Designing and Building a Log Home

Log House or Log Cabin construction is one of the most natural building methods. Houses have been built using Logs for thousands of years. In fact the oldest known Log House in Norway is reported to be over 900 years old.

Log House Construction is popular in Scandinavia, North America and Canada where there is a plentiful supply of suitable timber. Firs, Pines and Spruce trees are popular.

At House Design Online, we are specialists in designing, importing and constructing Log House.

Benefits of A log Home

I and my family have lived in a Log Home in Ireland for the past 6 years so I’d consider myself qualified to rate the benefits of living in a Log House. Our primary concern was for our own and our children’s health.  Log House constructed properly are breathable structures.  The logs, in our case of spruce, allow a natural transfer of air, giving a consistent sense of airiness no matter what the weather is like.

Log Houses by their nature are warmer; the logs act as sort of a natural heat transfer system. As warm air is expelled through the logs, it warms the incoming colder air.

Our other consideration for choosing a Log House was that it was the most affordable ecological construction. Timber is a renewable product. The spruce used in our own construction was sourced in the vast forests of the Baltic where the practice of clear-felling is forbidden. We designed our own Log Home and the Logs for the construction were individually and carefully harvested. Log Homes are extremely durable and with proper care will last for hundreds of years. It is not uncommon for people, particularly in Scandinavian countries to literally “move house”.  If for whatever reason a Log Cabin is no longer required, it can be dismantled and the Logs reused.

Not everybody can build a Log House. It is a very specialised craft. Our Log Home in Ireland was constructed initially in Latvia Ireland by hand. The bark and softwood were stripped with traditional hand tools and each Log was shaped to the one underneath. The house was then dismantled and transported by road and sea and reassembled on site by the same craftsmen. For that reasons Log Houses are built to a much higher standard to conventional buildings. Log Houses have survived natural disasters. Timber is a flexible material and will withstand movement caused by movement in the ground.

While Log Homes in general are considered slightly more expensive than conventional building, we found with careful planning from design stage, it was the cheaper option.

But you really have to live, or at least stay in a Log House to truly appreciate what it is like. Not only are beautiful to look at, there are beautiful to touch and smell. One of the greatest experiences of living in a Log House is returning to it after a few days or a few weeks and

Log Home Design

Log Homes are traditionally associated with countries in Northern Europe and North America and Canada. While styles vary, much of the principles are the same. Log Homes are becoming more popular in Ireland and Great Britain in recent years.  While some Planning authorities are open to the aesthetic and ecological benefits of Log Houses, others are more cautious. Planning Permissions are often subject to conditions requiring their location to be classed as “forest”. Choosing a site that is wooded or has at least some tree cover will help your case. There are some who view houses that are not built of stone or concrete as not being traditional. It is worth pointing out however that up until a few hundred years ago most houses were constructed with timber. An Act of Parliament forbade the building of houses in Ireland from timber as the forests of Britain and Ireland were depleted.

Be aware that many designs for Log Houses are specific to that location. There are many regional variations in style from the traditional basic “Log Cabin” to the “Swiss Chalet” type construction. If there aren’t balconies on the conventional houses in your local area, then chances are, you will have your work cut out convincing the planners to justify them just for you. Have a look around your locality, check to see are there house-types that might be similar to Log Houses. Many modern developments have incorporated timber elements into the design such as cedar cladding. In many Log Houses, the roof might be the most visible element and this need not differ so much from roofs in the area. Log Houses lend themselves to rectangular forms so basic house designs are often quite acceptable.

Building your own Log Home

There are a few options to building your own log home. The simplest seems to be to purchase a Log House Kit and have a crew assemble it. This might be the simplest but in the long run may be the most complicated and even costly. Try and find a company who manufactures Log Houses but also assembles them on location. We have been working with a number of Log Builders in sourcing the best companies to we are happy to advise on selecting the best company

Other Considerations.

Log Houses are different to conventional houses in one main respect and that is that they are constantly moving. Log Houses shrink and settle over time. You might like me find yourself been wakened in the morning to a loud cracking noise as the huge logs bed themselves in. It’s all part of the quirks of Log House living. The house may shrink in height by anything up to 10 cm in overall height. In effect anything that is attached to the Logs such as presses, pipes or doors will have to be designed to allow for this shrinkage. This really must be incorporated at design stage.

Locating services such as water, sewage and electricity as conveniently as possible is essential will make life easier in the long run.

Opting for passive solar design may dictate that rooms such as toilets and bathrooms are kept to the North.

Log Houses are generally designed for more Northern Countries, for cold dry winters and often warm relatively dry summers. Unfortunately the climate of countries such as Ireland is not the most favourable for Log construction. The moist air often all year round and the persistent driving rain expose Log Houses to much more moisture than in northern countries. Many Log house owners have attempted to seal the houses with various paints and varnishes. The problem with this is that, Logs in their natural form will soak a certain amount of moisture but will also dry out naturally. If the Logs are sealed, they may look nice and dry but if any moisture that seeps in cannot escape it can cause the logs to rot from the inside. Again at design stage there is the possibility to offer more protection from the elements by creating a substantial roof overhang and locating the house in a sheltered location. Your Log Home is a breathable structure so be wary of how you use paints and other products. Make sure that the main thing you are breathing is clean fresh air. There are a number of natural methods that will keep your log house in perfect condition for many years.


Get Advice on Building your Log Home

If you are considering building a Log House we would be happy to advice. We also have a number of partner companies who have built up an expertise in constructing and importing Log Homes. We can also help you to design a Log Home exactly as you want it. Contact us via CONTACT FORM or ring (094) 9067080 or (087) 2254698 (+353949067080 / +353872254698 outside of Ireland.

True Log Houses are not to be confused with “Kit Houses”. If you need to find out more then read Allan Mackie’s book the “Owner-Built Log House”  for all you need to know about constructing a Log House.

Mackie guides the reader through the process of building a Log House from Site selection to the chase and preparation of the logs, the sharpening of tools and the cutting, lifting and fitting of logs, and right through to the House.

The Owner-Built Log House: Living in Harmony with Your Environment

For more information click "The Owner-Built Log House"