Log Cabin Inspections

Log Cabin Inspections Florida

Certified Log Cabin Inspections

 

A  log cabin is commonly built two ways. A scribed home or a chinked home.  If you are interviewing home inspectors that would be the first  question to ask if they know the difference. A certified log cabin home  inspector will be able to tell you the difference. A log cabin home  inspection is totally different then a general home inspection  for framed conventional home. A log cabin home inspection concentrates  areas of the home that are foundation related and settling to just name a  few. Additionally, not every home inspector is certified for home  inspections. They must pass a completely different course and 120 class  room hours. Also, the home inspector should have this entity  specifically on his business insurance. Below you will find a list of  elements that is inspected on a Log Cabin Home Inspection.

SETTLING

Settling  is the loss of wall height over time. It's one of the major concerns  for a log home. Let's look at some of the causes and consequences of  settling.

Moisture

Log  homes may be built from green logs, which are recently cut with a high  moisture content. Or, they were built with logs that have been  kiln-dried so that their moisture content is no higher then 19%. Some  log homes may have been built using logs with moisture content somewhere  between the two extremes.

Moisture  content is important because as long as logs continue to lose bound  water [which is the water contained in the woods cell material as  opposed to the water in the cell cavities] the logs will continue to  shrink in diameter. When logs shrink the log walls settle which will  result in height loss. When a home has stopped settling then the home  has reached its (EMC) equilibrium moisture content with its  environment. 

Gable Ends

If  the home has a gable roof and the fables are built using green logs,  the gable will settle as the logs dry. Normally, in framing a gable  roof, the ends of the ridge are supported by the gabled wall at each end  of the roof. If that wall is losing height because the logs are  settling, what is happening to each end of the ridge? If the ridge is  securely fastened to the logs, roof connections are going to be stressed  until some roof or wall framing components break or become  disconnected. Either way both are bad events.

Doors and Windows

When  constructing a log cabin home, normally the contractor will have a  settling space above the doors and windows so that the weight of the  wall will not bear on the doors and windows. The settling space is  typically covered with trim which is installed in such a way that it can  slide as settling takes place. A newer home built with green logs that  has no settling space installed above the doors and windows is a major  deficiency. An inspector who fails to notice this condition would be  making a major mistake.

Staircases

As  walls lose height, anything connected to them also loses height. If a  staircase rests on a floor at the bottom and, at the same time, is  attached to a landing or floor joists that are losing height as the  walls settle, after a while, the treads will no longer be level. There  are a number of ways to correct this. but you have to know what to look  for.

Partition Walls

Partition  walls in log homes are typically framed conventionally. This means that  although the log walls will settle, the partition walls will not. If  the partition walls are framed from floor to ceiling, as they would be  in a conventional home, something bad will happen as the settling log  walls transfer weight tot he partition walls that were not designed to  bear a load. The stress will build until the weakest component fails.  The intersections of conventional walls and log walls have to be framed  using methods that will allow the log walls to settle while the  conventional walls stay put. Failure to use a connection method that  will accommodate different settling rates can cause major problems.

Plumbing Pipes and Rigid Conduit

In  homes of two stories or more, plumbing pies and rigid conduit that are  installed vertically will accumulate stress as log walls settle. There  are ways to accommodate settling. Using slip joints and coils are two  methods for overcoming this problem. Flexible copper tubing is sometimes  used instead of rigid copper pipe. It is also possible to see the  methods and materials used, and sometimes it may not be.

Screw Jacks

In  order to accommodate settling, log homes sometimes use screw jacks,  which must be adjusted occasionally. Screw jacks are often hidden behind  trim, so you have to know where to look for them. Posts that support  porch roofs and lofts are common places to find screw jacks. They maybe  installed at the top or bottom of a post.

WOOD DECAY

Runoff

Most  home inspectors are familiar with wood decay. Designing features that  direct runoff onto log walls, especially extensions at outside corners,  will encourage the development of decay. This is decay you can see  because it usually appears as dark discoloration. It happens first at  log extensions because the exposed end-grain absorbs moisture faster  than the rest of the log's surface. Lower logs are also at risk due to  being soaked by rain or splash back and are less protected by roof  overhang.

Hidden Decay

Hidden  decay is a big problem with log cabin homes. Hidden decay can not be  seen and at times can destroy the home. A common scenario is that the  home is located in a region with high humidity. If an impermeable finish  coating is applied to log exteriors while the interior log moisture  content is high enough to allow decay to take place, that moisture will  be trapped inside the log and decay will continue as long as there is  adequate moisture in the wood. There are tests that can be performed to  determine this.

Finish Coatings

Logs  become deteriorated by weather. finish coatings are designed to protect  log surfaces from UV damage and excessive checking caused by log  drying. Some coatings also prevent attack by some wood-destroying  insects. In the report it will be noted if there is enough coating on  the logs . This is done by a spray test.

Wood Destroying Insects (WDO)

In  the State of Florida it is recommended to have an exterminator perform  this test, due to regulation. While performing our inspection we will  look for obvious signs of WDI. However, an exterminator will also treat  the contaminated area while performing the inspection.