Log Homes Last For Generations
Properly designed and constructed log homes will outlive many types of structure – there are many examples around the world of such buildings exceeding 200 years old. Our customers have found that EcoLog Homes are very popular on the real estate market, holding their value extremely well and often out-performing conventional cottages and homes in local resale markets.
Factors which contribute to a long-lasting log home include the features of an EcoLog kit – quality logs, a design that shelters the walls with a large overhang, and a recommended clearance above grade.
Logs are strong – while reinforced concrete contains embedded iron rods to give it strength and flexibility, weight-for-weight, coniferous wood like Eastern hemlock is four times stronger. Equally strong wooden structures are therefore much lighter, and this is important for EcoLog customers.
EcoLog Homes kits mainly use Eastern hemlock from Haliburton Forest, a multi-use property of 100,000 acres that is recognized as the first sustainable forest in Canada.
We harvest about 2,000 acres of forest annually in a very careful, selective way, meaning the Haliburton Forest will grow in perpetuity. We also have our own sawmills and we are the single largest employer in Haliburton County, meaning that when you buy an EcoLog home, you are buying local wood, from a local supplier and supporting local jobs.
Wood has proven itself over thousands of years as a durable and comfortable structural building material, and our log homes demonstrate these features to this day.
The origin of EcoLog Homes is an unhappy incident at Haliburton Forest, but one of those unhappy incidents that our foresters and sawmillers turned into an exciting opportunity. In July 1995, a tornado ripped through our property and knocked down nearly 5,000 acres of trees in just two minutes. It was an awful mess and we Haliburton Forest was left with a lot of timber to use up in a hurry.
While there was a market for our hardwoods, there was no market at that time for our Eastern hemlock. Rather than give up, Haliburton Forest decided to experiment, by turning the Eastern hemlock trees into square log timbers, then using those timber to form log structure for utility purposes.
Soon, visitors to Haliburton Forest were asking where they too could acquire these square timber log structures. Their requests were accommodated and EcoLog Homes was born.
We knew that Eastern hemlock had been used throughout the 19th century to build barns and we knew that many of the barns still standing had Eastern hemlock beams. We also know that Eastern hemlock is still the building material of choice in certain communities – and that it is often used to build underwater structures and docks. We also knew that hemlock – unlike spruce or pine – is the hardest of the softwoods and that it has a high tannin content, meaning it is naturally insect and rot resistant.
So we have continued with our unique hemlock home tradition at EcoLog Homes, and we stand by our product and our wood of choice. One measure of our success is our long list of happy customers - and the other is the consistently high resale value of the cottages or houses constructed using the kits sold by EcoLog Homes.
Wood is formed in the tree by the action of sunlight (photosynthesis) reacting with the chlorophyll in the leaves or needles of trees, and using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and moisture from the soil, through the roots.
One of the biggest issues ever faced by life on this planet is global warming, which is caused by burning fossil fuels and thus releasing too much carbon dioxide too quickly into our atmosphere. It is the forests of the world that counteract this problem by absorbing the carbon dioxide and “locking it up” in the wood.
When wood is burned or left to naturally decompose, that carbon dioxide is returned to the atmosphere. But when that tree is used for a log home, and another oxygen-producing tree grows to replace it, more carbon dioxide stays locked-up than before the house was built.
There is only one truly abundant element on this planet, carbon, and only one truly renewable resource, wood. Using wood efficiently is key to protecting the environment for generations to come.
EcoLog Homes clients not only enjoy living in a spiritually-soothing, naturally-sourced home that was once a living organism, but also live with the knowledge that they are contributing in a positive way by “banking” carbon within their walls.
Wood has natural insulating properties, with softwood like Eastern hemlock being superior to most hardwoods in this respect. Trees are made up of cells that contain air and moisture, which gives the wood its insulating and soundproofing qualities, and its breathability to adjust to humidity.
Wood is twelve times more insulating than concrete, and it is much less heat conductive than any metal and many synthetic materials as well. Traditionally, pot handles and fireplace tool handles were wood. In the days when cash was kept in iron safes, those safes were often wood-lined to block the heat in case of fire.
Wood responds to its surrounding environment. Wood absorbs moisture when the ambient humidity is high and loses moisture in dry conditions. Wood provides a measure of natural air conditioning, helping to keep room temperature constant. With a log house, humidity tends to be maintained at a comfortable level.
The effect known as Thermal Mass, which describes how the solid walls of structures like log homes have the characteristic of being able to store heat and then release it later, also greatly helps to even out the daily fluctuations in temperature and contributes significantly to a measurably lower heating cost. Log homes stay cool in the summer heat and cozy in winter due not just to the insulating qualities of the logs but also this Thermal Mass effect.
Log Homes Are Safe
The logs do not “off-gas” organic solvents or formaldehyde like man-made materials tend to do. At EcoLog, we strive to include as little non-natural material as possible, which is why EcoLog kits are literally full of wood.
The chinking we supply with each kit, which is applied to insulation between each course of timbers, is water-based, and we use natural hardwood dowels to pin each wall log together.
In terms of fire safety, we know that wood can burn. But from naturally-occurring forest fires we also know that big trees in their natural state do not burn easily. An outer layer of charcoal forms, and it becomes difficult for the fire to reach the inside, as there is a lack of oxygen. Our logs, at a full 8” thick, are larger and heavier than those of most other production log homes.