Log Home Basics

    As we start to research log homes, it quickly becomes apparent that there is much more variety than one would ever think. Not only do log homes come in all shapes and sizes, but the logs themselves come in as many variations as you can imagine. Once you decide on the look you want, you can start eliminating manufacturers that don’t provide your system.

    There are two categories of log homes: handcrafted and milled log homes. Initially, you may not realize what you are looking at, but there are some basic guidelines that will clarify the differences. A handcrafted log home is just that; the logs are peeled by hand, notched by hand, and in many cases, each log is scribed to fit exactly on top of another log. In many handcrafted homes, the logs are stacked alternately, so the large end of a log is stacked on top of the tapered end of the log beneath. A milled log home will feature logs that are uniform in shape, and the logs will be cut to fit together, such as with a tongue-and-groove or Swedish cope, so that they stack easily and evenly. There is a big price difference between a handcrafted and a milled log home. This is mostly because of the intense labor required to construct a handcrafted home, and because of the larger diameter logs that are normally used. The vast majority of homes built today are milled log homes.

    If you see a log home with round logs and chinking, that is a first indication that this is could be a handcrafted log home. Chinking was historically a mortar-like material that filled the gaps between the logs. Modern science has created an acrylic compound that expands and contracts with the wood; it is applied as a wide white stripe. If a handcrafted log is not scribed, then chinking is a must because the logs leave gaps along their length. Some people do use chinking as a design feature even when it’s not necessary, though for the most part milled log homes are not chinked.

    The characteristic corner of your log home will speak volumes to the person who knows how to read it. The profile and joinery system of the log will usually be reflected on the ends. For instance, on a handcrafted log home you’ll see the different diameters of the stacked logs. To stack them, these corners will be notched so that each log sits directly on the log below it (like a Lincoln Logs(TM) toy). A milled log that is saddle-notched will stack the same way (of course, every log will look exactly the same). Because saddle-notched logs are staggered, course to course, the log ends will be visible on the interior corners of the house as well as the exterior. This gives a very rustic look. A butt-and-pass corner gives you an end where there is a space between every other log. This is because one log butts up against the intersecting log, which runs past it. These logs are all laid on the same course, so that with the interior corners of your home, the logs will come to a squared edge.

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    Prefabricated Home Packages

    This is by no means an exhaustive list of what’s available in the area of prefabricated homes and buildings. This article is to introduce you to the world prefab. If you’re in the industry, you’ll probably be cringing about now at the word “prefab”. But, the word is one that has become synonymous with homes and buildings that have been partially or fully assembled in a factory setting.
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    I for one am excited to see the latest versions of modern prefabs emerging globally. They’re well thought out, beautiful, and energy-efficient.
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    And to anyone who has any doubts about the quality of today’s prefab homes, I’d ask, would you rather buy a house whose parts have all been crafted outdoors exposed to the elements — by hand. Or, would you rather buy a house built in a factory setting to tight specs exceeding that of site-built homes. I say exceeding, because a normal site-built home doesn’t have to endure the rigors of transportation.

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    For your review, here are quick descriptions of 10 of the many categories of prefab homes available for exploring at - in no particular order:

    1. Manufactured

    Single-family residential dwellings consisting of one, two or more sectional units and constructed to Federal HUD code. Zoning regulations and ordinances of the local Municipality or County might not permit use of mobile and manufactured homes in all areas of their jurisdiction.

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    2. Modular

    Modular refers to a method of building a home, rather than a type of home. A modular home can be built in a factory from a stock modular home plan or from a customized plan, to the state, local or regional codes of where the home will be set up. Modular homes have not typically experienced the zoning restrictions and discriminative ordinances applicable to manufactured and mobile homes.

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    3. Panelized

    Panelized homes are factory-built homes in which panels — whole walls with windows, doors, wiring, and outside siding — are transported to the site and assembled. Panels are made from insulating foam sandwiched between two layers of structural material. The panels are lightweight and might already be filled with insulation when they arrive on the site. The homes must meet the state or local building codes of where they are sited.

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