Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do we hire dealers to sell our log homes?

No we don’t…let me explain why.

Our company name, Sitka Log Homes, is also our reputation. We have a great deal of pride in how we have built our reputation as a quality handcrafted log home builder. We have been striving for years to make sure that when people see or hear our name that they recognize it as a trustworthy company, one that offers only high quality workmanship. It has always been important to ensure that clear communication between us and our clients is a priority. Adding a third party to the mix can result in mistakes made in this vital communication. We prefer to contract directly with the home owner.

We also believe that nobody can know our business practices as well as we do ourselves. We want to ensure that a potential client is given only precise information about our log or timber frame homes. Even clients with a good basic understanding of construction and house building will still have important questions about the process.

We prefer that we, directly, are your contact to make certain the information you receive is accurate.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Log Home Industry Competition

Our town, 100 Mile House, BC is known officially as the “Handcrafted Log Home Capital of North America”. We are very proud of this title because we know it is partly due to our own contribution of building log homes here since 1969.
It also implies, rightly so, that there are many log home builders in 100 Mile House. Our small town has about 13 log home builders and produces approximately 400 handcrafted log homes a year.
Sitka Log Homes recently featured a full log house display in two log home shows in Alberta. Most of the other exhibitors were from our area and were people we knew well. It was so interesting to see how everyone interacted with each other. If one company needed a certain tool they’d forgotten, another company was quick to lend it. After the shows we’d share a meal with each other, have some laughs and swap stories.
These old friends are also our competition.
This got me thinking about “competition” and the log home building industry. Our industry has seen a slump recently with the US housing market all but disappearing, and yet even in tougher times like these everyone is co-operating and practicing healthy competition. Most don’t compromise ethical standards in order to gain an advantage over others. I think this is due to respect. We all respect the hard work and dedication that it takes to remain in this business and so we prefer to compete in a co-operative manner. This is good for the whole log home building industry and what is good for the industry is good for each of us.
Healthy competition allows incentives for self-improvement. You can’t help but want to look for new ways to improve what you do when you aren’t the only guy in town offering a service or product. This in itself is helping our whole log home industry evolve.
Competition helps to stimulate innovation, encourages efficiency and can help drive down prices so that both the manufacturer and the consumer win.
Here’s to an ever evolving log home building industry and all of the hard workers behind it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Log Home Maintenance

When building a log home it is important to think of preventative maintenance from the beginning design stages. You want to protect your logs against water, insects, decay and damage from the suns UV rays. When you are in the design stage you will want to consider your roof over-hangs to ensure the log walls do not have areas where any rain water will drain along them constantly. When the log shell is complete and erected on your home site, we recommend that the logs are washed to remove any dirt, sawdust or mud splats that can appear after leaving our construction yard. People usually use a pressure washer to rinse the logs at this point. When they are dry you would then apply your preservative wood treatment. This treatment would contain a water repellent with some pigment and UV inhibitor. There are many on the market and they are improving them every year. You are able to get good UV protection now without having to stain your logs with much colour if you prefer a more natural log look. As for the inside, that depends on the look you like. You can oil, stain, varnish or leave them as they are. Consider dusting the logs when you make this choice though. Sealed logs may also reduce some of the checking.
If you do a proper job of caring for your logs when your log house is first built you will save yourself extra work for the future. You should follow the recommendations of the exterior treatment manufacturer for re-applying.

Regarding insects, this issue is dependent on your area and specific to your home site. It is the same concern whether you live in a regular frame house or a log house, if termite nests were all around your property you would want to speak to a pest control specialist. An exterminator can recommend a selection of treatments if you have concerns about insects in your area.

There is more maintenance involved with a handcrafted log home compared to a vinyl sided home, but we think the effort is worth it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Your Handcrafted Log Home Shell is Arriving: How to Prepare

Typically while we, at Sitka Log Homes, have been working away on your log work you have been clearing land, building roads, excavating and having your foundation and sub floor prepared. The following are some important things to consider before your handcrafted log home arrives.

When your driveway is being laid out with your excavator you must allow ample width for large trucks and other machinery.
The loaded trucks with your logs are very long and heavy and do not maneuver well on soft narrow winding roads.
A hard pack gravel access to your home is something you will need anyway so if this is done at the beginning while machinery is present it will save money in the end.
Any under brush or tree limbs hanging out into the driveway must be removed so as not to scratch the truck or hang up on the logs as they pass by.
It is equally important to have the back fill complete around the house. Ditches must be filled in and mounds of dirt or gravel should be flattened. It is important to have a work site free of debris to avoid the delay of the set up crew having to do it when it is time to start setting up the logs. Keep in mind that the more trees left close to the house in the area the crane may be working, the more time it will take to move each log. The position of the crane to the proximity of the log trailer and the log house is very important.

Before the first log is placed
Your sub-floor is complete and should have all the sheathing applied to the top. Any fireplace opening or open stairwells should be covered temporarily during the log set up to avoid anyone falling through. The floor should be free of material and waste.

The homeowner usually organizes the crane. The size of the crane is determined by its proximity to the sub floor, the weight of the heaviest lift and the distance to the farthest wall.
It is important to have an experienced crane operator.

A good work crew is as important to you as it is to the Sitka supervisor that will be instructing them to put your home together. Five workers are usually enough. A good mix is your Sitka rep, at least two carpenters with tools and who are not afraid of heights, and two strong helpers.
Often, the contractor supplies the set up crew, as he is familiar with the job and has any tools required to see it through.

Material, Equipment, etc
Most homes have log roof systems that require a lot of temporary bracing. It is important to have long lengths of 2X4 or 2X6 on hand to secure the roof components until the framing is complete.
You cannot have too many extension ladders and step ladders.

Typical List of Tools:
½" or ¾" electric drill.
2 - 3/8" electric drill with 5/16" hex head driver bits.
1 1/8" auger bit 24" long +/-
2 step ladders 5-6'.
1 extension ladder 20' +.
2 large utility knives to slice insulation.
1 large sledge hammer.
1 staple gun c/w ½" or 9/16" staples.
1 tool pouch c/w 25' tape, hammer and chalkline.
3" or 3 ¼" double headed nails ( 5-10 lbs.).
1 decent sized chainsaw c/w files, gas and chain oil.
½" drive ratchet (3/4" is better).
1 1/8" and 15/16" sockets for above ratchet.
If you could supply a ½" drive electric impact, it would save a lot of manpower bolting the log trusses together (if applicable) with ¾" lag bolts.

Gable ends should be built and sheeted before the logs arrive.
Your contractor will build your gables on your sub floor. They can be lifted away temporarily by the crane just before the logs are placed on the sub floor.
You will have received gable plans from Sitka that have details and dimensions tailored to your home.
The height, width and pocket sizes must be followed carefully.

 In all likelihood electricity has been put into the property, but if not it is required that you provide temporary power. Drills are used to drill through bottom logs into the sub floor and often a skill saw is used as the house goes up.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Building Your Log Home - Watch Each Step

You have your final log home plans submitted to Sitka Log Homes and your handcrafted log house is ready to be built. This is an exciting time…it’s finally happening. The trouble is you live in New Zealand (or the US, or Europe, or Australia, or Asia…) and your log home is being built in 100 Mile House, BC Canada. Each day you are curious to see how it is coming together and you wish you could pop in and watch the process.
We understand this and so we have developed a web page for your new log house project.
It is a separate page just for your viewing, and anyone else you would like to share the address with. Friends and family are always anxious to see what your new log house will look like too.
Every few days Sitka Log Homes will take some photos of your log house under construction and post them on your site. This way you will always know what stage your log home is at and can follow its growth.

To view an example, here is a link to one customer’s page:
Customer Web Page