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.

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out-of-level-log-cabin

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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.

Log Cabin Contraction

This post follows on from Mr Currie’s comments on my previous post about Contraction in Log Cabins

Mr Currie commented on my post:

“I installed a log cabin from another company in 2008 and within 6 months a gap appeared between the logs next to the door frame, which I now think might be due to a design flaw. The optional front veranda is not integral to the log cabin – the ‘veranda kit’ supplied solid battens to attach it directly to the bottom six logs on each side of the cabin using screws. This is in effect attaching several of the bottom logs together, and I guess that this probably restricted the ability of the logs to expand and contract with the ones above them. I’m now wondering if I detach the battens whether the gap might disappear as the wood ‘settles back into place’.”

I very often help people via my blog who have bought elsewhere and have run into problems with their Log Cabin for whatever reasons. Normally it’s the ‘run out of guarantee’ ploy or just a lack of knowledge from the retailer that brings all sorts of people to the blogs and I really do enjoy helping where I can.

You’ll find Mr C’s and my conversation carried on in comments and we then went to emails, several were exchanged as well as pictures. Here’s a selection in case you are having the same problem

Log Cabin Contraction Problem

This was the problem:

Gap

A gap appeared after 6 months with a log cabin Mr C bought in 2008 (Not From Us), he’s lived with it ever since.

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He had identified after reading my blogs that the above really shouldn’t be done as the screws in this cover plate show that all the logs are being restricted. From previous articles you will have seen why this is a NO NO.

Mr Currie thought this maybe what’s causing the gap at the top of the doors and certainly while this is not good or a correct way to install the cabin in the first place.  This isn’t though the culprit for the gaps by his door.

I do occasionally have a moan about “qualified carpenters and joiners” building log cabins which makes me shudder when customers mention this when a problem occurs.

The previous advice Mr C had received made me chuckle and also makes me shudder, yes I see and hear this sort of thing all of the time – Beware the qualified Carpenter!

“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. It’s amazing how people who have worked with wood for so long can have such a total misconception about it’s properties and how it behaves in a structure like a log cabin. I’m sure that’s a familiar story to you :-)”

Assessment Based on the Log Cabin pictures received

I sent Mr C my assessment of the problem as below, this may also help you if you have a similar problem with your log cabin:

Dear Mr Currie,

Thank you for these pictures and description. It made me chuckle you mentioning a time served carpenter!

Professional Carpenters, Joiners and worse still Builders are the scourge of my job, whenever I have a problem with a customer it is always when one of these groups of people have had something to do with it!

Looking at your building I think you can fix this quite easily.

Depending on what you have treated it with will make a difference to how much it expands and contracts. During the first year though we see this the most as the wood is still alive, in effect the straws that make up the timber is still wide open and is sucking in and blowing out moisture meaning it expands and contracts sometimes quite wildly.

A good treatment and wood dieing a little more over the first year or two will see this reduce, it does still happen though.

This is what happened in your first year. The moisture content has dropped, the straws have now closed up more and over the years she’s reached a level. I would imagine this does close up a bit over the Autumn and winter though when moisture returns to the wood from the surrounding moist air?

To solve this please remove the fascia on the inside of the door. I bet the top log is touching the top of the door frame.

Check under the door frame for any chocks, also check to see if they put the floor under the frame, this often happens and lifts the frame. Sometimes when we’re installing in the winter months a new cabin we do have to chock the door slightly as the gap is too large. Please let me know what you find.

Please also check the top of the window, there maybe an expansion gap issue there as well?

Regarding your veranda, it really shouldn’t be screwed together like that, your solution will work provided the screws are not done up too tight, you could also make something like the attached which will hold the logs without any fixings, you may need to move the veranda forward slightly.

Best regards, Richard.

Mr C’s Reply following my Assessment

I have to be honest that I have never actually noticed if the gap closes up much over winter, mainly because it has been used as storage but is now being converted over to a workshop. It has not had much treatment to be honest, it had two coats of Cuprinol after it was built and another coat of the same last year.
I removed the top left and right part of the fascia on the inside of the door, and you were right about the top log touching the top of the door frame. When I removed the bottom part of the fascia there was an almighty cracking sound, and now the door frame is a little looser. I think that the bottom part of the fascia was resting on the floor…
Anyway, I’ve attached some photos of the door with the inside fascia totally removed. Interestingly I can’t get the bottom part of the fascia back on now – as you can see the door frame must have dropped by a few millimeters when I took it off
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You will notice the the wall logs have contracted and are sitting directly on top of the door frame

Here you can see the gap at the top, the logs cannot concertina down any more than they have, hence why a gap if forming.

Here you can see the gap at the top, the logs cannot concertina down any more than they have, hence why a gap if forming.

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The bottom door fascia was actually holding the whole front of the cabin up as the door frame has now dropped and cannot be fitted again. The Fascia does seem to be rather wide.

Solving the Log Cabin Problem

Having seen these pictures and following emails my advice to Mr C was:

I’m pleased to see this is as expected, the bottom fascia looks to be rather deep and will have been holding the cabin up.
At this point, if possible I would not plane the door frame as this may weaken the frame, plus you will have to contend with the screws. I would take the door frame completely out, this will then let the cabin settle down and the gaps should close up either side.
If you have a jigsaw for ease or a handsaw if you are feeling strong I would then take a notch out of the top log. I’ve attached a picture that shows a top log with a notch. I think about 10mm would be enough above the door frame. This will then give the log room to contract further in the height of summer. This time of the year though she will be very slightly bigger than she was in August.
The bottom of the door fascia does look big, you will also need to trim this down.
Doing this and putting the door back in with the fascia should solve this problem for you.

Contraction and Expansion in Log Cabins

The problem Mr C had isn’t really one of design as this can sometimes happen no matter the design of the log cabin, this picture shows a notched log above the door which is done on some models we do if the calculations and size of the door requires it.  This is the picture I sent to Mr C as a suggested solution.

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

Notched log cabin log above the door to allow for contraction

I recommended that this was done with his log cabin as this will allow it to contract unhindered.

The gap above the door and windows is necessary and can be adjusted if necessary.

If you are experiencing a gap appearing in your log cabin I hope this has helped and you know what to look for, if not please let me know and I will try to help.

Here are some more articles where we look at expansion and contraction in Log Cabins

Within all of this please consider your electrical installation in your log cabin, the building moves and your electrics should account for this: Electricity in Log Cabins

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

Tuin Review – Jos Corner Log Cabin

We love customer reviews, they help other people so much especially with their choice of bases. Mr W has a cracking solution for our Jos Log Cabin (named after my wife) This is his review word for word:


The order process was easy and very efficient. The money wasn’t taken until the week of the delivery.

Delivery
When I ordered the cabin I didn’t realised it was coming all the way from Holland on a massive lorry. The driver / delivery man was very nice and parked at the end of our road and used his forklift truck to deliver the 10 foot pallet onto the drive with accurate precision.

Unpacking / instructions
My aim was to move all the parts from the drive to the back garden as quickly as possible…..This was a job in itself there was a lot more than I thought after unpacking everything. And it took a few journeys back and forth. Not one piece was damaged and was all packaged very well.

Building
I decided to construct a wooden foundation to build the cabin on, as I wanted it to be slightly off the ground and didn’t want the expense and hassle of laying a concrete foundation. So after a lot of consideration I decided to use concrete blocks on a 2 inch bed of hardcore, each cut into the ground and levelled to each other. I then constructed with 100mm x 47mm timber. These were laid on their side as we thought the step into the cabin would be to high. I added more concrete blocks than originally planned to take up any flex. I then lifted the whole structure up and laid a damp proof membrane on top of the blocks. Each block had a damp course strip added to make sure the membrane didn’t tear.

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This whole foundation structure was constructed as per Tuin’s emailed dimensions. The very minimum the base must be is 2.3m x 2.3m. I recommend creating a square and then cutting off the corner once the building is installed. This I did.

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Base foundation done.

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Once the foundation is done the walls all lock together and the building seems to go up in no time.

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The windows and doors are floating and just drop in place and then you build the remaining logs around them.

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As the cabin was to be built right into a corner with no access, once built to the back, I painted all the logs before building.

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The blue base membrane at the bottom of the cabin in this picture has now been covered with some of the waste packaging, and painted. The dense foundation blocks are going to be covered with slate chippings.

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The Cuprinol paint covers and goes on extremely well, the end product only needed two coats and looks amazing.

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Caught in the act!!

On top of the timber base I added the floor timbers laid in the opposite direction as the base timbers, I then added 50mm Jablite in between the joists then floor boards on top.

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I plan to do a similar thing to insulate the roof adding a breathable membrane first then Jablite and then plasterboard, the walls will have a similar job done small stud wall frame not fixed to the timbers, then run the electric cable through timber, Jablite between them then plasterboard on top.

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Finished product

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Painted in Cuprinol shades willow and antique cream around the door and window frames.

Lots of other work has also been done around the rest of the garden over the last couple of weeks, so haven’t finished the inside off yet but hope to get it all done asap.

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And as this is somewhere to do work from home we have a name for it part shed, part office….

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Jos corner log cabin

I am extremely happy with Tuin, the whole experience and end product.

Cheers Steve W

Mr W, thank you for taking the time to write this, for customers seeing the install and the base options  does help greatly. I encourage everyone to install themselves and your review I’m sure will inspire others.

I hope you enjoy the gifts we sent you and if you need anything else in the future please email me and I will offer you a nice discount.

For all Customer pictorial reviews please see this page: Tuin Customer Blog Reviews

Log Cabin Contraction

At certain times of the year I will get the odd complaint about our Log Cabins from buildings that have been installed in the Autumn and Winter, Early Spring. The height of the complaints will come in around July and August.

Some customers will be nice and ask for advise, others will launch into a big complaint and are not very pleasant to deal with on occasions.

I then have to gently walk through the problem with them until it can be resolved and 100% of the time it is the customer’s own making.

The pleasant guy asking for advice will locate the problem and it’s solved.

The unpleasant guy will demand we go on site and then find the problem for them and all of the time it’s when they paid a ‘Qualified Carpenter’ or a ‘Qualified Joiner’ to install the building as it cannot be their fault.  Unpleasant guy then gets very upset when we charge for our attendance.

To solve this I thought I would write a quick post about this seasonal complaint and here’s a few examples:

Logs have shrunk in the heat.

Logs are coming apart.

Gaps appearing

Gaps appearing in the log cabin walls

Gaps and twists starting in the wall logs

Gaps and twists starting in the wall logs, this one is showing at the top of the wall

Gaps starting to show in a wall of a log cabin

Gaps starting to show in a wall of a log cabin, these gaps are spaced all the way up the wall.

Log Cabin shrinking

Log Cabin shrinking with gaps to the side of the door.

Gaps starting to appear

Gaps starting to appear

Contraction of Log Cabins

This quick piece is talking about the problems we have with contraction. No doubt, about six months from now, I will write one with the opposite problems, that of expansion, both are a powerful force in timber.

Throughout the articles in this blog I talk about expansion and contraction a lot and it cannot be overstressed the importance and the power of this. If you are going to own a log cabin you’ve got to believe me.

Here are some previous articles where I talk about this feature of timber in depth:

My online Log Cabin Advice Manual also talks about this.

Log Cabin Logs

A log cabin log is obviously made from the length of a tree and we try to pick the best bit close to the heart. It not going to grow or shrink much in its length but it can change quite a bit in its height when part of an install.

I’ve had a customer tell me ‘I realise wood moves but this is excessive’ It is not excessive, it is what wood does and it cannot be controlled or helped.

In the moisture content article above I reference some figures that will show a cabin has a potential to move a LOT!

Here’s a good example of a log cabin in contraction, followed by an expansion example. In either case you will see the untreated wood start to show. This is why I advise in other posts to remove the fascia and paint behind them so you do not see this happen either in contraction or expansion:

Contraction example:

Contraction exampe

Contraction example

Another contraction example

Another contraction example with untreated wood showing

Here’s the opposite, an expansion example, notice the original paint lines

Expansion example, notice the original paint line

Expansion example, notice the original paint line

Another example of contraction, please make sure you paint behind door and window fascia to avoid this.

Another example of contraction, please make sure you paint behind door and window fascia to avoid this.

Installation Problem

Of course none of this is helped if the installer is not aware of this or understands this and please believe me, anyone with ‘Qualified’ followed by ‘carpenter’, ‘joiner’ or ‘builder’ will make the same mistake as someone who has never built one before. The difference being of course your average customer will read the information before installing.

So why are we seeing these gaps and why am I having a complaint against our lovely log cabins?

Quite simply, the installer is trying to interfere with the movement of the logs and is restricting them moving. This will be things like:

  • Adding extra timber into gaps meant for expansion
  • Fixing door and window fascia to the logs
  • Fixing door and window frames to the logs
  • Installing shelves, electrics, brackets, 
  • Lifting door and windows up to fill expansion gaps
  • Fixing the logs in many other ways
  • Fascia in corner buildings above the door allowing the cabin to sit on the door frame

Here are some examples of the cause of all the above with pictures:

Fixed Fascias

This door fascia has been screwed to the logs. There was quite a few of these in the install

This door fascia has been screwed to the logs. There was quite a few of these in the install

Gaps appearing

Gaps appearing in a corner building. This is where the fascia above the door has been fixed and no allowance made for contraction allowing the door frame to slide behind it.

Fascia being fixed to the logs restricting their movement

Fascia being fixed to the logs restricting their movement

Door fixed to the wall logs

Door fixed to the wall logs – luckily I caught this one as the picture was for a door query but you can see nails through to the logs and this is a potential complaint in either expansion or contraction. Thankfully the customer removed these before any problems was caused in about 6 months time.

Timber infills

During the winter the wood is likely to be at its biggest and sometimes customers will worry about a large gap they find above a door frame or a window frame. Without realising what it is for ‘Qualified’ …. carpenters, joiners, builders … will be tempted to fill the gaps;

Timber used to fill the expansion gaps.

Timber used to fill the expansion gaps. In this example you can see there is a timber block above and to the side of the window frame. So with this Winter lead solution we come to summer and gaps are appearing all over the cabin and I get the complaint!

Extra timber placed above the door frame

Extra timber placed above the door frame. This wood block has removed all expansion and the whole log cabin will now be sitting directly on to the door frame.

Timber insert placed in the expansion gap

Timber insert placed in the expansion gap and also as an extra problem the fascia is also nailed into the logs.

DIY storm Kits, Brackets, Shelves, Curtains etc

I Haven’t really got pictures of these sort of things that I can show you as it may identify the customer’s cabin but this was an unusual one:

Strapping to act as a storm kit and bracing

Strapping and bracing. The customer had some sort of shelving system attached the sides of the cabin and I remember he was also concerned about bracing for storms as he was very exposed in the highlands. The ingenuity was very good but this was holding the cabin very rigid and when the summer got here gaps started appearing.

If you want to install shelves, black boards, bars, brackets etc you can do so really easily but please consider the expansion and contraction. The articles referenced earlier explains how to do this so you do not have any problems in the long run.

Electricity in Log Cabins

I wrote an article about Electrical installation in Log cabins ages ago and although I have let my personal accreditation lapse it still hold true and we reference this quite liberally, electricians must be made aware of the expansion in log cabins.

Here’s how to do it:

Flexible expansion to allow for the cabin to move.

Flexible expansion to allow for the cabin to move.

This is what can happen if you do not tell your electrician that a log cabin is made of wood and expands and contracts:

Log cabin has contracted and no allowance has been made for the trunking. This is a potentially dangerous situation as all the wire and terminations will be under strain.

Log cabin has contracted and no allowance has been made for the trunking. This is a potentially dangerous situation as all the wire and terminations will be under strain.

Consumer unit is fixed across two logs, this will cause problems in both contraction and expansion and may cause numerous problems least of all it compromising the installation itself.

Consumer unit is fixed across two logs, this will cause problems in both contraction and expansion and may cause numerous problems least of all compromising the electrical installation itself.

Summary of contraction in a Log Cabin

Log cabins move, whether it’s one of ours, someone else’s, regardless of thickness, all wood moves, it can’t be helped. It’s full of straws and these straws will suck in and expel moisture:

Layer upon layer of straws all drawing water for the tree. Many now support the Cohesion method theory where a tree draws its water using the tension of water.

Layer upon layer of straws all drawing water for the tree. These straws stay open and need to be treated to block them up.

You can see from the structure of the wood that these straws need to be blocked up, amongst other things this is the purpose of a good quality treatment and sufficient coats, these articles explain more:

I’ve said it several times, please don’t use anything cheap on any log cabin, we’re trying to inhibit the movement. A cheap treatment will not do this and you will have quite a bit of movement over the first year.

We do find though that after a year and the full season cycle we will never hear from a log cabin customer again. If you are going to have a problem with expansion or contraction it will be within the first six months of ownership as you will have either treated it well or the straws will start to collapse and die more.

If you have a log cabin that is showing these signs, before you complain to us or the person you bought it from whether it is our product or not please check the following:

Check for:

  • Fascia screwed / nailed to the logs
  • Any restriction to the logs at all
  • Shelves, curtains, brackets, fixings on the wall
  • Expansion Gaps above and to the side.
  • Finishes above Corner building doors.

This is all applicable to any log cabin, I hope it helps if you are seeing these problems whether you bought from us or another manufacturers building.

Tuin Konstantin Review

This was a new building for the year and one we didn’t really know how well it would be received. In Europe the tendency is more to outdoor living and dining but of course with the changeable weather shelter is needed. This is catching on in the UK more and more.

Br B bought one of the new Konstantin Gazebo Log Cabins

This is Mr B’s story and pictures of the installation and finishing, he was kind enough to leave a review for us:

This product was far better than my expectations, the standard of manufacturing was excellent and I am extremely happy with the end product. The level of customer service received by Tuin and Richard in particular was faultless. Never was there a time when I had to wait for a response to one of my emails, it was instant. If anyone is considering buying from Tuin, just do it as ordering and delivery were impeccable. Also if anyone does not think they can assemble one of their cabins, before you make that decision read the various help pages written by Richard. Once or twice he says it’s easy and he is not far wrong. This cabin gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

Timber frame log cabin base

Timber frame log cabin base

A great use of a timber frame base instead of concrete or paving slabs, there is more information in these here: Timber Frame Base for Log Cabins

Walls going up.

Walls going up.

Top logs and balcony being fitted

Top logs and balcony being fitted

Roof purlins slotted into place.

Roof purlins slotted into place.

Roof boards nailed on

Roof boards nailed on. The front bargeboards have been tacked into place to give Mr B a guideline on where to set the roof boards.

Roof boards are being fitted

Roof boards are being fitted

Felting the roof, the bargeboards are put on afterwards and a gap is left at the back between boards and the bargeboards for drainage to the rear of the log cabin

Felting the roof, the bargeboards are put on afterwards and a gap is left at the back between boards and the barge boards for drainage to the rear of the log cabin

Floor going down

Floor going down – this is a plywood floor Mr B sourced and then put on top our hardwood decking tiles.

I think these Subaya Hardwood Decking tiles make a stunning addition to the cabin, they really set it off!  This was Mr B’s thoughts:

The Subaya hardwood tile when it arrived looked very ordinary, but as soon as I started laying the tiles they came to life. The wood and manufacture seem very good. But once I got all the tiles down it just looked brilliant. I am looking forward to the tiles weathering for a few weeks then I will oil them and just can’t wait to see the end result. Of the many choices available I was pleased we went with this one.

The floor after more oil was applied after fitting comes alive with rich colour

The floor after more oil was applied after fitting comes alive with rich colour

The Konstantin is now almost finish, just a few bits of trim to go!

The Konstantin is now almost finish, just a few bits of trim to go!

Trim applied and now the log cabin gazebo is complete!

Trim applied and now the log cabin gazebo is complete!

Konstantin log cabin gazebo, the final build.

Konstantin log cabin gazebo, the final build.

Thank you Mr B for taking the time to send us a review and for the pictures. Other customer find this really useful and it gives people the confidence to install themselves.

I hope you enjoy the presents we sent the the new furniture you have ordered.

Other customers buildings posts and thoughts:

Tuin Emma Corner Log Cabin Review

The Emma corner log cabin has proved to be very popular in the UK this year, 40mm, double glazed and a low roof height. Some customers very kindly send in their reviews with pictures. This is lovely for us to see and learn from and it also helps future customers and generally gives people more confidence to carry out their own install.


Mrs Rachel M’s review:

My husband was adamant our back garden was too small to house a log cabin and it does look pretty small in this picture , but with careful replanting of a well established Yucca and Hebe, and choosing the Emma corner log cabin, I think we’ve got away with it.

The hardest part by far was the preparation for the base as our garden sloped upwards so had to remove tons of earth and house bricks! We also misjudged the size so had to extend it with block paving at the last minute. The delivery of the cabin was on time and went relatively smooth only our driveway was too small so we had to unload it all from the public pathway which took about 45 minutes.

Once we got started on the actual build it took us about 10 hours not including the shingles, I managed those on my own the day after and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I put 50mm insulation beneath the shingles and the flooring but my husband insisted we had to go out and buy thicker floor beams so as not to ‘crush’ the insulation. This seemed like a waste of money as I had asked Tuin’s advice on this but they were only a few pounds each so I relented, but we now have a shed full of wooden beams which I will not be throwing away!

There were plenty of logs in the flooring pack and my husband did a great job cutting and laying them, and after putting a bit of skirting around he made nice neat ends for my windowsills.

The treatment of the cabin was a bind. I put 2 coats of wood treatment on the inside and out, 2 coats of knotting solution on the outside, 2 coats of VERY expensive paint on the outside, 3 coats of white around the windows and roofline and 2 coats of varnish on the inside walls and flooring. The worst part was the cross sections on the windows, very frustrating as you cannot get the paint round the other side so you can see bare wood from the inside.

We have had electrics put in and I’ve made a path leading to the cabin and now I think it makes my garden look beautiful and I love it. We are still deciding what to use it for but we’ve just bought a workmate to help us make use of all the extra wood we have.

All in all we have had a great experience with this product and would definitely recommend Tuin.

Rachel M

base

Base being dug out

base

Paving slabs on a bed of sand and cement.

base

Trench being dug for the electric armoured cable.

delivery

Delivery package at the end of the drive as the drive was too small for the Moffett forklift to gain access

Foundation

Laying the first log on the standard foundation beams

emma

Door frame located and window logs are being put in

emma

Windows slotted in to place

roof

Roof rafters fitted

emma

The Emma Corner Log Cabin taking shape

emma

Roof boards have been fitted

roof

Roof insulation fitted between the roof boards and the felt shingles

floor

Floor insulation put in between floor joists with damp proof membrane below.

floor

The finished floor and skirting complete with detailing on the window sill and electrical system

Finished

The finished Emma corner log cabin

Finished

Emma corner log cabin

Thanks you Rachel for your review and pictures, I hope you enjoy the present we sent you as a thank you.

Other customers buildings posts and thoughts: