Log Home Maintenance
LESLIE: Our next call to The Money Pit is Jeff from Georgia who’s looking into a log home.
Jeff, how are you?
JEFF: I am doing good.
LESLIE: So tell us, you want to build a log home, you have one, you like them?
TOM: Have you sharpened your ax?
JEFF: Well, I have been looking and shopping for probably about 12 to 14 months.
TOM: Oh, you’re really researching carefully. That’s a good thing.
JEFF: Yes, I am. I’m looking into this because it is a big investment. But I want to find out what is the difference between log homes built and manufactured, designed, laid out on the east side of the United States – on the east coast – versus those in the west coast such as Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho? I know the logs are a lot bigger there versus the logs that are out here but it seems like the log homes out here in the east coast area it takes a lot more maintenance on these homes out here.
TOM: Well, I’m not so sure that the homes are built all that much differently. It really probably has more to do with the weather conditions. You know, most manufactured log homes today are made of some sort of interlocking timber with some sort of a weatherstripping seal in between those timbers. And then depending on the design, some are chinked and some are not chinked. Chinking refers to what you might think of as mortar between the joints of the boards. But in most cases it’s sort of a rubberized silicone-like material that has a lot of flex.
I think in either location, a log home has a lot of benefits. It is an amazingly warm construction, believe it or not; even though you would say, “Well, it doesn’t have any wall insulation,” it still is a rather warm structure and it can be made to be a fairly tight and a fairly efficient home. Another advantage of a log home is that most of the bearing is on the outside wall, so you have flexibility. As your family grows, you’re able to move things around.
But in general, I am not familiar. I couldn’t put my finger on a specific difference between an east coast construction and a west coast. Now there may be some folks out there that are in the industry that could point to some finer differences between those two areas. But conceptually, I think it’s a great idea if it fits the location.
JEFF: But what about for the exterior maintenance, the exterior upkeep? That would be probably my major concern. When I talk to people and actually visit folks down in the Bitterroot Valley and up in the Flathead Valley area up in Montana, talking to them about their construction, and I go out and I look at the actual log homes on site, there is virtually no maintenance on the ones there in the west area, western United States area; versus here in the east coast, I speak to several existing homeowners and they tell me that about every three or four years they have to go out and prep the logs and anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 is my average that I’ve come up with …
TOM: Well, when you’re talking about prepping, you mean like pressure washing them to get the mildew off of them? That’s really – I mean if you’re going to …
LESLIE: It could be just a weather situation; the difference between east coast and west coast.
TOM: Yeah, and the more sun that you have, exposure to those logs, the less you’re going to have a mildew or moss problem with them growing. And what you treat them with is also going to make somewhat of a difference as well. But some of the finishes today have more mildicides than other and some of them work a little bit better than others, but I think it’s really going to depend on the lot and the location. And certainly if you’re in a damp, moist area, you’re going to have more outside maintenance with any type of wood structure.
JEFF: That makes a lot of sense right there. I believe that’s what I needed to know.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think the construction is that much different. But you’re right, the location of the house and the position on the lot’s going to make a difference. If you’re concerned – if you’re building a log home on a very, very shady lot with a lot of large trees, you’re going to have more …
LESLIE: You’re going to have a moisture problem.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
JEFF: Right. Heat/humidity factors, do you think that is …?
JEFF: OK. That’s what I was thinking as well.
TOM: Alright, Jeff?
JEFF: Hey, it helps out. Thanks a lot.
LESLIE: You know, Tom, it occurs to me if you’re living in a log home – and pretty much with any home but especially if you’re living in a log home and you live in a moist area like the northeast as we do, you want to give your home a lot of maintenance in the fall. You want to do it once a year. You want to walk around. You want to make sure everything’s OK. If you haven’t cleaned the exterior of your logs, you want to make sure you pressure wash it to get rid of any accumulating dirt, grime, mildew, mold, anything like that, and buildups of pollen which can turn acidic with moisture and actually erode your log home. So that’s also something to think about.
So use your power washer. Clean, don’t strip. Walk around, check for any small holes with wood powder around them. That would be a sign that you’ve got insect troubles. Really things that you would do on your regular home but much more important if you live in a log home.
TOM: Exactly, Jeff. That’s why I think you’re seeing differences between east coast and west coast. It really depends so much on the weather areas. And if you’re in the northeast like we are, you’re going to have a lot more maintenance than if you were in the west coast.
Jeff, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.