How to Build Log Houses

In building a Log House, you need the a strong foundation,following that you need to build the Sill Logs and lastly ensure the Logs are anti-termite treated.

A)Foundation

On hard ground where bedrock is close to the surface, buildings usually require only a minimum foundation.Good rock base is a foundation by itself and poor ground conditions such as muddy ares make poor ground conditions and the foudnation need to increased. There are many types of foundations such as Per Foundation ,Slab Foundation,Perimeter Foundation,Basement Foundation,Perimter Foundations,Footing Foundations etc.

The  Types of foundation used in a Log house:

1– Pier foundation:

Its the simplest and least expensive, where concrete or flat stones are mortared or laid dry.

2– Slab Foundation:

The Slab Foundation for a home plan is a simple kinds of foundation where a concrete slab is used as the foundation.Slab foundations are like a raft that floats in the water. It is also called Raft foundation. The rafts foundation keep the house float in a soft ground.

3- Perimeter Foundation for a house floor :

It is made from concrete, concrete blocks, or sometimes stones. Follow the architectural Floor Plan very closely with respects to the dimensions as this will cause the finishes to look tardy, if it is not correctly followed. The ceiling lines, the tiles finishes and the wall straightness will appear tardy if the dimensions of the Log House floor plans are not strictly followed.

4- Full Basement Foundation:

This is the most complicated type of foundation, Its made of poured reinforced concrete or concrete blocks.
 Note: Regardless what type of foundation is chosen a proper footing is needed to be placed slightly below the frost levels.

How to make the foundation for a log house?

Step One: Establish the Boundaries.

1-Establish the exact outside boundaries of your home using a 2”x2” stakes, nails & a rope.

2- Make one end of each stick sharp to be able to drive it into the ground easily.

3-After placing the sticks hammer a nail into the upper center of each stake

4-Once the stakes are placed in position use a rope and connect it to the nails on top of each stake

5-Once three stakes are connected you will able to outline an approximate 90 degree between two walls.

6-Make sure that the angle between the two walls is a perfect 90 degree angle using a triangle with proportions of 3:4:5

Step Two: Erect Batter Boards:

1- The batter board is made by driving 2″x4″ stakes into the ground in an L shape around the corners

2- Nail, a 1”x4’ or 1”x6” batter board, to the stakes to create a right angle and it have to be set back at least 4 feet from the outline stakes and the height is minimum 18″

3- Make sure all batter boards have been installed on all corners at the correct height.

4- Tie weight to builder’s string and drop them over the tops of the batter boards and drop a plumb bob where the two strings cross.

5-Make sure the plumb bob falls exactly on the nail head in the corner stakes this locates the outside boundary of your foundation.

6- Use the same method to locate the inside boundary but by deducting the width of the proposed foundation.

B)How to Build Log Houses– Perimeter Foundation & Full Basement Foundation

Perimeter Foundation:

  • It can be made of concrete, concrete blocks or concrete faced with stones.
  • If made of concrete it can be Single pour and Double Pour (footing and foundation).

Single Pour Footing/Foundation:

  • It’s not used as much as the separately poured footing and foundation.
  • However it simplifies the task and cut down on time.
  • Lay out the outside dimensions of the footings, the wall thickness and outside boundary of the wall on the batter boards using the house floor plan.
  • Then position the builder’s string to show the dimensions.
  • Excavate the footing and construct the forms.
  • Bring All Service pipes in below the footing and frost line before pouring the footing.
  • Make sure any low spots under the edge of the footing are filled with stones

Double Pour Footing/Foundation:

  • The footing is usually poured separately from the foundation.
  • If the soil is stable, the footing is poured directly in a trench dug without forms.
  • If the soil is less stable, forms must be constructed to hold the concrete in place.
  • The forms must be leveled by using the carpenter’s level and stones are used to fill up the holes around the form to keep the concrete from running out
  • If pouring without forms drive small wooden stakes into the soil at the bottom of the trench where their tops should be level with the height of the footing.
  • Pour the concrete and smooth more or less to the height of the stakes then pull the stakes out and fill the holes with concrete and smooth over.
  • Form a key in the footing to help hold the concrete foundation in place and it can be done by using a beveled 2”x4”. However in the tropical countries water stop is need to be added to prevent water seepage.
  • Reinforce the footing with two to three reinforcing bars spaced about 3”-4” off the bottom of the trench.
  • Make an inspection after the form for the footings are completed.

Pouring the Foundation for the House Plan:

  • After the footing has cured for 5-6 days the foundation can be formed.
  • Remove the footings forms and construct the form for the foundation.
  • Individual sections of forms should be nailed together from the outside.
  • Set up the outside forms first and level it by using the carpenter level and then do the same on the inside forms.
  • Higher and larger foundation walls should be poured slowly to allow the concrete enough time to set up.

Basement Foundation:

  • Basement foundation has the same fundamentals of the perimeter foundation however its has additional features such as:
    • Foundation drains.
    • Insulating the basement.
    • Basement floor.

Foundation Drain & Basement Insulation:

  • A drain should be placed around the foundation to help carry off excess water that collects at its base.
  • Put a 2” layer of gravel around the outside of the bottom edge of the footing.
  • Then put clay drainage tile or perforated plastic on top of this around the outside of the footing.
  • Throw from 2”-6” of gravel over the clay drainage to extend it up over the top edge of the footing by at least 2”.
  • If you need insulation for the basement, install 4” thick batts of rigid foam with moisture barrier below the concrete floor and on the gravel. It can be installed on the outside of the foundation wall as well.

Basement Foundation Floor:

  • Usually poured after the foundation forms are removed.
  • Before pouring the floor first position the drain as needed.
  • The floor drain should be ½” below the surface of the finished concrete floor.
  • Pouring basement floor should be done with a fast pace to prevent the concrete from setting up before you can get it all finished.

C.)How to Build Log Houses –Construction Lesson 1 (Sill Logs, Floor and Joints)

What are the Sill Logs?

Sill logs are the logs that rest directly on top of the foundation and its connected to it by the anchor bolts.

How to Choose Your Logs?

  • Just about any type of log can be used, as long as it’s relatively straight and it is around 8”-10” diameter.
  • It has only minor tapering no more than 2”. And the length for it is around 16 ft.
  • Conifers such as pine, fir, spruce and tamarack are preferred because these softwoods are workable, durable and relatively lightweight.
  • Hardwoods, particularly oak can also be used, though their sapwood is highly susceptible to infestation by borers and fungus.

Sill Logs:

  • After completing the foundation based on the house plan the work on the upper part of the house begins.
  • The first step in the house structure is to install the sill log on the floor plan
  • Note: this is an important part of the job because if the sills are not laid as mentioned in the house floor plan and if its not laid squarely and securely that might effect the whole structure.

Steps of Constructing the log house Sill Log.

  • If you don’t want a full basement, you must excavate the house plan dimension at least below the frost line, install footings and construct a wall up to 20 in. above grade level.
  • You must also install piers within the foundation walls as mentioned in the architecture plan to support the floor girder. Also, install anchor bolts along the top of the walls to attach the sill.
  • Begin floor construction by hewing or cutting flat the bottom of the sill logs.
  • Then make holes in the sill logs to fit in the anchor bolts and install sill sealer or a termite shield according to the local building code.
  • The corner joints are made by bottom notching the logs based on the house design.
  • Hew flat the top of the girder and install it over the support piers.
  • Join it to the sill with a mortise and tenon joint. Drive nails through the top of the tenon and into the mortise to complete the joint.

Steps of constructing the log house sill log and floor:

  • In a similar manner, hew or cut flat the top of the joists and install them between the girder and sill logs so they are flush with the top of the girder.
  • Install the sub flooring perpendicular to the direction of the joists. Now you’re ready to start on the walls as designed in the architecture plan.

Steps of constructing the log house wall joints:

  • Many different types of notches can be used to join the logs, but a good choice for the beginning log builder is the scribe, fit, round-notch method.
  • It features semicircular notches cut in the bottom of the logs to fit over adjacent logs. Also, a V-shaped groove is cut down the length of each log bottom so the entire length can sit flush on the log below.
  • Although this method is slower than others, the corner joints are self-draining-water running down the outside of the house hits the log tops and runs off, instead of being trapped in the notch.
  • The V-grooves also eliminate air drafts between the logs.
  • The joints between courses do not need chinking, so you can avoid one of the most chronic maintenance problems of log homes: repairing cracked chinking.

D.How to do Termite Treatment

Hello there this article will be discussing about the termites treatment which is one of the important aspects in construction. Termites are small, pale soft-bodied insects that lives in large colonies with several different castes, typically within a mound of cemented earth. Many kinds feed on wood and can be highly destructive to trees and timber While each termite species thrives in different climates and eats different types of food, all termites require four things to survive: food, moisture, shelter and optimal temperature. Unfortunately, all homes, regardless of their construction type, can provide these ideal conditions for termite infestation.

Before Construction

Treating termite before construction can help you defend against possible claims in the future. Where construction specification for several projects requires the protection for termite in their finishing’s. To help you in dealing with this problem this article will provide you with some tips that you must incorporate in your construction activities. Food and moisture resources around and inside home should be eliminated because termites are attracted towards moisture.

Where Are The Termites?

Termites are frequently living where there is a high concentration of moisture and dampness. In old houses these are frequent problems because they tend to live in obstructed or block water supply and sewerage pipes. Also there is evidence that inside wood products or decaying wood surfaces are high probability areas for a termite to live in where they end up actually eating wood and wooden products inside your house.

Pre Construction Chemical Treatment

Termite treatment in pre-construction stages includes few steps that must be done to ensure an area of termite-free construction.

Treating the soil before any slab placement with insecticides is the most common method of termite treatment. This will form a chemical barrier between ground slab and masonry that will prevent the insects to approach the building. The chemical treatment can be done as follow:

  • Before making the foundation the bottom and sides of excavation must be treated with chemical products.
  • make holes in the earth where slabs on grade will be built and fill them with chemical products.
  • Be sure to use chemicals where walls and floors intersect.
  • Treat the perimeter of the construction by making holes filled with chemicals all around the structure.
  • In pipe beddings fill an area with chemical products to secure the future of the piping.
  • Use specific anti-termite chemical to treat the portion of the buildings were wooden products such as cabinets, doors, among others, will be placed.

Post-construction termite treatment

We can’t be acting in the pre-construction chemical treatment all the time. Sometime termites are found after construction, so what can we do?

Start with an assessment of the entire area before starting any kind of treatment. A deep investigation will determine the extent of the damage, if any damage is found then determine the location of the termite, the access points to the structure and their spread in the area. The following tips should be kept in mind during chemical treatment.

  • As in the pre-construction process, make holes and filled them with chemicals, to create a barrier around the house.
  • Treat the floors and walls by drilling holes and filling them with chemicals. All walls or the vast majority of the walls have to be treated to ensure that no more spreading will continue.
  • Apply chemicals on all points of contacts of wood with the ground or with any part of the building.
  • The voids in masonry can be used with anti-termite treatment.
  • Change and replace wood products or furniture that have high impact and presence of termites, beyond any limit of reparation.

Precautionary measures

When all measurement are taken, perform these simple steps to ensure that your area keeps free of termites.

  1. Keep drains and gutters clean to avoid leakage Make sure that there are no blockage, filtration nor broken pipes with excess of moisture around them.
  1. Eliminate sources of moisture Do not leave unattended areas where there is a high concentration level of humidity. Clean those areas constantly to asure that it wont face the same problem again.
  1. Destroy termites Apply chemicals as soon as you detect areas where termites are being reunited to avoid the spreading of it.
  1. Remove Wood Products.Remove wood products that have had the presence of moisture or have been in contact with water for a long period of time.
  1. Eliminate the wood contact with the ground.Do not bury direct pieces of wood in the ground for any use to avoid the moisture from getting in it.
  1. Fill junctions or voids.If you notice some voids of open space between the building and the ground, act quickly and fill those areas to avoid termites getting in the house.

The Chemicals Used for the Treatment:

There are currently several general kinds of termite chemicals registered for soil treatment. All termite chemicals are effective for their intended purpose but the choice often boils down to toxicity and odour versus longevity and resistance to leaching. The water based termite chemicals do not contain solvents and are odourless. Some of the water based termite chemicals include Premis, Biflex Aqua and Termadore. The Premis is a chloro-nicotinyl type termite chemical and has a toxicity rating of S5. Premis termite chemical remains effective for atleast two years. The Biflex Aqua is a synthetic pyrethroid water based termite chemical with a toxicity rating of S6. Where its recomennded to do a re-treatment of termite treatment with Biflex Aqua after five years for maximum effectiveness. The Biflex Aqua gets binded very quickly and strongly to the soil particles and provides a best option where moisture movement in the soil is a factor.

Prepared and desinged  by: Architect Perumal Nagapushnam

Check out our log house designs :

Check out for some great and handsome architectural floor plan for Log house at:

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