Buying a Log Home

log homes

Log homes are popular here in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  Log homes or log cabins can be pre-manufactured, sold in kits, custom or site built.  There are a number of manufacturers and custom log builders in our area along with a historic tradition of owner-built log cabins– some of these crafted homes are well over a hundred years old and still in use.

Maintenance considerations for Log Homes

With log homes the siding is also the framing which is why it is very important to maintain the exterior finish.  It is recommended to re-stain your log home every 3 years –chinking/caulking repairs and maintenance should also be done at this time.  Improperly maintained logs will result in wood-destroying fungus, decay and structural settling.  Log homes should also be professionally treated for carpenter bees and other wood destroying insects at least once a year or as needed.  Inadequately treated logs can result in damage from carpenter bees, woodpeckers, old house borers, powder post beetles, termites, and more.  Maintaining the logs from the elements is the most important thing a log home owner can do to protect their investment.

Different construction types

True log homes are built from whole logs and therefore they do not have cavities in between the wall for insulation.  Some newer types of log homes do allow for cavities in between the log siding for rigid foam insulation.  Some homes are standard ‘stick-built’ construction that have quarter-round siding made to look like a log-home.  As part of the due diligence process it is important to determine as much information as possible about the construction of the home before purchasing.

For log homes it is recommended that the seller should be asked for the following information:

  • The name of the original builder;
  • The type of Construction (i.e. whole logs, super-Insulated ‘half-logs’, quarter round siding only)
  • The type of Corner System (i.e. butt & pass, dovetail, saddle-notch, post & sill)
  • The type of Log Fasteners (i.e. spikes, lag screws, through-bolts)
  • The type of Sealing Systems (foam, rubber, caulk, liquid foam, etc…)
  • The type of Roof Systems (Conventional, Built-up, SIP’s, etc…)
  • Species of Wood and Proof of certified log grading if available;
  • Written settling adjustment records or other engineer documents if applicable;
  • Any special systems (shrinkage/settlement systems) installed but not visible at the time of the inspection if applicable;
  • Any performed maintenance; and
  • Additional construction or repair since the original construction.

Older Log homes

Older log homes are more likely to have experienced neglect, decay, repairs, settling and hidden damage.  Many times with older log homes, seller disclosure is the only way material facts are learned.  In my experience if maintenance has been neglected decay and settling can be observed within 15 years of construction.

Energy Efficiency

Log homes are generally much less energy efficient at the walls, windows and doors than standard construction– therefore it is recommended that the roof framing is super-insulated to help compensate.  Even in some newer log homes occupants can experience draftiness in the Winter.  Regular maintenance to the exterior and a good wood stove can help mitigate energy loss.

Inspecting a Log Home

Typically the talking points of a Log Home Inspection are the condition of the log siding itself.  It is not uncommon to find decay, wood destroying insect damage and evidence of settling or water penetration– typically neglected maintenance is to blame as log homes need more frequent exterior maintenance than most homes.  Because log homes are usually located in the country it is not uncommon to find squirrel, rodent and wood-pecker damage.  Otherwise other observations (not related to the log framing) should be typical of other homes of the same age.

Log Home Inspection Limitations

  • Proper finish-coating material and application
  • Hidden decay within log cores or inaccessible areas
  • Hidden defects
  • Hidden components and settling/shrinkage systems
  • Insect infestation
  • Proper chinking installation methods
  • Settling
  • Compliance with manufacturer’s specifications
  • Compliance to Standards set forth by any organization or association relating to log home construction

For all log related comments found in an inspection report the buyer should consider consulting a log home specialist for complete evaluation of the log siding to determine necessary repairs, maintenance, and re-finishing requirements.

Asheville Log Home Inspectors

Builder Buddy is your resource for Log Home Inspections in the Asheville area.  We also provide Log Home Radon testing, Log Home Mold testing, Log Home Water testing, Log Home Well Inspections, and Log Home Septic Inspections.  Schedule online or call with questions.

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Builder Buddy Inspections & Testing

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