Log Cabin Design Tips
Save Money with Efficient Design
Log cabin design requires careful thought and planning in order to achieve efficiency and control construction costs. There are a number of areas where you can save money and construction time by investing time in your design.
Many people don't realize that you can save the most money on cabin construction long before the first log is laid. It all begins with thoughtful design.
- Understand how your log home systems interact and work
together. Integrate them for maximum efficiency and cost savings.
- Stack bathrooms over each other, or
stack a bathroom over the kitchen to save on plumbing costs.
- Spend some time on your property at
different times of the day and different seasons to get a sense of light and
shadow, as well as views that reveal themselves when the leaves disappear.
Orient your house to take advantage of the views and the light.
- To utilize passive solar gain, keep
the main façade facing south and include long overhangs to block summer sun but
still allow winter sun to peek under the eaves. Take advantage of the free
energy from the sun by using solar power. Active solar power utilization
includes mounting photo voltaic (PV) solar panels on your roof, or solar water heater panels
to heat water for domestic use or to heat your cabin
- If utilizing an existing log cabin floor plans, bear in mind that it’s
generally not a problem to simply flip the entire design if that gives you a
better layout for your site.
- Keep your footprint square to save
money on corners – one of the reasons costs can escalate as corners are more
difficult for concrete forms, framing, finishing, cabin roofing, etc.
- Build up rather than out and you
will save money since your footprint remains small. You will maximize
your log cabin design and capture more usable floor space on the same
foundation on upper levels.
- Plan in an outdoor room to bring the outside in and
the inside out. Outdoor space comes in at a fraction of the cost of finished
- Be careful of too much open,
sweeping space inside your cabin. Utilize log cabin design elements such as gas stoves, stairways or kitchen islands to break up and define the spaces.
- Cozy is good, too. Some rooms
benefit from a cozy feel, such as bedrooms and kitchens. Tuck these under a
ceiling and leave the open cathedral ceiling for the great room.
- A big, open space demands large
elements: Plan a big fireplace or heavy fireplace mantel to offset the wide open
- Skip exposed rafters and floor
joists. The costs rise dramatically when you use exposed rafters and floor
joists since the large beams needed to support the roof and floor loads are not
only expensive, but they also require heavy equipment to set them.Using exposed
rafters also means that the roof insulation will have to be dealt
with by putting it on top of the roof deck in the form of rigid open- or
close-celled foam. This is quite expensive and increases the labor costs as
well.If you do use exposed roof beams, the best way to insulate the area is to
utilize SIPs, or structural insulated panels.
These SIPs span large areas with rigid building panels that are pre-constructed
with insulation and even finished interior or exterior surfaces.
- Incorporate Aging In Place and Universal Design elements
to increase the enjoyment of your cabin and extend the time you are able to
remain in your home.
- Understand the log standards that have been developed by
the International Code Council to establish baselines for log strength, fire
resistance and settling.
- Utilize optimal value engineering techniques to increase energy efficiency and reduce building costs.
- Don’t be afraid of using drywall on
some interior walls. This can break up the expanse of wood and provide dramatic
relief with bold colors or set off the wood with a soothing pale shade.
- Tucking your fireplace in the corner on the diagonal
makes a commanding statement and saves space as well.
- Use a stone-faced fireplace instead of solid
stone. Building up a solid stone fireplace is not for the fainthearted. The
costs rise with the chimney height and you must support all that weight with a
substantial foundation.The alternative is to frame in a fireplace insert, sheath it
and face it with either thin stone or cultured
("manufactured") stone. Cultured stone weighs significantly
less than real stone and in some parts of the country even costs less.
- Good lighting is made up of three key
elements: task lighting, ambient lighting, and overall space lighting.
Consider carefully how you include all three.
- Install plenty of outlets such as: extra wall GFCI outlets in the bath for blow dryers; extra outlets around the drop-off station or kitchen counter for cell phone chargers; extra outlets in closets for battery chargers and plug-in flashlights; Outlets on your covered porch for a coffeemaker or reading lamp.
- Install Cat-5 / Cat-5e / Cat 6 ethernet cable to every place where you might want a desk or computer at any time in the future so it will be easy to expand your capabilities.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind to save money and maximize efficiency with your log cabin design.
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