The log home lifestyle is within reach of homeowners everywhere, whether their current homes are of conventional or log construction. More popular than ever, log additions to existing residential structures are gaining momentum with creativity and affordability. A log addition to a home of any style may be accomplished with planning, consultation, and vision.
“The sky is the limit on what you can do with a full-scribe handcrafted log home,” comments Brad Neu, president of Montana Log Homes, “and we have done quite a few additions for people that want to go with a log accent to an existing building of another style. We definitely see our share of additions, and we are fairly flexible, matching even 80-year-old buildings with the same construction techniques.”
Issues that must be addressed in the evaluation phase of an addition include settling of the existing structure, identifying load bearing walls that must remain generally intact, and matching the addition to the existing structure in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
“If the whole main building is of log construction, we will put in entry ways and trusses and eliminate the settling issue, possibly with a post and beam or with a flashing system on the roof,” adds Neu. “Log and stone blend well together, and wood sided homes often have log additions. So, you can maintain an exterior look with a blend of materials. Logs and timber always blend well together, and some homeowners even go with a combination of logs and timber from the start of construction on a main structure.”
Half logs or log siding offer other addition options, and the results for each are favorable. “We have done half log or log siding additions to conventionally framed homes so that except to the discerning eye you cannot tell that the addition isn’t full logs,” relates Craig Seider, director of design services with Expedition Log Homes. “The trick comes in when you have a half log addition to a full log structure. You have to keep the addition within the footprint of the original structure to help with roof lines, and an experienced builder is critical going into the project so that the structure is not compromised.”
When a log addition is introduced to a home of contrasting style and construction, the design element has an opportunity to shine. “Any addition is a challenge, and you truly never know what you are getting into until you get started,” Seider notes. “We usually want to keep styles similar and keep roofs the same because we are taking an aesthetic risk with different roofs. We have done that a couple of times, and it has actually worked out well with cooperative and competent design teams and builders.”
At Southland Log Homes, Chief Executive Officer Ken Sekley sees a steady stream of clients seeking log additions. He stresses two critical elements during consultations. First, understanding the characteristics of the existing structure is critical to an assurance that its integrity will be maintained or enhanced when the project is complete. Second, homeowners and consultants always work to come up with a look that is compatible.
“I advise homeowners to work with someone who can help select the proper look,” Sekley comments. “That includes a stacking pattern and the style of logs, rounded or flat. Logs are very versatile, and design expertise can help them work with any type of structure from existing logs to timber or frame. Whether someone is adding to an existing log home, wants to introduce a rustic, back to nature look, or is interested in going green, they should consider logs.”
In any log addition scenario, cost must be closely estimated and managed. Full log construction may present some savings in minimizing the use of sheetrock and other materials, while the log siding or half log approaches are options for either interior or exterior finishes and offer savings of their own depending on the size of the addition and the look to be achieved. In either case, the complexity of construction is manageable, says Sekley. Logs, for example, must be tied in one with another, and the builder must be certain of the integrity at the point of tie-in.
“Interior log improvements are certainly possible,” said Neu. “Often, we will do log slabs for an interior. It does not have to be half logs. If we are doing a chink style, then we can stack and come back and put the chinking in. Another method is to saw an edge on the slabs so that they match, or to buy siding already cut and prepared.”
Ultimately, the finished project must reflect the personality of the homeowner and present an aesthetically pleasing look. “Sometimes, we strip and restain the entire exterior to make everything blend as seamlessly as possible,” Neu continues. “Landscaping is an obvious concern, while we have also concentrated on matching stone around a foundation. Log style and size must be matched. Many times, the roof of the existing home will have faded, and that can be an interesting transition. Depending on the age of the structure, you could re-roof everything for a match. A forest green painted metal roof that was put on 20 years ago can be handled in several ways. t can be replaced or fully repainted, or the color of the addition can be matched to the color of the old roof—but that comes with a little expense.”
Along with the option of pressure washing and completely restaining log and wood exteriors, matching existing stains on log, wood or timber homes can be accomplished. “Blending in is a straightforward choice with stains or coatings that can be tinted to any color, like a color match that is done with paint, concludes Sekley. “One question to ask is whether you want a direct match or a complimentary match. Although an addition is a good time to freshen up the entire structure, I don’t think it is always necessary to pressure wash and stain both the original and the addition.”
The introduction of exterior or interior log additions enlivens an existing home and provides the owner with satisfying warmth, comfort and beautiful surroundings that will last a lifetime.