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Long-life logs

Online since 5.11.2015 • Filed under Advertorial • From Issue 16 page(s) 165
Long-life logs

TO BUILD asked ROY TREMBATH from the South African Log Home Builders Association why he believes that log homes present the most long living and sustainable option.

For thousands of years, log homes have been built throughout Eastern and Western Europe. More recently, during the last 300 years, they have also been built in other countries by expatriates from these cold regions. An example of this is the Greensted church in Essex, England, which was built from oak logs at the turn of the first millennium. The church still holds regular services in part of the original log structure, testament to the durability of log structures that are still standing 1 000 years later. According to Roy Trembath from the South African Log Home Builders Association, logs are probably one of the only truly renewable resources available for building. In addition, they have a natural aesthetic appeal and a relaxed feeling inside. They blend in with the environment in a way that no other houses can.


Timber logs do not require excessive energy to convert them into useable material. Solid, unmachined logs have a natural flowing grain structure that provides strength and resistance to moisture penetration and beetles. ‘Solid log homes have a very long lifespan, with minimal maintenance if correctly built,’ Roy maintains. The thick walls make excellent insulation. ‘One only has to think of log homes in Sweden or Canada in  winter snow to realise how good the insulation factor is. They provide a comfortable temperature year round, which saves energy, environmental pollution and money,’ he adds. This is of potential significance given thermal and insulation properties, solar heating, natural cooling and daylighting standards as laid down by the new building regulations. SANS 10400-XA provides the ‘deemed-to-satisfy’ requirements for compliance with the National Building Regulations for energy usage, and SANS 204 specifies the design requirements to achieve the required levels of energy efficiency. Certain simple concepts, including architecture, are used to preserve buildings and these do not require the use of potentially toxic chemical additives. Additionally, no part of the log is wasted when building a log home. ‘Off-cuts can be used to as fuel to heat the house in the first winter, if necessary,’ Roy suggests. Roy draws an important distinction between log homes and timber frame buildings. The average log home uses less timber than an equivalent sized timber frame house because there are no losses from milling and processing. ‘Depending on the processes used, some timber mills recover as little as 25% of a log when it is milled, and timber frame homes tend to have a short life span of 25 to 35 years,’ he points out. It seems far better to build a home that is designed to last hundreds of years so that many generations can use the house without increasing mankind’s environmental footprint on Mother Earth.

Log home building courses

Roy runs regular workshops from his landmark, hand-built personal log home in Wilderness Heights, Garden Route, for do-it-yourselfers and building professionals who want to set their hand to timber log construction. All courses are taught by Roy. The South African Log Home Builders Association has been established with the express purpose of teaching people to build their own personal solid log homes with their own cash.

South African Log Home Builders Association

T +27 820 607474



Issue 16

Issue 16

November 2015

This article was featured on page 165 of
To Build Magazine Issue 16.

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