It is not an easy task to self-build your own Scandinavian log cabin. But it is commendable that you want to. However, if you have a good plan in place and execute it perfectly, things should work out smoothly. Let’s get you started on the right foot.
First Things First
Before you begin construction or even purchase the materials, there are a few things you need to consider first:
- Budget: How much money do you have to spend on the house? How much money could you spend on it? Do you have the cash for it or do you need to sell another property first, or will you be using a financer?
- Land: Do you own the land you plan to build on? If not, then you need to look at your budget again. The ideal construction site should be easy to access, with water and electricity supply, and adequate drainage infrastructure.
- Planning and building permits: Is planning permission a requirement to commence construction? In general, larger log cabins and those close to boundaries usually need planning permission. However, you do need to look into your local legislation to gauge the legality of your construction work.
- Purpose: Is it a residential or holiday home? These classifications do matter when it comes to matters of planning permission. It will also help you understand your requirements for the house, and will influence the final design.
Okay, so now you have everything in order. You have got your permits and purchased the log cabin kit. Hopefully you purchased one that is ideal for the land you plan to build on, considering its elevation and other quirks of the site.
1. Construction Schedule
The first thing you need is a construction schedule with details on log preparation, site planning, foundation design, construction, and all other matters that should be addressed when building a decent house. A good construction schedule includes goals with timelines, information about the land, a confirmed budget, and a design of the log cabin and its floor plan. Don’t forget to include the tools you’ll be using too: hammers, drills, saws, electric screwdrivers, the works. If you’re using a log cabin kit, most of this groundwork has been done for you.
You need to understand the topography of the area, starting with the soil type of the building site (clay, loam, sand, gravel, rocky, etc.). The nature of the land too is an important factor. Is it on a water table? Is it flat or sloping? Does it have contours? Lastly, ensure the site has plenty of natural shelter and beautiful views, because you want to wake to the chirping of birds and enjoy romantic sunsets every evening.
Your log cabin’s foundation needs to be strong enough to support its load and weight. When soil has eroded from the base of the cabin, it should also prevent it from sinking into the ground. What influences the design of your cabin’s foundations? The cabin’s size, the land’s soil type, land contours, and the availability of complementary resources that can fortify it (like cement).
Unlike stone houses log cabins don’t need extensive foundations, so go for shallower types like strips, rafts and pads. Pad foundations are incredible as they put a significant distance between your cabin and the ground. In turn this prevents water from splashing on it, which helps maintain the condition of the timber.
3. Laying the logs
Once the foundations are laid, the logs follow. The work here moves faster, and you can have a fully erect structure within a matter of days. Log cabin kits are quite easy to assemble. Since the logs are notched, all you have to do is fit the right pieces together and ensure they rest firmly. Log cabin kit manufacturers usually provide instruction manuals, so assembly should be pretty straightforward.
The first logs that connect with the foundation (called sill logs) are very sturdy, and usually quite heavy. You will need strength and patience to settle them in properly. Place the sills on the foundation, and ensure they interlock. A rubber hammer comes in handy at this point. Screw the sills to the foundation to ensure the structure is solid, then continue to assemble the rest of the walls. If the logs are properly mounted and you notice some spaces between them, don’t worry about that; they should seal completely within a month.
4. Roofing, doors and windows
Once the walls are fully erect, place the roof frame triangles. Each triangle should be mounted as a whole structure. If the triangles come disassembled, connect them first, then install them on top of the walls. Next, mount the rafters and fix the roof boards to the rafters using nails. Ensure the ends of the roof boards are perfectly parallel to each other. Then attach the roof plank board border to the roof boards, and screw the roof plank to the roof plank border. Finally, attach the wind boards to the roof frame triangles.
The doors and windows go in next, by simply fixing them in to their designated spaces and hammering/screwing them in.
The final stage of making a log cabin is to make it weatherproof. Humidity and dampness can cause your log cabin to rot if the wood is not treated. Start by cleaning your log cabin with soap and water, and use a soft bristle brush. Scrub in small circles from bottom to top and back again, then leave it to dry for at least two days.
Apply a borate solution on the logs to stain. Working in small horizontal areas, use an oil-based stain to apply the solution on both sides of the house. The first staining should last for between 18-24 months, depending on exposure to sunlight.
Finally, you can then install the finish of your log cabin’s roof. The choice of finish ranges from roofing felt to traditional wood shingles.
And there it is – a finished house. Congratulations, and I hope you and your family lead a happy life within it.
If you have decided to self-build your own Scandinavian log cabin we hope you have found this guide useful. But please note that this guide is quite generalized! Make sure you pay attention to your instruction manual, as the order of these steps varies depending on the manufacturer.