Skip to main content

The Oak Leaf – March 2012

By March 1, 2012May 3rd, 2024Newsletter

Welcome to the March 2012 issue of The Oak Leaf! For new readers, this is a monthly newsletter that is sent by e-mail to those that have expressed an interest in Gastineau Log Homes. We use this as a way of communicating technical, design and industry information. For more information, check out our web site at

Trivia Question: How many single family homes were built in the United States in 2011?

Here is the fireplace of the home shown above. Notice the wiring that has been installed in the fireplace to facilitate a television. Don’t forget to design a spot for your tv in your living room if you plan on installing one in that space.

Smart Design for a Small Home: It is hard to get everything you want and need into a small house footprint. (Footprint means the exterior wall size and shape.) One way to stretch your space is to make some rooms pull double duty. An extra guest room can be an office or sewing room. Maybe an expanded breakfast nook can be the dining room. The space behind the couch can be a hallway. Think creatively and use all dead space for some practical purpose.

Understanding a real estate appraisal: If you are paying cash for your new log home, you can skip this section. But if you are getting financing, you need to understand how to deal with what will probably be a low appraisal. WOW! Did I really say that? Yes, because in today’s market, most appraisals will be below what you expect. And possibly below the cost to build your home. I can hear some people saying “Well, I’m not going to build a home that won’t appraise for the cost to build it!” And if you are planning on selling your new home within a couple of years, I would agree with you. However, if you plan on keeping your home for 5 or 10 years, or even into eternity, the “opinion” (appraisal) that you get from one person of the “market value today” (what you can sell it for today) really does not matter. If you would like to learn more, click on this pdf you can download that goes through the pages of an appraisal and explains how the appraiser comes up with his appraised value.

Why is the appraised value important? Because you are only going to be able to borrow 80% of the appraised value of the land and the newly constructed home. If the appraisal comes in low, you will have to be able to make up the difference in cash to obtain the loan.
Another issue that is affecting home appraisals is the Home Valuation Code of Conduct, known as HVCC, which went into effect on May 1, 2009. All conventional lenders who sell mortgages to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must now follow the HVCC for loans after 2/15/10. The rules were meant to stop collusion between lending institutions and appraisers. However well meaning, according to many professionals in the real estate industry, it has backfired. Today, when an appraisal is ordered, an appraisal management company plucks an appraiser from its pool of appraisers to do the appraisal. The appraiser may not be from the area and they may be inexperienced. When this happens, the appraiser is far more likely to produce an under-valued appraisal. If your mortgage lender is not planning on selling your mortgage to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, they do not have to follow the HVCC regulations.
The current issue with low appraisals is not unique to the log home industry. It is affecting the entire new home building industry. “This thing is not only preventing the housing market from recovering, it’s destroying the housing market,” said Marc Savitt, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. “We’re eliminating competition, and we all know what happens when you eliminate competition: Prices go up.”

This Seven Gables Therma-Log Home uses wire railings on the deck so as not to obstruct the long range Colorado view. The detached three car garage has a guest apartment above.

Insects and Log Homes: In our construction seminar this weekend, we had a lively discussion about insects and log homes. One couple recited that they lived in a home built by the wife’s grandfather in 1950. The home was built with untreated Oak girders and pine floor joists. The pine joists were almost destroyed by termites. The Oak beams were still sound and had no insect damage.
Another couple talked about the log homes in their part of the country (southeast) where there was a substantial and on going issue with carpenter bees. We have never had a case of carpenter bee infestation in our oak logs. Research shows that they are found mostly in various species of Pine.

Here is a photo of another fireplace design. Note that the rock of this fireplace is flush with the inside of the log wall. The rest of the fireplace is “outside” of the living space. The fireplace at the beginning of the Oak Leaf sits to the inside of the log wall. Also note the firebox built in on the right which allows access from the other side so that you do not have to carry the firewood into the house.

Cedar is also a wood species that seldom has insect infestations. However, only cedar HEARTWOOD exhibits these characteristics. Most cedar log homes sold today have sapwood which is exposed to the exterior and/or interior of the home.

  • Here I am showing some alternative railing options. The black balusters above provide a more modern look and do not block the view. These can be used both as an interior or an exterior baluster.

  • Log railings can also be either interior or exterior. These give a more rustic feel. Log railings are available in a variety of wood species and in finishes.

Top Five Kitchen Building Trends We’ve seen kitchens go through some interesting changes, from the avocado-green appliances of the 1970s to the first smooth glass cook tops that sprang up in the late 20th century. Can you achieve a trendy cooking space and still be able to actually cook? It’s all about balancing your food-prep needs with your aesthetic tastes. Here are five of the top ten kitchen trends you see now for new or remodeled kitchens: 1. Concrete Countertops 2. Dual Fuel Ranges 3. Green Design 4.Hidden Appliances 5. High Tech.
If you would like to read more details, go to the full article.

The owners of this custom designed home wanted a “Swiss Chalet” feel to their design. Built just outside of Washington, D.C., the European feel is prevalent throughout the home.

Log Cabin 2 Go at Ft Wayne, IN Show in March: Come see a custom GLH LC2Go at the Outdoor Lake Home and Cabin Show in Ft Wayne, IN on March 16 – 18, 2012. The show will be held at the Memorial Coliseum. For a $5 coupon off admission, or for more information, click Ft Wayne Show.

Construction Seminar Schedule for 2012:

April 14 May 19 July 14 Sept 15 Oct 13

The one day construction seminars are held at our model home center on I70 on the southwest outer road of Exit 144 in Central Missouri. Call to register!

See GLH at these log home shows:

Nashville, TN at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park – March 2 to 4, 2012
Greater Philadelphia, PA Expo at Oaks – March 16 to 18, 2012
Oley Fair, Oley, PA on Sept 20 too 22 from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Open Houses:
Fleetwood, PA April 14, 2012 from 11;00 AM to 4:00 PM Contact Dennis and Colleen Gabel for more information at 610-790-7479 or email:

Fleetwood, PA October 20, 2012 from 11;00 AM to 4:00 PM Contact Dennis and Colleen Gabel for more information at 610-790-7479 or email:

Answer to the Trivia Question: There were only 302,000 single family new homes built in the US in 2011. This is the lowest number since they started keeping records in the 1940’s. Despite these year-end statistics, other key economic indicators suggest growth for housing and home building in 2012. Construction firms saw increased business activity in their futures, with 2011 the first year since 2006 when total hires exceeded total job separations for the industry.
The American owner-occupied housing stock is growing older, and this fact may signal future increased demand for both remodeling and new home construction over the long term. Data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS) reveal that the median age of an owner-occupied home in the United States was 34 years as of the 2009 survey. This is 11 years older than the median age reported by the 1985 AHS (23 years).

Quote of the Month: “The tax on capital gains directly affects investment decisions, the mobility and flow of risk capital… the ease or difficulty experienced by new ventures in obtaining capital, and thereby the strength and potential for growth in the economy.” – John F. Kennedy