One of the fun and exciting parts of building are the big pieces of equipment used for log home construction. With a little foreknowledge, you and your builder can coordinate these workhorses to maximize their time and efficiency.
Large construction machines can make fast work of many labor-intensive jobs, as well as make your log home construction progress quickly and easily. We spoke with Katahdin dealer Steve Howard, owner of Howard Construction, in Berwick, Me., about some of the necessary equipment as well as some optional choices, depending on your site and project. He identified the major players in a log home project.
Excavator — This large, highly functional piece of equipment is generally rented on a daily or half-day basis. A skilled excavator operator can dig, bury, spread and remove dirt, debris, loam, gravel and other materials on-site quickly and neatly. Howard has the excavator come in two separate sessions on a construction site. Prior to the delivery of the logs and package materials, the first excavator visit is for pulling stumps from any tree clearing on the property, digging the foundation, digging and backfilling trenches for utilities or drainage, and forming the construction driveway to handle other big equipment.
The second staging of the excavator occurs after the log shell is mostly up, and building materials are cleared from the site through incorporation into the building. Then there is room for the excavator to move easily around the home site to dig the septic system, backfill for French drains or grade around the foundation. The excavator can also unload and spread the finishing gravel for the driveway. Any other terraforming projects, such as berms, cleaning out pond areas, placing and covering culverts, or other big jobs are completed.
Howard does not recommend excavating a stump dump for disposal of stumps and other natural site debris. Invariably, he said the stump dump becomes the unstable site of the garage or some other structure, or leaches into the ground water to pose later problems. There are plenty of recycling operations to grind up stumps and debris for mulch and other uses.
Telescopic Forklift— This essential machine performs many duties in log home construction. With an ability to lift and place heavy objects as high as 40 feet from the ground, a telescopic forklift can take the place of one or two construction workers, Howard said. A telescoping forklift can eliminate the need for a crane to lift purlins into place, except on some of the biggest projects (see Crane description below).
Crane — If the home features large trusses, elevated ceilings or multiple stories, a crane may be required for the final assembly of the roof system. Making sure that all the purlins and trusses are prepared and ready before the crane is on-site can help to limit the on-site time for a crane.
Dumpster and Port-A-Potty— Both these items are early arrivals once the access drive is put in. They are requirements for construction sites in even the most remote areas. These items keep the workers and neighbors happy by handling waste on-site.
Dump Trucks and Concrete Mixers—The comings and goings of these trucks will be the responsibility of the job site scheduler, who ensures timely arrival and materials delivery.
Well Driller— The well drilling truck has one function only— drilling the water well— and is usually in and out in a day.
Spade Truck — This can be a very useful piece of equipment if you plan to plant a lot of new trees immediately around the home. If your site has a wooded area with small diameter trees, a spade truck can lift them out of the woods and place them in a new location. The spade truck digs a hole using its four or five spade armatures to scoop up a shallow cone of earth. The spade then moves to the tree to be transplanted, scoops it up and places it into the newly dug hole (which is exactly the same size as the root structure of the transplanted tree). Transplanting trees from adjacent woodlands accomplishes both new local landscaping, as well as selective thinning in the forest.
Using this equipment wisely comes down to good planning and organization. Hiring a reputable and experience log home builder, Howard said, is an essential part of the process.