Building a Log Home
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Construction Pictures

Since several people have asked for pictures and updates on the progress of our latest project, here is an ongoing chronicle and some pictures.  I will put in a bit more detail than is need because when we started I did some web searching and could not find many useful first hand accounts of peoples experiences build log homes.

This is a work in progress.

Choosing a home kit

There are several types of log homes and several types of log home companies.  Being an engineer, I took the flow chart approach to wind up with the choice we made. 

The first decision was between a “log home builder” and a “log home kit company”.  The former would be a person who mills logs and builds a custom log home.  A craftsman.  We went this route with a timber framer when we built the barn and though the result was spectacular, the process was difficult and somewhat expensive.  Since we were building what would be primarily a vacation home, this did not seem like the right path.  The other option was to find a log home kit company.  These are companies that are in the business of milling lots of log homes and will start with standard or modified standard plans and mill up all the logs.  They then deliver the log system (logs, and connecting hardware, and other pieces) to your site where someone else assembles the kit.  

The goal was to find a kit company that could also assemble the house.  Unfortunately the only company we found that offered that level of one stop shopping, Granite State Log Homes, would not work that for away from their home base.  This left us with having to find both a log home kit and a builder who was familiar with the type of kit.

In the end the kits came down to two types, milled logs and peeled logs.  Peeled logs are basically sections of tree with the bark peeled off, usually by hand.  This gives a more rustic look, but the unevenness of the original tree is represented in every log.  The result, even if the top and bottom of the log are milled, is that there is a lot of caulking involved to keep the structure air tight, and this felt like a higher maintenance option.   The two peeled log companies that we looked at were Granite State ( ) and Josselyn’s (  Though no one said this specifically, it seems that the peeled log places operate more locally since each kit needs to be basically preassembled.

The other type of kit is milled logs.  In this process the logs are milled to uniformity.  The result is a more precisely assembled kit and one that can be cut to specs without being assembled in the log yard, since each log is an exact size.  The drawback to this is that in the end it isn’t really a log home, it is a solid wood home that is shaped to look like logs.  One company we looked at, Heritage Log Homes (, proved this by offering a square log that is basically a 6”x8” timber, using exactly the same process they use for “log” homes.

The other issue that we came upon is that a lot of log home kit companies only use logs for the first floor.  The second floor and the roof structure are basically stick built with 2x4’s and 2x6’s like a conventional home.  Some even go so far as to sheet rock the interior walls on the second floor.

Being New Hampshirites we also tried to find a New Hampshire company to work with; both because experience has shown that it is easier to deal with a company when you can show up at their office easily (which proved to be true again) and because we wanted to support our local economy.

In the end we went with Coventry Log Homes ( from Woodsville , NH .  They offer a milled log kit with full log construction including the second floor.  They also have some aesthetically appropriate exposed roofing systems (for us, the more visible wood the better).  Coventry also kiln dries their logs.  This is something that we did not have a strong opinion on, but in general seemed like an easier option than other companies that mill and ship green wood.  With green logs owner is expected to regularly tighten the bolts that hold the logs together as the wood dries and shrinks, and window and door openings have to be oversized to account for future shrinkage. 

Coventry is a small and growing company, the staff is friendly and responsive, but it seems that we did hit some of their growing pains.  The first issue was the approval process.  Almost right away, the salesman started pushing us to approve the plans and the kit.  The problem was that the plans were not final and we had not worked out all of the details (this became trend for the project).  The approval process can roughly be summarized as they send partial set of plans that represents what they think the end result will be.  Once you approve that, then they do the real design work and only send final plans with the logs.  This required a level of faith that we were not initially comfortable with.  During this we found a web site from another couple who had built a Coventry log home up in the Thousand Islands in New York (  We exchanged some email with them and they confirmed the problem with the process, but also said that they were happy with the result.

Another significant issue, and one to be aware of with other companies, is the ceiling height of the first floor.  The standard Coventry package has twelve 8” high logs.  The description says 8 foot ceilings, but this describes the height to the bottom of the second floor.  However, every 32” there is a floor joist that sticks down 7”.  The result is that the ceiling feels like it is 7’5” which feels low.  If we had really understood this, we would have added another course of logs to the first floor to raise the ceiling. This adds cost, but is probably worth it.

Choosing a builder

The next step was choosing a builder.  This is the main flaw in the entire log home kit industry.  The kit companies will sell you the materials but typically don’t assemble them.  However, since each company has different ways of doing things, you really need to find a builder who is familiar with the system from the particular log kit company you are using.  We tried to find one company that would do both but we were not able to.  The log home companies supply a list of recommended builders but you are on your own to find one how can and will build you house. 

This can be an especially tricky problem since previous experience shows that a builder can only build a house within about 90 minutes of their home – beyond that the traveling starts to seriously impact their productivity, even if they thought it wouldn’t when they started the project. 

I would almost suggest, having been through this, to find a builder first and then use a log kit company that they are familiar with.  You certainly need to find a builder who is used to building log homes.  This is a completely different process than building a conventional stick framed house.

Coventry supplied a list of recommended builders in the region, so we started making calls….

Journal of the building process

Spans and posts

Delivery dilemma

An engineer?

Delivery day

The waiting begins

How far do you go without knowing what you are building?

Or what it will cost?

Actual progress

Looking like a house

Resolution on budget



This page was last updated on 01/29/07.