Hey Cabin Lovers, Are you thinking of buying an existing log home, but are concerned you don’t know what you may be getting into? 

Often people start out planning to build their dream log cabin, but in the process of shopping for land come across a cozy cabin that is perfect for them. Instead of building they end up buying an already existing home.

This article will give you some pointers on things to look for when considering purchasing a log home. Also, a word of caution – Not all home inspectors are educated about log homes. Make sure you ask the inspector about their experience with log homes or consider also hiring an log home builder or restoration company to offer an inspection of the logs in addition to a traditional home inspection.

Things To Look Out For

Stain: Look closely at the stain. Do you see flakes in the top coat or does it look completely faded? Stain should be reapplied about every 5 years, ask your realtor to find out when the last time the home was refinished. Refinishing a log home can be very costly. If the home is due to be refinished you may want to get a quote from a local restoration company before making an offer.

Chinking: If the chinking is pulling away from the logs it will create gaps which could hold moisture or be a source for insect infestation. Gaps in chinking are not too difficult to repair if there are just a few spots to address. It may be a project you are willing to do yourself if it is accessible.

Log rot:  Moisture really takes a toll on logs over time. If the property doesn’t have good drainage or the roof overhang is too short, it may cause water or snow to pool near the home which exposes the logs to potential rot. You can identify log rot because the logs will look dark and will easily break apart. Replacing rotten logs is not impossible, however you would likely want to hire a professional for that job as well. Once again getting a quote before making an offer is advisable.

Gaps in logs: There is a difference between checking and actual gaps. Gaps are spaces in logs where air can pass from the outside to the inside of the home. Obviously gaps are also a great place for bugs to pass through. Gaps will commonly be found between logs and in joints or where two logs butt together. Checking is when log fiber separates. As logs shrink crevices can form in the log. In most cases checks do not pass all the way through the log because they usually stop at the heart or center of the log. These statements are generalizations and there can be exceptions; however, most of the time checks are not a problem unless they are exposed to moisture. If water gets into the check frequently enough that it doesn’t have time to dry out, it may cause rot.

Often, gaps in logs are more easily seen from the inside of the home. Light may be shining through making them more noticeable.

Sticky doors – Most Log homes are built to settle. As a result, over time door jambs may shrink causing doors to stick. Many times this can be solved by shaving down the door with a planer. When we moved into my home the main bathroom door would stick. We used a hand planer to shave off the spot that was getting hung up and viola, problem solved. Obviously, this could be a bit tricker with metal exterior doors so you will want to be mindful of that.

Sticky windows are another result of settling and usually are more of a nuisance than a serious problem; however, if they are really jammed it may be best to replace them because in some cases windows have been known to explode from the pressure.

As mentioned above we recommend paying for an additional inspection from a log restoration company to be sure about the condition and quality of the log home you are considering. 

About The Author

Lindsay is the host of the podcast My Dream Log Cabin. After chasing her dream of living in a log cabin in the woods, she found herself in North Idaho living in a log cabin and working for Caribou Creek Log Homes! Her posts are based on her personal eperience.

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