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Log Home Construction FAQs  

What does “handcrafted log home” mean?

What’s the difference between a handcrafted log home and a manufactured log home?

Are handcrafted log homes more expensive than conventional homes?

How much does a handcrafted log home cost?

How much does the log work itself cost?

Where do you build your log shells?

How far can you ship your log shells?

Who will assemble the log shell on my foundation?

What size of log shells can you build?

How long does it take to build a log home?

What species of wood do you use for your log homes?

Are log homes considered a “green” building choice?

Are log homes energy efficient?

What is thermal mass?

Log Home Maintenance FAQs 

What kind of insulation do you use in the lateral grooves and notches?

Are the logs dried before construction?

How do you account for settling and shrinkage?

How do you allow for electrical and plumbing?

Do I need a special foundation to handle the weight of the logs?

What are the different styles of handcrafted log homes? 

What is “over scribing” and why is it so important?

What type of corner joinery do you use?

Is it true that log homes are a lot of maintenance?

When the logs dry, cracks appear. Is this a concern?

What type of stain do you use?

When is the stain applied to the logs?

Do you offer architectural or design services?

 

What does “handcrafted log home” mean?

When we talk about a handcrafted log home, we’re talking about building with logs in the most natural sense. This means we do not alter the size and shape of the log – we work with what nature has perfected and craft your home one piece at time. Each log is unique, making your home truly custom and one-of-a-kind.

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What’s the difference between a handcrafted log home and a manufactured log home?

The opposite of a handcrafted log home is a milled, kit, or manufactured log home. In this method, each log is cut by a machine to ensure they all look the same and are uniform in size – providing a much different look than the natural logs of a handcrafted home.

In addition, manufactured log homes are typically smaller than a handcrafted log home – most mills can only process logs up 12” in diameter, while the handcrafted method allows for logs of much greater size – up to 24” or more.

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Are handcrafted log homes more expensive than conventional homes?

Yes, handcrafted log homes are more expensive than conventional homes. Since we don’t use manufactured logs, there is a tremendous amount of labour intensive work need to be done by our skilled craftsmen. The end result is well worth it, though!

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How much does a handcrafted log home cost?

A handcrafted log home can cost as much as you’re willing to spend – the design and features found in your home are entirely dependent on your budget. You should plan to spend anywhere from $120 and $200 per square foot for your fully finished home, with most of our log homes averaging $175 / sq. ft.

Click here for more information on how much a log home costs and how to determine your budget.

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How much does the log work itself cost?

As a general rule, the log work itself will cost around 1/3 of your total budget. As an example, the log work portion of a $350,000 finished home would be approximately $116,000.

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Where do you build your log shells?

We build all our log shells in our construction yard located in Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada. Upon completion, the log shell is shipped to your property, where it is re-assembled and finished.

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How far can you ship your log shells?

We can ship our handcrafted log homes and log furniture anywhere in the world! For our clients in Canada the United States, the log components are delivered by tractor-trailer. For our overseas clients, the logs are delivered via shipping container. Wherever you live, if you want a custom-built Canadian log home, Coyote Log Homes can get it to you!

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Who will assemble the log shell on my foundation?

Only the expert craftsmen who built your log shell will assemble it. This is done to ensure the same high level of quality during the entire building process.

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What size of log shells can you build?

We can build any size of custom log home, ranging from a smaller log cabin to an elaborate 4,000 sq. ft. dream home. Just bring us your design and we can turn your dream into a reality!

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How long does it take to build a log home?

Since each handcrafted log home is unique, the log shells we build will always vary in size, shape, and complexity. First, the log floor plans need to be designed – this step usually takes a month or so, depending on how many revisions are needed. Once the design is finalized it takes anywhere between 1 to 4 months to build the actual log shell.

When our work is complete in our production yard, we carefully label the home and dismantle it for transport to your property. Our team of builders then reassembles the log work on your property, with the assistance of a crane, over the course of 3 or 4 days. Finally, you’ll have to allow another 4-5 months to finish the home completely (windows, doors, wiring, insulation, etc.) before you can move in to your dream home.

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What species of wood do you use for your log homes?

We only use softwoods during the construction of our log homes. We use primarily Eastern White Pine, but we can also build from Western Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Eastern White Cedar, Eastern Red Pine, and White Spruce.

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Are log homes considered a “green” building choice?

Absolutely. The logs used to build your home are not clear-cut – they are selectively harvested from a privately managed forest. The trees are cut only on the basis on helping other trees grow by exposing them to more sunlight. Loggers call this technique “opening the canopy” to allow for new growth, thereby assuring the sustainability of our forest resource for years to come.

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Are log homes energy efficient?

Study after study has revealed that handcrafted log homes are superior to conventional homes in terms of energy efficiency. For example, a 16” White Pine log on its own has an R-value of 20, and when combined with a proper gasket system and the principle of thermal mass, your log home walls will have an R-value rating of 25 to 30! This means you’ll pay much less on your winter heating bills than you would in a conventional home.

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What is thermal mass?

The principle of thermal mass states that larger objects take longer to heat up and cool down.  The walls in a log home are like a massive heat sink, in that they absorb the heat energy from your home’s furnace, fireplace, or wood stove. When the heat source is turned off, the logs will release this absorbed energy and radiate it back into your home over the course of several hours. The larger the diameter of your logs, the greater the thermal mass effect.

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What kind of insulation do you use in the lateral grooves and notches?

We recommend not using any type of traditional insulation, actually. We prefer to use a sealed gasket system, which forms on airtight, weatherproof seal on both the inside and outside of the lateral log grooves. Air is a much better insulator than fiberglass, which can become wet or compressed over time.

Using a gasket system is now the industry standard building practice when constructing Scandivanian style log homes, as it not only forms an airtight seal to keep heat in and improve energy efficiency, but also creates a weatherproof barrier that will extend the life of your log home. However, if requested we can also use treated wool insulation – a natural, healthier, less expensive, and more water resistant alternative to fiberglass insulation.

Click here to download a PDF for more information about Emseal gasket systems.

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Are the logs dried before construction?

No, we usually work with green logs in our construction. However, we do have access to kilns, which allow us to dry the logs if requested.

From a building perspective we can either use dry wood or green wood. The only difference is the shrinkage allowance. If the wood is green and has a lot of moisture, then we must account for a certain level of shrinkage in our construction. If the wood is dry, we allow for much less shrinkage, but we must still allow for compression, which can be as much as ¼” per foot of wall height.

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How do you account for settling and shrinkage?

When we build a log home, we construct it in a way to allow for settling space above the windows and doors. The amount of settling space is determined by both the height of the opening and the moisture content of the logs. We also design our log joints in a way to allow the shrink and compression process to happen while maintaining a tight seal between logs.

In addition, the window and door openings are slotted for a 2x4 spline. The windows and doors are attached to this spline, so that as the building dries, the windows and doors remain stationary while the logs can move freely.

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How do you allow for electrical and plumbing?

log_wiring.jpgAll electrical wiring is hidden in the logs. Our craftsmen pre-drill holes in the logs according to an electrical plan provided by the architect. We also cut mortises into the logs for the switch boxes and electrical outlets. Additional wiring and plumbing are passed through conventional stud walls throughout the log home.

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Do I need a special foundation to handle the weight of the logs?

No, a log home can go on any type of foundation, including concrete piers, floating slabs, crawl spaces, or full basements. Typically, an 8” concrete wall on 2 x 2 ft. footings is sufficient, but the type of foundation that is best for your home is ultimately determined by the soil conditions on your property.

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What are the different styles of handcrafted log homes? 

There are several ways to build a log home. At Coyote Log Homes, we prefer working in the full-scribe method, also known as Scandinavian style, using the industry standard overscribing technique to produce tighter fitting, longer lasting homes. However, we are very experienced in each of the following log home construction methods:

  • Full Scribe / Scandinavian Style
  • Hand Hewn Dovetail
  • Piece-en-Piece
  • Round Log Chinked
  • Round Log Post and Beam
  • Timber Frame

For more details about these log building methods and the benefits they provide, please see our log home glossary.

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What is “over scribing” and why is it so important?

Over scribing is a technical building term, and is probably the most significant development in the last 20 years of the handcrafted log home building industry. It is now the new industry standard for superior handcrafted log home builders.

It was developed in response to the problem of log shrinkage – in particular, the effects of shrinkage on the joinery between logs. Any builder using green wood can produce a very tight joint on the corners and the lateral groove. Over the course of a few years, however, as the logs lose their moisture, the lateral logs will remain tight but the corners will loosen. When the builder makes all the joints tight to begin with, the weight is shared equally between the corner notch and the lateral groove. As the logs dry the weight distribution will end up entirely on the lateral groove because it has more bearing surface. The result is there is not enough weight or compression on the corner notch and it loosens.

Overscribing is a technique in which a slightly larger space is initially created between the wall logs (the lateral groove) than that of the corner notches. The goal is ensure that all of the log wall weight is bearing on the corner notches, with no weight on the lateral groove. To achieve this, we cut a shrinkage relief in the top of every notch to allow the log above the ability to travel or slide downward as the log dries and shrinks. Slowly, the corner notch settles into place and the lateral groove will close. When the logs have done shrinking and settling, the weight distribution ratio is 60% on the corner notch and 40% on the lateral, which will ensure that logs remain tight for the life of the home.

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What type of corner joinery do you use?

saddle_notch.jpgWe primarily use saddle notches and dovetails. Please see our log home glossary for more information on our various log home construction methods.

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Is it true that log homes are a lot of maintenance?

This is a common misconception, but the truth is, log homes do not require any more maintenance than a conventional home. The reason starts with good design. All of our log homes have 4-ft. minimum roof overhang, which not only prevents rain from hitting the logs but also reduces sun exposure. The sun is by far the most damaging of the elements to your logs, and if your home site offers little natural protection from the elements, we will probably design a porch on the south side of the home (where UV exposure is the highest) to protect your logs and provides much needed shade.

Any exposed log work, such as a log railing on a deck, will require scheduled maintenance. To reduce the amount of maintenance need, we use Red Cedar logs for all of our outdoor railings and any of our outdoor log structures, as it is a naturally weather resistant species of wood.

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When the logs dry, cracks appear. Is this a concern?

Generally speaking, no. These cracks are called “checks” – they occur naturally and do not affect the structural integrity of the home in any way. Typically, a drying check is only ¼” in height and only travels about an inch into the wood. It is a good idea, however, to fill in any upward facing checks so that they do not accumulate rain water. To reduce checking, we recommend the installation of a humidifier to your furnace system.

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What type of stain do you use?

There is no need to wait for the logs to dry before applying the stain. The stain we use on our logs is water based, which allows the wood to breath and release its moisture naturally. In contrast, an oil based stain forms a seal on the wood, trapping moisture inside the log and rotting it from the inside out.

There are 50 different colours of stains to choose from, and it should be noted that the colour you choose not only changes the look of your home, but also has an impact on its future maintenance. In general, the darker the stain, the longer the protection.

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When is the stain applied to the logs?


At Coyote Log Homes, we stain the log components before they leave our production yard. We apply two coats of colour, followed by a third coat of clear UV protector for added protection. Not only does this mean that the logs look beautiful as soon as they arrive at your property for assembly, but it also saves you the cost and hassle of trying to apply stain to a home that is already fully constructed.

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Do you offer architectural or design services?

While we do not have in-house designers or architects, we do have very close partnerships with several designers who specialize in log home construction. In particular, we frequently partner with Murray Arnott for most of our luxury home floor plans. For more information about his designs, please visit his official website.

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Membership AffiliationsILBA International Log Builders' AssociationGLLCA Great Lakes Log Crafters AssociationTimber Framers Guild