Log Cabin Kits
Don’t Waste Money on Log Cabin Kits!
Have you ever picked up one of those glossy log home magazines full of stunning log homes? One thing you are highly unlikely to see in those magazines is a butt and pass log cabin / home. Why? Because the magazines are entirely supported by advertising revenue from companies that manufacture log cabin kits. These companies make money by turning raw logs into long skinny dowels with notches that can be stacked up like toy Lincoln Logs.
Most kit log homes are very expensive, often more expensive than regular stick-built homes. Manufacturing companies typically have a lot of overheads. In most cases, they have to make a mortgage payment on their factory, along with ongoing operating expenses for employee wages, benefits, social security, worker’s compensation, insurance, legal advice, advertising, inventory, and never-ending equipment maintenance and upgrades. All these expenses are passed along to the customer in every log home kit that is manufactured and sold. Many states impose a sales tax on top of that, which may add thousands of dollars to the cost. So you can see that log cabin kits carry a lot of EXTRA expense even before you have bought it!
As you will see, with the butt and pass method, there is no need to turn house logs on a lathe, no need for notches, and no practical way to sell butt and pass log homes as a kit. With the butt and pass method, you can eliminate the superfluous labor and expense and build a house so inexpensively that you can likely afford it without incurring a mortgage. The problem is that companies that manufacture log cabin kits can’t make any money from a butt and pass style of log home – not the log home industry, nor the lending companies, nor the publishers of those glossy log home magazines.
The Problem with Notches and Log Cabin Kits
Traditional methods of log building have been passed down from a time when people went out into the woods and built cabins with little more than an ax, a saw, and an adz. Those techniques required time and skill to carefully scribe and notch the ends to fit together. The logs had to be notched because it was the only way to tie the pieces together as a stable structure.
Notching is a slow, methodical process that requires skill and precision to make the logs fit together properly. With a saddle notch, for example, each log must be carefully notched to match the diameter of the log below. The log cabin is held together by the weight of the logs sitting down into the notches. Some builders drive spikes through from one log to the next for additional stability. Some builders scribe and shape the entire length of every log, called coping, to make them fit the logs below.
Traditional notching immediately weakens the logs at the joints and creates vulnerable places for moisture and rot to set in. Also, the logs tend to settle over time, potentially wreaking havoc with doors and windows. These log homes have to be carefully engineered with hidden spaces above doors and windows, so that the logs can settle without destroying the openings.
Most log cabin kits are modified versions of the traditional notched log home. With the aid of big machinery and mass production, the log building industry can turn the logs on over sized lathes into big, uniform dowels, so that the logs and notches are all the same. However, trimming the logs this way immediately reduces the total thermal mass and insulation value of the wood, and cutting into the layers exposes the wood to the ravages of the weather. Just like a house with wood siding, log homes made from kits must be carefully maintained and treated to protect the wood from weathering and rot.
Yes, you can build a log house with traditional notching – if you have the patience for craftsmanship – or you can pay through the nose to buy log cabin kits. But the bottom line is that notched and coped log homes are more labor intensive, more costly, and require more maintenance than a properly built butt and pass log cabin / home.
To wrap up – Log cabin kits are popular because they look easy and simple and some sweet talking salesman will tell you that log cabin kits are the only option for you, STOP and take a look at the butt and pass method.