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Log Homes - Whats Different About Log Homes?

Newcomers to the world of log homes will notice that log homes look different than conventional "stick-built" homes. But are log homes really different, other than in appearance? If so, how?

Let's take a look at some of the ways in which log homes differ from conventional homes.

Log Walls - This is the main difference. Instead of walls constructed of 2x4 or 2x6 framing lumber, packed with insulation, covered on the outside with with sheathing, moisture barrier, and siding, and on the inside with sheetrock and paint, log homes simply have solid log walls. The logs act as their own thermal and weather barrier, as well as being the primary load-bearing structure in the house.

Style - Although log homes can be built in practically any style, most log home owners prefer the traditional "cabin" or "lodge" style. This style is often distinguished by such features as wood flooring, wood interior, stone fireplace and chimney, porch, loft, rustic staircase, open floorplan, raised-seam metal roof, cathedral ceilings, and exposed interior beams.

Maintenance - Conventional home exteriors typically need to be washed, repaired, and painted every few years. Log homes are similar except that, instead of paint, they require a preservative stain combined with a treatment to prevent insect damage. As with any home, log walls must be protected from excessive moisture.

Utilities - Since many log homes are built in rural or mountain locations, some standard utility services may not available. Often, log homes use propane gas, water wells/pumps, and septic waste systems.

Cost - Log homes typically cost 10%-30% more than a similar conventionally-built "spec" home primarily because most log homes are custom-built with unique features. However, there are many ways in which costs can be eliminated or reduced.

Financing - Construction loans for log homes are usually different that those for conventional homes, primarily because log home "kit" providers want to be paid up front, and getting comparable appraisals can be somewhat difficult. Therefore, some banks and mortgage companies don't like to finance log homes. This may mean a little more legwork to find a cooperative bank or a mortgage company that specializes in log home loans.

Al Hearn is owner and operator of, a web site for log home enthusiasts that provides information and advice about planning and building log homes.

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