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International Log Builders' Association

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International Log Builders Association 40th Year

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a handcrafted and a machined log home?

In a handcrafted building, the log is still a natural log, the only alteration being that it has undergone removal of the outer bark and part or all of the "cambium" or inner bark layer. The uniqueness and character that nature intended, is still visible in the finished home. Logs that have been altered from their natural profile, either by hand, machine, or a combination of both, but still “joined” in a process that involves the custom hand-fitting of these components is also still considered to be handcrafted. A good example of this would be a “hewn” log wall profile, where the logs have been flattened on their sides, and then either scribed or chinked together involving the use of scribed interlocking notches, or perhaps incorporated into a pièce en pièce system of logwork. The machined or milled log home is a mechanically profiled log, and is designed to beidentical in dimension to every other piece in the building. It is no longer a “log”, but a factory run piece of lumber that”used to be” a log. The aesthetic advantage of a handcrafted log building is that it is unique and distinctly different from every other - creating a unique building every time. Prices will vary depending on design, however, the handcrafted log home is much more labour intensive and this is reflected in the price. In the case of machined logs, the costs are amortized into the capital cost of milling and profiling equipment, whose cost recovery factor is based on volume of production, and not so much on labour and skill equity.

Typically you will find larger diameter and length of log in handcrafted homes versus the machined log home. This larger diameter is beneficial in thermal performance as well as fire resistance values and studies have proven that provided the home is well built, the insulation values are high. There are studies available on the fire resistance of log homes, as well as lateral load testing of log walls

How much does a log home cost?

There are many variables to the price of a log home, the design, species, style, size, roof structure and finish materials are just a few of the many factors. There is no average price for log homes. A quick rule of thumb is the simpler the design, the lower the cost. Determining your budget and working with an experienced designer or architect and builder will be helpful to future home owners. The ILBA also retails a Land to Lock up manual ($24CDN), which is a great starting place for those considering a log home, and choosing a log building contractor.

Are log homes energy efficient?

Yes, if they are built properly log homes are very efficient because of the thermal mass of the logs. A well built log home is typically cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There are Log Building Standards to use as guidelines for log home construction and each home owner and professionals associated with the building process should be aware of these. (The standards are also included with the Land to Lock up manual mentioned above.)

Do I buy my land or design my house first?

It is recommended that your land is purchased first, before you spend money designing a home that may not take advantage of the special features your property provides. Keeping copies of plans that interest you is good and provides a starting point when you enter into design. Some designer experts also recommend a scrap book, where you post clips and photos of features you’d like to incorporate into the design of your dream home. By looking for design ideas ahead of time, the process should be quicker once you locate that perfect spot.

Where is the best place to get ideas for my log home?

There are some great magazines in our Member Directory specific to this industry. Many of the log home builders also offer great brochures and information packages, you will also find a complete list of company members on the ILBA Membership Directory found on the left hand side of each page of the ILBA website.

What do I look for in a log home builder?

Take the time to find someone you are comfortable with, check current and past references and visit his or her building site and finished homes. You can also use the ILBA ‘Log Builder Interview form (28Kb PDF).

How do I protect my log home from nature’s elements?

Adequate roof overhangs and eaves troughs will help, as insects and fungi prefer damp wood. Log finishes should be a high-quality product and allow the wood to breath while serving as a water repellent. There are a variety of products on the market. For a list of stain and sealant companies who are members of the ILBA go to the Stains, Sealants & Finishes section of our Member Directory.

How often will I have to reapply finishes?

To preserve the natural beauty of a log home, routine maintenance is essential. The natural elements (rain, wind, sun) where your home is located will determine how often you will need to refinish or reseal, as well as the quality of product used. Regular exterior maintenance, inspecting logs for large cracks that catch water, etc. will assist in avoiding costly repairs.

Are agreements necessary?

We highly recommend a signed contract, with specific details on every aspect of your log construction project. The ILBA has a Log Shell Contract, which it retails at a discounted price to all ILBA company members, and the general public can also purchase this agreement. A contract is essential as it defines the expectations of all parties and provides security to both the homeowner and builder.


International Log Builders' Association
PO Box 1641
Montebello Québec J0V 1L0

Tel: 819-983-1494
Fax: 819-983-2094

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