- Preparation for Construction
- Taking the First Step
- Putting up the environmental log Shell
- Mechanical systems
- Paint and stain are two types of materials that can be used to decorate a room
- Finishing the Outside
- Floors & Cabinets
- Appliances & Fixtures
- Interior Finishes
- Floor Coverings in the End
- Final Thoughts
When it’s time to stop dreaming and start building your eco log house, here’s what to expect.
The notion of constructing an eco log house is enticing. It can also appear to be a daunting task. The process is significantly less scary and easy to manage once you understand the sequence of events. Use this section as a guide to help you navigate the twisting road of bespoke eco log house construction.
Preparation for Construction
Preparing for the construction of an eco log house might take anything from a few months to many years. Finding the ideal location, selecting an eco log house provider and a floor plan, estimating costs, coordinating contractors, and securing financing are all categorized as “pre-construction activities” by professional builders. Although careful preparation throughout the pre-construction process ensures a seamless build, the true fun begins the day you break ground and begin making your eco log house fantasy a reality.
Preparing the Site
Although eco log houses can be built practically anywhere, the privacy of rural areas is preferred by most eco log house aficionados. As a result, basic site preparation, such as clearing the ground, constructing an entrance road, and installing well and septic systems, is frequently the first step in the construction process.
Drilling a well can take anywhere from a few hours to many days, depending on the depth and ground conditions. After the foundation is in place, the actual water line connecting the well to the house will be erected.
Many eco log houses require septic systems to dispose of waste, just as they do for water. Septic systems typically include a tank and tile or perforated pipe to transport wastewater from the tank to a septic field made up of trenches or pits. The water then seeps back into the earth, where it is filtered and cleansed by soil particles and microbes. Geoecology and soil conditions are typically extensively monitored by local health departments since they are vital to the effectiveness of a septic system and the cleanliness of water returning to the soil. Septic systems must be installed by licensed subcontractors in most regions due of health laws.
The site of the tank and field should be noted before construction begins, even if the septic system itself will not be built until later in the process.
Utilities and Site Requirements
Once construction begins, it’s always a good idea to have electrical service accessible. Forcing your builder to utilize a generator for power slows down and increases the expense of the construction. In many regions, the utility operator installs phone lines alongside electric lines, allowing you to set up phone service at the same time. A temporary service head with a circuit breaker box and phone jack can be provided by the electrical subs. The service panel will be moved to its ultimate place once the house has dried in. It’s also time to bring in a portable toilet for the workforce and set up a makeshift storage area for construction materials and gear.
Taking the First Step
The builder lays out the foundation and designates the excavation area once the building site has been prepped. These marks serve as a guide for the excavator as he digs a rough trench for the foundation. If the house will be built on a concrete slab or in a crawl space, excavation may be as simple as a backhoe trench created to hold the footings.
The foundation, and ultimately the entire house, is supported by footings, which are a strong basis of concrete or stone. The footings must lie on solid soil, as required by regulations (and common sense). The frost line varies by region, thus the footing’s base must be below it. This depth is specified by local building rules to ensure that the footings are not affected by the expansion and contraction caused by soil freezing and thawing.
The foundations of eco log houses vary as much as the houses themselves. Poured concrete and masonry block are the most common foundations, while some house builders offer pre-cast concrete panels and insulated concrete forms (ICFs) as alternatives.
The contractor erects forms into which concrete is poured in a poured-wall foundation. The forms are removed once the concrete has dried. It usually takes three to five days to complete the operation. The forms of ICFs stay in place after the concrete cures, providing additional insulation for the foundation. A mason is needed to build block walls because numerous courses of block must be laid over a period of days to weeks. Before construction can begin, the mortar must be totally dry.
Contrary to popular assumption, only a small percentage of eco log houses require a “heavy-duty” or “special” foundation to maintain their weight.
Waterproofing and Drainage
The key to a dry basement is proper drainage. Most construction rules require drainage tile or perforated pipe to be installed around the foundation wall’s footings or base. If the geography of the construction site prevents this pipe from draining away from the house at the surface, it is routed into a sump crock in the basement floor, where an automatic sump pump transports the water out and away from the structure. A waterproof coating and, in some cases, a layer of stiff insulation are used to protect foundation walls.
Groundwork for plumbing
The plumber normally makes his initial appearance during foundation construction unless the house’s plumbing will escape above the foundation. The plumber may install a piece of pipe, or “sleeve,” in the footing trench where the water and septic pipes will cross before pouring the footings. This eliminates the need to later dig under footings or break through walls. The plumber installs drainpipes or water lines beneath the slab after the foundation walls are constructed but before the slab is poured.
Chimneys and Fireplaces
If the plans call for a stone or brick fireplace, the foundation contractor will excavate and build a footing as well as supporting walls for the chimney as part of the foundation work. While the eco log shell is being built, masons will construct the fireplace and chimney. There are no additional footings or support walls needed if the house has a “zero-clearance” fireplace, which is a metal unit fitted into a framed chimney.
The excavator returns to backfill and rough grade after the foundation is finished and drainage and waterproofing measures are installed, piling soil around the outside of the foundation to a level slightly higher than the final surface (to allow for settling) and grading the surface so water drains away from the foundation. Builders frequently add extra bracing to foundation walls or wait until the subfloor is finished before backfilling.
The subfloor of an eco log house is usually identical to that of a traditional house. Over a series of girders and support posts, floor joists are installed. On top of the joists, plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) decking is installed. Floor trusses are a good alternative to joists because they allow for longer spans and fewer support supports.
Putting up the environmental log Shell
For new eco log house owners, the day of delivery is a high point. Someone’s dream is finally coming reality as 18-wheelers carrying eco logs, beams, and various other materials snake up the entrance road.
When it comes to delivery day, careful planning can guarantee that the mood isn’t ruined. Good builders ensure that delivery trucks can navigate the entrance road ahead of time. Sharp twists are less of a concern than steep slopes. If you can’t turn an 80-foot-long rig around at the construction site, you might have to adjust your off-loading plans at the last minute. On delivery day, the fewer surprises you have, the better.
It’s a good idea to have a staging area where materials may be unloaded from trucks. Eco logs and other materials used early in the construction process should, in general, be put closer to the foundation, preferably on the higher side of sloping plots. Transporting environmental logs and lumber uphill not only irritates employees, but it also consumes crucial construction time. Unloading the trucks with the construction team or carpenters can assist ensure that materials are kept efficiently and that personnel have a head start on knowing where to look for items.
Walls made of recycled wood
Laying out the first course of eco logs on the subfloor is the first step in the eco log installation work. Builders frequently use this time to place electrical outlets, switches, windows, doors, and partition walls. This is the first step in transforming paper blueprints into reality, and small onsite alterations may be required.
The actual eco log work differs depending on the sort of technology employed. Milled, pre-cut eco logs are typically piled and secured in segments as they are moved about the house, ensuring that wall heights are generally consistent as the walls are built. It’s particularly crucial to keep eco log walls plumb (vertical) and corners square. Using a level or a plumb bob, good builders verify plumb on a regular basis. Whether you compare the distances between diagonally opposed corners, you can instantly see when they’re out of square.
Large eco log structures, such as handcrafted houses, frequently necessitate the use of a crane for heavy lifting. Large, pre-fit, full-length eco log wall systems can be erected fast, sometimes in only a few days, if much of the eco log preparation has already taken place at the manufacturer’s plant or the handcrafter’s yard.
Many systems require construction approaches that accommodate for the settlement that occurs as a result of eco wood shrinkage, whether the house is milled or handcrafted. As the eco log walls settle, the space left at the top of window and door openings allows units to operate freely. Second-floor and roof systems may be supported by posts mounted on movable jacks that may be lowered to match any change in eco log wall height. Interior partitions could also be constructed to enable a place for eco log settling.
While some individuals are concerned about shifting wall heights, settling is a natural element of a horizontal eco log system and poses no concerns as long as suitable construction practices are followed.
Eco log systems that are insulated
Solid eco logs are not used in all eco log walls. Some eco log house firms also offer insulated eco logs. Half-eco logs are put over conventional structure in these eco log houses. While they may appear to be a solid eco log house from the inside or out (unless the house owner chooses to cover some portions with a different form of wall covering), the core of the wall is similar to that of a conventionally constructed house. In insulated-eco log builders, the half-eco logs may be applied after the roof has been installed.
Systems for the Second Floor
Following the installation of the eco log walls, the crew moves on to either the roof (on one-story dwellings) or the second-floor system. The second story can be constructed with dimensional-lumber joists and plywood decking, or it can be made up of exposed square or round beams with 2-inch-thick decking. Following the installation of the exposed beams, carpenters frequently use the roof sheathing as a temporary second floor while building the roof, eventually passing the sheathing up to the roof. The second-floor decking can then be installed under the roof’s cover.
A number of roof systems are used in eco log houses. Conventionally framed roofs, like in other types of houses, are the most basic.
Setting the ridge beam and rafters is the first step in framing a traditional roof. Carpenters use plywood or OSB sheathing and tarpaper to cover the rafters. Roofing contractors next install the final roof covering, which can be shingles, metal, wood shakes, or tile. The crevices between the rafters will be filled with insulation later. Coverings are fastened to the rafter bottoms in cathedral ceiling sections. Ceiling joists are used in places with flat ceilings. After the ceiling coverings are put, insulation is added above the ceiling joists.
Many eco log house purchasers want the unique aesthetic of exposed-beam ceilings, which necessitates the employment of unusual construction techniques.
The installation of eco log rafters or purlins is the first step in constructing an eco log or heavy-timber roof system. (Purlins run parallel to the eco log wall, while rafters run from the top of the eco log wall to the ridge.) A vapor barrier is fixed to the decking and wooden decking is put over the massive beams. Sheathing is used to cover rigid insulation that is placed on top of the vapor barrier, followed by tarpaper and a final roof covering.
Framing the Interior
The framing of interior partitions in an eco log house is comparable to that of any other style of house. Some builders use “slip” connections to attach partition framing to eco logs, which are nails or screws inserted into the eco logs through slots in the framing. Fasteners can’t get in the way of eco log settlement because of the slots.
Interior partitions in certain systems are framed to accommodate a space below the ceiling. This will also keep frame from getting in the way of settlement changes. After the inside wall coverings are installed, the settling space will be hidden with trim.
Because tub and shower enclosures cannot pass through framing openings, the builder or plumber ensures that these components are available before construction begins. As they finish the framing, the carpenters secure them in their final position.
Exposed wood in eco logs and trim should be treated with a wood preservative to avoid weathering and eventual damage. Preservatives designed specifically for eco log houses are widely available and provide long-term protection. The preservative should contain a pigment that inhibits UV rays from the sun for the best benefits. Clear preservatives do not provide UV protection, which might cause the wood to deteriorate prematurely.
The best time to apply the preserver is before the windows and doors are fitted. Chemicals can be prevented from blowing inside and staining walls by covering openings with plastic. If the system requires caulking, do so before applying the preservative to guarantee a good bond. Chinking is frequently used after the preservative to keep the contrast color pure.
Windows and Doors
Carpenters install doors and windows to provide a complete weather-tight shell once the roof is covered to protect the interior and the outside is sealed. Pre-finishing door and window components while the eco wood shell is being erected can save time and money.
Plumbing, heating, and cooling are together referred to as mechanical systems. These are frequently installed by subcontractors who may be separately licensed for their trade. The mechanical work is divided into two stages: “rough-in,” which occurs before the wall framing is hidden beneath covers, and “finish,” which occurs near the completion of the project.
Because the location of pipes is the most constrained, the plumber is usually the first to arrive. The plumber connects the tubs and showers that were installed during framing to the pipes that will be buried within the walls. At this stage, he can also connect the well and septic system to the house and install the reservoir tank. The plumber next pressurizes the pipes with air to check for leaks after all of the pipe runs have been completed. Finally, he requests that the work be inspected during the rough-in phase.
HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) is a term that refers to (HVAC)
To avoid potential conflicts between pipe and duct placement, skilled builders make sure the HVAC contractor and plumber are aware of each other’s requirements before beginning the rough-in process. The HVAC subcontractor may be measuring for ducts while the plumber is busy. When the plumber finishes roughing in pipe work, the ductwork is often constructed at the subcontractor’s facility and then transported to the job site for installation. Heating and cooling systems are sometimes added presently.
The electrician is usually the last person to arrive on the site. It’s easier to snake wires around pipes and ducts than it is to snake wires around pipes and ducts. In the basement, garage, or utility closet, the electrician installs outlet and switch boxes and runs wire back to the power source. He may also relocate the temporary electric service, which is now placed outside, to its permanent location. The electrician, like the plumber, finishes by requesting an electrical inspection.
Inspection of the Rough-In (Close-In)
The builder schedules a framing inspection once all mechanical rough-ins are completed. First, the building inspector ensures that all required mechanical inspections have been completed. Then he looks at the framing to make sure that suitable building procedures were used and that mechanical subcontractors didn’t mistakenly compromise the framework’s structural stability when adding pipes, ducts, and wiring.
The Color of the Interior Wall
The builder can begin “closing-in” the framing with the final wall coverings after an approved framing inspection. These are usually drywall or tongue-and-groove pine or cedar boards in eco log houses.
Drywall is the most affordable and widely used wall covering. Hanging and finishing are the two processes in the installation process. Drywall hangers cover huge portions of the walls and ceiling fast and securely, using nails or screws to secure the drywall sheets. Finishers come next, taping joints and covering them with drywall compound. The walls are ready for painting once the joints have been sanded.
Paint and stain are two types of materials that can be used to decorate a room
Wall-covering subcontractors are frequently followed by painters. Arriving ahead of the trim carpenters allows them to work more rapidly and cover big areas with spray guns or rollers. A primer coat is applied to the walls, followed by one or two topcoats. Tongue-and-groove wood is varnished or oiled. To seal the backs of trim pieces and speed up installation, the builder may have painters apply finish to it before it is installed.
Finishing the Outside
Carpenters finish outside porches and decks while painters work inside. After all of the outside work is completed, the excavator returns one last time to grade the site, apply topsoil, and prepare the area for landscaping. Rain gutters and downspouts are installed to collect and transport rainwater.
Floors & Cabinets
The kitchen and bath sections are given over to flooring subcontractors, who install tile, stone, or wood floor coverings as soon as the painters finish painting them. Carpets are the last floor coverings to be installed because there is still a lot of work going on.
Cabinet installers begin working in kitchens and baths as soon as the wall coverings and floor coverings have been completed. Unless the blueprints allow for cabinets on sinking eco log walls, cabinet installation in an eco log house is similar to that of a conventional house. Cabinets can be attached to vertical furring strips that will not settle with the eco logs in such circumstances. Furring strips are covered with a tongue-and-groove or tile backsplash in exposed sections. Installers place vanities and medicine cabinets in bathrooms.
Appliances & Fixtures
It’s time to bring back mechanical subcontractors. The electrician wires light switches and appliances into roughed-in boxes and installs switches and outlets. The HVAC sub is responsible for bringing register covers and completing any remaining connections. The plumber hooks up the dishwasher, attaches the septic line, and installs toilets and sinks.
Trim carpenters add final trim to doors and windows as mechanical subcontractors finish their work. They remove temporary stairs and build or set the final staircase if the permanent stairs have not yet been installed. They also hang door hardware, install baseboards, and install any custom moldings or trimwork.
Floor Coverings in the End
Finally, the trim carpenters and mechanical subs finish up, leaving only bare subfloor regions in the eco log house. As flooring installers complete the final phase, these soon vanish, leaving a fully finished eco log house ready for final inspection.
The end of construction, which involved 50 or more workers from several dozen construction enterprises and trades, is marked by the final building inspection and “walk-through” with the new owners. Months (or years) of planning and dreaming have finally culminated in something that can be seen, praised, and enjoyed.