Log Homes for the Eco-Conscious

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Posted by Hermann Thoene | Posted in EcoLog | Posted on 24-01-2012

Brian Hartz wrote a nice article about Hermann Thoene and his new Vanisle Ecolog Homes business for Douglas Magazine. The article was published in their Nov/Dec 2011 issue.

Brian did a great job in summarizing the background and current status of our business.

Thanks for Douglas Magazine to allow us to allow us to make a copy of the article available for interested people.

Building A Log Home – Part 3, Log Walls and Roof

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Posted by Hermann Thoene | Posted in Building A Log Home | Posted on 06-01-2012

2 months after we started with the construction, the ICF basement was finished and the subfloor was in place. We were all really excited when the log home kit arrived. A 60′ truck brought all pre-cut timbers for the log walls, posts, beams and roof structure.

The delivery truck had a built-in crane and unloaded the timber packages onto the subfloor.

Now we could start building the outside log walls. Even though the 8″x8″ Hemlock timbers were everything but light, they could be handled by hand. We worked with a 3 man crew, and for the first 7-8 rows we lifted all timbers up manually.

Ecolog homes are built fairly simplistic: The square timbers come with a pre-cut “box joint”. Wooden spacer blocks are use to support the timbers. The space between the spacer blocks is filled with foam sheets. Later on the spacer blocks and foam sheets will be sealed with chinking on the inside and outside. These wide chinking seams make up the actual “Ecolog look”, which people find very attractive.

After a row of timbers has been put on the wall, lots of holes need to be drilled for the hardwood dowels, which hold the timbers together and prevent them from twisting or moving around.

This was the first log home my builders built, and after a couple of days they got into a pretty good routine. Round after round the timbers were put in place.

For the last 2-3 rows of logs we used a hand cranked Genie lift to get the timbers up on the walls. Another really useful tool during construction were the “bakers” – portable scaffolds on wheels, which can be moved around very easily.

It took about 2 weeks to erect the log walls. It was hard manual labor, but the result was very rewarding. Every day after work we walked around the construction site and admired the new house taking shape.

After 10 rows of logs (or timbers), the walls were complete. During construction the door and window openings were only very “rough” openings, and now we could cut the exact opening using a standard chainsaw.

The next step was to assemble the roof trusses. Each truss is made out of 3 pieces of 4″x10″. They were precut to length and had the “birdmouth” connections already cut. But we had to drill holes and bolt them together. This was done inside of the new home, so that we had a nice level surface to assemble the trusses.

Our 24’x40′ home required 13 roof trusses, one every 4 feet.

After all trusses were assembled we ordered a crane to move the trusses onto the log walls. This was another exciting step, and after all trusses were up, the new home really looked like a home for the first time.

The next task was to install the roof sheathing. We used 2″x6″ tonge & grove Douglas Fir boards for sheathing, as the sheathing as well as the roof trusses are exposed on the inside and make up part of the special “look and feel” of the loft rooms.

The roof is made up of multiple layers to provide proper insulation, ventilation, air tightness and protection against rain, snow and ice:

 

 

  • Sheating
  • a black building membrane
  • 6.5″ of insulation (R40)
  • Tyvek
  • horizontal and vertical strapping (rain screen and ventilation)
  • standing seem metal roofing
8′ wide Dormers were built into the roof using standard 2″x6″ framing techniques. Gable walls were also built as 2″x6″ frame walls. For both gables and dormers we installed cedar shingles as siding.
It took about 2 months to construct the roof with 4 dormers and a chimney for the wood stove. This was not only because we were building in winter, but also due to the small building crew (2-3 people) and due to many features of the home:  A very unique covered porch for the main entrance, hidden gudders, extended roof overhangs and more.

Windows and patio doors in the loft were installed in the same way as it’s done for regular frame homes. For the windows and doors on the main level we built square window bucks, which were installed into the walls in a way that the logs could move as they dry out and the house “settles”.

 

Will log homes be felled by modern building codes?

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Posted by Hermann Thoene | Posted in Building Code | Posted on 05-01-2012

A few days ago I was interviewed by James Bradshaw, who was doing some research about log homes and the National Building Code. I provided him with some of the information based on my Energy Advisor training and based on the research I did for my recent article about Building Codes for Cottage Magazine.

James researched the topic from many different angles, and came up with a great story, which was published in the Globe and Mail on the front page across Canada:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/will-log-homes-be-felled-by-modern-building-codes/article2291979/

I really enjoyed the reader discussion (click the “Comments” link at the bottom of the article) about this topic. Quite controversial, but most readers seem to be in favor of log homes.