WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A LOG AND TIMBER HOME
The old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” certainly applies when buying a custom Log or Timber Frame Home. A complete log home inspection by someone familiar with the intricacies of Log Homes, inside and out so you can assess and address any potential problem areas. The exterior logs may not look perfect but that doesn’t mean you should walk away, some log homes just need a little tender love and care to bring them back to their original beauty. Log homes have some characteristics that are very different from conventional homes. Here are a few things to look for with a log home inspection.
1. Log Home Settling and Shrinking
Log homes tend to settle more, but all log homes have a bit of settling and shrinking. Settling typically occurs over the first few years as the logs dry, lose their moisture and shrink. A properly built log home will take this shrinkage into consideration when building to ensure you don’t have major cracks or structural damage.
2. Examine the Log Home Exterior
It’s not uncommon for log homes to look a bit dirty and have some flaking on their finish, but if you notice black spots on the exterior surface, this could be a sign of mold or mildew. You can use a tool (such as a hammer) to lightly tap on the dark area, if you notice a hollow sound it’s a good indication of rotting within the logs. A professional inspector will likely have other tools to examine the area.
3. Inspect Log Home Finishing Stains and Coatings
Logs can easily become deteriorated by weather. Different stains and coatings are designed to protect log surfaces from UV damage, while some also prevent destruction from wood-loving insects and pests. To test the effectiveness of the log home’s finish, spray the logs lightly with water – if the water beads on the surface, all is well, but if it is absorbed by the wood, then the finish is no longer functioning properly. Speak to either your inspector or a log home repair specialist in your area for advice on what is required to ensure no further damage occurs.
4. Look for Insect Infestation
Fortunately, most wood-destroying insects tend to leave behind little clues of infestation. The entry and exit holes can tell you what species of insects you are dealing with, while sometimes you may actually see the insects themselves. Both termites and carpenter ants shed their wings and burrow into the wood when they reach a new location, leaving behind tell-tale piles of wings and small bits of sawdust-like particles around holes. Be sure to research what damage-causing insect is in your area, as well as any tips on how to prevent infestations.
5. Ensure there is Proper Drainage
We talk often of the perimeter of your home having proper drainage, and it is crucial that no logs are touching soil or grass. As beautiful as your landscaping can be, it can cause serious moisture issues and bug infestations. It’s recommended that plants and bushes be at least 3ft away from the homes foundation. Be sure to walk with full perimeter of the log home to ensure you don’t miss any problem areas.
6. Was Proper Flashing Installed
Make sure the proper flashing has been installed around windows, roof, doors and any deck areas, there should not be any large gap between the flashing. Also, when water drips off the roof and onto the deck it tends to splash back onto the house, so keep an eye out for water damage. Even if you are examining the home during the summer your log home inspector will be able to help you identify what happens when it rains.
7. Gutters and Downspots Direct Water Away
Though not all that aesthetically-pleasing, gutters prevent water from running down the exterior walls and causing water damage to your log home. The downspouts also direct water away from the foundation. Keep in mind after purchasing a home, it’s not enough to have them installed, you will need to maintain the integrity of the gutters by cleaning out any debris that may cause a backup and overflow of water. Check the area for overhanging tree branches as they are often the culprit of blockage.
8. Overhangs and Exposed Logs
Overhangs keep snow and rain from saturating the foundation and off the exterior walls. They should be no less than 24 inches and at least 36 inches on a two-story home. Logs that have been exposed to natural elements can turn grey and begin to rot over time creating huge structural damage to the home. This extremely important over decks and garages. Many builders like to expose large timbers because it looks great, however with no protection from weather these logs become rotten over the years and can harm the structure of the house.
9. Missing or Messy Chinking or Caulking
Look for any spots where the chinking or caulk is missing, chipped or broken. This could be an indication that other areas of the home may not be up to par, insulation for example could be greatly compromised by faults in the chinking.
Inspection is complete, now what?
If during the Log Home inspection there are some areas of the home that need attention and repair, give 888-LOG-GUYS a call, we have 20+ years of experience in log home repair, restoration and maintenance. We are happy to provide a free quote.