Heim Handcrafted Log Homes and Log Lumber

Words From Ron Heim




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How do we build?

We purchase raw Norway (Red) Pine "cabin logs" from loggers working in the woods. We truck the logs to our prefabrication site located in Kelliher, Minnesota. There we hand peel the logs using high power pressure washers to retain the logs beauty, let them dry and hand fit the logs into walls, trusses, and log roof systems using handcrafted full scribe methods. The logs are around 20-24 inch in diameter on the butt end and 12 inches on the top end of the tree at 50 feet long. All logs retain their natural taper as a tree. We do no milling of our logs. We are building in the tradition of scribe fit construction, a construction technique centuries old and tested with time, using both traditional and modern hand held tools. Your building will be fully constructed at our log prefabrication yard. Then on completion of the construction, the logs will be tagged and numbered. The building will be disassembled, loaded onto trucks, shipped to your building site, and reassembled in one to four days.

How much does it cost?

There are many variables, including choice of logs, design specifications, complexity of the building, and the amount of services requested from us. Within these variables, log shell costs, including a full detailing package, freight, crane, and set up on your foundation run between $50 and $80 per square foot. Many of our customers choose a very complete log package from us requiring us to reassemble and finalize all shell details. Another option is the owner or general contractor provide the crane and crew to set up the logs, and also request a more modest detailing package, costs charged by Heim Handcrafted Log Homes are reduced significantly. Final turnkey costs vary on how you would want to finish your log home and take some leg work on your end to fine tune what you want in a log home.

What is included in the log shell package?

All log components for the constructing of the log walls, loft, log roof system (trusses, girders, purlins, ridge poles), staircases and railings, disassembly of shell at Heim Log Homes yard, shipment of your home, and reassembly. All electrical outlets and boxes are precut at our site. Doors and window openings are cut out and ready for install of window framing and installation of doors and windows. Wall slots for interior partition walls are cut. Also, free consultation of any questions moving forward after the log shell is complete. All components will be annotated on your proposal from HLH.

How do I get started building a log home?

The process of construction includes first the planning, and then the actual construction. During the planning, the owner typically meets with us to look at some of our completed work and discuss plans and costs. If the owner has a sketch, we can review it to its feasibility and approximate cost during the initial meeting. We go through several stages of developing initial costs with the customer, so when the final plans are developed, the cost of the construction will be closely in line with the anticipated budget. After the budgeting process is initiated, we start drawing the blueprints. The owner, Heim Handcrafted Log Homes, and the Architect are very involved with this process. We want your new log home to be designed exactly the way you want it. Then, with the completion of the final blueprints, the work is let out for the final bids, and construction is ready to go.

How do I reserve a spot to build with Heim Log Homes?

We encourage potential clients to plan ahead when deciding to build with us, as at many times we are booked a year in advance. It takes time to find those perfect logs for your project and we want to be spot on when choosing your logs. We have had clients secure build spots with us 5 YEARS in advance as they had their mind up we were their builder! With that comes planning and how we have been able to balance that is with a deposit that secures your build time frame with us. It goes towards your balance on your project and lets us know your are ready to commit. It is a first come, first serve basis and it is a great way to lock in that time frame that works best for your busy schedule! Once "Locked In" we back plan from when you request you want your shell delivered and the rest is up to us to make sawdust fly! If you are interested in locking in a build time frame, please contact Nate at heimlog@gmail.com or info@heimloghomes.com for details.

Do you build year round?

Yes of course! Even though the MN winters are unforgiving, that gives us a reason to work harder to stay warm! We usually build between 4-6 homes a year (dependent on size) and the whole 12 months matter. Special discounts for winter builds in the southern part of the country!

What about financing?

Except for availability of other personal funds, financing of the log construction and the general construction typically goes through a bank. Security Bank USA and other local banks finance our work in this area. During the planning stage of the construction, you, the owner, will need to arrange for the financing. The construction phase is typically paid through a "construction loan", which is similar to a short term secured loan. Once the construction is 95% completed, and the home is ready for occupancy, then the construction loan is rolled over into a mortgage. The mortgage is your long term financing. Some banks will allow the owner to complete some of the construction, others will not. Banker willingness to take this avenue depends on a number of variables, including bank policies, your skills, and the time required for completion.

Can I see any of your completed work or tour a model?

We have a number of log homes in the Bemidji, MN and the Beltrami County area that we show. These include my personal (Live in Model) residence, our log model in Kelliher, MN and multiple homes we have built in the surround areas. We also have many homes built throughout the US for possible view based on amount of interest from you. If you are interested in a tour, please call 218-766-2699 or 218-243-2880 to schedule an appointment.

Do you offer log gables?

It is very possible to build with log gables, using handcrafted scribe fit construction, and also addressing the shrinkage very effectively. Two methods are available, the first being full length logs, the second being piece 'en piece (post and fill). For full length log gables, the roof needs to be a lower pitch, 6/12 or under in my opinion. The roof, however, needs to be fastened to the purlins and plate log in a manner such that it is allowed to slip, or change its pitch, with the shrinkage of the gables. The second, piece 'en piece, uses posts to support the purlins and roof structure. In this method there is no shrinkage of the roof. The spaces between the posts are filled with scribe fit horizontal logs. Many times we build with stick construction to eliminate any settling issues and gables are finished with hand split cedar shakes or handcrafted log siding.

Do you use green logs or dry logs?

Green. With the large diameter and full length logs we build with, it is virtually impossible to completely dry a log of that magnitude. Even builders that build with “Dry” logs should allow for settling. I am a firm believer in allowing for settling as it will happen to a point in every type of construction. Over the 30 years of business, we have perfected our green log fitting systems to retain tight wood on wood joinery after drying and settling is completed, using green logs. As soon as we peel your logs, the logs start naturally air drying to minimize cracking and checking (which is very common on kiln dried logs) to retain a stabilized log before construction. Our green log construction has the joint quality of dry log construction after drying and settling is completed. We have fully settled log homes to show you, many of them over 5-10 years old and heated all the time. This is the absolute proof of any claim that handcrafted log homes are drafty, performance that you can view for yourself.

How do Handcrafted log homes Look?

Handcrafted log homes have a unique, rustic appearance. Each log is prepared in such a way as to leave nature's imprint in the home. Each log in a handcrafted log home is different and must be specially fit together with chisels and chain saws. In the end, your home will be a work of art! With massive logs fitting together like puzzle pieces in your walls and the "oohs and aahs" of large timbers over your head holding up your roof, there is no comparison. There are two different hand-crafted styles. Full scribe handcrafted and handcrafted chink style. For more pictures check out Heim Log Homes on Facebook.

Price Difference- Handcrafted vs Milled

Handcrafted log homes will cost more than milled log homes due to the custom craftsmanship needed to achieve the rustic appearance. You are also getting a one of a kind product and will never see the same house twice. Instead of being processed through the lathe machine, each log that will be used in the home must be hand peeled and fitted together with chainsaws and chisels. Handcrafted log homes must be assembled twice, once to custom fit every log, and then again on the job site. Both the manufacturing and assembly process is far more time consuming than milled log homes, with higher labor costs. These homes will stand the test of time and will last for generations!

Handcrafted Home Overview

  • Highly Customizable
  • Each Log in the Home is Unique, Different Specs
  • Distinguishable from Standard Milled Logs
  • Natural Wood Characteristics and Knots
  • Adds an Artistic Appeal to your Log Home
  • More Expensive, due to more Labor to Manufacturer
  • Handcrafted Log Homes must first be Pre-assembled Prior to Shipping

Can I use my own floor plans or change yours?

Yes, initially, we like to see your ideas and visions, as we want to create a one of a kind custom log home fit perfect for your lifestyle. We do have plans that you can use as a reference that our log home architect has created in the last 12+ years of creating log home plans. Our in house plans can also be altered to fit your needs.

What species of logs do you use to build with?

The main species we use is Red Pine as it is most abundant tree to Minnesota and has the essential characteristics and beauty our clients are looking for in a handcrafted log home. Some other species based on size of project is Northern white cedar, White pine, white spruce and western red cedar.

Is shipping included in the price of the log shell package?

Yes, shipping is included in packages if annotated on proposal.

Is financing any different than a stick built house?

Financing is not different from any other conventional built home and with log homes having instant equity, there should be no issues.

Why should I build with Heim Log Homes?

Unlike large manufacturers, you will be catered on a one on one basis during your experience with Heim Log Homes. We take the time to carefully pick out your logs, peel your logs to showcase the uniqueness behind the bark and find special places throughout your home to showcase their features. We build each home one at a time and give each build our undivided attention to detail, passion and focus as it should be building someone's dream home. We look at each build as a long term relationship with our clients and to welcome them to the "Log Home Community". It is our goal to make your log building experience an enjoyable one and as stress free as possible. You will work with Nate from day 1 of the build and he will ground guide you during the construction experience till construction is complete. There is a very small percentage of people that own and live in a handcrafted log home and that percent of individuals are all similar with their heart invested in their log home.

How long do your log home shells take to build?

This timeline is dependent on the size of the structure. Once we have received your final plans and deposit it is generally 6 to 8 weeks when your completed log package arrives at your home site, but may take longer in a high building season. This gives you time to prepare your foundation and site while we are constructing the shell.

Do you allow for settling of the home?

Yes, we allow for settling around the doors and windows. If there is vertical posts involved, we also allow for settling (screw jacks, blocking or tenons) for them. The settling process is slow and takes about 3 years.

Are my interior walls flat?

Yes, all of the interior walls are usually conventional framing to allow for electrical and plumbing components to run through them. Log homes with 2nd levels usually have an interior log wall that is load bearing. The plan will dictate which walls are log and which are stick construction.

Do you build log homes that have flat walls and not round?

Yes, we build a traditional Norwegian style log home that many of our MN settler's homes from the late 1890's and 1900's were built. Reference our website or facebook page for that option.

How are the payments to build structured?

The log home payments are structured according to the cost of the project but usually it is structured where the first payment is for the purchase of the logs and to peel them, then payment when construction starts at log yard, 6 feet high on the shell, shell complete at log yard and then after shell is reassembled at final site.

How much a square foot are your log shell packages?

Heim Log Homes can provide an estimate based on sketches or generic plans with relative ease to establish a ballpark price. The estimate would typically be based on providing the log walls, log framing systems for the second floor and roof, trusswork, log framing for porches, log staircases, log dormers, etc. As well, the price would include delivery and re-erection of the log components at the building site. Depending on the complexity of the design and location of the project, a handcrafted log home package will price out between $50.00-$80.00 per square foot on the main level and $30.00 a square foot for loft area.

We would also itemize the log work estimate to give a detailed breakdown for all the log components as well as delivery and re-erection services. We are accustomed to working with smaller projects as well as larger ones and can tailor the design and components to fit the budget as needed.

How long does the settling process take on a Handcrafted log home?

Since we uses the freshest of logs to build your log home, we need to allow for settling above your doors and windows. This is a very slow process and it usually takes about 3 years. When the doors and windows are trimmed out, the carpenter allows for the trim boards to slide past each other while the home settles.

Where do you ship your log homes?

We ship our homes nationwide and international. Obviously, the further the distance, the more expensive the shipping but our clients know they are getting the most unique log home on the market!

Explain the difference between a handcrafted log home and a milled log home.

There are many log home owners but only a few can claim to live in a real handcrafted work of art. We build each home one at a time and pour our devoted attention to detail and passion into each build. Unlike machined log homes, you would never find a butt joint in our log walls. Our logs are power washed to retain its natural character and beauty a log reveals under the bark. Only 5% to 9% of the handcrafted log is wasted during construction, compared to up to 50% in some milling operations. That is a lot of wasted R-value. Many manufactured log homes are built using timbers 6 to 11 inches thick or less. In many states, that does not meet R value requirements for walls. Our homes are built using timber an average of 16 inches thick with 10 inches being the smallest we would go down to on the top end of the log. (The International Log Building Standards - a handcrafter's standard allows a minimum of 10 inches) The obvious advantage here being the greater insulation value. Most manufactured log home companies send their kits without any pre-fitting; that is left to the builders you hire on your site. This may take from many days to a few weeks. The pieces may have to be cut and hundreds of spikes must be pounded in the walls to hold them together. Our homes have no spikes and don't rely on fasteners but just craft. A skilled crew at the construction yard on the other hand, builds a handcrafted home to exacting tolerances while your foundation is being prepared. Every notch is scribed by a qualified artisan and fits perfectly. The roof structure is fitted and ready to accept roof framing; all the openings are cut out and sanded. The walls and notches are insulated as the home is re-erected. The re-erection is done on your home site under the supervision and help of a qualified artists from Heim Log Homes, approx. 4 strong men and a crane truck. The whole process usually takes 2 to 3 days to complete. (You can estimate about 1,000 square feet a day)

Do you re-erect the log package?

Yes! The only time we do not is when it is requested from homeowner in proposal or contractor is able. On further distant deliveries, we always send at least one qualified log builder to meet you r log package when it arrives at your home site to supervise and assist with the re-erection of your home. The re-erection generally takes one day per 1,000 square feet. An average size home is re-erected in 2 or 3 days. We always want to see our homes through to the next stage of construction and want the construction to be as "Stress Free" as possible for our client.

What kind of foundation is necessary?

We have built on all types of foundations, pilings, sonotubes, stick built, block walls, slabs and poured walls. Our recommendation is 8 inch poured walls or 10" block foundation for basements

Where does the plumbing and wiring go?

Plumbing and wiring is installed into interior stud partition walls the same as it is in conventional homes. The wiring is generally run from your sub-floor and drilled into the log that will hold your outlet plate and along door and window key-ways and then drilled into the log that holds your switch plate.

Are the logs pre-drilled for wiring and electrical boxes cut out?

Yes, we cut out electrical boxes prior to disassembly at our log yard when it is requested; otherwise, it is done on site as the re-erection is being done. The electrical holes will be drilled while we reassemble the log home for a pull wire or your electrician on site will pull the wire.

How is the home insulated?

Our custom log homes are some of the most thermally and energy efficient log homes being built today. When the logs are off loaded from the truck at the final delivery site, the V groove and notches on each of the logs are filled with fiberglass insulation to fill the dead air space in the log. The log itself in the insulation value of the home. Our walls (16 " average diameter in wall) have an average R value of 24 and that does not include the amazing thermal mass that wood has to continue to radiate warmth or coolness. An average stick built home has an R 19 exterior wall rating. The key is the size of the logs in a home! We build with large, unique logs which offer the greatest R value you can ask for in a log home. Smaller logs do not offer the same R value. The greater the diameter of the logs used to construct your home, the higher the R-value and thermal mass it provides.

What kind of roof do your log homes need?

Our log homes are built with log roof systems (Ridge poles, purlins, log trusses) to handle any type of roof system. They can also be built to handle conventional framed trusses. They are then covered with Steel, Asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, ect. to your liking.

Do you offer log siding? Railing? Log Accents? Mantles, Timber Frame etc.?

Yes, Stick built homes are gaining popularity with accent timbers, logs, staircases and railing to set off a beautiful accent. Handcrafted log accents or special large timberwork offers a unique way to add character and beauty to your home without the whole home being log. We are happy to just provide the log work for quick install or based on location, install it for you. We ship nationwide!

What finishes/sealers do you recommend and what maintenance is required with a log home?

There are many finishes and sealants out there that are great! Spending around the $50 a gallon will get you a real high quality product that will protect your logs from UV rays and the weather. When you build a log home, you need to think of preventative maintenance and how do I protect my investment. You want to protect your logs against water, insects, decay and damage from the sun's rays. When you are in the design stage, you will want to consider your roof over-hangs to ensure the walls do not have areas where any rainwater will drain along them constantly.

When the log shell is complete and erected on your home site, we recommend that the logs be washed with a bleach or log wash solution to remove any dirt or sawdust that can appear after leaving our construction yard. Log stains and sealants have come a long way in 30+ years. The typical recoat is dependent on exposure that your log home gets and the region that it is located. Usually, maintenance coats are recommended every 8-10 years. From my experience, past clients have recoated anywhere from 8 years to every 15 years based on location and exposure.

Regarding insects, this issue is dependent on your area and specific to your home site. It is the same concern whether you live in a regular frame house or a log house.

Do you offer turnkey service or General Contract?

No. We offer a specialty that is very hard to find. In that case, we want to build you the custom log shell that you dreamed of and then turn it over to you and/or your contractor to finish off. We always work closely with you or your contractor to see a smooth transition into a finished product. If you are in the local area, we are happy to recommend GC's that have worked with us in the past. Log homes are very accommodating to stick construction and easy for contractors with minimal log experience to work on. Beyond the local radius, we tend to be the log shell subcontractor, and provide a log shell package complete with freight, assembly, and full detailing services included.

Is there more of a fire hazard with log homes?

Log homes are actually safer than stick frame construction when it comes to house fires. People often think that log homes are more susceptible to fire damage/danger than rstandard' stick frame homes, because log homes are made of logs. In reality the opposite is true: a properly built log home is naturally fire resistant - and much safer than a stick frame home.

For fire safety structures are ranked within one of five different types of construction. At one end of the spectrum is Type 1, which is the most fire-resistant. Type one construction is comprised of NON-combustible material such as concrete, stone glass or steel. At the other end of the spectrum is Type 5, which is the MOST combustible. Type 5 is a 'traditional stick frame.'

When built properly log homes can qualify as "Heavy Timber Construction," which fits under the category of Type 4 construction. That means that log homes can perform much better in a fire than stick frame homes.

It may seem counter intuitive, but logs are actually very hard to burn. You can try this experiment (recommended by the Canadian Wood Council), obtain an unsplit round of firewood and try to light it on fire by holding a flame to the rounded side. Then try the exact same thing on a split piece of firewood. You'll notice that if the log is in a natural state, then it is REALLY hard to light on fire - unlike kindling or a 2x4 which is pretty easy to burn.

There are a number of reasons why log homes are more fire resistant than stick frame homes.

One reason has to do with how logs have an extremely low surface area to volume ratio. Proportionally very little of the logs material can be exposed to flame at any given time - leaving the rest safely protected from the flame. The dimensional lumber that used in stick frame construction, on the other hand, has a high surface area to volume ratio - so it's much more likely to burn at a fast rate.

Also, once wood develops a thin layer of char, the char itself acts as an insulator - which slows the burn rate pretty dramatically during a fire. This is important for a log home because logs can retain a majority of their strength even if they sustain fire damage. For instance, if a log suffers a burn that is about 1/2" deep, the log will still retain about 90% of its original strength. This retention of strength leads to a retention of structural integrity, even when a fire has been burning for quite a while. If structural integrity is retained, that means the log home will not collapse and will be restorable - unlike most stick frame homes that go through a fire.

Often with a log home it is easy to take care of the damage if a fire does occur. For instance, we've seen numerous log homes that suffered fire damage and they only needed some pressure washing or light sanding and staining to look good again.

Many jurisdictions actually recognize the natural fire resistant properties of log construction.

Hopefully this helps dispel the myth that log homes are more susceptible to fire and fire damage than stick frame homes.

What is your size limitations with your log homes?

Big or small we build them all. We have built 10x14 one room shanty's and 7000 sq foot mansions. To us, it is about building your dream, which means your dreams comes in your size.

Can I add on to an existing log home or add on to the one your build in the future?

Yes, you can add on to existing log homes and/or add onto an existing home we have built. We have done it many times and the sky is the limit.

Will exterior log railing and log accent rot eventually?

Yes, they will eventually if not properly cared for and treated. We utilize a pressure treating process with BORATE (similar to a green treat process) which eliminates rot and preserves your exterior logs for many generations. This adds extra cost but much cheaper then replacing non-treated exterior wood products.