Maine Log Homes
The artist Bob Ross from “The Joy of Painting” was a big fan of log cabins. This was the guy who covered a canvas with scenes of majestic mountains, quiet ponds and stepping-stone waterfalls, all in the space of 30 minutes. On nearly every painting of the piney woods his last step was to block in a simple log cabin at the end of a pathway, usually surrounded by trees. The little wooden house with the smoke wafting out of the chimney just sort of brought the whole painting together.
Visitors to Maine, especially those that delve into the more remote interior, often rent log homes on vast lots surrounded by trees or perched above quiet lakes. Some decide that a rental is just not enough, and want a Maine log home they can come back to year after year. Maine log home dealers are found throughout the state, ready to turn that visionary painting into vacation home reality.
History of Log Homes
The earliest log homes were found in Northern Europe and date back to the Bronze Age, roughly 3500 BC. In the United States, the first log cabins went up in 1638 in the Nya Sveridge Swedish colony on the shores of the Delaware River. The Swedish log cabins were made of hewn logs with notches cut in the ends so they would fit snugly together. The gaps between the logs were filled with mud, stone, straw, anything to keep out the wind.
Simple, efficient and self-insulating, the design followed pioneers across the country eventually ending up in the wilds of Canada and Alaska. Author Jack London’s log cabin, or at least half of it, sits in Jack London Square in Oakland, California. Built in 1897, the other half sits in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. The breaking down and sharing of the cabin between the two governments didn’t happen until 1969. When found the cabin was still habitable, though a tad musty, proof of the solid, enduring design.
Advantages of Log Homes
Log homes in Maine range from simple one-room cabins to multi-story structures with acres of glass providing heart-stopping views and taking full advantage of natural light. The thick log walls naturally insulate sound, and efficiently keep warm air in and cold air out, decreasing energy costs. In Maine, windows in log homes are usually double or triple paned, increasing energy efficiency. Modern materials and insulation techniques have made Maine log homes even more durable while leaving even less of a carbon footprint.
If you have the skills, this is one type of home you really can build yourself. Log home kits, sort of like “Lincoln Logs” on steroids, come shipped with all the pieces pre-cut and plenty of instructions. This type of “log home in a box” was developed in Houlton, Maine back in 1923. Today, computer enhanced machinery makes the connecting cuts so precise that each piece fits together perfectly.
Finding a Maine Log Home Dealer
Currently there are more than 30 log home dealers in Maine, most of them located along the coast and the southern part of the state. Aroostook County only has three in that vast area, including Ward Cedar Log Homes, the company that started the “log cabin in a box” craze. Ward does not build homes, but will put you in touch with a contractor if needed.
Most of the Maine log home dealers specialize in the manufacture of the log cabin pieces and refer customers to trusted local contractors. One company that does both the log home manufacturing and construction is Central Maine Custom Log Homes in Waterville. Construction companies that specialize in log home building include Greg Parks Builders in Searsport and Hooper Construction LLC.
Cost of a Maine Log Home
The cost of your Maine log home will vary depending on size, design and whether you do the building yourself or hire a contractor. Once you submit your ideas to a dealer, they will come up with an estimate. A second estimate will be given by the contractor, if needed. Prices tend to be on par with homes built of other materials.
In general terms, construction costs are based on the square footage of the home. As an example a modest log home completely finished might run you $160 per square foot, in addition to the purchase and development of the site itself. A timber frame home, which tends to be more elaborate, usually starts at around $225 per square foot.
Since log cabin home kits can be shipped almost anywhere in Maine, it is usually less expensive to use a contractor closer to your building site. If you do decide to “do it yourself” check with the Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Building Codes & Standards (maine.gov) to make sure you have the proper permits and your home complies with the state-wide building codes. Contractors will take care of this paperwork for you.
Your reward for all of your hard work and permit chasing will be a cozy Maine cabin in the woods, the envy of all that ever gazed at a Bob Ross painting.