Cabin Exterior Inspection Tips
These cabin exterior inspection tips show you what to watch for when you are considering buying a pre-owned log home or cabin. Log homes have their own unique design issues and you can turn up potential problems or existing issues with a thorough and knowledgeable pre-purchase inspection.
Save yourself money and repairs and restoration by carefully evaluating the following areas that can be problem areas in log home construction.
For more definitions, explanations of terms and further details check out our log cabin glossary and cabin restoration glossary.
You can find more information on our cabin inspection checklist page.
Cabin Exterior Inspection Tips
- Landscaping for log homes is an art in
itself. Check that there is no landscaping too close to exterior log walls. All
plants and trees should be kept at least three feet away from the logs so that
air can circulate freely and there is no risk of splashback when it rains.
- Be sure that gutters and down spouts
have been installed and are in good working order. It’s very important that
water gets directed away from the cabin. Moisture control and water run-off
management are key when dealing with log homes.
- Check the HVAC system to ensure that
leaves or dirt haven’t collected on the fan blades or grill as this can block
the air flow necessary for efficient operation.
- Inspect any wood that is within 18
inches of the ground for softness or punky wood indicating rot. If any wood has
been in direct ground contact it must be suspect and inspected carefully.
- Check caulking around window and
door bucks and where logs join, such as butt joints and corners. Old, dried-out
caulking can shrink and allow air infiltration as well as bugs. In some cases
it can make the situation worse by collecting and holding water.
- Carefully inspect the exterior
finish for patterns of wear, fading or weathering. Keep in mind that
south-facing and west-facing log walls get more sun exposure which can cause
wood finishes and stains to weather more rapidly.
- Log walls that face into the
prevailing winds will get more rain and here you may be more likely to see
black stains from water seepage, and mold and mildew.
- Some log styles have exposed log ends that can
be susceptible to water damage from the water wicking into the exposed wood
- If your cabin roofing is asphalt or composite
shingles, check the gutters to see if there is a collection of granules which
have worn off of the roof. These sand-like granules are embedded in the asphalt
shingle to allow it to expand and contract in the heat and cold. When they
start wearing off you know the roof will need replacing soon.
- Check out how well the finish is
holding up by seeing if it beads up when splashed with water. If the water
simply soaks into the surface of the wood it’s time to renew your log stain or finish.
- Make sure that firewood or other
wood piles have been kept at least three feet away from the cabin. Wood is
termite food and they will build a trail from the dead wood in the wood pile to
the cabin logs.
- Include porches, decks and
other outdoor rooms in your cabin exterior
inspection to assess their integrity and construction as this will give you a
good indication of the quality of work done on the cabin itself. Are they
securely fastened to the structure? Are stairs and railings sturdy and strong?
Any evidence of rot or settling?
- Logs will naturally check and crack
as they dry but any large checks over ¼” should be filled, especially
upward-facing cracks that can collect rain and dirt.
- Inspect the fireplace chimney or any other stonework
for crumbling or loose mortar, missing stones and proper flashing.
- Pay close attention to the joinery
and places where logs meet other logs or other building components such as
windows, door bucks, roof line, vents and corners. These are the weak points
and must be carefully tended to in order to avoid breaks in the building
envelope. These penetrations must be addressed with quality caulks and chinking
specifically designed for log homes.
For more information on a cabin exterior inspection check out our pages on log cabin maintenance, as well as spring maintenance and fall cabin maintenance.
Our pages on log repair, cabin repair and cabin restoration also contain many useful tips and advice on maintaining your cabin in top shape.
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