What is a Log House?

It might sound like an odd question. After all it’s obvious isn’t it? Most folks’ idea of a log house is what you’d normally call a log cabin, like these:

You may love this style, but we wouldn’t expect planning to love it as much as you do.

These days, log houses are much more contemporary and are designed to meet modern tastes, which have moved on from rustic charm to bright, open plan living. That’s not to say that rustic cabins are no longer made; they are but you’ll probably only get permission in the UK for one in a very rural location.

Here are some examples of modern log houses:

Definitely not your average log cabin!

Millions of people around the world live in log houses and why do they? Apart from the obvious – that they like them – they make for very comfortable homes with a low carbon footprint. And before there’s a chorus of “Ah but the weather’s different here”, we’d better clear up some misconceptions. Firstly, they build log and timber clad houses in Norway in some of the wettest places on the planet. Secondly, Finland has 55,000 registered lakes and you have to ask why, if it doesn’t rain, they don’t just dry up.

Note Finland’s figure isn’t far off the average for the UK, and like the UK it has drier and much wetter areas. So log houses are perfectly suitable for wet climates providing they are appropriately maintained. 

Log House Construction

Modern log houses are usually constructed with smooth planed laminated logs for the outer walls (and sometimes inner walls). Typical logs look like these:

It’s not easy to see at first glance but the right hand image is a more modern profile with closer fitting logs and less obvious chamfered grooves. Coupled with the modern corner (seen below), the grooves are in line, rather than offset.

Inside there is usually a timber stud frame that is used to insulate the walls and either tongue and groove panelling or plasterboard to finish. Houses would also have a breather and vapour control membrane. Note, if the building is purely for recreation, such as a gym or games room, these additional parts may not be necessary and the log walls alone may suffice.

The logs are dowelled together with pegs at regular intervals and may also have long bolts through the log ends which are tightened up to prevent any separation (latter only applicable to traditional corners). This makes the structures extremely strong and in susceptible parts of the world, they are regarded as virtually earthquake proof. 

Various corner types are available to give either a traditional or a modern appearance.

Here are examples:

Different corner types in a log house

We hope this gives a better understanding of what a log house is today and dispels any misconceptions. If it doesn’t answer all your questions, please ask. 

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