Published on September 7, 2022 Author : Nancy (Admin) Diaspora* account of respondent : Search email@example.com
Nancy : Where you get this passion for log cabin?
I was neck deep in "the rat race" back in 2001 - I was living in Utah, and drove 45 miles each way to work every day, along with a million other people. Traffic jams, accidents, construction, etc. I couldn't move any closer to my job because home prices were insane the closer you got to Salt Lake City. I realized my biggest financial obligation was my home, and thought, "what if I could eliminate that monthly payment?" I realized that doing so would also eliminate the need for such a high-paying job, the commute, and a host of other problems (car insurance, wasting 2 hours of my day stuck in traffic, gas, maintenance, etc.)
I started looking for a way out. About that same time, my wife (now ex) and I bought a small 600 sq ft cabin in Idaho on 20 acres. The guy we bought it from was a retired horse farrier from Colorado, and he built the place himself on a rock foundation, cemented together, when he was 70 years old. I realized building a home didn't have to be complicated, so I started researching construction methods - straw bale, adobe, earthbag, filled tires, glass bottles, underground homes, and log homes. My job forced me to take a 1 hour lunch break, so I spent a lot of time at the library (which was a block away from the office) researching construction methods. This was back when the internet was still somewhat sparse.
A lot of the problems with alternate building methods (straw bale / earthbag / etc.) are jumping through hoops to get the building permit. The other problem is if you ever want to sell it - not many people want a home made out of straw, even though they are extremely efficient. When I studied log homes, I was intrigued - if built right, they are very efficient, they always sell for at least 1/3 more than standard homes due to "the nostalgia" factor: people just like log homes.
I started looking into log home building methods - and it was depressing - there were so many ways to build - and all of them claimed to be the best - kits, custom, Swedish-cope, dovetail notched, etc - but all of them had glaring problems - the kits leaked air, and the dealers were dishonest, the cope method took 20 years of schooling to become proficient at making the special notches, and all of the methods had to be engineered because they would settle over time - you needed an engineer to tell you what kinds of loads to plan for and buy special screw jacks to lower your roof over time, special headers over the doors so the walls didn't crush the door jam as they settle - so complicated!
I finally stumbled onto LHBA (Log Home Builders Association) - Skip Ellsworth, the founder, had taken all the problems with log homes (settling, complicated notching, dishonest kit dealers) and solved every one of them with a method he called "the Skip Butt & Pass method" - no fancy notches, no screw jacks, can build with almost any kind of mostly straight tree - and most important: NO SETTLING. On top of all that, anyone could do it (they claimed), with no prior building experience, and for as little as $20k, you could have a nice home to live in. They claimed to be able to teach all of this to anyone in a 2 day class. I showed my wife, and she was like, "No way, you can't build a log home."
Fast forward 10 years - I got divorced, remarried, moved across the country, started a new career. My wife didn't really like log homes, but after looking for a home to buy for months and not finding anything she liked, she finally said, "maybe it's time to look into building that log home..."
So here we are - we designed it ourselves, cut every log, installed every shingle, window, made the doors, the fireplace - all of it, with no prior building experience. The only complaints I have with the LHBA method are :
* Not a lot of instruction on installing electrical * Not a lot of instruction on installing plumbing
Most folks hire this stuff out anyway, but my goal was to do it 100% myself.
I wanted to answer the question: Can a normal person build a home, debt-free, without any prior experience, in the 21st century?