Common Mistakes in The Construction of A Log House

The average log houses buyer has tended to focus on the log house price through the recent economic downturn, but often they haven’t thought about how the house will look in 2 or 3 years time. The relative quality of log houses may be affected not only by the failure to comply with quality standards, but also through the lack of basic technological knowledge. Experts at the Wooden Houses Manufacturers Association, point to the most common mistakes in the construction of log homes.

1. Incorrect joining of the logs. In some cases, the joint where the logs intersect (longitudinal groove shape) is irregular in shape. According to the Wooden Houses Manufacturers Association’s quality requirements, the width of the joint cannot be less than half the thickness of the log. The picture shows that the joint width is only 6 inches. This manufacturer has saved materials (the timber house will have less rows), however the buyer will have a much higher heat loss. Moreover, in this case, it is more likely that the logs will shift and the walls will be curved.

2. Mechanical damage of the logs. Usually logs have been damaged during the construction process. Here it is obvious how the builders (if they can be called so) approach their work, and what their approach to the customer is as well. For those looking to have a high quality log home, we hope you never come across this type of builder.

3. Beams infected with woodworm. Logs can obviously be damaged by woodworm. Woodworm can be exterminated through chemical means. Each hole should be injected with a chemical substance via a syringe, and distributed throughout the wood. The woodworm is killed when they gnaw the wood which has been treated with the chemicals.

4. Incorrect sealing of window openings. Log house windows and doors cannot be fixed using rigid sealing materials (mounting expanding foam). When the logs settle, the mounting foam deforms around the window. So, the window deforms and the window opening loses its tightness. When installing the windows, a space of 5-8cm from the edge of the box at the top of the log should be left (depending on the logs’ humidity, the distance should be increased). When the logs settle, the gap decreases.

5. The problem of rotten knots. There are lots of beams which contain rotten knots. Mostly it's just an aesthetic problem that can be corrected. This problem can be eliminated by removing the rotten part, and in its place is added another healthy piece of wood.

6. Mould on the logs. If this happens it means that when the beams were built and produced, adequate steps to protect them against biological damage were not taken, and therefore it does not meet the standards of a high-quality log home. Unfortunately, mould in the joints of the house cannot be eradicated.

7. Curved walls. Curved walls are more common in homes constructed from damp logs. Also, curved walls often occur in homes that don’t have suitable floor joists to the opposite wall of a    log house. This happens while the logs are drying and the house settles. The walls are affected by the roof load which deforms the wall ‒ the wall expands or veers to one side. According to log house (or log cabin) manufacturing and construction requirements, no more than 1cm wall abnormalities over 1 metre of length is allowed.

8. Incorrect fitting of windows. Windows should be attached to beams, which are inserted into the ends of the logs via grooves. A beam should be sturdy and free of knots, and its thickness must be enough to hold the load and prevent movement of the logs in the transverse direction. Also, the milled groove at the ends of the logs must be of the same width as the wooden beam. If there is any free space left, it is likely that the timber that is exposed to the load of the roof will move in different directions. The wall will be crooked (on either side of the wall), and it will be very difficult to attach the windows and door frames to the curved wall.

9. Large gaps between the logs. Gaps between the logs are one of the most common problems in log house construction. It occurs when the joints connecting the logs have been inaccurately cut. The house will inevitably lose heat through these gaps and the wind will be blown into the rooms. These gaps cannot be removed; they can only be sealed with materials designed for this purpose.

10. Connecting the logs in the middle of the wall. It is not possible to connect the logs in the middle of the wall. Such connections weaken the construction of the log house and the walls of the log house could deform. The logs used in the construction must be of one piece and the logs must be fixed at the corners only. Sometimes log house builders try to save building materials and build the walls using log residuals, ‒ 1-2m logs, joining them in the middle of the wall. In addition, the joined together logs are often of different diameters. It’s useful to note that the construction of the walls should account for about 30 percent of the total price of the house, so if you try to save in this place, you will live in a house with crooked walls and large cracks, and you will probably not be able to correct these deficiencies.

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