Many log homes can be simply designed and many can be very ornate. Some contractors have their way of building a log home that will vary from contractor to contractor. There are many features in a log home that greatly differ from a traditional stick built home. Due to these differences, a log home will take longer to inspect and often times cost more to inspect. Many items in a log home are not found in a traditional built home.
There is a lot more maintenance needed to maintain a log home in order to keep it looking and performing good. These maintenance procedures can be expensive if left unchecked. The proper stains and sealants must be used! Many times log homes that have been neglected, will need to be sandblasted with a special compound media mixture, made from walnut shells, to get the logs back into good shape. Sandblasting without the walnut shell media can damage the logs. Maintain your log home and it will be standing long after you are gone.
Hidden Wood Decay:
Although the Inspector uses techniques such as resonance testing (tapping), probing and visual examination in an effort to determine the presence of wood decay in the logs of log structures, these techniques are not technically exhaustive and will not reveal the presence of wood decay hidden in inaccessible places, such as log cores and/or the intersections of log walls. For this reason, locating hidden decay in logs incorporated into the structure of log homes lies beyond the scope of the General Home Inspection.
Log homes can be built with green logs, kiln dried logs, or milled logs. When building a new log home, keep in mind there will be shrinkage due to moisture loss in the logs as they dry. If the home is not properly built by a quality builder, there will be many serious problems that can happen.
Log homes may be built from green logs, which are recently cut logs with a high moisture content. Or, they may be built using logs that have been kiln-dried so that their moisture content is no higher than 19%. Some log homes may have been built using logs with a moisture content somewhere between these two extremes. Moisture content is important because as long as logs continue to lose bound water — which is the water contained in the wood’s cell material, as opposed to the water in the cell cavities — the logs will continue to shrink in diameter. When logs shrink, the log walls settle, which will result in a loss of height. In a home built with green logs, it’s possible for an 8-foot tall wall to lose 6 inches in height, by the time the home has finished settling. When a home has stopped settling, we say it has reached “equilibrium moisture content” (EMC) with its environment. Allowances must be made during construction of log homes to accommodate the inevitable process of settling because a variety of components can be affected.
Compliance with Manufacturer’s Specifications:
Because there exists a multitude of log home builders offering both Manufactured and Handcrafted homes, each using a method often of their own choosing and invention and often requiring that the contractor building or assembling the home adhere to a similar multitude of proprietary engineering specifications, the adherence to most of which cannot be confirmed without disassembly of the relevant home component, inspecting for compliance with Manufacturer’s Specifications lies beyond the scope of the General Home Inspection. An engineer or a qualified and professional log home contractor may be needed to determine any structural failure.
In order to accommodate settling, log homes sometimes use screw jacks, which must be adjusted occasionally. Screw jacks are often hidden behind trim, so you have to know where to look for them. Posts that support porch roofs and lofts are common places to find screw jacks. They may be installed at the top or bottom of a post. Log homes are always on the move depending on the type of climate that the home will be located in.
Wood-destroying insects usually leave some clue as to their presence. The size, shape and condition of entry and exit holes can indicate what species of insects are likely to be living in the logs. Both termites and carpenter ants grow wings and swarm to new locations every so often. When they arrive at their destination, they shed their wings and burrow into the wood. Wing piles are a sign that you can’t miss. You may also see dead insects on window sills inside the home if the swarm originates inside the home. Some types of insects are relatively harmless, while others can cause structural damage. Because there is so much wood in a log home and because it’s so exposed and vulnerable, you need to maintain your log home yearly and have it inspected biyearly. Most log homes are built in wooded areas, so these types of homes may come under attack by wood destroying insects.
BLACK HILLS PROFESSIONAL HOME INSPECTIONS
BLACK HILLS THERMAL IMAGING