We chose log as the construction material for a number of reasons. A log home fits the plan and blends in with all the other log houses. The image of a modern log house created the sense that it is good to live and breathe in a log home. In this blog, I write about our experiences of living in a log house.
I’m sure the importance of home has grown over the last few years for all of us. Home is not only a place to live, but also a remote workplace, a Teams meeting room, and a lunch restaurant for many of us. Going to the grocery store may have been replaced with deliveries, and the gym is now at home. That is to say that the home is a place around which more and more things are revolving.
Log as a construction material
Home has always been important for us. It has been a place for finding some peace and quiet in the middle of the hurry of everyday life. When we found our current living area and found out in the plans that we could build the house we wanted there, we started looking into different wood and log house options.
We already had an image of log as a breathable, durable, and timeless material. In addition, we also wanted to build a modern Scandinavian home with room, a sense of space, and architectural details.
When comparing house models, the Kuusamo Log Houses website turned up the recently released Hiisi model, which met our requirements for a modern log house. With assistance from a knowledgeable sales representative, we were able to modify the model to fit the plan and our purposes. Inspired by the Hiisi model, we named our home Villa Hiisi.
After getting to know log as a construction material, we understood why log is so breathable as a material. Being a single-element material means that the inside and outside walls are made of the same material with no insulation in between. Thus, log walls even out the variations in moisture of indoor air, which is a big deal in terms of air quality. (Source 1.)
Experiences of living in a log home: Good indoor air quality
Sports has always been our passion, which is why good indoor air quality and wellness are also important for us. When building the log house, we wanted to ensure good indoor air quality in our new home. That is why our house was built by construction service Rakennuspalvelu Tähtinen that specialises in log construction and was able to account for the requirements that log has as a building material.
We also carefully reviewed the materials and stains that were used on the walls that were covered up. It was equally important to ensure that the floor cast cures well in order to prevent indoor air problems caused by wet concrete later on.
Log has been proven in several studies to be allergy-friendly precisely due to its excellent indoor air and antibacterial properties. The air quality in log homes is based on hygroscopicity, i.e., wood’s ability to transfer and bind moisture in the wall and away from the wall. (Source 2, source 3.)
Having lived in a log house through all seasons, we have noticed how logs absorb moisture from the air and then gradually release it back, acting as a kind of air moisturiser. The air will not become extremely dry even during the coldest weather, and the air in the rooms is never thick or in need of ventilation in the mornings.
Aesthetics of log
As a natural material, the log is a timeless decoration element that appealed to us as well. So, we thought that we would probably never grow tired of looking at log walls, as it would be as if a piece of the forest had been brough into our home.
We decided that log walls would guide our decorating choices as a whole and that we would leave as much log surface visible as possible. We chose as many natural materials as we could for other decoration elements as well. The pinewood stairs, the oaken island, the herringbone parquet floor made of oak upstairs, and the toilet sinks made of composite wood are some examples of how we wanted wood to be a recurring element in our home.
According to research, wood can have a stress-reducing effect similar to nature (source 4). You can feel it living in a log house, as the wooden walls create a soothing and cosy atmosphere. Wooden surfaces create a warm and cosy room atmosphere.
A responsible construction material
When we started our project in 2020, responsibility was not quite the trend it is now, but log seemed like a sustainable choice for a construction material.
The carbon footprint of log is small for several reasons. A log wall binds carbon ten times the amount compared to the amount released during production, and sawdust and wood chips that are formed as side products during production produce more energy than what is consumed in the production of logs. (Source 3.)
In addition, putting a log house together uses less energy than mining rock, making bricks and blocks, and building a more complex structure than the single-element log wall (source 1).
Knowing that the log is Finnish and created using valued northern wood invited us to build a log house that could withstand the varying weather conditions of Finland.
Quality of life in a log house
After over a year of life in a log house, I cannot even imagine living anywhere else. Designing and building your own home has been an inspiring trip into creativity and permanence. It has taught us a lot and matured us. It has taught how to live with incompleteness, uncertainty, and compromise.
Over a year ago, taking my first shower here after two days of moving in, I looked around at the choices we had made in the quiet of the evening and I realised that it was us who did it.
The project did not end with moving in, as building a garage, painting, tiling, paving, and yard works based on a yard plan had to begin. There was much to be done, but, even so, life in a log home has felt better than we even dreamed.
We made choices to support our daily happiness as early as in the planning stage. We both have our own offices and enough room to get some privacy. The utility and dressing room is large enough for the daily laundry and sports outfit circus. An air source heat pump and blackout curtains make sure that you can get a good night’s sleep even in the summer heat. A blazing fireplace soothes the mind during dark autumn evenings.
The most important realisation about happiness, however, has maybe been that you don’t need to get everything finished this year either. It is more important to stop and admire everything we have already accomplished.
Johanna and Henkka
Sources used in the text:
Omakoti: The log house renaissance (in Finnish)
Puuinfo: Indoor air and health impacts of wood (in Finnish)
Kuusamo Log Houses: Why choose a log home? Read about the good reasons
Verkkouutiset: Wood reduces stress (in Finnish)
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Previous guest blogs by Johanna and Henkka: