Monday, February 09, 2009

The Impending Affordability Crunch for Log Homes

The very idea of living in a log cabin conjures up all sorts of feelings and sentimental romance. The log cabin home is as ingrained in our culture as Apple Pie and baseball but is the viability of this mainstay of rural living on the verge of disappearing. Some may think that it is not, that the log home will always be an affordable and viable home choice for those looking to return to their roots; but I think that the log building industry is in for some rough road in the coming years.

One only has to look at the dramatic increase in the cost of building materials and the scarcity of skilled labour in the wake of recent events both natural and man-made to get a sense of the coming crunch in the log building industry as a whole. The cost of plywood, for example, has risen nearly twenty percent in the last year adding dramatically to the cost of a new home. General contractors and homeowners alike are getting caught in the squeeze as prices for materials skyrocket during the course of construction making it necessary for charge backs and change orders. This volatility in the building materials market directly influences the log home building industry as they must compete with the lumber producers for the same raw logs from which they build their log cabins with.

The typical log home producer must buy its logs on a project by project basis so as not to tie up scarce resources in carrying an inventory of logs. Given this, the producer must go to the market to purchase logs at market price and thus must compete with the large mills for the same high grade logs. Practically speaking, his means that the log builder must in fact pay a premium for its logs because their quantity of wood fiber purchased does not afford them the same economies of scale as the large mills. So in the end the log builder can pay as much as double for the same logs as the large mill. The log builder of course cannot absorb all this cost so it must pass this cost along to the consumer who ultimately will bear the brunt of this volatility.

If the premium for logs wasn't enough for the log builder to contemplate; add in the scarcity of skilled labour and it is clear to see why the price of log cabin construction is on the increase. There was a time when building a log cabin was simple because you were doing it your self probably and if you made a mistake then – oh well you could live with it. But today in our overly litigious society where every consumer expects nothing but the finest quality at all price points the pressure on the builder to do quality work is immense. A typical log builder will require four to five years of hands-on experience under the direction of a journeyman log smith to be able to work independently. During this training time the apprentice will be exposed to all sorts of different scenarios and situations and must develop his problem solving skills in order to achieve competency. The problem face by most log home companies is that the craft of log home building is not as glamorous as a University Degree or a Tradesman Qualification so they have a hard time attracting quality employees due to the stiff competition from the other trades and professions. The only way the log home producer can compete is to increase the wage scale in the hopes of retaining quality personnel

What does all this mean for the log home building industry? It means that their cost of raw materials is steadily increasing as they are getting squeezed out by the large mills and producers for the raw materials they need to build their homes. This coupled with the scarcity of skilled labour means that the log home producer must raise his prices to be able to stay profitable. This increase in prices then puts the affordability and feasibility of a log cabin out of reach of the average person and thus thins the market for the producer. Under these kinds of conditions the producer may at first lower his prices to close more sales but this is not a long term solution because the producer's profit margin is slowly eroded as the cost of materials and labour steadily rises but the price point does not. In the end if the consumer does not accept the higher prices but instead chooses a different style of construction the log home building industry will experience a sharp decline until the costs of inputs normalizes and the viability of the business is certain.

About The Author
Darwin Forcier
Log Home Builder for 15 years and owner of Coast Mountain Log Homes

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Pharm Organic Deer Repellent Safe and Effective

Always Green Nursery's Deer Pharm Organic Repellant solves one of the most lingering issues for serious gardeners in all areas of the country. How does one get rid of those annoying ruminants eating everything green that appears in the garden without destroying the plants which make up the food crop, rendering the food unfit for human consumption due to the smell or taste of the repellent, or spending all one's gardening time applying the repellent?

Deer are a year-round problem in rural area gardens. In the spring, they love to visit the new shoots of the vegetable garden or the tips of ornamental shrubbery and strip away the leaves. The hoof prints in the planted but unsprouted areas of the garden can undo in one evening what has taken hours of planting to accomplish. During the summer, the produce from the vegetable garden is mature and they have been known to mow down a row of spinach, chard or lettuce during one evening's feeding frenzy.

Fall brings new problems. As melons and vines ripen, so does the audacity of the nighttime visits. The animals are rarely content with picking and eating only one item. They have been known to move down a row of ripe melons taking a bite of one here, stepping on another there, and gnawing through a vine in yet another area. One or two animals in a garden can literally destroy a whole season's produce in a single night.

And then there is the winter season. One would think that the dear would stay away because the garden is down to dead stalks, but no—they love dried corn stalks and may even move into lawn or shrubbery in order to forage for food. They can do serious damage to the trunks of fruit trees as they rub antlers against the wood.

Deer Pharm Organic Repellant is 100 percent safe for your children, animals and pets. Applied correctly, it's undetectable to human olfactory organs after 10-12 hours, yet the deer hate it. During the early season, you can apply Deer Pharm frequently, and space out the applications as the season progresses. The product is 100% natural and contains 100% pure organic ingredients.

About The Author
Jonathan Coffman is the owner of Always Green Nursery located in Columbia, MO. They are a premium grower of perennial plants to retail and wholesale customers across the country. You can buy plants, seeds, gardening supplies and more from


Building a Concrete Patio

A concrete patio can be an attractive part of the landscape, provided it is properly decorated after it is placed. It is also a convenient landscape element, as the patio is usually square and is easy to mow around. Additionally, it is an excellent place to enjoy outdoor cooking and entertaining. Concrete is durable and it can withstand a great deal of wear and tear. Building a concrete patio is something that you can do on your own in about three days. With a little investment of time, you can save money by installing your patio yourself, rather than paying someone else to do it.

The first thing to do, of course, is plan your patio. You need to figure out how big you want the patio, and mark off the area. Additionally, you need to make sure you have all of the necessary tools. 50 square feet is a fairly common size patio, and for that (at about six inches thick) you need 25 bags of pre-mixed concrete. Make sure that you get the pre-mixed for best results and easiest construction. You will also need to make sure you have concrete tools and an automatic concrete mixer. If you do not wish to purchase these tools, it is possible to rent them from a home improvement or hardware store.

Next, you need to excavate the area with a garden shovel. The best thing to do is excavate six inches deep. This is so that you have a two-inch layer of gravel beneath four inches of concrete. This is especially important in the north, where the freezing and thawing cycle can cause drainage problems. The gravel allows for adequate drainage, and that prevents cracking due to frozen water trapped beneath the patio.

After you have excavated your patio area, you need to build a form to hold the gravel and concrete. This form is usually made from wood. It acts as a frame of sorts to keep the gravel and concrete in place, instead of spreading beyond the confines of your patio. The form can be constructed from wood or strong plastic or rubber, and should be sunk into the ground lining the entire border of the patio area. If you want the patio flush with the ground, the top of the form should be level with the surrounding lawn. After that is done, put in the gravel. Make sure you tamp it down firmly to avoid shifting later on. Two-inch high flat pieces of rock should be installed as well, on top of the gravel, to act as supports for rebar reinforcing (the rebar will be built in the middle of the four inch slab of concrete

About The Author
Janeth Duque of Geeks On Steroids. Janeth is well-known in the world of web design and search engine optimization.
Web Site: Geeks on Steroids
View their website at:

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Spring Is Around The Corner - How is your Garden?

Spring is in my opinion the most wonderful time of year for the gardener. You can shake of that winter weariness and get ready for a new gardening season.

The most difficult part of spring gardening is trying to manage your impatience. Don't start digging around too early. The soil must be dry enough to have it fall apart when you pick it up. When it still sticks together like glue that's definitely not the case.

Early spring is the best time of year to change (parts of) your garden design. You can transplant existing shrubs and perennial plants before they begin to leaf out. This also is the time to prune your trees and shrubs. Cut back the remaining dead foliage from last season and remove dead, damaged or diseased branches of trees and shrubs.

And then flowers! That's really what spring is about isn't it! There are many that are suitable for cool spring weather. Think of sweet alyssum, some snapdragons, stock and sweat peas. You can also start some perennials like hostas and daylilies.

Start some Violets, Marigolds, Carnations, Geraniums and Impatiens inside to transplant to your flower beds in early spring. Or if you have some space left in your garden you can set up a "Cold Frame". Ready-made cold frames are available in different sizes. A cold frame "captures" the spring sunlight and warms the soil it surrounds. That way it is ideal to "harden off" houseplants and transplants for your summer garden. You can use the cold frame for direct seeding as well.

If you have unplanted areas in your garden a great spring project is to lay out landscape cloth on that unplanted area. Landscape cloth is an excellent weed barrier. It comes in different weights, heights and fabric choices. This cloth can then also serve as a great map to precisely plant your transplants.

Weeds start to grow very early but still have shallow roots in spring so get them out when you spot them. Getting on top of the weeds now means a lot less work in summer, and I'm sure that digging out weeds in the burning sun in not your favorite pastime.

These two measures will definitely intimidate your perennial weeds to the extent that they will prefer your neighbor's garden over yours.

And most of all enjoy your spring garden, watch it grow and blossom into summer!

About The Author
Anita Johnston is an enthusiast gardener and one of the authors of and

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Preventing Water Damage in the Attic

Controlling the natural drying of your property must start at the attic as it is located at the top of the house, separating between the roof and the rest of the house.

Ceiling and Floor

Be sure to look both up and down when inspecting the attic. Pay special attention to openings through the roof such as pipes, vents and the chimney. Take a look to confirm that all surfaces are dry and that there is no mold or rot. Also, check the bottom of the roof sheathing and roof rafters. It is recommended to inspect during the morning to make sure that the roof is sealed and that no daylight penetrates through roof cracks. Inspect the floor and make sure it is dry.

Recessed Lights Canisters

The presence of rust and corrosion indicates possible moisture invasion and a potential electrical hazard. Additional indicators for potential water damage are stains above or near the wood, or on the insulation around the canisters. Consider replacing old recessed lights canisters with newer, safer ones that include built in insulation.


Attic ventilation is important. Commonly, vents are installed along the peak of the roof. Moisture or surface discoloration near vents is a sign, locate the moisture source and fix the problem. When inspecting the roof, remove any bird nests and debris blocking the vents.


When damaged by moisture and water, the insulation becomes thin and flat. Check the insulation frequently, especially after the rain season. Touch it. If it feels wet, find the moisture source and fix the problem right away. Remember: wet insulation is useless, but it will continue to hold water for a while and will create high moisture conditions. If the insulation is wet, replace it.

Common Attic Appliances

Periodically, check attic air conditioners, swamp coolers and HVAC systems. Look for wear and tear and loose connections. Inspect around and under these appliances. Remember that appliances failures may cause water damage to everything that lies below.

About The Author
Terry Allen is an editorial staff member of RestorationSOS, a leading restoration services provider for water and fire damages. To learn more about water and fire damage restoration, visit

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Kitchen Remodeling Checklist: Are Your Prepared?

Did you know that remodeling your kitchen is one of the most common home additions that people do these days? The kitchen is one of the hotspots of most houses. People are constantly coming in and out of the kitchen, getting food, talking on the phone and using the kitchen a socialization point of the entire house. We've talked to a whole bunch of contractors who've told us that kitchen work can be some of the most difficult yet most rewarding for both the home owner and the contractor. Let's take a look at some of the factors you should strive for if you are seriously considering undertaking a kitchen remodeling.

1) Is your contractor reliable? I can't count the number of friends that I have who have had problems with contractors. Kitchen remodeling is no different. If you hire a contractor to redo your kitchen, make sure they come with great references from uninterested parties. There is nothing worse than have a kitchen that is only ½ way done after the contractor decides to disappear midway through the job.

2) Is your kitchen so complex that you will end up paying a ton of money? We know several people who had unrealistic expectations before getting their kitchens remodeled. They either ended up with a kitchen that wasn't as nice as they wanted or they ended up paying through the nose. Be realistic about what you want and what you can afford.

3) Are you informed about the kitchen remodeling process? Without knowledge of the kitchen remodeling process, points #1 and #2 aren't really all that important. Like everything, there are tricks and tips to make sure that your project comes out looking fantastic while not paying too much money. The insiders know exactly what to do and what to say to make sure that their project turns out looking like the kitchen of their dreams. Get informed on the entire process before investing your time and your energy on a kitchen that doesn't turn out how you want it. It's not that hard to learn, but learning about kitchen remodeling is well worth your time.

About The Author
Linda Harrison is author of "The Kitchen Remodeling Guide." Get your copy at

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Tax Credit for Going Solar

As we sit in the middle of winter, most people can't believe how high their utility bills are. Going with solar energy can lower your bills and you get a hefty tax credit

Solar Tax Credit

Solar energy is a clean, renewable energy source. The production of solar energy on residential and commercial structures creates no pollutants and is starting to make serious financial sense. In 35 states, the concept of net metering is now an established fact. Net metering simply means you can sell energy from solar panel systems back to utilities, thus eliminating or seriously reducing utility bills. As oil and natural gas costs skyrocket, the Federal Government is doing even more to promote the use of solar energy.

In 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act. As part of the act, a tax credit was established for any person purchasing and installing residential solar energy systems for electric and water heating purposes. If you purchase and install solar systems for either of these purposes, you can take a 30 percent tax credit. If you install systems for both of these purposes you can double the tax credit. To avoid tax abuse, each tax credit has a cap of $2,000.

Importantly, tax credits are far more valuable than tax deductions. Tax deductions are taken from your gross income prior to figuring the amount of tax owed. Tax credits are a dollar for dollar reduction of the actual amount of tax you owe. For instance, if you prepare your tax returns and find you owe $5,000 to the IRS, a tax credit would be deducted from this $5,000 figure. In short, a tax credit gives you a lot more bang for your buck.

To claim the solar tax credit, there are a few restrictions and requirements. First, you can't claim the tax credit if you use the solar system to heat a hot tub or pool. Second, the system must be certified by a solar rating certification corporation to establish that you, in fact, installed a working system. Third, the system must be activated between January 1, 2005 and the end of 2007. Finally, you cannot claim the credit if the government gave you a grant or financing to purchase the system, to wit, no double dipping.

When solar energy is discussed as a potential alternative energy source, most supporters point to the environmental benefits. Ultimately, the benefits to ones bank account will really make the difference and the solar tax credit is a solid step in that direction.

About The Author
Rick Chapo is with – a directory of solar energy and solar power companies. Visit to read more solar electricity articles.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Chainsaw Manufacturers Have Excellent Safety Records

Chainsaw manufacturers have excellent safety videos available. Always make sure you check safety features such as chain brakes, safety chains, and deadman switches. Chainsaws provide all the convenience of a Chainsaw, even in enclosed areas and near residential buildings. Make sure to service your systems chainsaw will help ensure that your equipment will not let you down.

Correct chain tension proper lubrication and a properly tuned engine. Your new chain if possible, soak the chain in oil to allow oil to penetrate all chain components, the chain tension should be checked and adjusted if needed before every use.

Before using your chainsaw each time you need to inspect the fuel system.After every 10 hours of use you need to clean or replace the air filter. Chainsaw two stroke engines a great power-to-weight ratio compared to many four-stroke engine designs.

The air intake filter tends to clog up with sawdust. The fuel filter should be replaced after every 20 hours of use. You'll acquire better chainsaw performance through basic maintenance, carburetor setting, and filing techniques. A vibration dampening system, which makes simple work of the most difficult tasks. These are merely tips to assist you while searching for a Chainsaw.

Chainsaws are easier to use than ever. Your chainsaw converts logs into lumber or timber. Before you use a chainsaw you should undergo extensive training, and only trained people should use a chainsaw, always think safety.

Suitable protective clothing suitable protective clothing should be worn - no matter how small the job.

Chainsaws produce a level of noise that will affect unprotected ears after only 15 minutes of exposure, wear ear muffs or ear plugs to keep as much noise as possible out.

About The Author
Jerry Smith can help you. Find out how thousands of people have been helped with the advice and information. Visit this link for details:

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