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Building workshop – Towards row 16

June 4, 2017
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Building a log cabin beyond row 8 is more challenging because, unless you are the incredible Hulk, you need scaffolding to lift the logs on the next row and put them into the joint.

Because the average builder does have only one or two work platforms (one for up to 2 meters working height, the other up to 5 meters working height), a lot of platform moving is part of the assembly show. It would be nice to have a professional scaffolding all around the building, but a) that costs some real money and b) where is the fun of improvisation in this?

The space for doors is now also at full height at row 16. The last 5 cm of the space for the door needs to be cut out manually still from the log above the door. The log is pre-cut but the final cutting with an handsaw is rather tedious because of the strength of the Finnish timber from Lapland. I opted for using my Bosch saber saw instead but also that still requires some strength to cut through the 95 mm of log.

Between the door and the large window is a pillar. Because the log building needs to be able to set, but the windows and the pillar don’t shrink, the pillar is attached with the mechanism on the photo below. It’s the weirdest of all tightening rods in the building: instead of pulling the logs together, this mechanism is supposed to slide downwards at the same pace than the building settles. But who has the time to lower the nut at the same pace continuously? And how is that supposed to happen once the covering boards are around the windows? Well, we have the same construction in the guest cottage which is also from Kontio. I adjusted that screw twice during 5 years after I attached the covering boards. I guess it works after all.

Building workshop – Rows 3 to 8

May 29, 2017
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Going from row 1 to 3 is an easy to task when assembling a log building. Going to row 8 is already a bit more effort…

One still needs to attach the mineral wool as insulation material in the joints, just like for all (214) logs.

However, what you don’t need to do anymore is to attach the insulation between the logs. When we ordered our first Kontio log building we had to staple the insulation material along the logs ourselves. The building instruction still refer to this task. But it seems Kontio has automated that step in the manufacturing process and it is already done when the logs are shipped from the factory. What one has to do is to hammer down hundreds of pegs between the logs that keep them from twisting around. And there are lots of them. 6 pegs go into a single 6 meter long log. I think we will use over 500 of them.

The concrete mixer above is for checking whether the hole is deep enough for one peg to go all the way down. Since one is alternating between a pair of holes from one log to another, one looses easily track of where one has put a peg already and where not. This special tester has the additional benefit of not dropping accidentally into a hole. Another testing device we used also on that day made its way into one of the holes reserved for an electricity cables. And it will stay there for good I’m afraid.

In addition, a special feature of our particular log building we had to insert 1 meter long steel pipes into dedicated holes. The purpose of those long steel pipes is to stabilise the long sides because the logs itself are only 95 mm thick and need support.

These long steel pipes become necessary because Kontio suggested to put an intermediary row of short logs half way through the long wall.

However, we like the clean look of one long log. Maximising room utilisation is also difficult with a log poking into the room limiting one’s ability to put shelves or work tables on the long side without customising them. Hence, we asked Kontio to come up with an alternative solution which are those steel tubes.

With 8 rows done, the workshop building is taking shape already and one can start imaging slowly how it will look like finally.

First three rows of logs

May 21, 2017
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Easier than putting together a Lego castle! That’s what building a log house is. You don’t only have a clear plan of what kind of part goes where but they even tell you which exact part goes where. There is a unique number for everything. It’s almost idiot proof. They even tell you which package to open first and which one comes next.

We have 5 packages of logs. Each of them about one ton of material. Once one opens the rain and sun-proof foil covering the logs (and preventing mould), one is looking at a neat pile with each log numbered. In our case, the first logs, which are the half logs, are even on top of the pile.

Not all the logs are exactly in the pile in the order one needs them. The shifting of logs to get to something at the bottom of the pile is not exactly fun but it doesn’t take more than four hours with two people to put a pile like the one above into the desirable places of the building.

The first row is quickly placed on the foundation. Each log extends roughly 1 cm over the edge of the foundation on purpose (the purpose being that any rainwater drops down and doesn’t run down the foundation). Pushing the logs around to hang over the edge at an equal amount is still easy by simply pushing them by hand.

The second row is equally quick to assemble.

But after the second (or latest the third) row of logs the measuring and adjusting starts to ensure that one is actually building an rectangular shape and not a diamond shape. In case of the workshop there is not one but a total of 4 diagonal distances to be measured (each twice from each corner to the other) and then adjusted to be roughly equal. One would be amazed how easy the measures are off from what they are supposed to be. One would think that something as precisely manufactured than the joints of the logs would be automatically a rectangular. But we were off by more than 2 cm on the longest distance of 13.2 meters.

After 30 minutes the measures were roughly what they were supposed to be. At this stage, the adjusting of the logs does not work anymore by pushing them by hand but a few gentle hits with the 10 kg hammer gets the job done.

Two particular measures are very important for the workshop building. The distances in the front and the back between the two separate parts of the workshop. Because the two parts are joint to one building at row 17, even the slightest tolerance will be extremely hard to correct at a late stage when the weight is already more than 3 tons. Therefore, we dug out the log from row 17 and put it in place after row number 4. At this stage we were only 2 mm off and it was easily corrected, but even the 2 mm prevented the log to slide into place easily.

Kontio log delivery

May 15, 2017
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16,7 tons of material incoming!

Saturday morning, +3 degrees, May 2017, and another log home project gets going! Kontio delivered as promised and on time the materials for the workshop. The truck had to drive three times down to the building site to unload everything but at 10.30 everything was unloaded.

Before the truck actually could drive to our site we had to remove one unexpected obstacle: an electricity cable from one of our neighbours was hanging too low for the truck to pass through. Hence, I had to improvise and lift it up for the truck to pass underneath it.

But once at the site, the truck could unload its precious cargo:

Then things started flying…

The last shipment was the roof trusses. All 1.5 tons of them…

Nicely tucked away against a tree…

Roughly 14 bundles, each of them one ton of weight.

Now, the build can begin.

Getting ready for the workshop delivery

May 12, 2017
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It is finally time to wake this blog up from its winter-hypernation! It’s building time AGAIN!

The workshop building materials shall be delivered this weekend. I was surprised that they are willing to deliver on a Saturday. But the contract said that the delivery is ti be on Friday or Saturday. And Saturday it is. There was still plenty of other stuff to get out of the way before our mind can shift entirely to the building of the workshop. The majority of things got done just in time.

Firstly, the toilet tank had to be emptied. I waited again too long before calling in the tank truck and we ended up with a full tank last weekend which meant that we had to switch to using the outhouse again. Now with 5500 litres dirty water pumped away we are ready for a comfortable building experience with indoor toilet.

The outhouse itself also needed some attention this spring.

A storm in the spring knocked the outhouse out and the roof off.

Luckily, I could fix it in few hours again and only few traces of the damage remain for the observant outhouse user that is not focussed on his/her newspaper or smartphone…

Then there was still one landscaping project unfinished last year: We made the ramp from the second level to the Villa more grandmother-friendly (aka less steep) in 2015. However, I didn’t like how the ramp extended onto the grass of the second level plateau. When heavy machinery was available for the foundation work last fall I had the ramp dug into the hill in a way that it is less steep and ends at the grass. I didn’t manage to do landscaping anymore last fall and 4 trailer loads of soil and one trailer load of tree bark later that is also done. Now only the grass has to grow until midsummer…

Getting ready for delivery I placed some pallets onto which the material can be unloaded. In an ideal case, one has a gap of 50 cm between any untreated wood and the ground  in order to prevent mould from the humidity rising up from below, but I hope a single pallet height will do.

Finally, I placed the route markers for the truck driver.

According to the shipping company the load will be driven throughout Friday from Central Finland to our countryside estate. That means the truck driver should be here just before midnight or so. The truck driver is supposed to show up right in the morning to unload the materials. Because the trailer of the combination truck cannot make it all the way down to the building sight, the trailer need to be parked in the night on a larger parking space 600 meters away. The driver need to reload then the materials from the trailer to the truck after emptying the first load.

We’ll see how that goes… as long not the same happens than for the delivery of the Villa everything should be a smooth ride in comparison…

Mystery of the Roof Structure

March 25, 2017
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Building the roof of a log house is always one of the more challenging tasks. But what do you do when only 5 out of 35 pages of the building instructions actually apply to your project?

Kontio delivers a decent amount of building instructions with figures and descriptive text for the roof work. However, 30 of the 35 pages are designated for roof structures that assume that sides of the building are also made of massive logs and the roof structure is build from single pre-cut boards. But the workshop, with its mansard-style roof and the dormer windows, is assembled from pre-manufactured roof trusses?

These technical drawings itself are not exactly revealing in regards where to attach the cross-connections between the different roof trusses in order to have the necessary stability. I don’t get it yet, how to read these drawings. I guess I have to study them still more before the summer. The positive surprise with the roof design was that the dormer windows don’t need to be build too much manually but the main structure is also part of the pre-manufactured roof trusses.

The sides of the building are then to be build from long boards that are attached to the roof truss and the logs itself.

Well, I got all summer and the early part of the fall to figure out how to do this. It just needs to be ready before the winter.

The Holy Book is Here!

March 15, 2017

On just another regular Monday, an automated notification was sent. The receiver (me) was delighted! Finally, the Builder’s Folder with the construction details and detailed plans arrived from Kontio and had to be picked up from the post office (which nowadays is attached to the customer service of a shopping market).

The folder contains all the exciting (for the engineers among us) technical drawings, assembly instructions, and delivery part lists. Even that this is not the first log building we are assembling (it actually is number 4), it is still interesting to see how things are ultimately designed. There are new things we never had such as the mansard-style roof, the dormer windows in the roof, and the drive through (which the manufacturer still calls a terrace). Seeing how they are constructed after almost a year is a nice entertainment while waiting for 2 months for the delivery.

Besides the already known floor plans and foundation plans, it included also

BuildingInstructions

  • separate assembly instructions for the logs, the roof, and complimentary products
  • part lists with quantities such as 4102 nails of a certain kind (okay, I made that number up)
  • technical drawings of the roof
  • load calculations for the roof elements
  • detail drawings for all challenging parts such as pillars, windows, the terrace and so on
  • the 3D drawing (not very useful except nice to look at)

  • the technical drawings for the roof and
  • the Log-Building-For-Dummies instruction for the actual log assembly with numbers for each piece (making this easier than a Lego project)

It’s good to see that the holes for the electricity cables are roughly were I drew them and they haven’t been forgotten (I never got confirmation from Kontio that they had received my plans). The drawings also show that the top rows of the workshop are not one single log (which theoretically would be possible because they can do and transport logs up to 12 meters as far as I remember) but they are split into 2/3 and 1/3 length with hidden connections in the joints. Hence, we need to lift a maximum of 7,4 meters long logs. Not bad.