You’ve always wanted to live in a log home and are finally ready to make the move. But you don’t know a lot about them and you want to make sure the logs are in good condition. You’ve looked for but couldn’t find local log inspectors in the phone book and the home inspector you talked to didn’t know much about logs either. How can you be sure you’re making a good decision on your investment?
That’s a great question and many perspective home buyers are searching for answers. You may be able to find certified or licensed home inspectors who specialize in log homes but you will probably have to do some searching. You may also want to contact a local log home restoration company and ask if they can inspect the home.
There are also an increasing number of certified log inspectors who are knowledgeable about the integrity of logs and conditions which cause problems in log structures. The internet is an excellent source of information when looking for these services.
Because it is unrealistic to have every home professionally inspected, I have put together a simple Log Inspection Checklist for you to use when visiting log homes for sale.
As a Certified Log Inspector, the first thing I do is look at the home while pulling in the driveway to get an overall view of the home from a distance.
The number one enemy of logs is water. Start your inspection from the roof peak and visualize a drop of water as it seeks a way to reach the log surface. Begin with the roof line and look for humps or dips which could indicate improper settling. Check the condition of the roof and ask when it was last replaced. Are the gutters in good condition or are there any gutters at all? Does the roof have adequate overhang of 18” or more? If not, then your drop of water can find its way to the log surface below.
Even if there is sufficient roof overhang the water that drains off the roof will hit the ground causing backsplash. Because of this you want to check for adequate ground clearance of 12” or more. Any surface near the home can cause backsplash problems such as basement access doors, propane tanks, furniture, landscaping, decks or any other objects close to the house.
You now have a pretty good idea where water may accumulate on the log surface and can begin inspecting exterior logs more closely. Since it is not possible to test every log for integrity, you should concentrate on the areas you have determined may be most likely to accumulate water. These areas may be indicated by mold, mildew, fungi, checks (cracks in the logs), insect holes, large gaps between logs, caulking or chinking gaps or tears (material between log courses), peeling or fading finish, green or blackened logs.
If you suspect an area that may have decay ask the homeowner or agent for permission to lightly tap the logs with a hammer. Compare that sound with a log you know is in good condition. The good log will sound solid and hard and a rotted log will sound hollow and soft. Log rot is difficult to find as the log can look perfectly normal on the outside but hollow and in advanced stages of rot on the inside.
Make sure any porches or decks are in good shape too. Many times the posts are in contact with the ground and may be supporting your porch roof. A sagging porch roof may indicate post rot.
When inspecting the interior of the home make sure the windows and doors operate properly. If they don’t, this may be due to improper allowance for settling during construction. Look for gaps or light between log courses, in corners and where the roof sits on top of the log wall. The roof rafters, purlins and ridge beam where they intersect the log walls are also common areas of air infiltration that will affect energy efficiency.
Look for water stains on the log surface which would indicate a broken seal or caulk problems. Check for small round holes or powder like talc which could indicate previous or current insect problems.
In the basement check for accumulations of water on the floor, mold on the walls, or a musty smell which would indicate poor drainage.
When you have narrowed down your choices to one or two homes, it is advisable to have the logs inspected by a log professional or a qualified home inspector who is familiar with logs.
We hope you find this helpful while searching for your new log home!
This article was written by Tom Tydeman, Certified Log Inspector and owner of Log Options, LLC