in cooperation with many experts of this field. Mr. Hart was happy to answer few questions, so here they are:

Q: Post and beam log building is mentioned here and there on your site, but always as a mere structural framework. Why Greenhomebuilding doesn’t include log homes as an independent segment?

    A: This was a conscious decision on my part to not promote the use of logs for homes for several reasons. Primarily, I am concerned with the continued depletion of our forests, as expressed on my page about saving our forests. There are circumstances where logs for homes can be harvested sustainably, and I encourage this, but in general this is not the case. Another reason I don’t promote the use of logs is that they really don’t provide very good insulation as a shell for a home, and this is a very important factor in any climate with temperature extremes.

Q: You introduce several methods for greener building. Apart from earthbag building, which are your personal favorites?

    A: Interestingly, one of my favorites is also wood, in the form of cordwood construction. I like this method of building because it uses very small pieces of wood (more or less firewood size) that can be arranged in such a way as to provide a very well-insulated wall. This means that a considerable portion of the tree can be used, and that very small diameter trees that result from thinning a forest can be used. When the cordwood is stacked with masonry or earthen mortar and an interior void for insulation, you end up with a wall that has wonderful thermal properties because the interior masonry acts as thermal mass. An added benefit is that once you build the wall there is no more finish work necessary, either inside or outside, and it is a very durable, low-maintenance system. Building cordwood walls is a technique that is easily learned, requiring little skill.

Q: It is often so that pioneers create future trends by working very hard on their dreams. Do you think that at some point these green home building methods that you introduce on your website, will become popular among commercial constructors and home buyers?

    A: This is already happening, especially with strawbale construction, and to a lesser extent with rammed earth and adobe building. This movement gained momentum in the Southwestern United States and is now finding popularity in other regions of the world.

Q: Many readers of Log Homes Cabin are planning to buy a log home kit as their starting point for owner/builder home. How would you increase the greenness of such a home?

    A: First of all, make sure that the logs for that kit have been harvested sustainably; check with the Forest Stewardship Council about this. Then select a kit that is as compact as it reasonably can be to house your needs…extra space costs more, both economically and ecologically. Choose a design that will heat itself with passive solar, especially if you live where you have cold winters. And get one with the best insulation package possible, especially for the ceiling and roof where most of the heat loss is.

Mr. Hart, thank you for your time. I wish all the best and continue to follow your website for updates.

Book review - The Craft of Post and Beam

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

BOOK REVIEW – THE CRAFT OF POST AND BEAM
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
Appendices
Bibliography
Glossary
Index

EVOLUTION OF POST AND BEAM
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.

DESIGN
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
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
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.

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

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.

OPENINGS
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 STRUCTURES
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.

FLOOR SYSTEMS
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
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).

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

MISCELLANOUS
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.

SUMMARY
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

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