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A simple and rustic house architecture with logs and simple techniques is usually situated in the outskirts, in a blanket of nature, and can be used as a vacation house. These houses are usually found in secluded mountain areas. But nowadays the definition of cabin house or log cabins are different.
- Beach cabin- simple, vacation house for beach
- Log cabin- a house built from logs in hilly areas
- Cottage- a small family house
- Chalet- a house for sole purpose of mountains
The log houses have evolved considerably over the years, in terms of size, materials, and structural techniques.
Full Scribe Log Homes
These types of cabin houses are the oldest and most traditional which are constructed from full horizontal logs placed over each other and connected by grooves. The joinery should be kept tight to prevent air gaps. These are energy efficient and require manual labour. The procedure for construction is cutting and scribing logs with chainsaws to fit logs with each other.
Chink Style Log Homes
This house architecture is evolved from full scribe log homes, instead of joining the logs, chink- a type of mortar is used in-between to join the logs. These types are also energy efficient but are also more flexible for different climatic conditions. The corners are joined in notches and are more durable.
Timber frame and post and beam frame are two types of log houses with similar construction approaches. The technique is by constructing squared-off timber and joining it using wooden pegs. This method is used for framed structure or even load modern and is cost-effective. Some methods under this are –
- Buck frame
- Cruck frame
- Aisled frame
- Half- timbering frame
Square log cabins
These cabin houses have excellent insulation properties and are constructed in hilly areas. Hewn lumber that is flat surfaces timber is used for log. The round-shaped logs are shaped to flat- surfaces for better insulation properties to avoid air gaps.
Shed Style Cabins
The design of this has a major difference in the roof type. A single sloped roof design is used which became popular in the 1960s. A shed cabin is a paneled structure with a systematic framework and cladding. Also, the walls are panels or prefabricated while log cabins are constructed from individual logs. These are a more evolved form and are used for modern designs too.
Dogtrot Cabin House
These are also classified under log houses. The planning of this is different from a typical log house. There are 2 single log cabins that are connected by dogtrot, also called breezeway house, dog-run, or possum-trot all under one roof.
It is usually one story. The breezeway is a unique feature that allows cool air to pass. One cabin house is for private use like bedrooms and the other for living room and kitchen. These cabins are located in warm climates.
These types of cabin houses are used as an alternative for log houses in regions of flat land with grass plains. These were typically used for animal shelters with materials like grass and soil beneath.
Usually, blocks of soil were made and overlapped with help of patches of grass which acted as mortar. Nowadays the definition of sod houses has completely changed but the technique is still used.
Hybrid cabins are different from conventional cabin houses. This style of cabin house design combines two or more construction methods, like a log, timber-frame, and conventional stud-frame building. Some other materials are stone, glass, shake shingles, and reclaimed siding. It is also more cost-effective.
Characteristics of Cabin Houses
- The most common feature is that cabin houses use materials which are naturally available like wood, grass and stones. Each house as a unique touch
- They are energy efficient and blend with nature which is the prime reason for it being a vacation house for serenity and stress free environment.
- The cabin houses traditionally were one storey but the modern construction has more storeys.
- The cabin houses are simple with minimalistic planning and rustic aesthetics.
- Light floods in through windows giving a bright and warm interior.
Materials, Roofing and Construction Techniques
Why is wood popularly used in cabins?
Most of the cabins are located in the hilly and mountainous regions. Due to this reason, there is a requirement for heat inside, so the material wood has relatively low thermal insulation. Also because of high moisture content softwoods are the best insulators. The most commonly available wood is from pine and cedar.
Roofing styles range from gable to hip to the pyramid to gambrel. For cabins, perhaps more than any other type of home, a gable roof is the most common choice.
The cabin roof designs are not very different from those of conventional houses. The roofs are sloping due to the climatic conditions of that region. The framework is pre-assembled trusses and dimensional lumber.
The roofing has overlapping elements of wood, plate, slate, and most common asphalt shingles.
These dominate the market as this type is cost-effective and fire-resistant at the same is aesthetically good. The drawback is that during rains it gets corroded easily.
Slate shingles of stone tiles are energy efficient as they are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions and also can be recycled. The disadvantage is that as they are costly and heavy in nature, over the years they may put excessive load on the internal timber members. These are a good choice for making a family house or legacy house.
Metal as a material has gained popularity in recent years due to ease of accessibility and durability. Sheets of metals are available in various vibrant colours like cobalt blue, barn red, and forest green. They are also fire resistant and can withstand harsh conditions. They are lightweight in nature and also energy efficient as metal reflects heat keeping the indoors cool.
This is the most traditional type of roof design with timeless beauty and durability. Using wooden shingles is costly but well paid off in the wrong run. No two roofing can be the same, giving an aesthetic unique style to an individual house. This material provides a longer lifespan but with proper maintenance and expert installation.
Clay has been used over the centuries and is by far the most sustainable solution. It has the ability to create a cool and comfortable environment besides reducing energy bills. Terracotta and other clay tiles were earlier made by hand but they are machine molded and also reduce moisture absorption. These shingles are rarely used for cabins in hilly regions.
Flooring defines the interior of the cabin house which should feel rustic and homely.
For flooring wooden planks are used to regulate the temperature and also merge it with the other natural materials used. The flooring should be anti-slip, scratch-resistant, and affordable.
It is not mandatory to use a single flooring option; other materials like stone, carpet, ceramic tiles, vinyl, or laminate flooring can also be explored.
Elements of a Cabin House
The cabin house plan features appealing rustic touches and many contemporary amenities. The open layout makes it easy to hang out and move between the great room (where you can curl up by the fireplace or step out to the grilling porch), the dining area, and the island kitchen.
- Dropping space – Cabins are situated on the outskirts of the town so a dropping space or entrance is required to keep the coats or shoes.
- Cozy Corners – corners with a lamp shade and quilts with a side table for coffee mug or novel.
- Large windows and porches- glass windows and porches to wake upto sunrise or sleep under the stars.
- Fire pits- to have dinner in the outdoors
- Hearth- made of stones and bricks to keep the indoors cozy
Evolution of Cabin houses
The original log cabins were inspired by Scotch-Irish style and were simple with rough-hewn logs laid horizontally and connected on the end with notches. The gaps between the logs were filled with cloth or clay.
Later, after these simple cabin houses, the dogtrot house came into existence. This is the English-style cabin with two rooms connected by a breezeway and had a fireplace in both, these were designed to increase the space.
In 1900, the cabin houses were more than logs, they progressed and became more stylish and defined.
In the 2000s, a new shape was given to the cabin houses, with large glass windows, blend of materials like stone and wood. The role of the roof design is not just limited to protect but also to increase the height and make the cabin houses luxurious, spacious, and breathable.
Never-Ending Charm of Cabin Houses
Cabin houses have reached new heights and are not just limited to vacation houses in hilly areas. They might not be called cabin houses but the concept and techniques are used in modern buildings to design resorts, retreats, or even found in various climates.