How To Buy A Log Home

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Over the Fourth of July weekend, Janet Houde, an independent real estate broker in Silicon Valley, traveled east to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to buy land in a new development where log homes will be among the rustic-styled houses required in the community.

When developer Randy Baker of RCB Management in Chattanooga, TN was laying the groundwork for Tauqueta Falls, a mountain cottage community on Lookout Mountain in Rising Fawn, GA, eight out of 10 prospective buyers said they wanted log homes. In response, the developer created a street named “Cabin Road” exclusively for log home owners.

Vacation property rental expert Christine Karpinski of Atlanta, GA says in Gatlinburg, TN, people who own log homes typically rent to travelers quicker than those who own other types of cabins.

“The general consensus of my friends and family in the area was that the log cabins are fun but, they are clearly a whole other world that needs to be understood before purchasing,” said Houde.

Indeed, more and more popular log homes aren’t your typical site-built home, but to that end the National Association of Home Builders’ Log Homes Council is offering the free “The Log Home: An American Dream” booklet to help buyers explore everything from the type of wood used to build log homes to the special financing necessary to buy land and build log homes. Unavailable online, the publication is available by calling the council toll-free at (800) 368-5242, extension 8576.

The 18-page color publication also gives log home buyers a brief history of the industry along with do-it-yourself advice, energy and environmental efficiency information and maintenance tips.

“Log homes are a unique part of the home building industry both in terms of aesthetics and logistics,” said Rich Horn, 2004 president of the NAHB Log Homes Council.

The publication was written by builders, developers, designers and others who are members of the Log Homes Council — a group that sets ethics and building standards for the special homes.

No longer called log “cabins,” a word that connotes, small, dark, dank and unattractive abodes, today’s log homes contain the same features of contemporary homes, but they are built with logs instead of studs used to build wood-framed homes.

A log home’s walls are built by stacking and joining logs on top of one another while a conventional home’s walls are made by building a frame of wood studs, filling it with insulation and covering it with siding and wallboard. In a log home, the logs provide the framing, insulation, interior and exterior walls. Otherwise they can be outfitted with the latest appliances, amenities and interior designs used in conventional wood-frame homes.

The homes have some special heating and cooling advantages over typical wood-frame construction, because the log is both the exterior and interior wall, but because of their log system, they also come with special considerations. The type of wood used and the quality of construction can exacerbate or prevent air leakage and water problems.

Proper initial joining of the logs and sealing of the joints is critical as is on-going maintenance to retain water-proof qualities and to ward off termites and wood boring insects.

“Many people love log homes, myself included, but they do require specialized construction and maintenance to keep them in good shape. They do have better insulation characteristics than many other homes and a great deal more character, to me anyway. But then I’m an Abe fan,” said Marvin Floyd, general manager of Vacation Rentals By Owner, a website based in Aurora, CO.

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