Ohio Lakefront Cabins: Things to Know Before You Buy

Ohio Lakefront Cabins: Things to Know Before You Buy

A lot of people dream and fantasize about escaping their regular life with a lake side retreat, and one of the popular lake house styles that people use to do this are lakeside cabins. They provide a rustic charm as well as giving character and allows homeowners to fully emerge themselves in their getaway. However, lakefront cabins are a special type of home and potential buyers need to talk with their lakefront specialist about some of the finer and relatively unknown points of owning one.

First thing potential buyers need to have their agent discover is if the house is truly a cabin? Or is it a regular framed home with log siding? This is an important question to ask because a true log cabin will be built differently since the walls are actual logs formed together and will have some form of chinking that will bind them. Chinking should almost always be present for a true log cabin to increase efficiency and reducing moisture migration, however chinking and caulking can be an additional maintenance item. Also with true log cabins, depending on wood quality and how they were dried, having a log cabin can lead to shifting in cabin walls since wood will naturally shrink within the first several years as it continues to dry. I’ve seen in several log cabins were cabinets had to be re-aligned due to the cabin walls shifting as the wood settled and continued the drying process. If the home is just log siding, that means it’s not a “true log cabin” in the sense that it’s not 100% made from logs. This can often times result in better energy efficiency and will reduce any possibility of shifting, but the exterior maintenance will be the same as the siding is still made from wood.

Now that you’ve discovered if it is a true log cabin or not, and therefore if you have to deal with the drying of the wood and the additional maintenance of the chinking and caulking, you should really get a better understanding for what exterior maintenance is needed. With exterior maintenance of lakefront cabins comes two big maintenance items that are not common with regular home types. The first one is treating for insects. Termites, carpenter bees, post powder beetles and other insects eat wood and can take up residence in the logs of your cabin if you don’t keep it treated regularly. The second item would be the re-finishing of the wood. Keeping up with the finish on the wood protects it from UV light, moisture (which can cause rot and other bad things) and let the logs breathe, allowing them to shed moisture they may retain. These two big maintenance items have to be kept up, but keep in mind that it is an additional cost to you as the homeowner.

The next thing to consider before buying a log home is to make sure you have the house inspected and pay special attention to the roof and gutter system. With log cabins a lot of problems with rotting logs or moisture build up is because it doesn’t have long enough overhangs to protect the logs from water, or it doesn’t have the right flashing or gutter system to keep water away from all the wood. The roof should not only cover the main part of the house, but should extend far enough to cover the ends of the logs at the corners of the house. As seen below you cans see where the logs overlap at the corners, the overhang should be large enough to keep water from hitting those logs. Also make sure your inspector checks to see how far away from the ground those logs are, you can see in the picture below that the last log is a good distance away from the ground, which is a good thing because logs touching the dirt are more susceptible to rot and insects. So make sure to have a very thorough inspection by someone who is familiar with log homes.

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To cap it all off, the thing to remember is that lakefront cabins can be very cool; they can give you rustic charm and character on the lake, but they can also accrue much more cost. Talk to your lakefront specialist about the additional costs and upkeep required for a log cabin and make sure you are prepared to take them on before you purchase your lakefront cabin.

Written by Justin Shelton Lakefront Consultant

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