Pyramid Roof Installation Advice

This post follows on from the Gazebo Installation Advice post. It will feature mainly pictures of the gazebo roof but the method is highly relevant to the install of a pyramid roof on a log cabin.

Storage of the roof parts

Wood is a bugger and you really need to think about this when you are unpacking. The roof is always the last part to be installed and while you are mucking about with the walls of your log cabin or the posts of the gazebo the roof parts will be lying around doing all sorts of things behind your back. We failed to follow our own advice during the install and had a bit of a problem.

Rafters were perfect when we unpacked.

Rafters were perfect when we unpacked!

When we unpacked the pallet everything was perfect. Come the afternoon when it was time to install the roof we found the rafters had bowed all out of shape. If we had stored them flat, out of the sun etc they would have remained straight. One was a cracking banana shape!

If you find the same thing don’t panic. You have two options when faced with this:

  • Call us and shout down the phone that it’s really bad and all our fault demanding replacements whilst holding up your install for several days. Or ……
  • Carry on using it knowing that you were a bit daft not to keep them safe. You will of course be able to sort this out and is not a problem at all. You don’t need to demand replacements at all, it’s easily resolved.

Please note that this does happen with wood, it cannot be helped when it is unsupported. This will happen in a matter of half an hour so please watch out for it and follow our advice like we didn’t!

We left them all leaning against another building so as the day wore on we had some bends and warps to contend with. Always lay parts flat, supported and shaded from the sun. If these are being left for over a few hours you can consider adding weights to the top to keep everything flat.

We left them all leaning against another building so as the day wore on we had some bends and warps to contend with. Always lay parts flat, supported and shaded from the sun. If these are being left for over a few hours you can consider adding weights to the top to keep everything flat.

This could have been avoided with the correct storage.

This could have been avoided with the correct storage.

Here’s an example from a log cabin roof, these could still be used with some adjustment as I’ll show later in this post, or, look after them properly so it doesn’t happen at all.

Bowed rafter for a log cabin roof. If looked after properly after removal from the pack this will not happen.

Bowed rafter for a log cabin roof. If looked after properly after removal from the pack this will not happen.

These could be used within the build, replacements are not necessary if you know what you are doing.

These could be used within the build, replacements are not necessary if you know what you are doing.

Base and support

It’s always important to have a 100% level base and to make sure the building is 100%. With normal apex roofs you can get away with it a little if it’s not but with a pyramid roof it is REALLY important. If you are not 100% level and square you will pay for it when installing the roof so please check this. Please see this page for more advice on bases.

Pyramid Roof Construction

Other people will do it differently but this is the way I prefer to make a pyramid roof. The secret with a roof like this is:

  • 100% square and level.
  • Be methodical and have a system.
  • Preparation – batch piloting holes
  • Don’t worry about it. Sometimes things don’t look right but it will all come together, you can spend a lot of time worrying about it.
  • Realise that wood is wood, it cannot be precise by it’s nature but it can be worked with.
  • Keep an eye on your safety as you will be working from stepladders. You may also want to consider using a scaffold tower.
  • Make sure you identify all the parts correctly using a tape measure and the plans.

Before you start it’s a good idea to run a tape measure over the various parts and compare the parts to the plans. Some log cabins, mainly when there is a dividing wall or a gazebo to the side, will have a few subtle different sizes of rafters, identify all the parts first and be sure of their positioning from the plans.

King pin and corner rafters

In this example the rectangular gazebo has a king pin that joins the end rafters to the ridge. ALWAYS use pilot holes before screwing. It’s a good idea to pilot everything that will be screwed into the top of the roof first as a batch. DO NOT pilot the bottom ones yet.

Always use pilot holes before using screws.

Always use pilot holes before using screws.

Preparation is key to this, I also like to find the center point of the ridge beam, if it’s a longer roof there maybe more marking needed, it’s easier to do it on the ground rather than a head of a ladder.

Find and mark the ridge beam according to how many rafters that will be against it.

Find and mark the ridge beam according to how many rafters that will be against it.

In this gazebo my center rafter will be here.

In this gazebo my center rafter will be here.

For bigger roofs you can also mark the ridge beam for the exact positioning of the side rafters.

For bigger roofs you can also mark the ridge beam for the exact positioning of the side rafters.

Fix the corner rafters to the king pin if applicable to your build. Some will be larger than others but the principle is the same when a pin is supplied.

Screwing the corner rafters together.

Screwing the corner rafters together. he rafters will normally sit to the top of the pin. If there is a chamfer on the pin it can go either way but looks nice facing down.

Use a prop of whatever material you like to get the rough roof height, this helps greatly in your build. I tend to tack the corners of the rafters into the ring beam until I am certain they are in the correct position.

Corner rafters lightly fixed with the kingpin being supported with a prop.

Corner rafters lightly fixed with the kingpin being supported with a prop.

Another example of using a prop. A customers ingenuity with his step ladder.

Another example of using a prop. A customers ingenuity with his step ladder and a fishing rod?

Another example of a prop being used, it really does help your install.

Another example of a prop being used, it really does help your install and in bigger roofs such as this it keeps things level.

Now go to the other end of the building and again using a prop fit the corner rafters.

The opposite end of the gazebo fitting the second set of corner rafters. Again we are using a prop.

The opposite end of the gazebo and fitting the second set of corner rafters. Again we are using a prop lightly screwed into the side of the pin.

Both sets completed and stable.

Both sets completed and stable. note the bracing we are using across the middle to make sure we keep everything inline.

Fix the ridge beam which you will have piloted beforehand.

Fix the ridge beam to the king pin which you will have piloted beforehand.

Props removed

Props removed and all four corners in place the ridge beam fixed.

Don’t worry at this point that it isn’t level or straight. If the measurements of the parts were correct according to the plan and you are sure you have used the correct parts then this will come good when you add the remaining rafters, at this point you can spend a lot of time worrying, please don’t.

Log cabin corner rafters in place. It can often look wrong and not level but don't worry about this at the moment.

Log cabin corner rafters in place. It can often look wrong and not level but don’t worry about this at the moment.

Wood and roofs can play tricks with you!

You’ll notice that we’re using the wonky banana parts we accidentally made at the beginning by not following our own advice. We’re still not worried about them either as it will all work out – we had considered calling ourselves to make a complaint and ask for replacements but decided we wouldn’t get too far!

 Side Rafters

Now you can start to add the side rafters into the king pin if applicable. I only fix the top ones first, don’t fix them to the walls or ring beam yet. You may want to check the fixings in the corner rafters at this point and fully send the screw home as we know they were in the right position as the ridge beam was reached and has been fixed.

Fix the corner rafter as we are happy with its position

Fixing the corner rafters as we are happy with its position, it’s roughly level and has been spanned without a problem. Note, regarding the gazebo we are installing here we are using the longest screws through the rafter into the ring beam. For log cabins I also recommend screwing all rafters into the ring beam. It is strictly not necessary but I prefer to do it for extra strength.

Log cabins will have notches created by the ring beam of the cabin and there is only one way to locate it. Technically you don’t need to screw through the rafter into the ring beam but I ALWAYS do this, weighing just short of 16 stone I like to make sure the roof is as strong as possible when I get on it to shingle.

Log cabins will have notches in the main ring beam so location is easier. You don't have to but I recommend you source some longer screws and fix all the rafters into the top log.

Log cabins will have notches in the main ring beam so location is easier. You don’t have to but I recommend you source some longer screws and fix all the rafters into the top log.

The side rafters screw to the king pin, level with the top of it.

The side rafters screw to the king pin, level with the top of it. Don’t let the fact that the ridge beam is slightly higher, it will all work.

Fitting the side rafters into the kingpin

Fitting the side rafters into the kingpin

The following side rafters can now be added. We have already marked the location of them on the ridge beam so we don't have to try measuring from the ladder.

The following side rafters can now be added. We have already marked the location of them on the ridge beam so we don’t have to try measuring from the ladder. When rafters go to the ridge beam they will be flush with the top of the beam.

Fixing the lower edge rafters

We now start to make a few adjustments and there is a little bit of mucking about at this point, it’s best to be methodical and work with the building getting the ridge straight. It can take some adjustment, it may also be necessary to release the corner rafters again to get everything perfect. Take a slow and steady, thoughtful approach to this.

Remember these pictures are of a gazebo, a log cabin generally has notches in the main ring beam for locating the rafters. Some pushing and pulling maybe necessary to locate them. See my advice above regarding screwing the rafters into the top log.

Back to the gazebo install:- As we are confident the corner rafters are well positioned we measure the overhang either side of the center rafter taking our cue from the corner rafter overhang.

Measure the center rafter. We want them to be the same either side.

Measure the center rafter. We want them to be the same either side.

Also check that nothing has gone wrong with the top wall or ring beam, a quick eye to check it is still straight. Bracing normally keeps things nice and straight. Log cabins will be easier as you will have numerous logs keeping it straight but please still check for straightness.

Check by eye that the ring beam or top wall is nice and straight before fixing the lower rafters.

Check by eye that the ring beam or top wall is nice and straight before fixing the lower rafters.

Methodically work around the rafters getting the alignment just right or as near as damn it. Remember our banana rafters will be throwing things out slightly. If you need to push a rafter in slightly the clamp is very handy.

We're using the clamp to put some pressure on the refter to push it in further. There was a slight bow in the ridge beam so with a little push we can take the bow out.

We’re using the clamp to put some pressure on a rafter to push it in further. There was a slight bow in the ridge beam so with a little push we can take the bow out. Don’t forget to use pilot holes before screwing!

Sometimes it goes really smoothly, other times it can take some playing with. Please expect this as part of the building process with any pyramid roof on a log cabin or gazebo.

This particular gazebo has some additional bracing.

Additional bracing being fitted in the rectangular gazebo. Of the three size of screws we had in the fitting kit we're using the smallest ones.

Additional bracing being fitted in the rectangular gazebo. Of the three size of screws we had in the fitting kit we’re using the smallest ones here.

With that, the roof structure is complete, time to put on the roof boards.

Roof structure completed ready to accept the roof boards.

Roof structure completed ready to accept the roof boards.

Ready for the roof boards.

A log cabin roof complete and ready for the roof boards.

Roof boards and Banana Rafters

We’ve still got a problem with the bowed wood we created. We did decide to ring the office and make a serious complaint, we even demanded someone comes and rectifies it for us.  Unfortunately we were met with laughter by the sales team so we’ll crack on.

Does this look like a real problem though to you, some fitters may worry over this?

This is the worst bowed rafter on one corner.

This is the worst bowed rafter on one corner. It’s a cracking example of a problem you can encounter with timber which can be easily overcome.

We don’t want to start with this yet until we have the building stabilised, pushing on this to straighten it without strength elsewhere would not work so we’ll come back to worrying about this a little later.

We’ve already sorted out our roofs into the triangle sections, this makes it so much easier and quicker and you can easily see how they are going to go together without confusion. Please note with the gazebos you will also have spare straight end cut boards should you need them, don’t let them confuse you and put them to one side in case you need a spare due to a split or knot you don’t like.

Roof section already laid out. This is the two ends of a rectangular pyramid roof

Roof section already laid out. This is the two shorter ends of a rectangular pyramid roof.

Extended triangle laid out, two sets for both sides.

Extended triangle laid out, two sets for both of the longest sides. Note due to the length the lower edge of the roof is made up of two pieces of board. For log cabins you may have a center roof section instead with two outer triangles. Regardless it helps the install to lay out the roof section so you can see it before you install it.

We had some discussions on the best way to do the roof boards and the best way to advise you. Both Wayne and I differed on how we did it and you may have a different idea as well, there really is no right or wrong way of doing this.

I like to test a triangle section first so I will tack the first board and then lay in all the others. Tacking every few boards. This then tells me if the triangle is going to fit and whether I need to cut any boards, as I’ve only tacked it I can remove the boards and adjust easily.

To minimise trimming I can raise or lower the triangle and perhaps only trim the leading edge board at the bottom. Once I’m sure it will work I then fix fully and use this as a template for the rest of the boards.

This isn’t the way we have done it on this building example though. The is Wayne’s (Tuin UK Service Manager) method and seems to work very well, he’s fitted a few more buildings than me so I’m bowing to his experience on this one. You may well have a better method.

Regardless though expect to have to trim roof boards for a perfect fit! Wood is wood and we are only human, it is very rare that you will get the perfect situation intended by the factories design computer for a perfect fit without adjustment, a few millimeters out here and there will affect the fit of the boards, it’s impossible to get the roof structure 100% perfect. If you have to trim a few you have made a near perfect roof. If you have to trim a lot you are quite a bit out somewhere but as long as it looks good at the end it is all that matters

Tacking a roof board, all around on the first layer flush with the bottom of the rafter.

Tacking a roof board, all around on the first layer flush with the bottom of the rafter.

Tack your first roof board and carry on around the whole building first, this will tell you the alignment is correct, it should be sitting roughly to the center of the rafter. Don’t worry if they don’t meet together perfectly, if you’re happy with the alignment then nail home fully.

One roof board all the way around on the leading edge flush with the bottom of the rafter.

One roof board all the way around on the leading edge flush with the bottom of the rafter.

After again assessing the building and our self created bananas we decide to start at the place that is the best, this is the furthest away from the really bad bow. There’s other smaller ones  we created by our dodgy storage the we want to remove as well. Using a plank and our trusty clamps we remove the bows as we go around the building.

using clamps we can brace of other rafters and push or pull bows out.

Using clamps we can brace off other rafters and push or pull the bows out as we fit the roof boards.

We then add five more boards and fix them with the nails provided. Don't be tempted to use a nail gun.

We then add five more boards and fix them with the nails provided. Don’t be tempted to use a nail gun.

Don’t be tempted to use a nail gun when you’re doing the roof, please use the nails we provide. Two nails in each board across every rafter. Note the gazebo roof boards are flat edged, all the log cabin roof boards are interlocking Tongue and Groove.

Steadily work around the building, if you have to you can remove slight bows as we are doing with a clamp and plank.

Steadily work around the building, if you have to you can remove slight bows as we are doing with a clamp and plank.

We now come to the worst bowed rafter we looked at earlier. As we have now boarded all the other sections of roof we have stabilised the building more and given it a lot more strength to brace against taking the bow out is now no problem at all.

Badly bowed rafter

Badly bowed rafter which will not look very nice from inside. This is easily removed as below.

A little bracing is all that is needed to bend the bow out.

A little bracing is all that is needed to bend the bow out when the roof boards are nailed on. This bow will be removed and will disappear, adhering to the shape we’ve asked it to maintain.

With the roof boards nailed on the clamp can be removed and what looked like a huge problem has magically gone

With the roof boards nailed on the clamp can be removed and what looked like a huge problem has magically gone

What bowed rafters? There’s no bananas here!

This is what I love about wood. By working with it and thinking about it most things can be overcome. Wood is very flexible and can be moved, pushed and cajoled into working with us.

We can carry on laying the rest of the boards on this gazebo, do not worry if it’s not particularly neat where it joins. As long as you can nail it on the rafter it is fine as all will be covered by the roof covering.

Don't worry too much about the join at the corners or other rafters, all this will be covered.

Don’t worry too much about the join at the corners or other rafters, all this will be covered.

When you come to the small triangle pieces at the top of the roof it’s a good idea to pilot hole them or you will break them guaranteed.

Always pilot hole the small pieces at the top of the roof to stop them splitting.

Always pilot hole the small pieces at the top of the roof to stop them splitting.

As I said there is always adjustment and cutting to do with any roof and this was where we needed to trim on this particular roof.

The last two final boards needed trimming

The last two final boards needed trimming to fit. As expected and normally you would have to do more. Not bad considering we had big bows as well.

Completed Roof and Notes

With the roof structures and boards on the final roof covering can now be added. You have the choice of Roofing Felt or Roof Felt Shingles. The latter looks for nicer and lasts forever. If you are fitting roof shingles please see the advice and videos on the shingle page linked to a couple of lines above.

For flat roofs you have a choice of either EPDM or Easy Roof Membrane. You could also use the ERM on apex roofs as an alternative to felt.

Gazebo roof structure complete ready for the final roof covering.

Gazebo roof structure complete ready for the final roof covering.

Roof structure and roof boards complete on a log cabin ready for the final roof covering to be applied.

Roof structure and roof boards complete on a log cabin ready for the final roof covering to be applied.

Notes.

The square, pyramid roof construction of a log cabin is pretty much the same as the rectangular roof described above. For the square roof gazebos it is a little different and uses a truss system making it easy to do and a lot less complicated. This looks good in a gazebo but I wouldn’t want this system in a log cabin.

Square roof truss system used in making a roof on a square gazebo.

Square gazebo roof construction using truss type beams.

Square gazebo roof construction using truss type beams.

Some buildings will have additional corner rafters as the above and below pictures show (the ones in the corner). I will fit these after I have put on some of the roof boards as you can then push it up into the roof boards for a perfect fit. For a log cabin you will need to put them in the notch before the roof boards go on.

Corder bracing coming from the corner rafters could be fitted after a few roof boards have been put on, you can then push the rafter up to them for a 100% perfect fit.

Corner bracing coming from the corner rafters could be fitted after a few roof boards have been put on, you can then push the rafter up to them for a 100% perfect fit.

There are different ways of doing things, you could also start from the top of the roof as this install was done, there really is no right or wrong method and all fitters will chose their own. This page is only my advice and you may have a better idea to accomplish your install quickly and easily.

You could also start from the top of the roof. There is no real right or wrong way of doing it, just personal preferences and what works for you and what you feel comfortable with.

You could also start from the top of the roof. There is no real right or wrong way of doing it, just personal preferences and what works for you and what you feel comfortable with. Note the smaller kingpin in this roof.

I have come across one or two buildings where the roof boards are not pre-angled. I actually prefer this as you simply nail them in, mark with a chalk line and cut down the line, to a certain extent it saves a lot of mucking about getting the perfect fit.

I prefer roof boards like this, they can just be nailed on and cut down to get a perfect joint on site.

I prefer roof boards like this, they can just be nailed on and cut down to get a perfect joint on site.

Finally please only use nails in your roof boards, a great deal of the overall strength of any building comes from the roof. Two nails in every board across every rafter. And please, NEVER use staples in the roof like this customer did.

Staples sued in the roof construction made a VERY weak building and it didn't fare will in a huge storm!

Staples used in the roof construction made a VERY weak building and it didn’t fare will in a huge storm with the roof boards lifting in places.

Using a Builder or Carpenter for your Log Cabin?

Log Cabins are pretty easy to install as long as you know the basic fundamentals.

The problems come if you don’t understand the build and sometimes worse still; if you employ a ‘professional’ to do the build for you who does not understand the process.

Sometimes beware of the professional as they may lack the understanding fully of what is involved despite their credentials of a professional builder, carpenter or joiner.

Please note most professional Tradesmen are absolutely fine and competent, this post is aimed at some that you employ that maybe too confident in their own abilities and may not understand the build, or, in some cases will not find out the complexities believing it to be a simple shed.

Professional Trades People

I’ve said it before, anyone who is a qualified builder / carpenter / joiner or ‘time served’ or ‘experienced’ or ‘trusted’ does not necessarily know about how to install a log cabin.

I think sometimes it is down to their professionalism and that they believe they should know it all but there are some key points that should be understood. Sometimes though this may not be fully realised by your chosen, (non log cabin experienced) installer

In a previous post (Here) I recounted the story of a customer who was recommended as follows:

“A friend of mine who has been a ‘time served chippy’ for 40 years told me that all I had to do was nail a board over the gap.”

Just because your chosen installer is a ‘professional’ it does not mean they know what they are doing with a log cabin install so please thoroughly check with them and make sure you ask them to read and understand our advice: Log Cabin Installation Advice.  

We also list a great deal more advice here: https://www.tuin.co.uk/Tuin-Useful-Information.html this advice may also be pertinant to other reputable suppliers, regardless whether you buy from us or not. All these things are useful to know if you are considering a Log Cabin from most reputable retailers.

Please remember though; “installing a log cabin is easy” – I say this all the time: Log Cabin Fitting Tips. BUT to make it easy you need to understand some basic things about the install and have a proper understanding of the building.

Below are examples of some very silly mistakes made by tradesmen who didn’t understand a log cabin install. All of these customers came to us rather fraught and we had to guide them or the installer on how to do it correctly, in some cases we had to visit site and correct the build, in the extreme it needed a complete new building.

Log Cabin Floor

A log cabin floor should go inside the cabin, not the cabin on top of the floor!

Crazy

The floor needs to be a floating floor as you would in your house.

Our log cabins have a floating floor inside the cabin and it is installed after the cabin has been built.

Our log cabins have a floating floor inside the cabin and it is installed after the cabin has been built.

Never allow your installer to lay the floor first and then the cabin, this will cause you lot of problems in the future. The floor should be a floating floor and your builder should be aware of this. Some ‘professionals’ treat a log cabin as a shed, a log cabin is a completely different beast to simple sheds.

Log Cabin Base

We explain the importance of a base for your log cabin and this must be passed on and understood by your chosen builder.

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This base is hugely out of level and the installer is trying to make good by blocking it up

He ignored the foundation beams supplied and installed the first log directly onto the base .... why?

As well as trying to block in he hasn’t used the foundation beams and the bottom log is in constant contact with the base. This is really not good!

If you are going to chock up the mistake in the base then at least use a treated timber to do this. These pieces will rot over the next 12 months and then everything will drop badly with huge problems to the building.

For smaller gradients you can use timber shims to take up a small gradient but do not use untreated wood as these will rot very quickly and the building will drop

This builder is using unstable blocks to chock the base level and is also using untreated timber.

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As well as unsuitable blocks the builder has also laid the floor first and the cabin on top.

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Unsuitable blocking of a timber frame base

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Untreated timber being used as shims will very quickly rot.

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A block directly on to grass with untreated wood is not acceptable.

Please also watch the base your builder puts down when using concrete, a wriggly and unlevel base is not a good thing for a log cabin.

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This is a very bad base for a log cabin, rough concrete is never very good. Notice also how unlevel it is and one side needed to be chocked. This poor lady had a few problems with water ingress and very unlevel doors

This was a terrible install by a professional builder. The base was hugely out and to compensate for the building lean he cut the lower logs to match and then added some sort of filler! In the end this complete building had to be replaced.

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This base was terrible so the builder cut the logs to make the windows level in the hope the customer would not notice.

A very bad base causing the whole building to lean. This builder then cut the logs to make the windows straight!

A very bad base causing the whole building to lean. This builder then cut the logs to make the windows straight!

Log Cabin Walls

I will warn you as I have done in other posts, professional builders, joiners and carpenters may do this if they do not understand the intricacies of a log cabin …. they fix the doors or windows to the wall logs. For some reason they may forget the idea that wood expands and contracts especially when unsupported by a frame.

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

Gap appearing in a log cabin wall

You may have seen this picture in other posts of mine and this is one that sticks with me, I use this example over and again as it was so costly for the customer. She was a Doctor and I knew exactly what the problem was when she sent me a series of pictures. The fitter had attached the window and door frame to the logs.

There then followed a dialogue about how experienced they were, she had used her personal carpenter of twenty years and her stone mason to install, she also had a professional painter to treat the building.

We agreed that if it was our fault we would replace or repair, if it was the builders then they would pay for our time. Our service guy was onsite for two minutes and fixed it by removing screws and the whole log cabin dropped happily.

Unfortunately it did cost her. The professional carpenter of twenty years standing who had been watching very quickly went away when everything settled into place.

This is THE biggest mistake made by a ‘professional’ who does not understand a log cabin or timber expansion or contraction. I find this with builders, as they are used to fixing frames in houses they will do it to a log cabin – please check for this.

Log Cabin Roof Shingles

Sometimes I will look at customers pictures of a complaint or a help request and I really can’t believe them. This was a ‘professional experienced builders’ roofing install:

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Look at it closely, ALL the shingles are upside down!

Every tile, unfortunately, is installed upside down.

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Another experienced roofer cocks it up – notice how the ridge times are done!

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This is another favourite ‘experienced roofer / builder / Carpenter / Joiner mistake. No correct spacing and each shape should form a true hexagonal, these were all dropped down too much and massively effects the design intent and aesthetics, not to mention you run out.

Watch out for the above, if someone does not know what they are doing or does not follow the instructions, spacing of the tiles will start to go horribly wrong and you will run out of shingles.

We have some good videos that show how best to install shingles, instructions are also on each pack of shingles.

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Another example of a ‘professional’ install. Please show inexperienced fitters the instructions and videos before hand. Not all builders or Carpenters understand what to do.

Upside Down Log Cabin

This builder was just not at all on the ball and made a very silly mistake. He asked me why the top log would not go on. I replied ….. ‘because you have built it upside down’!

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Upside down log cabin, please look at the instruction advice and check the plans, the tongues always go up. You do not want to have your builder make it upside down and then have to take it down and install the correct way up.

 Botching a Log Cabin

I see this a few times each year, something has gone horribly wrong with a build and then it’s bodged to hide up the mistake. This was a particularly bad one and one I did not enjoy helping to solve as it was so far gone.

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This one wasn’t very fair. The builder had not read the plans or parts properly.

The installer did not read the plans and measure all the parts, he added them as he thought fit and then realised it was not going together. Instead of taking the roof apart and correcting before nailing on the roof boards he carried on with the build.  This produced all sorts of problems.  He then had to hide up silly mistakes with bits of wood in various gaps with pieces of trims and blocks. It was quite a mess at the end and not a lot we could do for the poor customer.

This was a bad building recently. The customer was lovely and they had chosen a Bergren Carport and Garage. A great building but one that does takes some knowledge to install, a bit of skill and time. It’s one of our hardest to install though and should not be taken on lightly.

Sadly the builder made a bit of a mess of it rushing through the install and not really considering what he was doing or taking into account the basic fundamentals of timber, a log cabin base or the effect of the environment around it.

He later admitted he was not prepared for it.

Unfortunately the install went very badly and we were asked to correct it for them. This meant a total disassemble and reassemble correctly on a level base and joints correctly aligned and made.

This is the finished building:

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Berggren log cabin carport and garage.

These pictures are some examples of where it had gone horribly wrong, the builder had not made any joint correct and then started filling the bodges. He should have stopped and analysed the build before going any further.

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As the bottom logs were so out of true this transposed to huge problems at the top. The builder then used filler to try to hide the ever increasing problems the higher the cabin went.

joint-bodge-log-cabin

out-of-level-log-cabin

no-joint

bodged-log-cabin-1

Every single part of this install was bad and so much went wrong. Most of it stemmed from a poor base and incorrect fitting at the start of the install. The builder should have stopped and done some basic checks:

  • Base level across the whole build.
  • Logs made correctly.
  • Joints made correctly and tightly.
  • Levels correct.
  • Completely square.
  • Measurements correct.
  • Check for errors in manufacture or errors in fitting low down.

At the end though all was correct and the customer was very happy after we corrected the install. We did though have to replace several logs that had been damaged by the builder.

It should not though happened if the builder had taken some simple advice from us, stopped and looked at what he was doing and checked the above.

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The completed log cabin and a happy customer.

A Professional Builder Summary

Like any tradesman you can get some good and bad people but I always advise customers to make sure they pass on our online advice here:  Log Cabin Instructional Advice and to make sure the chosen installer has read it regardless of their skills and profession, there might be some things in there that they hadn’t considered and it will make the install quicker and cheaper and less likely to be a problem in time to come. It maybe an idea to ask them to confirm they have read our advice before starting the build.

I also highly recommend that if you are using a builder, carpenter or joiner who may not be fully experienced or you may not be sure of with a log cabin install to familiarise yourself with the advice. If anything is going wrong you will very quickly realise it and can stop the build before it goes too far.

Please though, at any point if you or your installer have any questions please let us know and we’ll be pleased to help before things go wrong. Send us a picture or what you are seeing via email, a quick description and we can advise, even out of normal working hours.

Derby Log Cabin Tuin Review

It’s lovely when customers pass on their findings with their experience with their log cabin, as it helps other customers so much in understanding what they are letting themselves in for!

It also gives them ideas and thoughts on how best to complete their project and with what product. It’s also good for us to know if there have been any niggles or problems and to try address them for future customers.

Mr M was kind enough to send us a factual presentation of his building in a PowerPoint presentation, I have copied it below, it is for his new Derby 58mm Double Glazed Log Cabin


The Site

The following pages show the construction of our log cabin. The whole process took about 6 weeks, although it could all have been done much more quickly if I hadn’t been limited to weekends and holidays. The foundations took a week; putting up the walls (with windows and doors) took a day; the wooden roof (with insulation covered by shingles) took a couple of days; then lots of evenings painting, sanding, waxing, etc…

The log cabin was to stand in the corner of the garden, on sloping ground. The ground slopes away towards the fence at the back and there’s a height difference of about 18” from front to back. I first marked out the footprint of the cabin and cleared the turf.

Timber Frame

Foundations

I built a timber frame for the cabin to sit on.

The perimeter consists of 2”x6” timber (laminated together to form a base 4” wide to support the log cabin walls).  The floor joists (2”x4” are at 30cm centres and the whole thing sits on 4” posts concreted into the ground. (This took ages – I hadn’t finished them all when this photo was taken – the joists aren’t fixed here…)

The foundations for the log cabin

The foundations for the log cabin

This photo shows the height difference between the front and back of the cabin. Getting the posts level and square was a difficult (but important!) part of the build.

The joists are supported on joist hangers at the perimeter and on lengths
of 2”x4” that run across the foundations (attached to wooden posts). Two of these are visible in the picture – I put in another one before fixing the joists.

 

Timber frame base for the log cabin

Timber frame base for the log cabin

The Flat Pack Arrives!

The cabin arrived and was unloaded from the lorry with a forklift.

It’s a pretty impressive flat-pack!

I unpacked all the parts and separated them by length/type. This is best done by two people – most parts can be lifted by one person but the doors/windows and some of the longest logs need two people.

The log cabin arrives

The log cabin arrives

Walls Going Up

The walls went up very quickly. Once the first few layers are in place (and square), it’s an easy job.

The windows and doors are a little trickier. With the doors, I made one mistake – I didn’t put the door sill in-between the two side panels. I managed to fix this later. (The door sill wasn’t shown on the instructions but it’s obvious where it goes once you know what it is!)

Log cabin walls going up

Log cabin walls going up

Nearly There

Up to this point took perhaps 6 hours.

Nearly there in the build

Nearly there in the build

Doors

Getting the doors to meet in the middle was a bit of a challenge – not helped by the fact that I hadn’t noticed the door sill (see the silvery thing in the picture below!)

It probably took a couple of hours to get the doors hung properly – lots of adjustment of the hinges, which wasn’t difficult to do.

The door handle and lock were easy to fit.

Log cabin doors

Log cabin doors

Silvery thing - The door threshold

Silvery thing – The door threshold

Roof

The roof is made of more than 120 wooden slats, nailed to the purlins and the walls. Because we want to use the cabin in winter, I added 70mm thick insulation on top of the slats, with shingles nailed to the wood through the insulation. You can see the insulation in the picture below.

I had never used shingles before – they are great! They overlap to create a double layer and they look an awful lot better than shed felt.

Log cabin roof

Log cabin roof

Floor

Once the roof was finished, I put in the wooden floor, nailed to the joists. There’s a layer of 100mm insulation under the floor, fitted snugly between the floor joists.

After this photo was taken, I used a nail punch to make sure the nails all sat a few millimetres below the surface; I then sanded the floor. Then applied a sealing oil and finishing wax.

Log cabin floor

Log cabin floor

Fireplace

We wanted to put a wood burning stove in the cabin so I built a constructional hearth from concrete blocks. (I left a space 90cm x 90cm in the floor for this, i.e. the hearth foundations are on the ground, not on the timber frame).

Behind the stove, I fixed a layer of fire-proof board to the walls using batons. The photo shows the channels for the screws, which should allow the wall logs to expand and contract.

Allowance for expansion

Allowance for expansion

The hearth is finished with 2 slate slabs.

Behind the stove, the fire-proof board is tiled with stone tiles and the mantelpiece and wooden surround are made from off-cuts of fence posts! They are held together with Velcro(!) and the wood can be removed easily to allow access to the screws that fix the batons to the wall.

The stove was fitted by a HETAS approved engineer. The twin-skin flue goes straight up through the wooden roof.

Different stoves have different clearances to combustible materials – this one sits safely about 30cm in front of the wall.

Woodburning stove in a log cabin

Woodburning stove in a log cabin

Chimney flue

Chimney flue

Light

I installed a solar-powered light.

This was very fiddly! A solar panel on the roof charges a battery (which is stored in a ventilated box in the corner). There is a light switch by the door (not visible in the photo).

The light is great in the evenings – the single bulb is perfectly adequate for a cabin this size (roughly 4m square internally).

solar light

solar light

Finally

The outside of the cabin was painted with three layers of Sadolin.

I built a wooden deck in front of the doors.

The stove flue protrudes almost two metres above the roof to make sure there is sufficient up-draught.

Derby Log Cabin

Derby Log Cabin

Now that the cabin is built, we’re using it as an outdoor playroom.

Playroom log cabin

Playroom log cabin

There’s loads of room for furniture and it’s a lovely place to play or just to sit – especially in the Summer sun!

We’re looking forward to getting the stove going so that we can have a warm outdoor retreat in winter.

Review

Mr M was also kind enough to leave a review on the Derby 58mm log cabin, he wrote:

We bought a 58mm Derby Log Cabin (4m x 4m internally) a few weeks ago.

The quality of the cabin is excellent – the logs are cut very accurately and it’s very easy to put together (like Lego for grown-ups!). The whole thing is very solid. The instructions are minimal but it’s not difficult to work out what goes where if you take the time to sort ALL of the pieces in the pack first. The only problem I encountered was that the parts of the door frame weren’t on the plans and I ended up building the door frame and then having to re-assemble it when I realised I’d missed a bit! The shingles for the roof seem really sturdy and the finished cabin looks exactly like it does on the website. Excellent service too – thoroughly recommended.

Thank you Mr M

Thank you for taking the time to write this, it is very much appreciated and I hope you are pleased with the thank you present we sent you.

You may like to see what other customer experiences, build and ideas are here: Pictorial Tuin Reviews

EPDM on Log Cabins Roofs

For flat or sloping roofs on our Log Cabins we normally supply roofing felt but as an option we do have the far more superior roofing material of EPDM.

What is EPDM?

EPDM is a highly durable synthetic rubber roof membrane, it’s posh name is Ethylene Propylene Diene terpolyMer. It’s two main ingredients are Ethylene and Propylene which come from oil and natural gas. It’s been used on flat roofs for over 40 years. The main technical features of EPDM are:

  • Cyclical membrane fatigue resistance
  • Proven hail resistance
  • High resistance to ozone, weathering and abrasion
  • Flexibility in low temperatures
  • Superior resistance to extreme heat and fire
  • Thermal shock durability
  • Ultraviolet radiation resistance
  • High Wind Resistance

Why Use EPDM on your Log Cabin?

Roofing felt is an ideal solution for a flat or gently sloping roof but it’s life expectancy is not that high. About 5 years is a very good life span for ordinary felt. EPDM though has been known to last for thirty years without concern. For a long term economic prospect it is good value for money.

The benefits of EPDM on your log cabin roof are:

  • Cut to size for your building so no joints (except modular buildings)
  • Inert and UV stable
  • Will not crack or Perish
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Applied cold
  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Long Life Expectancy
  • Economical when compared to re-felting every few years

Installation of EPDM

There are three ways EPDM can be fitted and this includes Ballast, Mechanically Attached and Adhered.

The Adhered system is the one we will use and is the one used by many roofing companies. Basically it is glueing the membrane to the roof and is pretty easy to do.

Log Cabin Roof Variations

Before reading too much further all this article is going to do is tell you the basics on how to fit EPDM to your log cabin roof and simply put the membrane is:

  • Rolled out
  • Allowed to settle
  • Glued down
  • Trim as you wish

The trim as you wish is the bit that’s left up to you as there is no hard and fast rules for this. You can either finish as you would with roofing felt and tuck it behind your barge boards, you may want to trim it flush with the roof boards or you may want to do a little more. This is all up to your preference, requirements and skill set.

Also, bear in mind this is my own personal recommendation on how I do it, I’m sure other fitters, roofers, builders etc will have their own take on it. Some may even say I’m wrong which wouldn’t be the first time.

Roll out the EPDM on your Log Cabin Roof

Take the roll up on to the roof and undo the ends, you should find some glue inside in the form of spray cans.

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Normally hidden inside is enough cans to glue your roof down. It’s very unlikely you won’t have enough but any contact adhesive also works if you run out and need it quickly.

Three cans

Three cans were found in the depths of the roll. The EPDM is cut for your building, this membrane is 3.9m x 5.4m. Three cans was more than enough.

This is where I may differ from all the advice you see from the roofing people, they always say to unroll it, layout flat on the roof and then allow it to settle as it is.

I have done it this way and it works on a hot day but I still prefer my technically named sausage method.

Roll the full length out across the roof

Roll the full length out across the roof

fold out

Start to fold it out flat across the whole roof.

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Then start to roll it up again length ways, try to do this reasonably tightly, it does help if there is two of you and try to keep it as level as possible.

Keep rolling

Keep rolling together with your partner, keep it level and quite tight!

Saua

At the end you’ll end up with a sausage.

Allowed to settle on the Log Cabin Roof

When complete you’ll end up with a sausage sat at the start of your roof, I will always start at the highest point and work backwards.

I mentioned trimming earlier and you’ll notice where we have set the barge boards, this is just my preference, there is no right or wrong way. I wanted to give a little extra clearance for headroom below. It does not matter though how you do these.

It does help though to only start with the front ones on and add the side and rear if applicable later.

Once you’ve made your sausage, leave it for a little while on the roof and as it’s rolled so tightly a lot of the creases from storage will start to come out. The sun will also make it a little more pliable.

I’ve mentioned it already but it really helps if the sausage as been rolled level as you will use it’s edges later on to check you are rolling it out on the log cabin straight and true.

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If you end up with a wonky sausage unroll it and start again. Nothing worse than a wonky sausage!

 Glue the EPDM Down

This part of the install on your log cabin is exactly what it says, we are just glueing it down on to the roof. How you want to trim it is up to you, I may have mentioned this.

The principle is how I’m glueing it.

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This is something I do, you do not have to do this unless you want to.

As you will see from this picture I have used a bit of timber to create a slope against the barge board. You do not have to do this, you can finish it as you want, tuck it behind the board, glue it directly to it, however you wish.

I’ve done this though as I think it looks nicer, it also stops water going behind the barge board. Due to the height I raised the boards I was able to use a floor board to create the slope, if I had less of a height I might use a trim from skirting or roof boards or even a packing piece laying around. There is no hard and fast rules on this other than it needs to be glued down.

KK

I now shuffle my sausage forward and align the edge to where I finally want it to finish.

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Give the cans a good shake, I think they advise two or three minutes of vigorous shaking, I can’t remember but give them a good shake for a while.

Start to glue

Once everything is aligned and the cans have had a good shake then roll the sausage back slightly

With the sausage rolled back a little you can take the front and uncover the area to be glued. Spray the glue evenly at a length of about 50cm all the way along the roof, it does start to go off pretty quickly. You don’t need to apply it really thickly, too thick and you fight against the glue itself.

Don’t spray right to the ends or right to the front at the moment.

Glue all the way along the roof

Glue all the way along the roof at about a depth of 50cm so the glue does not go off too quickly.

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Now fold the membrane forward and start to smooth out.

I’ve seen videos and instructions and professionals and all sorts of recommendations on how to smooth out the EPDM, they’re probably really good and certainly give them ago and let me know how you get on but I still prefer to use my hands and push out the bubbles of air, smoothing the membrane as I go.

Note though I haven’t glued the edges yet as I may want to still much about with this. This is particularly the case at the sides as the barge boards are still not on.

Once the first part is done, now knell on it and roll out the rest, glueing every 50cm as you go, smoothing out as much air bubbles as you can.

Once the first part is done, now knell on it and roll out the rest, glueing every 50cm as you go, smoothing out as much air bubbles as you can.

Glueing ever 50cm and then rolling out

Glueing every 50cm and then rolling out

Smooth as you go

Smooth out any air bubbles as you go, I use my hands but you may have a better idea or system or received better advice

Another 50cm and the roof is glued down and that’s as far as this advise goes on how to fit your EPDM. It’s really quite straightforward, we’re unrolling it, then glueing down, and smoothing it out.

When the main body of the roof is down you can then work on the edges and fit the barge boards and trims as you require and completing the final glueing stage in these areas.

The rest is up to you.

Trim your Log Cabin EPDM Roof as you wish

I’m often asked what is supplied as regards trims with EPDM. I answer there is nothing extra and nor does their need to be you can use this exactly as you would felt. You can though utilise offcuts and produce slopes to ensure all the water is taken away and make a really professional job of it.

You can also use capping pieces on top to make it look nice or battens to secure it fully so as not to rely wholly on the glue at that point.

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I have the slope at the front you have already seen but I also did the same at the sides and added a capping piece to make it look nice. To the side I have added a batten to sandwich the EPDM so as not to rely completely on the glue at that point (in this picture I am yet to cut the batten flush with the barge board)

dffh

Not a bad finish, most of the air bubbles came out and pretty smooth. Shame about my boot marks but they will wash off and the creases will disappear.

sfsd

This is another fitters roof on a Yorick Log Cabin, he finished everything flush and that is his preference and still works the same in producing a secure roof for many years with water draining to the rear and following the slope. Upstands are always better though and prevents any rot to trims.

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Another fitter has added a small up stand and uses a batten to fix the EPDM at the top.

dgsds

Someone else has gone to town making top trim pieces. We also sell aluminium strips that can do this for the front of the cabin.

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Or … just fold it over the top of the barge boards. This is the Yorick Log Cabin and a customer chose to do this. Nothing wrong with is at all other than perhaps aesthetics.

Summary on Fitting EPDM to your Log Cabin

In summary all we are trying to do is glue down the membrane with as little bubbles in it as we can.

We also want the roof to drain well and if you wish, it’s nice to create slight slopes all around to encourage the water to flow. This is something the flat roof boys do on your house so we may as well do it on our log cabin. You don’t need anything special apart from a few off cuts of wood which you will have when you have finished your cabin.

Some customers worry about installing EPDM  on their log cabin but it is far the quickest roofing method, it doesn’t rip, it’s quite forgiving and easy to work with unlike felt which can be a real pain especially in very hot weather. Plus in the past 17 years now I have never had to re-meet a customer to re-do his EPDM, I’ve met a few to re-felt though!

Trimming is easy but have a ponder on how you would like it to finish before you start and make sure water drains away if the roof is totally flat on your log cabin.

For our modular buildings there will be a join as each part of the building is a separate section, all you do is glue over the seam as you would the roof and as long as you are flat this is not a problem, professional flat roofers do exactly the same.

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

Log Cabin Roof Strength

Sometimes we find our selves at a bit of a disadvantage selling log cabins in the UK, the main reason being standards, we have them but don’t really need them here!

UK Standards in Log Cabins

In the UK there are no building regulations for garden buildings, there’s not even guidance. The UK can make anything they want and shed manufacturers do. Same with summerhouses greenhouses and of course the same with log cabins – especially when they are ‘Made in England’ or for the UK market and designed for it’s crazy planning regulations.

Basically a manufacturer can produce anything they want to, and they do.

Europe Standards for Log Cabins

The trouble we have when competing in the UK is Tuindeco sell across Europe.

To do this they have to meet certain standards and not just make ‘anything’ they feel like to a price point.

For instance:

  • Germany, it is required by law, that there has to be a snow loading capability of 120 kg/m.sq,
  • Austria and Switzerland it has to be 90 kg/m.sq.
  • Spain and Greece are substantially lower of course but there are still standards and a lot more so now the Euro-Codes are being adopted more and more.

Costs of a good Log Cabin Roof

Trouble is, when selling in the UK we then have the costs of this strength when compared to UK companies manufacturing whatever they fancy with no regulations or standards to follow. This can sometimes see our prices being slightly higher on some buildings. It can also raise a complaint such as this which I saw mentioned in one of our reviews on our site:

“I would happily foregone the extra 9 cm in height that would have reduced the cabin apex 2.5m height and therefore ‘legal’ as regards planning aspects especially within boundaries to borders of less than two metres.”

And this is part of the problem we have, you’ll look at the price, the height, but have you thought of the strength you are getting? Will it last over the years without a sag developing?

A sagging roof can develop over time due to a miscalculation of loadings or cheap manufacture.

Weight applied to a Log Cabin Roof

Lets, for a moment, pretend we do have standards to meet in the UK. Lets look at a building and what we are designing to:

Forces acting on a roof of a log cabin

Forces acting on a roof of a log cabin are the same as any other structure – Dead Loads and Live Loads.

The input loads will be made up of the following:

  • Dead Loads – This is the loading of the weight of the roof itself, the roof boards, purlins / rafters and what the roof is designed for as the final roof covering such as felt or shingles, tiles, sedums etc.
  • Live Loads – This is the weight applied to the roof from external factors such as snow, rain, wind loading and of course maintenance – such as people working on the roof to install it and maintain it.

The Output of these loads needs to be transferred to the supporting rafters and purlins, the wall logs and ultimately to the load bearing element which of course is your base and then finally to the earth it is sitting on. We have to make sure the structure is capable of carrying and transferring these forces safely and securely. Of course we also have to make sure that the building will carry on doing this for years and years.

The roof needs to be designed correctly for the loads placed upon it. This will be reflected in the ridge height, strength and number of purlins and thickness of the roof boards.

The roof needs to be designed correctly for the loads placed upon it. This will be reflected in the ridge height, strength and number of purlins and thickness of the roof boards.

Snow Loadings in Log Cabins

This was an interesting picture from 2010 when the whole bloomin’ country was covered in the stuff!

Snow in the Uk, the whole of the country was covered at one point

Snow in the UK, the whole of the country was covered at one point

It might well have been this that made Scotland adopt the Structural Euro Codes in 2010 and that England is following suit now along with the rest of Europe and several other countries such as Russia, Algeria, China etc.

When we design a roof we’re looking at the strength of the timber used, in our case Northern Spruce. We then look at the angles and compare that with the intended roof covering which is always shingles. Lower than 10 degrees WILL result in failure at some point of the shingles, you may not find it for a year or two but they WILL fail, really watch out for low pitch roofs with shingles, you will need to use under-roof membranes and a lot of glue to make sure they seal. They will not be doing any good on their own.

Angles play a huge part, for instance for every 10cm we can go higher in the roof pitch we can get an extra 5 kg in supportive weight. This makes a massive difference when calculating the strength of a roof on a log cabin.

When we have a ridge height of 2.59cm in the example above there is a reason for it. To reduce the height lower it then would not be strong enough for the snow loading calculations we work to or enough of a pitch for roof shingles to be effective.

Weight of snow

In the past in the UK we haven’t really been worried about the stuff but it does seem to be getting worse in the UK. Here’s an interesting map:

A map showing the snow loading requirements in the UK

A map showing the snow loading requirements in the UK

This map is showing the required snow loading calculations that should be met for a residential property in the UK. You’ll notice the maximum is 80 kg/m.sq and thank goodness Tuindeco cabins far exceed these and I don’t have to worry about a complaint in a few years time!

December 2010 was exceptional in the UK’s snowfall, at one point 60cm fell over night and on a lot of roofs 50cm was sat on top.

Fresh fluffy snow is about one tenth of the density of liquid water. One litre is 1000th of a cubic meter. One litre weighs 1kg. This means that 10mm of snow is equal to 1mm of water.

Therefore if we look at our 50cm on the roof the loading is 1m.sq x 500mm deep / 10 = 50kg

So, overnight you have 50kg sat on top of each 1m.sq of your roof.

As snow settles it will change form several times depending on temperature and time so the weight of the snow on the roof can become heavier due to compacting ice crystals.

You can see from this why the UK has a snow loading requirement of 60 kg/m.sq and higher in some parts.

As I’ve mentioned, for garden buildings in the UK there are no standards at all, we can make what we want, out of whatever we want and it’s great for you if it’s to a price point. It may be a bit of a problem down the line though if we carry on having heavy snow falls.

Also it’s worth asking your insurance company if a garden building is covered for structural damage caused by snow loading. I bet it isn’t!

A Log Cabin Roof Costs

Lets go backwards, let’s pretend you’ve found our buildings or even another supplier but the price just doesn’t match up to the REALLY competitive price. Then let’s pretend we do not have standards to meet and we’ve got to match it, here’s some figures for you to consider:

  • Every 10cm / m.sq higher cost us at the factory £7.50 (ex VAT)
  • OSB is 80% cheaper than Tongue and groove Spruce.
  • Pine is cheaper than Spruce
  • 16mm – 12mm is cheaper than 18mm
  • Cutting a purlin in half is 50% cheaper.

If Tuindeco were not constrained by standards in Europe but made solely for the UK everything could be so much cheaper. There’s a lot of cheap cabins out there, trouble is they’re not as cheap for the consumer as they should be bearing in mind where the costs are cut.

Log Cabin Roof Strength Calculations

All the good manufacturers list a calculation for the strength of the roof, Bertsch, Lugarde, Scan Holz, Tuindeco. They do this for a reason and it’s an important one that you may not have considered when you are buying a log cabin.

I would recommend, regardless who you are buying from that you ask them what specification they build to. The UK standards for building construction asks for a minimum of 60 kg/m.sq and 80 kg/m.sq in some parts of the UK. Your log cabin should at least comply to this.

Tuindeco design cabins with a snow loading of 110 to 140 kg/m.sq and this makes for a very strong roof indeed. This calculation is reflected in the ridge heights, strength and number or purlins and the thickness of the roof boards that are used.

Your log cabin should be designed to at least the UK snow load building requirements. Ask your supplier what the snow loading specification is and ask for a reassurance that your roof will not sag  – Ever and regardless of ‘Extreme’ weather conditions!

‘Extreme weather conditions’ is the excuse that will be given when sags start to develop as is ‘Out of Warranty’. This should not be the case in your log cabin or indeed any garden building if it was designed correctly in the first place.

Henning log cabin with a substantial roof to withstand snow loading.

Henning log cabin with a substantial roof to withstand snow loading.

Extreme snow loading perhaps but it is something to consider!

Extreme snow loading perhaps but it is something to consider!

 Installation of a Log Cabin

As well as the loading calculations you’ve also got to be able to get on the roof and install the building, you’ll also need to do maintenance on it over time. All log cabin roofs should be designed for this. Specifically ask your supplier if this is part of the design intent for your log cabin.

There are a lot of cabin roofs out there that you really wouldn’t dare to get on and I’ve known fitters refuse to shingle roofs because of it.

Make sure there is a design intent that allows you to walk on the roof for installation and maintenance

Make sure there is a design intent that allows you to walk on the roof for installation and maintenance

How Long Does it Take to Fit a Log Cabin?

I was sent some interesting pictures from a kind customer and it reminded me of all the times I’m asked:  ‘how long does it take to fit a log cabin?’

This is a bit of a tough question really and I think it all comes down to trust, whether you trust Yourself, the Plans, the Product or the Company you are buying from and the advice and help you receive from them.

No trust at all

  • Yourself – If you are worried about yourself, your ability to read the plans and the confidence you can identify a log it will take longer.
  • If you second guess the plans or question what they are showing you too much it will take longer
  • If you don’t entirely trust the company or you are looking for faults in the product it is going to take longer as you will be worrying, you’ll be going over every small detail, counting every possible part over and over again, worrying you have one roof board too few or wondering what this piece of wood is, or where is that piece and where it’s going to go. This is going to take you a lot longer to build your cabin.
  • If you don’t trust the advice you’ve been given it’s going to take longer, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to argue with a customer (normally a builder or a carpenter) that there are expansion gaps for a reason and that you don’t fix the doors or window frames to the logs.

Without trust in all of the above or at least a few of them your build will take longer.

Trust

If you are going to buy from us or others I’d like you to have some trust at least in some of the above. This of course will depend on lots of factors. Can you Trust?

  • Yourself – Identify the parts as you unpack and make a mental note of them. Trust that you can read the plans. I’ll add some advice at the bottom of this post with some quick identification hints.
  • Plans – Follow the plans that came WITH the building, try not to second guess them or disbelieve them, follow them exactly.
  • Trust the advice you are given. I don’t know much about other companies support these days but we try to give you as much information as possible. Personally I spend a lot of time writing and updating these blogs with help and advice and also help out of hours when my and my colleagues family life permits. This advice is also transferable to any ‘Good Make’ of log cabin. Some of it won’t work with rubbish – watch out for cabins when you have to screw the logs together or a roof you can’t actually work on as the purlins are so small. Worse still if you don’t have wind and watertight connections then ignore all of my advice as you have bought rubbish and I can’t help you.

How long Does it Take to Fit a Log Cabin

The pictures Mr C sent to me are further down the page, what I loved is that they are date and time stamped which shows quite clearly how long the build took.

The building is a Wolfgang Log Cabin, a pretty daunting structure for most customers with two rooms and an odd shape. Before you look at the pictures from Mr C, honestly ask yourself how long you think this build would take you.

The Wolfgang log cabin which is 5.3 x 4.5 with an attached shed and porch. How long do you think this takes to install?

The Wolfgang log cabin which is 5.3 x 4.5 with an attached shed and porch. How long do you think this takes to install?

How long did you think? I bet some of you will be thinking four or five days, maybe more? Here’s Mr C’s pictures and notice the time stamps on them.

The build started from scratch at about 0800. The cabin was then unpacked, stacked in components sizes. Critical parts identified and put to one side. This picture is time stamped 0944 so we're about an hour and three quarters into the fit. Unpacking and moving takes a good hour.

The build started from scratch at about 08:00. The cabin was then unpacked, stacked in components sizes. Critical parts identified and put to one side. This picture is time stamped 0944 so we’re about an hour and three quarters into the fit. Unpacking and moving takes a good hour.

Now at 1025 and the doors and windows are in and they are almost at the eaves height.

Now at 10:25 and the doors and windows are in and they are almost at the eaves height.

1347 which is about six hours into the fit and the roof shingles are almost done.

13:47 which is about six hours into the fit and the roof shingles are almost done.

1907 and the fitters have left site, tidied up and even had time to fit the guttering during the install.

19:07 and the fitters have left site, tidied up and even had time to fit the guttering during the install.

So there you have it, fitted in a day, and this building is probably one of our most complicated ones. If you’re interested these are the plans they will have been following: Log Cabin Plans

But of course, these guys you will say ‘know what they are doing’. There are no real tricks honest, you will have the same time frames as them.

It’s not a matter of ‘they know all the parts’ All they are doing is trusting themselves, the plans and the product. The only edge they will have on someone doing it for the first time is they can identify parts in the plans and sort them as they are unpacking, i’ll come on to that a bit later.

Of course I’ll give a little leeway for inexperience and I would say this cabin should take you, being inexperienced, two – two and a half days. My rule of thumb is for an experienced fitter a 4 x 3m and less is generally one day, bigger is one and a half to two and a monster like the Edelweiss is three to four. For a first timer add one extra day.

This though is only if you have trust and the package is within 100m of the base as lugging it any distance can take a long time.

It’s taken forever – Richard you’re WRONG!

If you are considering one of our log cabins no doubt you will have a scan through some of our reviews. Have a look at the reviews for Asmund Corner Log Cabin, this is one of our best sellers.

You’ll see lots of varying time scales in the various reviews from 1 day all the way to 5 days

  • My wife & I constructed the cabin with virtually no assistance in 5 days which went well
  • The cabin itself took my brother and myself only a few days to completely assemble and finish
  • All in all 11 hours and the cabin was fully erected and roof tiles in place
  • It’s taken me about 5 working days to construct, single-handed
  • Quick construction – 3 days in total, four once I have finished the shingling.
  • It has taken three adults two days to complete the build.
  • I paid a local landscaping contractor to build mine, and it took 2 men with carpentry skills 2.5 days to assemble it
  • very easy to assemble
  • instructions for assembly are easy to follow to construct.
  • As occasional DIY’rs I couldn’t believe how quickly we built it
  • The cabin was quite straightforward to put together, taking about 4 days to build in total (Two people)
  • My husband and Son, put it up in no time at all, with no problems
  • It took 1.5 days to erect with 2 men.

So yes, you could well shout at me after you have found it’s taken longer but I still stand by my assessment is that it’s all down to Trust in yourself, the Product, Plans, Company and Advice.

It’s interesting that some customers get it banged up really quickly, yet the review left by a poor lady who hired a ‘landscaper with carpentry skills’ to build hers took 2.5 days and had a lot of problems, I remember well talking those ‘Fitters’ through it.

If you are employing fitters such as carpenters, joiners or builders gently point them to all our advice. A log cabin could be totally new to them even if they don’t admit it to you. Don’t rely on their trade giving them the information on the correct way to install a cabin.

As a quick example this was an installation by ‘Professional Carpenter and joiner of 20 years experience’

Very large gaps in the wall logs were appearing and the customer assured me it was installed by a carpenter of 20 years experience and she had used him for loads of work and his work was of an excellent standard so therefore it was our fault.

Very large gaps in the wall logs were appearing and the customer was in discussion with me after this happened six months later. She assured me it was installed by a carpenter of 20 years experience (I shudder when I hear this statement) and she had used him for loads of work and that his work was of an excellent standard so therefore the building was defective.

Gaps were showing in her building

Gaps were showing in her building

I explained to the customer exactly what was wrong with this log cabin several times but she would not take my advice and kept referring to how experienced the carpenter was that had installed it.

See there’s the Trust issue again!

The customer was very uncooperative and after discussions I agreed to visit her. If it was our fault I had agreed we would supply a complete new building and also cover all the costs for installation and painting. But, if it was not our fault she would pay for the inspection and rectification.

Our customer trusted her experienced carpenter and refused to trust me. I found this nail, one of many through the window and door frames into the logs. This will stop your building from moving and you will either have gaps or splits caused by this.

Our customer trusted her experienced carpenter and refused to trust me.

Nails in the fascia going through to the logs.

Nails in the fascia going through to the logs.

I found several nails going through the window and door fascias which went into the logs. Doing this will stop your building from moving and you will either have gaps or splits.

After I removed all of these the whole thing settled back down again to where it should be and all gaps closed straightaway. Remind any fitter, no matter what trade – WOOD MOVES and doors and windows have to be independent to the wall logs, I guarantee you a tradesperson will always overlook this if they have not installed a cabin before.

Removing all the fixings the logs closed up to where they should be

Removing all the fixings the logs closed up to where they should be

More problems with her cabin caused by a 'Professional Painter'

More problems with her cabin caused by a ‘Professional Painter’

In my inspection I also looked at the moisture content and depth of treatment for her. It got worse and her ‘professional painter’ had cocked up as well –  Moisture content and depth of treatment in log cabins

The lady was a bit miffed having to pay me for the visit and the ‘Experienced Carpenter’ who met me on site with her was incredibly embarrassed.

If you’re employing a trade, gently remind them to have a look at the various pieces of advice there is and they will fit quicker, be cheaper and you and I won’t be having a discussion in a few months time.

So what’s the secret?

The secret to a quick install is all in the identification of parts in the plans and not worrying about what you do not understand. I always tell people I talk to: ‘Take it one stage at a time’.

All will become clear as it goes up and do not focus on bits you do not understand until you reach that point. The biggest mistake with an installation is over thinking it. Fitting a log cabin is Easy!

We start our day fitting and note the package number we find on the packaging, just in case we have problems later and need to ask for parts, claims etc, if you buy from us we will always ask for this number so you may as well note it down just in case.

  • Take the tanalised lengths of timber off the package or the profiled foundation beams, put them straight onto your base and do not worry about them.
  • You will find a big bag of nails and roofing tacks, put these to one side. Yes we send lots, don’t worry about them.
  • Do not open the floor packs if you have these. These will be on top of the main package.  Put them away somewhere, you don’t need these until the cabin has been built.
  • Take the plastic off carefully and try to keep it in one piece, it might be handy to use this if it chucks down later or to cover the purlins / rafters / apexes to protect them from the sun.
  • The pack is not going to be in fitting order so don’t expect it to be.
  • Start unpacking and look at the various log sizes as you go, put each log size in it’s own area. Do not think about anything at this point, just unpack it and lay out the logs of the same size on top of each other. Make extra stacks next to them if needed you can go about ten logs high before the stack gets a bit unstable. Try to keep them supported, it helps if you have some timber to lay and support them on.
  • Anything you can’t identify – Don’t start looking at the plans for it and don’t worry about it, put it to one side and remember where you put it and roughly what it looked like.
  • Rafter and purlins are easy to spot. Put them to one side and away from the build, keep them straight, supported and covered from a hot sun to stop any warps.
  • When you come across a log that has been cut horizontally in half put it straight onto the base, this is a starter log and the beginning of the build. It may also be a top log but worry about it later.
  • Roof boards will all be together, put these to one side and do not worry about them.
  • As you unpack you will come to the plans and generic instructions. Put these to one side, don’t even look at them. You can also see far more detailed generic instructions and videos online that I have written to compliment those received with the log cabin if you fancy reading them: Installation Manual
  • Keep unpacking and for most buildings you will come to doors and windows, put these somewhere safe.

You should now have an area full of logs, bits and bobs. Don’t worry about any of it, and don’t panic at the site of it – ‘one section at a time’ and this is what all professional fitters will do.

Quick Identification of parts

So here’s a few heads up, look for these as you unpack the cabin and Do NOT worry about any of them, recognise them and put them to one side depending on your cabin.

Starter logs, these are logs cut horizontally in half

Starter logs, these are logs cut horizontally in half

Normal logs, nothing is different with these, they are all the same even when attached to a half starter log

Normal logs, nothing is different with these, they are all the same even when attached to a half starter log. If you have posts for canopies these may be longer than required. You can cut these down to fit as required.

You may find odd cut logs, put these to one side until you need then and do not worry about them

You may find odd cut logs, put these to one side until you need then and do not worry about them. When you come to that section in the plans then look at them. Do not over think a build – it’s Easy!

Some times with the corner log cabin look for a log with the tongues cut off. Put it to one side and worry about it when you need it.

Some times with the corner log cabin look for a log with the tongues cut off. Put it to one side and worry about it when you need it.

Please see this link for more help following on from this article : Installation tips for Tuin Log Cabins

As I always say:

If you have any questions at all regarding installation please always ask us, even out of hours as several of us often check emails for helps requests on our days / time off.

If you need help out of hours send an email to info@tuin.co.uk and entitle it Fitting Help and myself or other experienced fitters will get back to you. It helps if you send us a picture(s) of what you are seeing and a brief description of the problem.

For more hints and tips on log cabin installation please click here.

As a side to all of this, I must brag a little, I try to be impartial in my advice here but I did love these comments from Mr C:

I will be sending you pictures from start to finish. Superb initial  service and advice. Super-fast delivery and the truck driver was helpful and polite. Len and team brilliant in building the cabin. All in all the best service I have received and what a beautiful cabin. Many thanks

After I asked for permission to add his pictures to a blog Mr C wrote:

Please be my guest. When its painted and done up I will send you some more. I will go on the review page shortly. It is on my face book and friends from Scotland to Sweden have seen it. Whoever has come to do electrics and paint have been very impressed, by the standard of finish and the quality of wood. So By browsing the internet that Saturday you were the first one to reply promptly and with all the details I needed, I hit the jackpot!

Mr C’s Review of the Wolfgang was:

Superb initial service and advice. The office girls new exactly want I wanted.
Super-fast delivery and the truck driver was helpful and polite
Len and team brilliant in building the cabin
All in all the best service I have received and what a beautiful cabin. The quality of wood and finish is very good.Many thanks xxxxxxxxxxx

 

Twisted Log Complaint

I had a complaint recently about a twisted log at the start of a customers log cabin build. I was sent these two pictures and a complaint email:

A wall log had twisted slightly.

A wall log had twisted slightly.

Twist in a log cabin wall log

Twist in a log cabin wall log which caused the lower log to lift up when unsecured.

His main complaint were the twisted logs. I tried explaining that wood does twist sometimes, it cannot be helped by it’s very nature. This can sometimes happen especially when a cabin has been unpacked and then left for a while before install. It can also happen just with the heat of the sun on it causing the wood to dry losing moisture quickly on one side. Rarely though is it a problem and it is very easy to overcome.

His second complaint was that the joints were too tight and that he didn’t have a hammer to hit the logs in. I explained that, yes, the joints are tight, that is part of why you would buy a log cabin from us: Please see Moisture Content in Log Cabins and also: Wind and watertight connections

I’m normally very good at talking through fit problems with customers but on this occasion I failed, so my colleague also spoke to him and failed. We sent pictures on how to overcome his issues but none of it was enough to solve the problem for him.

We also found out that the customer did not have the necessary tools to actually carry out the install or overcome the twisted log problem anyway. Also he explained that he was not aware of what is required in installing a log cabin and we should have let him know.

All my blogs have been in vain! None of it was referred to and I thought I had done so well in giving as much information as possible.

Mr B was one of a handful of customers I have had this year who insisted these were grounds for a big complaint and that it could not be installed.

I really don’t like complaints, especially when there’s absolutely nothing wrong. It’s also very costly for us as well and I needed to understand why a customer does not understand the install and why it become so daunting and complaints raised. I realised that no amount of explaining or pictures or email was going to solve this so I arranged a site visit with Mr B.

On meeting Mr B I was able to spend a long time with him asking about his impressions, why he didn’t realise fitting was a little more than slotting together and why he wasn’t aware of the tools needed. It came across that we’re not getting the information out there or fast enough on the product pages or post purchase emails. Mr B explained that he thought it would just slot together and would worry about installation when the cabin arrived. With the two twisted logs and the fact that the logs do not simply fall into each other the whole task became too daunting and he simply said he couldn’t / wouldn’t do it and it was a complaint, defective, fault etc.

Armed with this information we are going to have a little redesign of the site and will try to make information quicker to access. Mr B explained that he is very visual, pictures not words are needed. The only option is full videos and this is what I am now doing and will be doing all over the winter to try and help more, not just with log cabins but as much of the product range as I can.

With my sparkly new video camera I have tried to address all of Mr B’s problems and concerns which I hope will help future customers with the same problems

We took the partial log cabin installation apart and reset everything and started again from scratch.

These are the videos that arose from our conversations and his install of a ‘faulty’ log cabin, these are going to form the basis of a whole series on log cabins and their installation of several different types we supply.

Tools that are needed for a log cabin install

Installation of a Log Cabin – Full install overview

One of the biggest things that came out of our conversation was that Mr B had not expected the joints to be tight or that it would require any force to go together, he said he had ‘Expected a little resistance’. Some suppliers cabin will fall together with no effort at all, it might be a good thing when you’re installing but a bugger when it rains hard a few months later.

This log cabin install video is pretty long at 20 minutes but I needed to address every aspect of the install as Mr B wants everything spelt out, I have tried to do this for this particular cabin. Much of this applies to any of our apex log cabins and the same principles can be applied to our hipped roof log cabins.

A lot of customers will complain about instructions as well but most of a log cabin install is a practical ability and an ability to simply read a set of plans, an understanding of timber and it’s foibles does of course also help. I hope this video gets across exactly what is required. I like to think that if Mr B had seen these then we would not have had the complaint in the first place.

You may be also interested in other customers buildings posts and thoughts: