Table of Contents
Why Do People Buy Log Houses?
Building a log cabin yourself is a daunting task if you don't already have the right skills. If you want a log cabin, it is better to buy one. Many companies will build cabins for you. You can also find cabins for sale, but sometimes a custom-built cabin on your land is the best choice.
People buy log homes for many reasons. Sometimes, they are vacation homes and not used as primary residences. Other times, log homes are used as affordable housing. Housing prices have gone up very much over the years, and log homes are a way to become a homeowner for a reasonable price.
The Advantages of Log Homes
Log homes are not always small cabins. You can build a log home that is much larger than an average house in the United States. Log homes can be any size, and you can have them built along your own lines.
Log homes are beautiful. They have an old-fashioned, rustic, frontier beauty that makes them more appealing than average homes. Anyone who loves the outdoors will be very satisfied with a good log home.
The Best Materials For Log Cabins
Cedar might be the best material, although it is also the most expensive. Cedar doesn't shrink, looks great, and is resistant to insects that can damage your cabin. With a pine cabin, the construction has to be very precise; with cedar, small mistakes won't be as big of a deal.
Cypress is another good material. Cypress is very durable, looks great with wood finishing, and is resistant to insect infestations. Some cabins are also made out of walnut, poplar, or oak, which are very durable materials. These trees are also used where pine and cedar are not available.
What Questions Should You Ask a Log Cabin Company First?
Before you make a decision, you should make sure what you are buying. Otherwise, you might end up getting less for your purchase than you expected.
If you are not buying a cabin from one of the big, well-known companies, you might ask for five recent references. You could also ask about exactly what is included (a log cabin kit might not include everything), about warranties, and about how long construction takes.
If you are interested, ask about what type of wood the company uses, where they get their timber, whether or not they offer warranties, and how long they have been in business for. A log home is a big purchase - even a small cabin is. Make your purchase carefully and make sure you are buying the right home from the right company.
What are the Best Companies to Buy Custom Log Homes From?
Many companies have been in business for decades and have rock-solid reputations. Some offer specific advantages, such as being able to get the job done faster than others or using superior materials.
Katahdin Cedar Log Homes
Katahdin Cedar Homes has been around since 1973 and has been a major manufacturer of log homes all over the world. The company offers an impressive 25-year warranty. The customer support is very good, and people will walk you through the whole process, one step at a time.
One thing that makes Katahdin Homes stand out is the excellent choice of materials. The company makes all of its homes exclusively out of northern white cedar, which is naturally resistant to insects. The white cedar is also a sustainable tree that can be regrown in a reasonable amount of time.
Riverwood Cabins is a great company if you need a log home quickly. While most of the homes they offer are small, the largest model is up to 2300 square feet. These cabins only take two weeks and often only one week to set up anywhere in the country.
The company does not offer log cabin building kits or build log homes for people on site. Instead, they build their homes in a factory and then ship them all over the country.
They will still have to level the land before they place your cabin, but it is far faster than building a cabin onsite. As much of the work is done at the factory as possible, so they only do a quick assembly at your property.
Coventry Log Homes
Coventry Log Homes is another company that offers log homes built in factories rather than assembled onsite. They pre-cult all of their logs, so it is quick and easy to assemble a home.
The logs they use are very dry (dried in kilns before being sent to customers), so you won't have to worry about shrinkage during the first few years. Some companies expect you to adjust bolts that hold your logs together repeatedly while they shrink; you won't have to do this with a log home from Coventry.
The windows, doors, logs, and other materials the company uses are all excellent. The exterior doors are made of Therma-Tru fiberglass, and the interior doors are solid wood. The houses are energy-efficient even though they use relatively little insulation.
Southland Log Homes
Southland offers premium custom log cabins for people who want as much customization as possible and the best materials. You can control the design and construction of your log home at every stage.
The company stands out for the size of its library of log cabins and how much you can customize each one. If you are disappointed by the relatively small selection most other companies offer, Southland Log Homes has 370 plans and designs. Southland has shipped more than 30,000 log houses to customers and has been in business for more than 40 years.
What About Log Cabin Kits?
Building your home or your vacation cabin yourself can be very satisfying and can save you a fortune. However, it is not easy - you need to know about construction and about how to use heavy equipment. Don't attempt it unless you already have construction skills.
If you do want to build a log cabin yourself, you should get a log cabin kit. These kits include the logs and sometimes doors and other materials you need to construct your home. Without a log cabin kit, you will have to cut down trees yourself and work on each of the logs.
One thing to keep in mind is that the log cabin will only include what materials the company says it will include, and no more. If you see a picture of a cabin with doors and windows, there won't necessarily be any doors or windows in your kit. Any company will always mention it if doors or windows are included.
What Are the Best Companies to Buy Kits From?
If you want to do some or all of the work yourself, you should order logs (and usually also doors and windows) from a company that ships your materials there but doesn't build the house for you. You can build most of it yourself and then hire a contractor for work you have no experience in.
Merrimac Log Homes
Merrimac offers log home kits mostly for those that want to build log homes themselves. If you know about building and give them a building plan, they will send you whatever logs you want, cut to your specifications.
If you don't want to create a building plan, you can use one of the company's designs, which are from 1000 to 3000 square feet. Logs from Merrimac are always very dry.
DIY Log Cabins
DIY Log Cabins is mostly for those who want to do a lot of work themselves and leave little or no work to a contractor. The company will send you quality logs and nothing else. You will have to get doors, windows, and building materials from another company.
The company is not good for people who want to build a large home, as the kits are fairly small. If you want to build a vacation cabin and want to do the work yourself (but don't want to cut down trees), DIY Log Cabins is a great company.
Southland is great whether you want to hire people to build your home or build your home yourself. Southland will send you quality logs and other materials for a fair price.
Conestoga Log Cabins
Conestoga is another good company to go with, either if you want to build it yourself or if you want to hire a crew. They offer a lot of models, which vary a lot in size and are usually small. The company manages to keep its prices down by doing all its manufacturing itself.
Conestoga offers engineered logs (a few pieces of wood joined together artificially) instead of natural logs. While artificial logs look good and have advantages, many people insist on natural logs.
If you are fine with engineered logs, Conestoga may be the best company. Their artificial logs are easy to build with and are so dry that they won't shrink at all. The logs also won't decay.
Log Cabin Construction Styles
Scandinavian settlers brought log cabins to the United States, and most of the log cabin styles can be traced back to Scandinavia. The different styles are also different ways of building a log home.
The Full Scribe Style
This is a very old method of building a log cabin that is still used today. First, the logs are cut very precisely to be completely flat. Then, they are stacked on top of each other without any gaps between the logs.
If the logs are cut very flat and straight, there won't be any gaps between them, and nothing needs to hold the logs together. As long as there are no gaps between the logs, no insulation is required. You may have to seal some gaps during the first few years as the logs shrink.
The Chink Style
Chink is similar to mortar but is for wooden buildings. Full logs are stacked on top of each other, with chink used to close the gaps. This is easier than the full scribe style because the logs do not need to be milled as precisely.
The Post and Beam Style
The post and beam style has some logs placed vertically (posts) and other logs placed horizontally (beams). While somewhat tricky to build, this method gets the job done with fewer logs than the chink style or full scribe style. There is also less maintenance required because the logs shrink less.
Some log cabins of some styles have corner posts. Instead of the logs being notched together, the logs end at vertical posts at each corner. Corner posts sometimes give the home a more finished and professional look.
Which Construction Style Should You Choose?
It depends on how you want your log home to look and how much maintenance you are willing to do. If you want to go with the rustic full scribe style, you will have to accept more maintenance than with the post and beam style.
Are Tiny Homes Better than Log Cabins?
While tiny manufactured homes are cheaper than log cabins, they are also very small. Log homes can be quite large and cheap for their square footage.