Log home and cabin popularity booming across the country
Did you know that there are nearly 50,000 log homes built annually in the United States? Log homes account for around 10 percent of the custom homebuilding market in the country. In fact, there are more than 600,000 log homes in the U.S.
Log homes have come a long way since the one-room cabins of yesteryear. Today, they come in different styles, shapes, and sizes. Most are situated in rural environments as more baby boomers are purchasing log homes as their primary residences away from the hustle of city life.
There are about 500 log home manufacturers in the U.S. and log homes sales have more than doubled to $1.7 billion since 1995. Handcrafted log homes account for 10 percent of the market, with the remaining 90 percent are built from milled logs. Log home thermal mass characteristics often exceed minimum energy efficiency codes, and most log home materials are renewable. Colorado is among the top 10 states nationally for the number of log homes built each year.
So why are log homes so popular? For one thing, log homes with an accompanying rural setting offer serenity and peacefulness, and they feel warm and cozy. It’s like communing with nature every day. And with logs being mostly massive, they afford large spans and exposed beam work that conventional stick frame construction wouldn’t allow, so the structural materials become part of the architecture.
In the early day of log homes, logs were laid horizontally and interlocked on the ends with notches. Today, manufacturers use a machining process that overlaps logs in the corner, while the handcrafted industry joins the corner using the knots of the logs, which are self-draining and get tighter over time.
In the early days, rocks and mud mixed with straw were used for chinking, which is filling the space between the logs. Today, most chinking is an acrylic-based elastomeric compound with a number of components so the chinking doesn’t pull away from the fibers of the wood, giving the space elasticity and cohesiveness to the wood.
Timber for log homes comes from pine, cedar, cypress, and spruce. All make for a dense structure that can retain heat. However, the effect of the log’s thermal mass on the energy efficiency of a house is difficult to quantify. It’s important to review the technical constraints of the site, such as wind and sun exposure, and to plan the electrical system requirements well, such as drilling holes and chases into logs.
If you’re considering the purchase of a log home, be sure to do your due diligence. Learn all you can about the construction process and how home inspections can be different from
production homes. If you plan on building a custom log home, it’s important to work closely with your builder, review any testimonials, and view homes previously completed if available.
The ambiance of a log homes is special. It’s a comfort level that can be difficult to explain, much like nature itself. And the beauty is hard to beat, and if you can build remotely, nothing beats stepping onto a front porch or deck of a home surrounded by Colorado’s magnificent scenery.