Home for the Holidays

DSC3112AHome for the Holidays

The ability to have a custom-designed home is one of the primary reasons that our clients choose to work with Expedition Log Homes. Our customers come to us with the desire to have their log home fit their lifestyle, family and friends. Holidays and milestone events will be spent at the “cabin” and it’s important that the space work for daily living and extended company.

Log homes, with their open concept spaces and natural, rustic environment lend themselves perfectly for this purpose. Whether you have a generous sized home – or a cozy cabin, you can design your space to create those memories for all who come.

Sawyer by Expedition Log HomesOne of our clients, the Dukes, designed their vacation cabin as a gathering place for family. Spread out across the United States, the family gathers at the cabin each year and comes together to share laughter and stories. Memories are made that will be retold for generations to come. Although this design accommodates the extended family, it also works as a cozy retreat for two.  Click here to see the Sawyer floor plan.


Hartland by Expedition Log HomesAnother client uses his home to host fundraisers and events. His goal was to create a space that his teenage children and their friends wouldn’t want to leave. Weather they are spending time in the entertaining theater room or the stunning great room, guests are in for a special treat. Of course, the homeowners feel like they are on vacation every day.  Click here to view the Hartland floor plan.

Finding the right floor plan is essential to building a home, but it’s also a challenging process.   At Expedition Log Homes we partner with our clients to give each project an individualized set of solutions. Your ideas become an integral part of an overall building experience. And the results are far from ordinary. In fact, they’re quite extraordinary.

I invite you to browse the plans and photography on our site for inspiration. You will see why more people are choosing Expedition as their log home company.

Rustic Winery

Rustic Wine Accessories

Rustic Wine Accessories
Rustic Winery Partners Dan Sorenson and Jay Enderson

Partners Dan Sorenson & Jay Enderson

Our motto at Expedition Log Homes has always been to blaze your own path.  Following is the story of Rustic Winery and it’s owners, Jay Enderson & Dan Sorenson.  A shared vision in 2008 by these two childhood friends and a passion for quality woodworking and wine launched the creation of this winery with a twist.  It all began with a piece of wood (bet you thought I was going to say a bottle of wine!).

At the young age of 22, Jay Enderson did what many of us wait until retirement to do – he built his first log home and moved his family into it.  Like many 22 year olds, Jay did not have an abundant bank account.  He found that the only way he could realize his dream of living in a log home was to do much of the work himself.  And so he did.  It was hard work, but it laid the foundation for what was to become a lifetime career in the log home and log furnishings industry.

After being approached in 1988 about a part time career marketing log homes, and a two year stint as a general contractor building log homes, Jay went into the business full time selling log homes in 1991.  He continues that today as an authorized dealer for Expedition Log Homes.

Moosehead Log Furniture

Moosehead Log Furniture

With the entrepreneurial spirit deeply entrenched and after building his third log home model, Jay realized there was a need in the marketplace for high quality log home furnishings and railings.

This lead him to establish Moosehead Rail & Log Furniture Company in 1997.  Moosehead continues as a quality provider of unique log furnishings and log rail systems.

Dan Sorenson started down his path in college, supervising a tree planting company.  This trail lead to an education in the timber industry and an appreciation for the pure beauty of wood.  After a successful and long detour into the corporate world, Dan came back to his love and passion for wood in 2001 after reuniting with his childhood friend, Jay Enderson.

Spiral Wine Display

8 Bottle Spiral Display

Intrigued by the rustic log furniture that Moosehead was producing, Dan started working in the Moosehead shop learning design and furniture building.  It was also the perfect place to showcase his artistic abilities as an accomplished chainsaw carver.  Weekly conversations about two shared passions – wood and wine – led to the idea of an exclusive provider of distinct wine furnishings and accessories.  Rustic Winery, LLC was born.

Rustic Winery along with Three Oak Vineyards and Winery is poised to become the exclusive Minnesota wine destination.  Follow along as we watch them grow and expand.



Chainsaw Artistry

Ever wonder who creates those beautiful wood sculptures you see at the log home shows?  Let me introduce you to one very special woman – Korri Walker.

Korri Walker - Chainsaw ArtistKorri has been an artist all of her life.  On vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennesee she watched a chainsaw artist at work and was simply amazed at what was happening.  She witnessed a log brought to life in the skilled hands of that artist.

Inspired and interested in a new challenge, Korri took up the art form of sculpting with a chainsaw.  Now she spends most of the spring, summer and fall creating sculptures from logs.

Chainsaw Sculptures - pumpkins & football bear

Korri does one show a year.  The Bedford Fall Festival, located in Bedford Pennsylvania – October 8th & 9th.  There she sells her bears, folk art, snowmen and her signature item, Jack-0-Lanterns.  She say’s her sculptures make people smile.

Naturally, when folks enter the booth they talk to her husband, Barry first ” Hey buddy, how long to make that bear?  Korri simply loves his response “Talk to the artist, she’s right here!”

Snowmen chainsaw sculptureBarry and Korri Walker have been in the log home industry since building their beautiful log home in 2002.  They serve as Log Home Dealers in the Somerset, Cambria, Bedford and Blair County area of Pennsylvania  where they are proud to be a part of the Expedition Log Home team.

The Walkers’ use their log home as a model (by appointment only).  Give them a call – depending on time of year you just might see a sculpture in progress!

The Energy Efficient Home – part four

One of the best, and easiest ways (especially in a full log structure) to add more thermal resistance (r-value) to a structure is to increase it in the foundation level.

Typically, the majority of a foundation wall is going to be under ground, so by adding more insulation to the outside of the wall, we are neither effecting the usable space on the interior, nor are we changing the aesthetics of the home from the exterior. A perfect example of this is adding rigid insulation board to the exterior of a foundation wall. The addition of 1-2 inches of rigid foam can make or brake compliance with energy codes.

Another great way to add r-value to your foundation level is with insulated furring walls. This is a perfect method to use if you are planning to finish off any of the lower level. As a standard, most finished rooms in basements are going to incur the addition of furring walls anyway so as to give a much more cozy feeling to the room (rather than looking at bare concrete). By insulating these furring walls, we jump that wall from an R-0.8 or less to an R-13 or more.

Yet another method of adding thermal resistance to your foundation is to plan it out in advance and use some of the great foundation products that have come on the market.

1. ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)

ICF’s are a nice way to gain r-value in a concrete wall. They basically work by using foam insulation as the concrete form that would be used to pour the concrete wall into. The only difference is while standard forms get removed once the concrete has set; the ICF’s get left in place and provide foundation insulation. ICF’s come in varying sizes and thicknesses, thus providing varying r-values.

2. Precast concrete walls

Precast concrete walls are pre-made in a factory setting, based on your home plans. They are then shipped out to your job site and set into place with a crane. An advantage of precast concrete walls is that you get not only the rigid foam insulation build directly into the wall, but most precast concrete walls are designed in a “stud wall” style using concrete studs for the strength of the wall. This means that you can also insulate between the concrete studs just as you would between wooden studs.

With so many options to choose from, there is no reason why a foundation should be the weak point of the thermal envelope.

The Energy Efficient Home part three – Air / Vapor Retarders

Now that we’ve gotten our wall and roof assemblies together and insulated them, it’s time to seal the home and apply the air and vapor retarders. Air and vapor retarders are sometimes referred to as air and vapor “barriers”. This can be a misleading term as they do not block air or moisture 100%.

There are two types of air flow in a home, controlled and uncontrolled. Controlled air flow is that which is created by ventilation and/or a mechanical device (i.e. furnace, air conditioner), and is designed to be in the home. Uncontrolled air flow is that which makes its way into the home via gaps and openings. Every structure will always have uncontrolled air flow, but this is the type of air flow, or air infiltration that we strive to minimize.

In a full log structure, the easiest place for air infiltration to occur is between the courses of log. Our full log system at Expedition requires the installation of a foam gasket, set into a routed channel, in two locations between the courses of log, and at the butt joints of adjacent logs.

Full Log Sealant Method

Full Log Sealant Method

We also specify for the installation of “Stacker” sealant on the inside and outside of every course, as well as the butt joints of every log. This, done along with the standard caulking or chinking is a great way to minimize the air infiltration in a full log wall system.

In a half log system, we compensate for air infiltration in walls by using products such as Tyvek or Typar, as well as caulking between every log course.

The other major area of air infiltration is through the ceilings. One of the methods used to insulate a roof or ceiling, still requires the use of ventilation. If steps are not taken to attempt to keep that ventilation within the rafter cavity, a vast amount of air leakage can occur, especially through knotty pine ceiling boards. This air leakage can cause condensation in areas where there are great temperature differences between the indoor and outdoor air.

We recommend the installation or 5/8” sheetrock to the underside of the ceiling, before any knotty pine boards are installed. This is a practice that is standard in the commercial end of the building industry, and it can greatly reduce the amount of air infiltration into a ceiling.

These practices, used in accordance with a good HVAC design, quality mechanical equipment, and proper ventilation will ensure the long and “dry” life for your log home.

The Energy Efficient Home – part two

Insulation is a key player in the creation of the thermal envelope, and will be the focus of discussion for part two of this series.

Graphic A

For half log construction, the thermal envelope does not differ from the thermal envelope of a conventionally framed home. Notice in graphic “A”, the continuous outline created by the insulation. It is crucial that this outline surrounds the house with no breaks to achieve the best result in the control of heat flow. The majority of the R-value in a wall or roof assembly is created by the addition of insulation.

Some areas of the country have code minimum requirements for R-values. Let’s use Minnesota as an example. The state is broken into the southern and northern areas and the requirements are different for both. The current requirements for the northern areas are as follows:

• Fenestration U-factor – .35
• Skylight U-factor – .6
• Ceiling R-value – 44
• Wood frame wall R-value – 19
• Mass wall R-value – 15*
• Floor R-value – 30
• Foundation wall and rim joist R-value – 10
• Slab R-value and depth – 10, 5 ft.
• Crawlspace wall R-value – 10

*Mass wall R-value does not apply to full log structures. A minimum diameter log size of 7” has been determined by the state provided that the U-factor of the windows is .31 overall on average or better.

Graphic B

When we get into full log construction (graphic “B”) it gets increasingly more difficult to comply with energy codes using a performance based method (i.e. energy compliance software such as ResCheck). The good thing about the thermal envelope is that it performs as a whole. Granted, it is only as good as the weakest member of its sum, but increases in other areas of the envelope will help it to perform better. Full log structures can comply using the performance based method when tradeoffs are allowed.

In some areas of the country, a full log structure may actually perform better given the introduction of thermal mass. Thermal mass is a concept that is simply defined as absorbing heat from a source, and then releasing it slowly as the heat source is removed. A full log wall is a thermal mass conductor. While we know that thermal mass makes a difference in the performance of the thermal envelope, there is no good way to prove this using a performance based method of energy compliance. A prescriptive based method of energy compliance can lend itself better to a thermal mass wall system.

In conclusion, whether your new log home is going to be half log or full log, it is best to have a design professional complete your plans, as well as evaluate the energy requirements in the your area, to ensure that the best possible efficiency is achieved.

The Energy Efficient Home – part one

You have probably heard much talk lately regarding the energy performance of homes across the nation.   Designers and builders alike face increasing challenges achieving compliance with the ever changing energy codes.

We currently have the technology and knowledge at out disposal to not only conform to the energy codes for new construction, but in most cases, to exceed the necessary requirements for code compliance.  Returning to the basics of  building science is key in achieving this feat.  Let’s start with what we already know from research done, and expand upon that.

Thermal Building Envelope

Thermal Building Envelope

The first thing we need to do is establish a well sealed and well  insulated thermal envelope.  Webster’s defines the thermal envelope as “the building’s exterior shell”.  This can be a common misconception.  Webster’s definition actually applies to the term “building envelope”,  or the physical separation between the interior and exterior of a structure.  Thermal envelope is better defined as a “heat flow control layer”.  A good way to visualize this difference is to imagine an insulated attic floor.  The roof of the home acts as the shell of the building envelope, but the insulated attic floor acts as the shell of the thermal envelope.

With that being said, what makes up a thermal envelope?  It can be broken down into five essential parts:

  • Wall and roof assemblies
  • Insulation
  • Air/vapor retarders
  • Foundations
  • Windows/doors

For this blog entry, I will focus on wall and roof assemblies.

Wall and roof assemblies are a crucial part of the thermal envelope.  Their performance is typically rated by using an R-value, or a measure or thermal resistance. As a rule, the higher the R-value, the better energy performance of the assembly.  In full log structures, showing energy compliance is becoming increasing difficult.  A full log wall assembly is excessively lacking in R-value compared to a wall that has insulation in its assembly.  This comes from the fact that R-values are usually measured at so many units of thermal resistance per inch.  Comparing a 10” pine full log wall assembly (R-7), which is truly nothing but wood, to the same 10” half log wall assembly that contains high density batt insulation in a 2×6 stud wall (R-26), would make anyone do a double take.

Does this mean that a full log structure is not a viable method for home construction?  Not necessarily. The thing that energy compliance software doesn’t take into consideration is the way the log performs.  It is widely known that solid mass wall assemblies offer a thermal mass benefit that you can’t get with a stud framed, a SIP (structurally insulated panel), or an ICF (insulated concrete form) wall, and depending upon the location of the build, this aspect could benefit a home owner more or less.

Roof assemblies act very similar to the wall assemblies.  They are typically made up of rafters or trusses, insulation, sheathing, and the actual roofing material.  Another roof assembly option is SIPs.  No matter which way a roof is constructed, it is generally insulated well to achieve the highest R-value possible and in most locations must meet a code required minimum R-value.

If a full log structure is your dream, we can certainly meet or exceed energy compliance with the help of the other pieces of the thermal envelope which we will get into in our next discussion.

Labor of Love

A few weeks ago I contacted one of our homeowners and asked if I could stop over and take a few photos of the corners on his home.  You see, I have been working on a new website for Expedition Log Homes and wanted to give a better visual representation of the beautiful corners that we have to offer.

The home I was visiting had been delivered several years ago, and my expectations were that it was completely done.  Our customer, Don B, agreed to let me come over and offered to give me the grand tour.  Don is a very private person, and he does not open his home to many people, so I was honored that he offered to share it with me.

Although I was surprised that there was still work to be done inside the home, I was immediately struck by the amount of thought and care that had gone into every aspect of finishing his home.  It was clear to me that this life-long dream was also a labor of love.

Don’s parents had instilled in their children a great love for wood.  He showed me the clocks his Dad had made from the butternut trees on the property and explained how he wanted to use the same process to make the bar-top in his family room.  He pointed out the butternut paneling that covered the ceiling over the bar.  Rustic and full of worm holes it added to the cozy and comfortable area he was creating.  Don told me that he could feel the presence of his parents in that place.  In that moment, I did as well.

As I drove away, I reflected on how simply wonderful Don’s home made me feel.  I also thought about the fact that four years later he was still working on the most personal and special places in the home.  That is when it occurred to me – it was his labor of love.  And the Expedition Log Homes website was mine.  Unlike Don, I plan to share it with the world and hope that we can inspire others to pursue their own labor of love.