Q: How long have you been building handcrafted log homes?
Jon Andersen, our founder, has been building homes since 1980. He began building log homes in 1980 near Hwy. 200 in Walker, MN. He was attending Bemidji State University and he peeled logs during the summer and fell in love with log homes. Jon then apprenticed and mastered his trade for seven years and then moved on to form a partnership for three years before founding Andersen Log Homes Company in the fall of 1989.
The log shell is pre-built in our log construction site in Walker, MN. We prefer to build here as this is sufficient space to spread out the 80 – 150 trees that go into each home, along with room to de-bark and peel the trees. A large cleared area is necessary to assemble the log shell together; to provide a large enough area to operate heavy equipment, to move trees; and for tree storage. Another consideration is that most homeowners prefer to keep their building site as natural as possible retaining existing trees and landscaping. Often we build on bluffs and near lakes where it is very difficult to build, and some building sites have difficult driveways that makes building “on site” at the homeowner’s site almost impossible.
The length of time required to build each home depends upon the size and complexity of the home. The Andersen teams pre-builds your home on our site, codes and tags each tree, then disassembles the log shell onto trailers, then reassembles your home on your land. Our recommended General Contractors and sub-contractors are then able to completely finish your home on your site. Generally, log shell construction time for home sizes of 1,000 to 1,200 square feet on the main floor will take about 6 to 8 weeks to pre-build on our building site, with two days to reassemble the log shell on your site. A larger home will take longer – up to three months on our site, and 2 – 4 days to reassemble on your site. The more intricate roof system designs and additional log walls and log trusses will lengthen the time it takes to reassemble on your site. Turn-key projects (Log home completely finished – turn the key and move in) for a home with approx. 1,200 square feet will take about 6 months to complete. A home with 2,000 square feet on the main floor, finished basement and loft with bedrooms and a bath can take from six to nine months for full completion. Quality cannot be rushed and you will be proud of the results.
Andersen Log Homes Company currently has four unique and distinctive floor plans available for your selection. The plans begin from 936 square feet on the main floor and vary in size up to 1,664 sq. ft. on the main floor. Architectural services are also available to help you design a custom home to suit your needs and to provide you with a complete set of blueprints.
With our years of experienced craftsmanship and building, we have yet to build two identical homes. Each home we build is based on your needs and desires, and one that truly reflects your lifestyle. When deciding on a plan, it is important to build a home that is adaptable to your changing needs and lifestyle. We build many cabins that are planned to first be used as a weekend get away and then later to become the homeowners primary year round residence during retirement years. Planning ahead in this way facilitates in master bedroom placement, bathrooms, space and location for laundry facilities.
When deciding on a plan, the layout of your property defines in large part what you can and cannot provide for in the size of the home, whether or not a walk-out basement is feasible or if a full underground basement should be the rule, or if you need to build on a slab. If you are building near lakes and rivers there are usually firm set back rules you need to follow, and all counties have building codes for septic and wells that must be taken into consideration. Natural lighting also plays an important role in orientation of kitchens, great rooms, and the living areas to take full advantage of all views and sunlight available and factor them into your specific design.
The total outlay for a set of blueprints is typically $2,000 to $4,000. This price can vary depending on how many changes are made to your original plans and decisions you make with the architect. The architects we work with are able to provide you a good estimate on the cost in advance.
The staff at Andersen Log Homes Company believes that a good blueprint roadmap is critical in building a home. It truly is the first step in building your dream and it is needed by everyone in the building process.
Q: Can we create and submit our own floor plans for an estimate cost to build the log home that we want?
We can give you a fairly accurate bid on your own floor plans for the log shell only. The log shell structure price does not vary much from a hand drawn sketch versus a complete blue print. The main problem we have encountered is that without the full plan many sketches overlook wanted items such as lofts, interior log walls, log gable ends, roof logs, posts and log trusses and we may not provide you with the true finished costs. We will try our utmost to provide you with a “ball park” finished price after discussing with you all the specifics that you are looking for in your home.
We will need, however, a full set of finished blueprints in order to provide you with a fully finished “Turn-key” price. We will furnish you the log shell price, and our recommended general contractors will provide you with the full final, turnkey price. The finished blueprint serves to outline the type of floors you desire, cabinets, roof design, window brands; and all the details that sets your home apart from everyone else’s, with your own distinctive style and imprint.
The average cost for a log home is determined by the main floor square footage. The log shell price is $40.00 to $80.00 per square ft, and is dependent upon the complexity of the design. A rectangular home with four to six notches per course will be less expensive than a “T” shaped home or “L” shaped home with 8 – 20 notches per course.
Other options available are:
- Valley logs
- Log trusses
- Log stairway
- Log railing
- Electrical boxes cut in.
You can be involved with your new home as much as you choose to be. Andersen Log Homes Company specializes in the building of the log shell. We are not the general contractors, but we have general contractors or sub contractors that we recommend. We are a small company providing individual service, and Jon, our founder, loves to do the log work, which is his specialty and he will be involved in all phases of the shell work. We can provide contractors that specialize in what they do best to provide you with the highest quality work possible.
You can be your own general contractor and be fully involved with the coordination of your home, or you can choose to do parts of the home yourself and allow other contractors to do the rest. . The more you can do on your home, the more this will reflect in cost savings. Some people we build for do not have the time to be their own general contractor, or may not be near the site where their home is going to be built full time, making it difficult to do much on their home. We will work closely with you whether you choose to finish the home yourself, with us providing the log shell only or we will provide you with a fully turn key home with our recommended general contractors.
Q: How many miles away can we live from Andersen Log Homes Co. main office and still have a home built for us?
We build anywhere within the continental U.S. We pre-build all of our homes at our building site in Walker, MN, and then we number each log, disassemble the home, load it onto semi trailers then reassemble it on your building site. We have general contractors that work locally, and some that are able to travel. If you are planning on building a great distance away, we recommend that you have a general contractor from your area to oversee the finishing of your home. We have worked with many contractors that have little experience log homes, and some of our recommended contractors will travel to help out to get the finishing work started working as consultants. We are currently serving the Midwest region of the United States.
Once you have decided on a blueprint, and that you want to work with Andersen Log Homes Co., and are comfortable with all costs involved in building your home (from start to finish) we require a non-refundable deposit of five thousand dollars to hold your building time spot. We will have a contract that includes all that A.L.H. Co. will do; building time on our site; timeline to procure logs; and reassembling dates. Your deposit will be used to purchase logs for your home when they are procured.
Most of the White Pine and Red Pine trees we use come from Minnesota. We work with the Department of Natural Resources and selected individual loggers who are thinning and managing the forests. Jon personally selects each tree for each home Andersen Log Homes Co. builds. He walks the woods spending countless hours with the loggers and marks each tree destined for the Andersen Log Home. We also obtain White and Red pine logs from Wisconsin and Michigan, Western White Pine from Montana, and dead standing Lodgepole pine to supplement for native Minnesota stands.
Most of the homes we build are done in White Pine. We have built many homes with Red Pine (Norway) also. The White and Red Pine are pine species we harvest locally. We tend to build with the white pine because the trees tend to settle less, it is a softer wood and tends to be a little more energy efficient. We do use red pine for all of our roof logs because they grow straighter at greater heights than the white pine and have superior strength.
We do have access to Western White Pine and dead standing Lodge Pole pine from Montana, and we can also get Western Red Cedar, and Engelman Spruce. We have access to all species of trees suitable for handcrafted log homes.
The White Pine’s thermo mass or “R” Value is based on 1.30 per inch. Red Pine is based on 1.26 per inch. Our log homes average a minimum of about 15 inches in diameter, which provides an average of an R19 on your walls. The logs provide wonderful insulation, and stay very warm. We put fiberglass insulation between each log when it is reassembled on the homeowner’s building site. Logs also have the ability to store heat, and will keep the home warmer longer and radiate the heat out. Log homes are also efficient in keeping cool during the summer months. During the summer, you just need to keep the windows open at night, to let the cool air in, and in the morning, close the windows, and with the help of window treatments to block the sunlight, your log home will stay up to twenty degrees cooler. Most roof systems used provide an R-39 along with the basement at an R 39-R-40 to provide you the most energy efficient home available.
To protect your new log home right away and for all the years to come, a stain or preservative needs to be applied to the exterior of your home. There are many different products available today, and we are happy to discuss all of the available products with you.
We build with green logs “ this means they are cut; debarked, air dried up to one year, and then used for building. Because the trees have moisture in them a preservative that breathes (don’t trap in moisture) must be used to protect the wood. Polyurethane; sanding sealers, etc. cannot be used on green™ trees. If logs have a sealer applied to them, they can grow mold, mildew, and can turn white, green or black under the sealer. If this were to happen, the sealer will need to be removed, the logs will need to be cleaned, and an application of preservative will need to be applied. By applying the proper preservative right away we can eliminate excess cost and time and heartache with respect to the exterior and interior of your home.
Each preservative on the market states a different timeline for re-application of its product. Typically you can expect to re-apply a coat of stain the first year of your home, four years later, then about every 6 –7 years after that. You must use a pigment in the preservative to protect your home from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can damage your home and will turn the logs gray and black. The longevity of the stain will depend on the product you choose to apply to your home, and whether your home has full direct sun all day or if your home is shaded. If there is shade or some protection from direct sunlight and weather extremes your home’s stain will last longer.
The interior logs of your home will only need staining once. Some homeowner’s have applied oils; preservatives and some have left them bare. Applying a preservative to the interior of your home will also give it a more finished look and feel, and can protect it from spills penetrating and staining the wood.
The only other maintenance that may be needed is with screw jacks on exterior and interior log posts that have them. Screw jacks are set under a log post that is made out of metal with a plate on top, rerod, and a bottom plate with a large adjustable nut. Screw jacks need to be adjusted monthly during the fall and winter months for the first two years, or until settling of your log home is completed. We will go over this with you at your home as to how to adjust screw jacks, and how to keep track of the settling of your home. Typically each posted log with a screw jack needs to be lowered ¼ to ½ turn with a wrench each month. If you are not comfortable with this, we can come out and assist you the first time – you will not hurt your home by lowering the jack – but it can cause problems to your home if you do not lower the screw jacks. We would rather come out if you forgot to lower them for three months, than for one to two years – so please call if you have any questions/concerns about the screw jacks. You should consider this as preventative maintenance. We can also set up a scheduled maintenance check where we will be in charge of keeping track and making adjustments for the settling.
We build a very tight and energy efficient log home. We recommend a bead of caulk be applied around exterior door and window openings; along the gable end where the roof sections meets the logs, and around the gable ends where the ridgepole and purlins come through the tongue and grove. Most homes we build will need little or no caulking. There may be some situations where caulking may be necessary, based on the homeowner’s chosen design, where for any reason the log walls are not protected enough by the roof.
Settling is planned into each log home design. Ninety percent of settling will happen within the first two years. White Pine will settle between 1- 3 inches, Red Pine will settle between 3 “ 5 inches. Settling happens vertically (Up and Down) and NOT horizontally. We build more homes out of white pine because more people are comfortable with less shrinkage. Settling of each home will vary. Our model home, which is sixteen years old, only settled 1 ½ inches total. We also built a home out of dead standing Lodge Pole, which is known for being a fairly dry wood “ that home settled three inches! We plan for the settling in all areas of the log home beginning with the blueprints designed for your home. We recommend with a handcrafted log home that a humidifying system be installed on the furnace, which puts moisture into the air and home during the fall and winter months, when the drying process is occurring. We recommend that the home be kept at a moisture level of 40% to 45%. The moisture provides uniform settling, and prevents large cracks and checking of the logs. There will be some cracks and checks in any log home, and that is part of the nature of log homes.
Door and Windows: We allow for ½” of settling per foot of log wall above each door and window opening. There is a 4-½ inch space above the doors and windows on a log home that is nine feet in height. After the door opening is cut out and keywayed, the door is installed and fiberglass insulation is put in above the door opening, and then a decorative trim board is fastened and nailed at the top of the opening. The trim board is not nailed at the bottom, and during the settling process the trim board comes down with the log reducing the space between the top of the door and the log above it.
Interior log walls are built with settling in mind, with placement of trim boards which have lag bolts and insulation between them and nailing the trim board is then nailed at the top. When the settling occurs, the trim/lap board comes down with the rest of the home. There is no further maintenance needed on the interior framed walls.
Andersen Log Homes Co. warrants that all materials used in the log-shell construction, and made a part of the structures on such work or places permanently in connection with such work, shall be in conformity with applicable building standards and the contract documents. All materials we use in the building of each home are new, of good quality and free of defects. Andersen Log Homes Co. does not warranty any finishes to the inside or outside of the log shell structure, including but not limited to paints, varnishes or polyurethane, and any damage caused to the log shell structure from any other contractor.
We stand behind our product, and we will continue serving you and your home. The people we have built for are our best references, and we will happily supply you with a list upon your request.
There are many differences between a hand crafted log home and a manufactured log home. We personally select, debark and peel each log by hand that goes into every home we build. We build custom designed homes, so you can decide how many bedrooms you want, and the size of your stove and if you want any hidden storage areas in your home. One of the biggest differences is the size of logs we use. The logs we build average 15 inches to 18 inches in diameter with a minimum of a 10-inch top end. We can vary the sizes of logs in your home, or they can be very uniform in size. We are also able to build with large timber up to 30-inch diameter logs upon request. Manufactured logs are all milled by machine, are the exact same size and typically are 8 or 9-inch logs. You can get them up to 12 inches. Handcrafted log homes are also much more energy efficient. The larger the log, the more energy efficient your home will be.
What sets our handcrafted log home apart is that each home is unique. You can use the same blueprint, but you will never build two identical houses. What is special with a handcrafted log home is that the home owner can design their own home, and help with the special accents of that special log for their stairway, interior posts can have character, and we have very talented general contractors, carpenters, and sub contractors that work with home owners to build their individualized dream home.