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A Vertical Log Cabin… What say you?

Is this fellow crazy or does he have an idea that just needs some refinement?  He plans to build a vertical log cabin in Alaska and he shares his ideas in this video.

As you probably know, 99.9% of all log homes built in the lower 48 utilize horizontal logs stacked atop each other.  I am not an architect or a building expert, but I envision a multitude of problems with this concept – especially for a home in Alaska.  Plumbing challenges alone make me question the feasibility of this type of design (as explained in the video).

I’d love to hear from the experts in our industry… can this log cabin be built to accommodate Alaskan winters?  What other problems will this fellow expect with such a design?

What’s your opinion?  Share your comments below…

11 comments to A Vertical Log Cabin… What say you?

  • Richard

    I have never been a fan of stockade style log homes. I also think there would be more electrical issues related to design. Other than addressing log shrinkage why would anyone go this route?

  • Ben

    How are you attaching the vertical logs to your bottom log and header log. The vertical logs, are they going to be flattened on two sides first and do you plan on chinking in between? What materials do you plan on using for the rafters and sheeting? A rubber membrane of sorts would be a good choice for the underside of your subfloor and a sealant for the sheeting is a good idea -some subfloor sheeting has a waterproofing in it already. Your wife must be one of the good ones. Goodluck to you.

  • We actually featured a similar style home in our Cozy Cabins issue of Country’s Best Log Homes last year. Although not nearly as far north as Alaska, the Oregon-based structures have stood for 75-plus years and were able to be successfully retrofitted with electricity and plumbing. The original property owner built them himself as well. Although there may issues with today’s building codes, especially given the man’s region, the idea isn’t completely out of left field.

  • Tom, please go to http://www.buildingscience.com. and to the Department of Energy’s “Building America” website, so you can better understand building science and that your home is a system of systems.
    You must take all components into consideration and how they will perform and interact with each other as you make your choices.
    In your climate region, high R-values, air sealing and ventilation will be critical.
    I would strongly recommend constructing your building envelope using Structural Insulated Panels (SIP).
    You can add 1/2 log siding to the exterior and interior if you wish, but you’ll want to install a rain screen behind your exterior cladding.
    There are other ways to achieve high R-values and good air sealing if you are budget concious.
    Using SIP’s will get you under-roof the quickest and are very simple to work with.
    Please realize that you intend to build in a cold climate. Your heating costs and indoor air quality are two very important considerations.
    Follow “best practices” called-out at Building America and building science.
    Another good resource is http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com
    You may want to change your apporach, once you learn that the laws of physics will apply to the operation and durability aspects of your project. I would strongly recommend SIP’s for floor system, wall system and roof system. Consider a heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventolator to help manage air quality and indoor humidity.
    Your fuel consumption will be greatly reduced and your health and your structure will not be at risk.
    Please think long term, before you pour your heart, soul and financial resources into your residence.
    Happy learning and good luck. Randy

    • Tom

      Randy,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your insight with us, you’re a wealth of information. Also, those two links are excellent resources…. I just spent the last 20 mins. on them while I probably should have been doing more constructive things 🙂

      Many thanks.

  • Tom

    Whitney, I believe I remember seeing that, I’ll have to dig around for that back issue. Thanks for the tip and your comments… regarding “building codes”, I doubt they will cause him any problems in such a remote area. Depending where you build here in Montana, codes are enforced – or don’t exist.

  • Benjamin Hughes

    Hi Tom,
    I have been living in a vertical log cabin for 12 yrs now and the structure was erected in 1938! I am located near Timmins Ontario and the climate is very similar to the interior of Alaska. Temperatures of minus 35-40 degrees celsius along with snow levels of 3-4 feet are quite normal here. I must add that the building is pretty rustic in its construction and that there has never been any structural problems to date. Up until 4 yrs ago (at which time i crawled underneath and installed sona tubes) the cabin sat on crude concrete pads so it was floating around quite dramatically in the winter. My point being that even tho it floated the building never lost any of it’s integrity so in my opinion it is indeed a very sound choice and a lot easier to construct for the do-it yourself type.
    All the best to you!
    Ben

  • Tom

    Hey Ben,
    Thanks for sharing this with us, it sounds great. If you’d like to share some pictures with us, I’d be pleased to post them here with any other comments you might have. I find this subject very interesting. Thanks again.

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  • STEPHEN

    Hi:

    I love your spirit, your dream and determination. I also admire your open honest approach to asking for help. I have a land project in northern Ontario on the waterfront, and will build the first of 19 buildings this year. It will be my home base camp just for this old widower and his ‘stuff” while the project rolls out.

    I face the same footing problems. for a smallstructure yo uare better off with a bell slab and some steel rerod. The slab is thick at the outside edges…maybe 18 inches…tapering to a six inch center. You slap high density styrofoam insulation against the slab if you wish, to deter the worst of shifting. the bell slab will hang in there as long as it is on rubble rock of some sort that sheds water. The idea of hanging your cabin in the air presents problems. Critters love to live under them, chew them, and invade them. The poured floor can be heated, the concrete etched and yhou can lay insulation on the concrete floor then just lay down some advantex type resin imporegnated board. This will give you a warm floor. It can be stained/painted. Insulate the hell outof the ceiling. Sprayed foam is best around log joins and windows, and caulked well with something that is rubbery and gives. make shutters for your windows for when you are not there.
    Owls, grouse and ptarmigan will fly into the glass when it is reflective, and break the window if they are moving fast. The bell slab will not shift in most situations. If it does, it must do so in one piece. In permafrost or questionable footings, this is the technology we use in the north. When you pour the slab, at the same time pour a curb around the perimeter to set your sill logs or timbers on. This keeps the wall bottom up off the ground. Get a threaded rod system with a locknut and spring settup to keep the logs tight together. This should be done two feet from the bottom of the logs and maybe three feet down from the top. This will keep the logs tight. the nuts at the ends can be accessed to tighten if needs be from time to time as the building ages.
    The chainsaw mills are a joke. A portable band saw on the other hand is a great piece of kit. You can tow a small one behind an atv. We have a gator and they are capable of pulling a little bandsaw mill anywhere within reason. Make sure your logs are peeled well, and dry..reasonably, before you build. And build a building 8X10 for a sauna!! This is a must. Also, add a lean to roof on the side of your cabin where the sun isn’t, and also a covered porch big enough for two chairs, a six pack and a dog. Now then…you are livin’. Jacks yer uncle! All the best from Canada. Bell slab…if you remember anything…remember that!!

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