Are building codes cutting down log homes?

There’s just something about a log home that screams “Nature”. They are beautiful pieces of art that word workers have laboured over every detail to make each home unique. But, how energy efficient are these homes according to the modern building codes?

 

Log homes: the beauty of nature

Log homes: the beauty of nature

Each year, the building code changes across the country. These changes are causing log home builders to wonder if they will have the change the way they build their masterpieces. Currently, log homes face a problem in the way their walls conduct heat (the “R Value”). A six-inch thick log wall generally has a value less than R10. In comparison, new homes generally have their above-grade walls at R22. This means that because the log walls score so low that they have to push the envelope on the other parts of the home – which is ok, for right now. For example, since 2006 in Ontario, the building code makes exceptions for log homes, allowing a lower log-wall R Value if it is balanced out by extra ceiling insulation. A good example of this is the “Compliance Packages” that allow builders to vary the R Values throughout the home to create a balanced building envelope. The ideal product for new log homes is spray polyurethane foam insulation, because it has multiple uses. Not only is it insulation, but it acts as an air barrier, a vapour barrier, and it expands to fill all cracks and uneven surfaces. It also has a high R Value per inch, which is what offsets the low R-value in the log wall. This method of insulating a log home has been working wonders in the industry, creating an easy way to bring the log home up to standards.

The typical log home – cozy!

The typical log home – cozy!

But now the government is proposing more energy-efficiency rules for the National Building Code of Canada, which benchmarks the standards for building codes in provinces and municipalities. The proposed changes will require more synthetic materials to be used during construction. Instead of the typical log home, the builder would have to sacrifice the exposed timbers inside for plastics and more dense materials. In short, the log homes would have to be modernized to meet the building code, something that looks unattractive to buyers and negates the “natural” feeling of a log home.

How will the log home industry hold up to the new building codes, and the changes that will occur in the near future? Will log homes be modernized past the point of recognition? We can only wait and see.

Read more about log homes and the future, and what the builders have to say about it.

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