Straight Talk From the Top

Homestead Log Homes

By Jim Hoffman

Why Pine and Spruce? They are the best. Look at most of the log home industry and they use either Lodgepole Pine, Spruce or Southern Yellow Pine. These are all tight-grained, low sap species of wood that grow in uniform lengths. Our Lodgepole grows at high elevations in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and that means tighter growth rings, smaller cracks or checks, more strength, and less shrinkage.

What about Douglas Fir? A very strong wood, but very high sap content if grown at lower elevations. It’s more difficult to work with dry, has bigger checks and doesn’t finish as smooth as the Pine. We use it for some of our roof structures.

How about Cedar? We offer it as another choice of wood as it also grows in Southern Oregon. It is more resistant to decay, but is much softer and has little structural strength.  We stock it and often will do the wall logs, posts, rails and siding in Cedar and use Fir or Pine on the 2nd floor, beams, and roof rafters.

Why use Dry, Seasoned Logs? Honestly, there is nothing smoother than green logs, as the bark easily is stripped away. A pre-assembled shell is bright in color and not a check in sight. But, just wait a couple of years and you’ll be heading to the hardware store for caulking. With dry logs you see what you get, all the great scribe-fitted log work will stay that way. Sure, you will get an inch of settling in the log walls, but figure around a foot of settling with green logs. Even I wouldn’t know how to properly slider cap a window or second floor for that kind of shrinkage. In a log home you see everything, so make the connections tight.

What’s a Shrink-to-Fit Corner? Even with dry logs, corners must be fitted to allow for the wood to expand and contract from season to season. Our saddle-notched corner is a state-of-the-art compression fitted notch that stays tight during settling. The lower log is scarf-notched and then the one above is scribe fitted to it. Check it out. It is the tightest corner in our industry.

I’ve seen Spikes, Screws and Springs, What’s the Best? Throughbolts. Solid steel ¾ inch continuous top to bottom throughbolts at six-foot centers, strategically placed, even in the log tails. We put self-feeding timber screws on two-foot centers to compress the double gaskets and hold the logs tight together. A typical home might have 40 to 50 throughbolts. They will need to be tightened as soon as the shell is up, next Fall and the next year. By keeping downward pressure on the log walls, they will not move or twist as the logs expand into winter. You will experience no gaps, no leaks, no problems.

You Pre-assemble the Walls at the Factory? Yes, the log walls are the hardest part of the log home to build and get right. Corners need to be fitted properly, walls need to be plumb and lots of holes drilled for electrical outlets and throughbolts. This is our guarantee of the quality of homes we produce; see it before we ship it. The bottom line is that you will save time and money. While your neighbors are sorting and stacking T-8’s and M-6’s, you’ll have your wall logs put back together, gasketed and treated.

Let’s Talk Price. How much do They Cost? We’ve tried to make it simple and provide two materials packages and two assembly programs to our customers, but we are flexible. Our price list is easy to read and apples to apples we have the best prices. Some companies provide only log walls and a few purlins, our packages are a quality log home, typically $250-$300 dollars per square foot for the Turn-key home.

Why Such a Difference? The design of the home, the materials used and labor costs.

Tell me about Designs? A simple box-shaped home will be less expensive than an elaborate multi-cornered multi-gabled custom home. Also consider that balconies, porches, decks, and garages are not included in the square footage of the living space. If you are buying your home by the square foot, think back and ask yourself if you bought your car by the pound. Chances are, no. Consider your priorities for your lifestyle in the design. Our color brochure is an idea book with 40 home designs, but we can build simple cabins to large lodge-style homes. Most of our customers changed one of our plans or brought in a design from a magazine.

Materials? This is really the most important item in terms of cost. Simply, a log home could be log walls and some siding on the gable ends, finish the home like a cheap track home with lots of sheetrock, 15 year roof, drop ceilings, cheap carpeting, particleboard cabinet and bottom line fixtures and appliances, and there you have it. Or vice versa and include granite countertops, gold-plated fixtures, custom windows and doors, tile roof, natural rock fireplaces, exotic hardwood floors and antler chandeliers…. You get the point. You tell us and we’ll draw it and build it.

And Labor Costs? This is also important. Are you going to build it yourself with help from some of your beer-drinking buddies from school, or have a licensed and bonded general contractor oversee the entire project from start to finish? I have seen homeowners act as the contractor, sub out some of the work and do some of it themselves. The bottom line in saving money is time. Get it done quickly and built right the first time. Have your log home manufacturer involved in either pre-assembling the log shell at their factory or have them build it on the jobsite. A typical carpenter does not have the tools or expertise to take on an intricate log home design. You will be paying for a lot of head scratching.

Describe Homestead’s Assembly Programs? We’ve found two programs to help our customers get their log home built. Our “Package Only” is just that, pre-assembled wall logs with three days jobsite supervision. The “Full Pre-assembly and Re-assembly” has been our most popular program, by getting the shell up in our factory for the owner to see and providing two of our carpenters to re-erect it onsite, with help from the contractor.

How Long does it Take from the Time I Order a Kit? Typically, we work on a eight to twelve week delivery schedule. Some customers will order six months ahead, some will plan a year or two in advance. Your 10% home deposit will guarantee the price for up to one year and set a pre-assembly date and delivery date. If you are in a hurry…. Three weeks.

What About Financing? Twenty-five years ago, this was an issue. Not now. Just about every bank I know will loan on new log home construction financing and even offer the mortgage, once completed. Some will even loan on owner/builders. We know them, Give us a call.

No Dealer Network, are you Nuts?  Sometimes I think so, but the buck stops here and it saves you money. Dealers, and we used to have them, typically add 15-20% to the cost of the materials package and don’t provide that much assistance. You decide. It’s worth your time to drive to Medford and see what we do. Our builder network is a list of general contractors on the West Coast that will work closely with us and provide you with a turn-key bid. Chances are, there is one in your area.

Free Nationwide Delivery? That’s what your Competitor says. Hey, let me just adjust my price a little, OK, I’ll give you free nationwide delivery, too. It’s just that your price list is the one marked “Retail”. We have the best prices without these kinds of gimmicks. We can arrange your delivery and help with unloading.

Why Should we Buy from Homestead? The best logs, the lowest prices, the tightest fitting corners, and good honest people. For 43 years, no one will work harder to make your log home building experience better.