Build a quality log home following standards
13. December 2011

Log homes are warm and environment-friendly buildings that maintain quality throughout centuries if built in accordance with right construction technologies. Recently, Estonians who have long term traditions in producing and exporting log homes adopted the standards of the Estonian Woodhouse Association for quality log houses.

For centuries Estonians like Nordic countries have built houses from local pine or fir.  In Estonia one can find log homes that are more than 300 years old and Nordic log houses can be even 800-1000 years old.  In the past quality was achieved by knowledge and skills taught from one generation to another.  However, nowadays due to a wide market of house producers and numerous builders the quality of building a log home varies greatly and might not be as good as it was earlier.

For instance one of the main mistakes made while building a log home is that people today tend to build the house in several stages. The reason for that might be financial issues however the result is that the construction is not stored weatherproof and therefore this period causes damages to houses.  Another often made mistake is that people save up money on construction supervisors or order the supervising and construction service from builders who have not built log houses before.

As we know, wood is a “living material” and therefore log homes need special construction technologies and knowledge of relevant experts. Another alternative is to follow the standards for building log homes and require them from contractors. 

About the standards

Standards of the Estonian Woodhouse Association for log houses have been prepared in cooperation between the Estonian Woodhouse Association, the enterprises belonging to the Estonian Woodhouse Association, Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Tallinn University of Technology. The standards are recommended minimum requirements for heated log houses produced in Estonia.

The standards include requirements for the quality of materials and the construction process in conformity with general building requirements. The standards are applicable to both solid log and glue-laminated log buildings whether handmade or manufactured by machines and they are valid at the moment of delivering a building.

For example, according to the standard a log house must be stored weatherproof on the construction site. Also it is very important that the insulation material visible between the logs as a result of installation is duly cut off in order to prevent water from leaking between the logs.

One of the key factors of building a log house is to understand the specifics of sinking construction, which is also regulated by the standards. In order to allow the wall construction to sink, windows and doors are joined with the log wall by means of tender poles. Sinking of a log construction within 3-5% in the course of time is allowed. Sinking is caused by shrinkage of wall logs due to drying and by the compression of insulation between the logs due to gravity.

In addition to generalrequirements the standard also provides tips for roof constructions, windows and doors, floors, inserted ceilings, supporting posts, stairways and rails etc.

Click here to see the full document “Standards of the Estonian Woodhouse Association for log houses”

Manufacturing wooden houses in Estonia

Manufacturing of wooden houses started to develop in Estonia in the 1950s. Nowadays, the manufacturing of wooden houses has developed to one of the key industries in Estonia with 140 enterprises.  The sector’s turnover is approximately 128 million EUR per year and apx. 85-90% of wooden houses produced in Estonia are exported.

All Estonian manufacturers have a long term traditions in producing wooden houses and are competitive in foreign markets. The main export countries of Estonian wooden houses are Scandinavian countries but also important export partners are Japan, South Africa and South Korea.

Members of the Estonian Woodhouse Association manufacture wide range of wooden houses: machined log homes, handcrafted log homes, timber frame houses, modular houses, prefab houses and garden houses.

The products of Estonian Woodhouse Association members are mostly factory-built and their advantages are following:

•    High quality is ensured by using of certified materials and controlled production process in indoor conditions.
•    The on-site construction of the factory built houses is fast and efficient and the possible negative influences from the weather are minimized.

•    The houses are produced and built by highly skilled specialists, who are properly trained and have extensive experience in the field.

•    The proper project documentation ensures a high quality production process and all possible problems with the houses are avoided in the future.

Association members follow the standards of the Estonian Woodhouse Association for log homes.

Author: Triin Ahonen, Communication Manager