EcoLog FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

 

Question MarkQ: Can I get an EcoLog home as a single-level bungalow style home, without the loft?

A: The EcoLog roofline, with its steep 12/12 pitch, is a large part of the iconic traditional “look" that defines EcoLog homes, as well as enclosing a useful and spacious loft area. But for those clients who want a lower roofline without the loft space, we can design a conventional truss roof from an outside supplier which can also allow for a greater span, but at the expense of the soaring cathedral ceiling with its rustic heavy timber frame.

 

Q: What sort of foundation do I need for an EcoLog home or cottage?

A: An EcoLog can be built on any type of standard foundation. Most common is a full basement, with a walk-out if the lot is sloped. Other choices are a crawl-space or frost-wall, an engineered slab-on-grade or concrete piers. Material choices range from ICF (insulated concrete forms) popular with customers who will use a full-height basement, and either poured concrete or concrete block for crawl-space and frost-wall foundations.

 

Q: What sort of heating system should I get for my EcoLog home?

A: EcoLog homes and cottages can be heated in exactly the same way as frame-built houses. Most customers choose a furnace, either oil or propane as available, if the home is used (or will be used in the future) year-round. Other choices are electric baseboard heaters, radiant (electric or hydronic) and wood heat. Many EcoLog homes combine two or more systems such as a furnace and a fireplace – and customers have told us that a large well-placed fireplace is all most EcoLogs need, as long as there is someone to tend it!

 

Q: What’s the R-value of an EcoLog wall?

A: The short answer is: About R-13. However, with any solid wall construction such as ours, R-values, which came into everyday language during the energy “crisis” of the early 1970s as an easy way to quantify heat transference through cavity (frame-built) walls, only tell part of the story. A big influence on the cozy warmth inside a log home is due the Thermal Mass effect, which is a characteristic of heavy building components that allow the structure to store heat instead of simply slowing the flow of heat. The same characteristic accounts for the natural coolness in a log home during the hottest of summer days. The R-value of softwoods like hemlock is as much as twice that of hardwoods, as insulation is provided by trapped air spaces within the wood fibres. There are further benefits to heavy-timber construction, including consistent thermal value within the wall with no thermal bridges as in light-frame construction, no settling of insulation, and the natural movement of moisture instead of the need to prevent the moisture penetration into most cavity insulation material, which will be seriously detrimental to its insulating abilities. The Ontario Building Code was substantially revised in January 2012 with a heavy emphasis on energy conservation and use. At that time, we asked an engineer to calculate the R-value of our wall system based on our 8”x8” solid hemlock logs and discovered that our traditional way of building actually exceeded the new Code requirements without any modifications.

 

Q: Do I have to stain or otherwise use chemicals on my EcoLog?

A: The Eastern Hemlock we use to build EcoLog kits is naturally rich in tannins, which discourage insect attack and the growth of moulds. Some EcoLog owners choose to apply a stain to the exterior as an aesthetic consideration, but it is not a requirement to do so. Some owners will stain each log before construction, while others wait as long as ten years before deciding to change the outside appearance of their EcoLog. If left to nature, the logs will slowly darken to a deep grey colour, after many years of exposure. Inside, it changes very little and stays a pale honey colour.

 

Q: Do log homes require a lot more maintenance than frame houses?

A: All homes, whatever the style of construction, require maintenance – and log homes need about the same as any other beyond the first year. Initially, as the logs settle during the months following construction, it may become necessary to “wind down” the adjustable screw bases beneath the posts supporting the loft floor to allow the loft to match the exterior wall height, normally less than 4cm. Spaces above doors and windows may need repacking with insulation as they become slightly reduced. Some areas may need some more chinking applied – once done, these areas should be good for many years. These are things your builder can easily take care of for you. After that, it’s simply a matter of checking annually on caulking around doors and windows, making sure water does not “pond” against outside walls and keeping an eye on roof condition, as with any home.

 

Q: Does it cost more to build an EcoLog, compared to frame construction?

A: Largely because of the way we have designed our kits to be easily erected, and therefore save on construction time, costs should be within 10% of conventional building, and maybe even less. Once your log wall is erected, it’s done! No finishing, no drywall, no painting. Our roof trusses are designed on 4’ centres so they normally install in less than one day. Logs are cut to fit window and door placement, requiring minimal trimming once installed, and should not need any further cutting on-site.

 

Q: How long is the process from signing a contract with EcoLog to taking delivery of the home kit?

A: Well, it is a process and some of it is beyond our control, but as a rough idea you should allow 7-8 weeks to get final drawings and engineering completed. After that you will use the drawings to apply for your building permit(s). Once that is done work can start on the footings, foundations and subfloor. As soon as the drawings are finished, and while the permits etc. are moving ahead, our sawmill will be cutting your logs to get them ready for delivery as soon as the subfloor is in place and the foundation backfilled. It takes us about four weeks to cut the logs for your house so the timing usually works out very well. From start to delivery, a minimum of about three months is standard. Many customers will decide to start the paperwork in the fall with the construction getting underway early spring – this allows plenty of time for plan revisions and permits in an unhurried way.

 

Q: Can I visit an EcoLog home?

A: Yes, you may. With a day or two notice generous some local (Haliburton Forest area) EcoLog owners will welcome prospective customers into their homes for a close-up look at an EcoLog. Depending on scheduling, it may also be possible to visit an EcoLog construction site for anyone with an interest in building, or just for some added background information.

 

Q: What about electric wiring, plumbing?

A: With an EcoLog home, there is no exposed (surface) wiring or plumbing. To achieve this merely requires some forethought at the building stage. Using the construction drawings supplied as part of your kit, simply advise your builder (or ask your electrician to do this) of the locations of electric outlets etc. During the construction process, your builder will drill logs as necessary to allow your electrician to install wiring within the wall. Wiring and plumbing will also be concealed inside interior walls and floor spaces as in any conventional construction. Wiring for ceiling lights is run within the loft floor system, designed with a space for just this purpose.

 

Q: Do the logs shrink?

A: EcoLog uses eight-inch square Eastern Hemlock for the solid log walls. In our experience, builders prefer to work with our heavy timbers within a few months of harvesting the logs, while there is still some amount of natural moisture remaining in the wood. EcoLog uses hardwood dowelling to pin the logs and this means there are many holes to be drilled during construction. Hemlock gets very hard as it dries out (which can take well over a year or two) and drilling the holes becomes more time-consuming. So we expect, and design for, a small amount of shrinkage in our logs during the first year or two following construction. We allow for this by using specially-designed and custom-made post bases which may need to be adjusted after the first year, which you or your builder can easily do. Once done, these should not require any further adjustment. As with all solid log buildings, EcoLog homes will continue to experience minuscule log movements as seasonal humidity levels change - this is part of the natural process that allows wood to "breathe" and adds to a healthy indoor environment. Our premium acrylic chinking between the logs remains flexible and assures a good seal.