Characteristics and styles of log cabins
It’s quite hard to
find somebody in today’s day and age who hasn’t seen a log cabin,
whether in real life or online. But where did these well-known
structures originate from? Apparently log structures started out in
Scandinavia and Eastern Europe in ancient history (around 3,500
B.C.). From there, the trend of constructing a dwelling made of
wooden logs spread to North America and the rest is pretty much
cabins were made up of horizontal logs interlocked with notches, or
cog joints, at each end. Any gaps were filled up with smaller wedges,
moss or mortar to keep out the elements.
Today, the term ‘log
cabin’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean a rustic-styled wooden
cottage or hut in a rural setting somewhere, even though this was how
they began. In fact, once a symbol of humble living, modern-day log houses can be quite modern (and pricey) depending on location and finishes,
and numerous holiday destinations (in South Africa and abroad)
capitalise on the charm and rustic splendour exuded by log cabins.
But even though
conversations about log cabins and wooden houses generally refer to
the same structures, there is a difference between the two designs. A
log is the round(ish) tree trunk before it is processed into timber.
As soon as the logs are put through a sawmill and cut up into planks,
they become timber. The easiest way to distinguish between a log
cabin and wooden house is to look at the structure’s walls and
corners: if they are all regular and machined (even if the planks
have been machined to a rounded appearance), they are timber homes.
Yet if they look solid and round, it is a log home/cabin.
The pros and cons of
Think you’d be happy
shacking up in a log cabin? First consider the pros and cons.
Probably the biggest drawback of living in a
house made (almost) entirely of wood is termites, ants and other
creatures that feast on timber.
It can also be quite tricky to wire a log
structure with electricity, not to mention water piping.
Full-log homes have no insulation, meaning they
are extremely hot in the South African summer and freezing cold
during winter. Conventional systems need to be put in place.
As soon as the logs start to shrink, you’ll
have to keep caulking the space in-between them.
As a natural material, wood needs to undergo
maintenance if you want to use it for your house. Thus, those logs
will need to be stained/sealed every 3 – 5 years to protect the
wood from a range of factors, from fighting moisture build-up to
keeping the logs from decaying or splitting.
Log walls are natural sound insulators.
Log homes exude a prestigious and beautiful
Log cabins are more energy efficient if built
and caulked properly compared to an identical wood-frame house.
Buildings made from timber can be extremely
durable. And even though earthquakes are not a major issue in South
Africa, wooden structures are able to absorb ground movements without
the entire design being compromised.
Wooden homes can be very cost effective,
meaning you won’t need to break the bank if you’re planning to
build your dream home out of logs.
The costs of log
South Africans dreaming
of owning their very own log cabin are in luck: we have numerous
builders and suppliers ready to help you construct your wooden dream
home. Of course prices range considerably depending on factors such
as finishes, location, type of supplier, the size of the home you
wish to build, extra amenities, etc. However, R8,500 per square metre
is the asking price of one building company located in Pretoria. For
an additional R75 per square metre, thatch roofs can be erected as
If you’re looking at
a high-quality, solid log or wooden house with high interior finishes, you can expect a
budget of around R5,500/m². Keep in mind that this price can
definitely be lowered by incorporating innovative design and plenty
of open-plan living areas.
Log cabins: prefab
or normal build?
structures are also to be found in South African architecture, and
seeing as they offer a range of benefits (such as speedy
construction, affordability and energy efficiency), this type of
building has definitely gained popularity during the past few years.
However, be sure to do
thorough research, contact quite a few suppliers and weigh the
various options (and quotes) up against each other to discover
whether a prefab or traditionally built log house will best suit your
Let homify help
Whether it’s a
colonial-style log cabin or a super modern house constructed out of
bricks, homify has an ever-expanding collection of residential
designs ready to inspire you. In addition, we also help to put you in
contact with a wealth of professionals in the architectural and
design realms (including architects,
interior designers, carpenters and electricians), both locally and
internationally, to help you expand your options when it comes to
your housing needs.