A log house is a house typically built of logs that have not been milled into conventional lumber and is structurally identical to a log cabin. The definition “log house” is used more often than “log cabin” by most builders because log cabins are usually smaller and more rustic log buildings (summer house in the woods, hunting cabins, tool houses, or a small hunting cabins). The log home has a long history. Vitruvius Polio was the first architect who described construction with logs in his Tactato del’architectura (Treatise on architecture). He wrote that in Pontus (today Romania, former Roman Empire province Dacia) residential buildings were made by laying horizontally over top of each other and filling in the gaps with “chips and mud”. Construction with logs was widely used in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland), the Baltic States and Northern Russia where most of the trees are straight, spiny and tall (pine, spruce). Also log construction was common building technique in Eastern Central Europe, the Balkans, the Alps and some parts of Asia, where similar climatic conditions dominate. In today’s fast-moving world full of technological innovations log houses are built easily and can last hundreds of years.
Historically handcrafted log houses were started to build in Eastern Europe. Although log houses origin is not clear, researchers believe that the first Log cabins were constructed in Scandinavia in the Bronze Age. They were made from log piled up to form a pyramid. Archaeological research indicates that buildings similar to a log cabins became common living buildings in the Middle Ages and were usually built using only an axe and knife. There is a theory which suggests that the Vikings’ shipbuilding methods were transferred to log buildings. In the Alps and the Balkans wooden houses became common due to the fact that in these areas most of the trees were straight, spiny and tall.
It is believed that the first log cabins have been built in Sweden and were named after the man who constructed a small and simple house for his relatives when they settled down to America in the Delaware Valley place in the early 18th century. This area is famous for being the area near where a lot of history of the United States ensued. North America took a significant part in the history of Log Houses – this is the place where they became prevalent, were improved and developed. Log cabins were quickly developed by other colonists and Native Americans. The oldest recorded North American log house is the C. A. Nothnagle Log House (1640) in New Jersey and was built by Swedes. Afterwards German settlers developed log houses building methods and wooden houses were build all over the area as sign of the border.
Step by step settlers built more and more log houses all over the United States. Later they became common in various regions of Canada. Of course it was not by a mistake – log houses spread to Canada because of the abundance of required construction materials and the heavy cold. Of course, the same situation (cold climate and the abundance of building material) made them widespread over wooded regions.
Even later, in the 19th century, the industrialization of society changed the look of the log houses. The log which people used before were replaced by various building materials which could be mass-produced by lumber mills, and log houses took on a different appearance. Subsequently Log houses became strongly related to North American identity. Log houses are usually constructed in the wooded areas as a place for living and today log homes reappears in a form of country residences, mountain cabins or garden buildings. A lot of older villages in Scandinavia have been built solely out of log homes, which have been decorated by wood cuttings. Today the construction of modern log homes as leisure homes is common and well-developed industry in Finland and Sweden.
Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden brought the culture of log houses and made them widespread across the ocean. From east to west, the log buildings appeared across the countries as the skills were handed from generation to generation. Although the history of log houses begun in Scandinavia, they became widely used in many countries and it today a lot of builders build summer houses from log to achieve a rustic effect. Today modern log cabins have a lot of advantages as they are comfortable, easy to build and there is no need for an additional heating system. Also timber houses is of long-lasting qualities – they can be used for more than 200 years while the process of looking after it is more simple than of a brick house.
In today’s fast-moving world ecological materials are coming back into modern building processes and it is good news for everybody who try to live greener. A simple pine and spruce log becomes a perfect building material once it is in the hands of an experienced woodworker. Even today more and more people choose to build a home out of logs every year, and there are some specific reasons for this. These reasons are heating and cooling cost, noise reduction, fire resistant, curb appeal and many more. Wooden houses are environmentally friendly, made from natural materials. As today’s consumers try to live healthier and greener, log homes are coming back to our lives and turn over a new page in the history of log houses.