Inspecting a log home

Originally Posted By: gmerlo
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Is anyone aware of any pitfalls that may accompany an inspection of a log home? I was just called a few moments ago and asked if I would do an inspection on one, and was also told that the guy called a few other inspectors that said they don’t inspect log homes. Am I getting into something I should avoid? I am not sure about the style of construction other than the buyer’s description sounds like a more modern “engineered” log home, complete with modern amenities, including “in log” electrical raceways and hidden plumbing.

Any help by some members on log home inspections, what to look for (beside the obvious WDI infestation), what are the most common problems, etc., is greatly appreciated.

Originally Posted By: dhadler
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Hi Gary:

Windows and doors are often not installed very well. They usually need room for shrinkage (especially if they are two stories) . They are usually just nailed to their casings on both sides of the windows which is what holds them in place. The top of the opening is cut up 1 1/2 to 2 inches taller than the window and is then loosely filled with fiberglass insulation and then covered with an extra wide trim board on top…there is a reason for the wider trim on top of doors and windows!

Usually the caulking and chinking shrinks and needs to maintained. That's the stuff between the logs on the outside of the home. Some flat faced machined logs that are double tongue and grooved do not require any caulking. Always recommend good maintenance on its exterior to protect the logs and if your in an area that receives hail storms, advise them to re-seal those exterior finishes after a good hail as they break the finish and usually start peeling shortly after and that is some nasty long work sanding and re-finishing etc. Better to re-seal before that happens.
You can take that one from me ![icon_exclaim.gif](upload://kW92MliyHA8ygoXI0UsgtBSn4ZO.gif) I built my own cedar log home 27 years ago and had first hand experience at that.

Absolutely loved that home, but they are fairly high maintenance as the exterior needs attention every 4-5 years on the sunny sides and 7-8 years on the other two sides. Other than checking windows and doors for good maintenance and caulking and poor installation the wiring and plumbing should be no different than any other home I know of. They are both concealed and can't be inspected there.

One other item is that most log walls are bearing walls...even the interior log walls as they are notched and intermingled. Most will have double or triple joists under them and the teleposts or support beams will usually be heavier than normal as these babies are HEAVY Let the clients know to expect some rain penetration in a driving wind/rain storm as this does happen. Usually in the corners and sometimes through the odd knot in the log. I used to kinda watch for them and just throw down an old towel when it happened. This is very common even if it is well maintained.

Hope this helps a little

Darrell Hadler
Five Star Home Inspections
Medicine Hat, Alberta CANADA

Originally Posted By: gmerlo
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Thanks Darrell,

This was very helpful. I've never inspected a log home before, and got a little worried when the buyer said no other inspector would do it. I was afraid I was treading where others would not go. I kind of thought that a modern, engineered log home would be inspected somewhat the same as a traditional stick-built home, but still was a little "spooked". I certainly appreciate your helpful comments.

Noticed you hail from Alberta. Great country you have there. Been through it a few times, mostly Calgary & Edmonton, and those fabulous parks, Jasper & Banff. Do you do any elk or whitetail hunting? Have always wanted to hunt these two animals in Alberta. One of these days, I'm going to give Alberta a try. I absolutely love the mountains, and Alberta's Rockies are the best I've seen.

Originally Posted By: lkage
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You can get a log home inspection primer emailed from Larry O'Connor here:

"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him."
Galileo Galilei