Log homes

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Has anyone on here ever owned, or currently own a log home? One of the places we are looking at, is a a log structure. Totally different from a traditional home. My question is: Are they hard to maintain? I know its a ton of work when they need re-stained, but was wondering if there were any 'less known' maintenance issues with them...

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swirt's picture
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I owned one for a decade.  I loved the house.   Bugs are a problem  We had ongoing battles with carpenter ants and carpenter bees in Upstate NY.   If you are looking at renovation.. just keep in mind that log walls don't make it easy to run additional plumbing or wiring, so if that is needed you'll need alternate routes.

Look for places where water can get trapped.  Logs last a long time as long as they are able to dry out after getting wet.  It is when the moisture is allowed to sit for long periods of time that the wood starts to rot.

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Hello.  Our Bed and Breakfast is log.  We also live in a log home.  Log homes are a labor of love.  They are truly awesome to live in.  They never go out of style and will last a very long time with proper care. I would love to talk to you about them and answer any questions you might have.

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New logs or old logs?  We are currently renovating a house which has a very old log structure underneath a brick facade.  It seems you can find opinions of maintenance on both sides of the fence. 

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I don't know how accurate this is, but the log homes I've seen tend to not have built in storage...closets, etc. See if the one you're looking at has storage.

By the way, I love log homes and think they make cool b&bs.

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

I don't know how accurate this is, but the log homes I've seen tend to not have built in storage...closets, etc. See if the one you're looking at has storage.

By the way, I love log homes and think they make cool b&bs.

Yeah, there are walk in closets in every room, and also a HUGE laundry /storage room and in the basement a HUGE utility room/storage (and a gigantic garage). But I am planning on adding a storage closet upstairs in one of the open spaces so its easier for cleaning rooms etc... 

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I know someone who has a log B & B. Let me ask her.

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gillumhouse wrote:

I know someone who has a log B & B. Let me ask her.

great thanks!

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Her reply:

My son is building a log home and has a good friend that lives in one.  His friends log home does need to be worked on each year.  By worked on I mean, bees will bore into the logs,so he goes around and plugs those holes.  I can't say if the newer log homes are better, as far as amount of maintenance, but will certainly ask my son and get back to you.
If going into it they know the work it might be, I feel it is great looking and would be considered a wonderful retreat with the lodge feel similar to stonewall resort.
Hope that helps.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Her reply:

My son is building a log home and has a good friend that lives in one.  His friends log home does need to be worked on each year.  By worked on I mean, bees will bore into the logs,so he goes around and plugs those holes.  I can't say if the newer log homes are better, as far as amount of maintenance, but will certainly ask my son and get back to you.
If going into it they know the work it might be, I feel it is great looking and would be considered a wonderful retreat with the lodge feel similar to stonewall resort.
Hope that helps.

Tell him to use a product called Bug juice in the stain. This will fix the problems with the bugs. If you use cypress logs, bugs do not like this type of wood. But it's very expensive to use these logs.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Her reply:

My son is building a log home and has a good friend that lives in one.  His friends log home does need to be worked on each year.  By worked on I mean, bees will bore into the logs,so he goes around and plugs those holes.  I can't say if the newer log homes are better, as far as amount of maintenance, but will certainly ask my son and get back to you.
If going into it they know the work it might be, I feel it is great looking and would be considered a wonderful retreat with the lodge feel similar to stonewall resort.
Hope that helps.

Thanks! It's not an 'old' place. It was built in 2007. It has radiant heat floors, which I've heard is very economical. BUT when i called the utility company, I was shocked at how high the elect bill was (I guess I was expecting it to be really low). It has two large fireplaces (one on main floor, one in basement) and each guest room has a propane fireplace, so I thought it would be really really low. I had already built into the budget an amount really close to this (prior to finding out the cost) just in-case it was high. I don't think it's enough to turn us away from it tho.

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We also have in my city a circa 1778 2-story log house. It is 90% original logs and on original site. To my knowledge nothing special has been done to it. It has chestnut logs.

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gillumhouse wrote:

We also have in my city a circa 1778 2-story log house. It is 90% original logs and on original site. To my knowledge nothing special has been done to it. It has chestnut logs.

Yours is covered in clapboard, no? That's what we have found divergent opinions about - exposing the logs or covering them with wood or brick.  Inside, they'll last forever if you keep the bugs away.

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No, they are exposed to the weather. They did put cement or something between the logs at some point in time - I believe most likely around 1975.

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gillumhouse wrote:

No, they are exposed to the weather. They did put cement or something between the logs at some point in time - I believe most likely around 1975.

The logs are in the back, then?  I've only seen pics and it looks like clapboard on the front and sides.  We are actually considering that option - logs only on the front, maybe.  We got permission from the planning commission to take down the brick facade tonight, so we will start the deconstruction soon.

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No, it is logs on 4 sides except a kitchen was added to he back and I think it is boards (quite honestly I do not remember what the added kitchen is). The logs are squared off, not the round one usually sees. We had a descendant who works at Williamsburg come to tour the house years ago. He took several rolls of film of just that adze marks in the logs. I have the key and take people in to see the house. In my NVHO. Levi was telling everyone, "I am the MAN!"

circa 1778 Log House of Levi Shinn

You can see the material they used for the chinking - cement I think. That is a more recent addition.  I know a man who lived in the house as a kid and he said when they moved in his Mother pulled the rags out from between the loogs considering the previous resident to have been a poor housekeeper. He said they spent the rest of the time they lived in the house stuffing anything they could find between the logs. His quote, "That was the coldest damned house!" It has 2 huge fireplaces downstairs (back-to-back) with a stone chimney through the center of the house (18th century central heat. It would not give much heat, but more than was normal for a second story. The 2-story in itself was unusual for the frontier as most cabins were the size of one of the downstairs rooms with a loft for kids.  This house has 2 rooms down and two rooms up with a landing 3/4 of the way up and then stairs that go in each direction to access the 2 rooms up.

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gillumhouse wrote:

No, it is logs on 4 sides except a kitchen was added to he back and I think it is boards (quite honestly I do not remember what the added kitchen is). The logs are squared off, not the round one usually sees. We had a descendant who works at Williamsburg come to tour the house years ago. He took several rolls of film of just that adze marks in the logs. I have the key and take people in to see the house. In my NVHO. Levi was telling everyone, "I am the MAN!"

circa 1778 Log House of Levi Shinn

You can see the material they used for the chinking - cement I think. That is a more recent addition.  I know a man who lived in the house as a kid and he said when they moved in his Mother pulled the rags out from between the loogs considering the previous resident to have been a poor housekeeper. He said they spent the rest of the time they lived in the house stuffing anything they could find between the logs. His quote, "That was the coldest damned house!" It has 2 huge fireplaces downstairs (back-to-back) with a stone chimney through the center of the house (18th century central heat. It would not give much heat, but more than was normal for a second story. The 2-story in itself was unusual for the frontier as most cabins were the size of one of the downstairs rooms with a loft for kids.  This house has 2 rooms down and two rooms up with a landing 3/4 of the way up and then stairs that go in each direction to access the 2 rooms up.

What a wonderful place!!! 

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Aah, thanks for the photo - not the place I was thinking of.  This looks similar to what we think we might have, or at least for the front and two sides.  An addition in the back was put on over 100 years ago, so they pretty much wrecked the back log wall cutting it out.  Ours is also two stories - there is one other in town like it - although the second floor had limited headroom (6 feet). Most of the second floor collapsed during the fire, and the first floor had collapsed before, due to the hoarding that was going on, so we will be taking out the inside completely and just leaving the log shell for rebuilding.  We have a local expert we will have come in when we get the bricks down.

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When they added the kitchen & bathrooms on the back, they used the existing  back door (do not know if it was there originally or added over the years) and left the log wall alone. Twice I have gone over to the house with students who were measuring the structure/rooms for a class they had in college - one was a Shinn descendant whose Father is a Russian Orthodox priest and has stayed here at least 4 times to see the house. There is another Shinn log house or cabin still standing in New Jersey. I have been told by more than a couple sources that this log house was built in the German style. (Probably why it lasted - they build things so an atom bomb would not destroy whatever.)

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Ours is a similar size, 2 rooms on the bottom and two on the top, although it had two chimneys, one on either wall.  Also German construction.  We have been told that you can pull the whole middle of the house out and the log walls will still stand.  We are about to test that theory, as nothing inside is salvageable.

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Are they full log or d logs?

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Bob wrote:
Are they full log or d logs?
I think full logs but don't really know yet. They are still covered with brick on one side and plaster on the other.  The ends look like full rounds but even there is some wood frame that makes it hard to be sure.

Joey Camb's picture
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that is totally cool

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