The first step of every home should be Preliminary Drawings. This is especially the case with a log home. Our log home packages come precut with the door and window openings. These openings have to be carefully planned out so that the home construction will go smoothly. With log homes it is best to consider the final preliminary drawings as your “bible” of construction. Ideally, nothing should be changed once the preliminary drawings are finalized. Once the preliminary drawings are finalized then the construction drawings are made. If structural engineering is desired or required it is performed on the construction drawings.
Construction drawings focus is on the construction of the house, but other documents are often needed for the municipality where you are building and often the owner wants some other analysis done on the job site.
For this new log home in Silver Gate the following were performed before we even staked out the foundation of the house on the job site.
Silver Gate Planning Including:
For our home in Silver Gate, Montana the owners wanted a walkout basement with a garage in the basement. The lot appeared fairly flat, as it peeked out from behind the thick stand of pine trees.
So we did a contour study on the fall of the ground across the lot with a laser transit to determine what slope we had to work with.
We did this analysis in two ways. The first was from ‘above’ with line marking the fall of the land. And we also did this in a three dimensional view in AutoCAD. The above 3D rendering makes it very easy to visualize how the foundation would fit into the property with a garage. We found that through both cutting away and building up we were able to make a garage in the basement possible.
Also of concern to the owners was turning the house to gain the most benefit from the sun. Notice how the rendering below shows the sun lighting up the left gable end of the house while the rest remains in the shadows.
When we perform a sun path analysis we must have the property coordinates from the recorded deed. Most commonly for this sort of analysis the shortest and longest days of the year are used. Above we see the shortest day. The house is turned in such a way for the large windows into the great room are turned somewhat towards the sun at the peak of the day. Later the owners chose to rotate it further so the sun fully shines on the great room when the sun is at its zenith.
The sun path was done after the first draft of the preliminary drawings was completed. We did about three rounds of preliminary drawings on this home before we moved into construction drawings and structural engineering. Things such as room placement, over all budget cost projections, and project time lines were all considered in this stage. The main changes the owners decided on was to rotate the house on the foundation and make the home slightly smaller.
Planning is such an important part of building. Log homes are not easily changed on the job site. Especially if the logs come precut, some changes are impossible after the log package is prepared for shipment. It has been our experience that owners who take the time and expense to plan out all of the rooms, fixture sizes, bed sizes, etc. etc. have a much easier build with a home that looks well planned instead of one where various things don’t fit.
We recently visited a new custom brick home. The owners purchased ‘canned’ plans off of the internet and made some changes to it. In the end there were blaring design oversights that took away from the overall value of the completed home. From the outside the gable dormers looked regal. On the inside the dormers were so small that they provided basically useless space on the interior. In the downstairs hall bathroom a laundry area was added to the back of it but not enough room had been left for any kind of doors, so a curtain was used. And in the master bath the sink base the owners chose was too long for the bathroom, inhibiting the entrance to the master shower. There were also issues with the size of the kitchen, the exterior covered porch– and the list continued.
These issues screamed at Mike and I, as we are so accustomed to planning homes. While aware of these problems after the home was built, the owners felt it wouldn’t be a problem. Sadly, the owners later sold their home because the design flaws were difficult to deal with on a day to day basis. So do you and your future home a favor and seriously consider and pour over your preliminary drawings– that is what they are for!