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Anyone have experience or opinions about "EZ Log" type buildings?

 
gardener
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I'm plotting my future right now - and it seems highly likely I'll be living unconventionally for the next 2-3 years.

One of the options I am considering is the possibility of constructing a "hunt camp" type building for part time - full time use. Hunt camps are a term in the local building code that allows you to build an unfinished <1000 sq ft, no septic, no drilled well, etc structure without there being an existing house, though they are not supposed to be used for full time occupancy.  So far as I can see, I'm not required to actually have a hunting license to build a hunt camp. I would prefer a real building to a trailer, as I could put in a real woodstove.

I've seen these "EZ log" buildings advertised for years - they are inexpensive (~$20 k for a 400 sq foot cabin with a bedroom, bathroom, living/kitchen room walls included and a porch), a complete precut kit including stamped drawings, fully finished interior/exterior, floor included, tongue and groove 2 3/4" logs, windows and doors included. Plus, they look really easy to assemble. Just add roofing and a block foundation. Better yet, they are made of pretty much just wood, so it would be pretty easy to finish with non-toxic/non-off gassing materials. The 3D jigsaw puzzle/IKEA-esque look of them pleases my engineering soul.

Here are a few links - there seem to be a bunch of sellers in Ontario.

https://www.ezlogontario.ca/
http://www.ezlog.ca/
http://www.peacockwoodcraft.com/

I don't have much carpentry skills, and more to the point, I don't have anyone locally to help for more than a day or two if I did a conventional stick build. These 2 3/4" logs look light enough that I could probably do the floor and half the walls by myself, and bring in a friend or two for the roof and possibly the top of the walls.

So basically - has anyone built one? Can anyone comment on if they are easy to assemble and, more importantly, durable?
 
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They are nice 'systems ' , and not too bad on price.  But are pretty inflexiable., like where is the insulstion?

I understand wanting an easy systems,  I too alone and do not have help.

So I have been thinking. A small building 12 foot wide,  shed roof, length to suit or add more later.

Rule of thumb,  these kits are 3 times  the cost of materials.,
The same square footage  can be built conveniently  at a fraction
 
pollinator
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Yeah, they the IKEA of houses.  Insulation is an issue, or lack thereof.  They don't have the mass of a true log cabin with 12 inch walls.
 
Catie George
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I hear you on the cost of kits vs materials...

And the lack of insulation - the walls would have an R value of about 3.8- so about equivalent to 1" of foam board. They look like they are relatively tight, but I grew up in a drafty log house (10"-12" logs) where I could often see my breath in the morning during the winter, so insulation is a concern I am quite aware of. A good woodstove with enough mass to hold heat through the night is what I am intending.

The floor and potentially the ceiling look relatively insulatable with foam board, side walls not so much. I do like that they are using double glazed glass for the windows. The engineered drawings are a big plus- the local planning office is known for being unhelpful with questions and uninterested in creativity, so a stamp is nice. Local regs say you can't even build a 100 sq foot shed without a permit if there isn't an existing structure on the property, and they have a minimum square footage even for hunt camps, and recreational properties need to be built to residential standards.

it's really the time savings I like about kits. I'm still employed and so am going to be short on time more than money, so it's more of a competition between "kit structure of some description " vs. "travel trailer" vs. "paying somebody to build a shell then I finish the interior".

Labour locally is typically $20/hr for construction/framing jobs, and some localish shed building companies price their stuff at $39/sq ft + "extras" (like windows, doors, interior walls, floors, etc). So for a 400 sq foot structure, about $15,000+ extras, or approximately the same.
 
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Our first two tiny houses cost about $3000 in the US.  The first one was one from the big box store where they came to our property and built it.  The second one we found a local guy who came to our property and built it.

On both, we finished the interior.

A person can go "hunt camp" style which means you don't do much to make it livable.

Our daughter recently started an "air B n B" type business with two of these same type building. I am sure the price of the buildings has gone up, since we bought ours, maybe to $4000 each.

These might offer some suggestions:

https://permies.com/t/124234/House-High-Plains-Challenge
https://permies.com/t/86363/feedback-pros-cons-Polar-Sheds
 
Catie George
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Wow Anne, I wish I could build something that inexpensively here!!! I will take a look at those threads, too. The cost of building and local bylaws are quite frustrating.

I have done a fair amount of pricing research, and they look fairly competitive with other options.

Quality, durability, and ease/speed of assembling are more important to me.

I think labour and material costs might be higher here in Canada. $20 CAD is less than $15 USD. So decrease my estimates by 25% to roughly convert to USD.

If I recall, even a hunt camp needs to be 350 sq ft in the township. An uninsulated bunkie with a small loft (160 sq ft) is advertised locally as $8000 + delivery, or +25 % for installation on site if you cant back a trailer in to the site (you cant). Still, i couldn't legally build one, they have an even worse R value, and then I would still need a few thousand for insulation and internal wall cladding/flooring.  I could try to get away with it, but the property is on a busy road 1 km from town and has great satellite imagery covering it, although the potential building site isnt visible from the road.

Material costs are high here too. My mom recently had a dozen or so boards replaced on a deck/stairs and gate at her summer trailer. Materials alone (pressure treated lumber since parts contact the ground and deck screws and a few 2x4s) were nearly $400.
 
R Scott
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I didn't look how they say to seal the joints, but DON'T SKIMP on those details. Do it right and they are 100% airtight but breathable.  Search for SIP SEAL if you want zero VOC sealant for the joints.  I really like great stuff pro poly adhesive when you need it to never come apart. It comes out like spray foam but sets up like gorilla glue. Works as glue and air seal.

That small you can easily keep warm with a good stove as long as it isn't drafty.  

 
Catie George
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They use double channel  tongue and groove profile as a connector but no sealant. I had thought about caulking (which is ugly on a log house) good to know there is a specific product. Would you seal interior, exterior, or both, or put it between logs during construction?
 
Anne Miller
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Catie, I googled storage sheds in Canada.  This is the first one I found: https://northcountrysheds.com/sheds/prefab-garden-sheds/high-wall-storage-barns





10 x 16 = 5,713

This might have been the size we bought.  Ours was big enough to have a "Garage" for our golf cart, tools, etc. with a loft for storage.  And a bedroom, so it was basically 3 rooms.

Where I live these are "hunting cabins".

These are their cabins:  https://northcountrysheds.com/cabins

10 x 16 including metal door and three windows  6,369

14 x 30 420 Metal door & (3) large windows $13,033



 12 x 24
 
R Scott
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Catie George wrote:They use double channel  tongue and groove profile as a connector but no sealant. I had thought about caulking (which is ugly on a log house) good to know there is a specific product. Would you seal interior, exterior, or both, or put it between logs during construction?



I would put it in between during construction, taking special care at the corner joints.  Also be very vigilant on the floor to first course.  I agree that fake chinking is ugly and often traps moisture behind it to create problems 5-10 years down the road. In between protects the product from UV and it will maintain air seal practically forever.

SIP SEAL is a type of caulk that never cures, it stays flexible so it will keep sealed as the building shifts over time. If you can't find it, look for acoustic caulk-it stays flexible as well but may have more voc's. The great stuff glue is slightly flexible if it foamed to fill gaps, but acts like gorilla glue where the joints are tight. Your building will never come apart if you use it, and sets up in minutes, so make sure every piece is in the right place the first time.
 
Catie George
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Thanks for finding those Anne- it's funny what shows up with different search terms and search locations. They are about 2.5 hrs from here, I wonder if they would be willing to do assembly on site?

I guess that's the other design constraint (that had me turning away from my original buy a camping trailer idea). The thing needs to come in on a pickup truck, and be assembled on site. The lane way hasn't been used in about 40 years. The potential building site is about 300 m drive from the road on the edge of the old gravel pit where no land clearing is required. the lane is still in decent shape, passable except for in spring by my car,  as it was built for gravel trucks and shaded by pines, but the pines need more whacking back to fit even a truck down, and there is no way that a trailer could get back there without some substantial brush clearing and clearing a turnaround at the end.
 
Anne Miller
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Those are good questions to ask the installer or whoever you buy from.  I really think the "back of the pickup" may present a problem even if you purchase from EZ Log.

I am thinking standard board size is a problem that we have picking lumber up at the local lumber yard. Half the time we have boards sticking off the tailgate with red flags.  How would a whole building of that size fit in a pickup?

Seems to me the question to ask is can the building be brought in on a flatbed and is the lane wide enough for a flatbed?  

There may be some work you will need to consider before making a decision.  Something like getting someone to do some roadwork.

Best wishes for your future building project.
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