Log home building-Skip Ellsworth's class

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Peg, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. Peg

    Peg Well-Known Member

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    Anyone here take Skip Ellsworth's log home building class? DH and I are thinking about doing it. I heard about this from someone on another board and they're building a log home using his method. If anyone here has taken the class, I'd like some feedback please!

    Here's a link if anyone else is interested http://www.loghomebuilders.org/
    Peg
     
  2. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    Skip Ellsworth has to be one of the biggest con artists connected to the log home business I've ever seen.

    I really get a charge out of his claim "students are also taught how to use "pioneering techniques" to build extremely good log homes for well under $5,000". Yes, I suppose its possible to build a log home for well under $5000. Certainly not an extremely good one! You'd have to steal nearly all building materials, the things you didn't steal you'd find in garbage dumps & roadside ditches, and you'll have to con all your friends into helping you work (GRATIS of course) on your home.


    Then add in wild unsubstanciated stories about novice built log homes being sold at a $160,000 profit.....well lets just say "There's a sucker born every minute".

    Building a log home is hard work. Lots of it. It takes money to build. A lot more than $5000. There is no free lunch.
     
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  3. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    I agree about log house building being hard and expensive, however i never heard of this Ellsworth fella.

    I have built log homes and cabins, the least expensive full scribe cabin 24x26 we ever did for anyone was still over $10,000.00 for the shell and roof... that did not count the foundation and flooring, the windows nor the doors or wiring.

    most large log houses will set you back about $30,000.00 for the logs alone if you want quality logs and a sizable floor plan. A roof will cost you around $6000.00 and if you double the roof so you have exposed beams and T&G cieling showing you can add extra for that as well cause you have essentially 2 roofs. Building is easy for some people, and frustrating for others, logs are not forgiving as stick frame building, if your wall starts to run a little and you miss it, you will be off alot up high and you cant recover it easily.

    There ar a couple of good schools out there if you have a summer to learn, and are willing to travel to the school and pay out your living expenses while learning.... be careful where you spend your dollars you may learn more than you bargain for!
     
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  4. Peg

    Peg Well-Known Member

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    Point well taken on the cost of building a log home. I'm not that gullible. I don't believe for a minute that it would be as cheap to build as his site claims. Someone may have done it, but it won't be me. I also know it will take a lot longer to build.

    But my question is whether anyone here has taken his class (or personally knows someone who has) and gained enough knowledge to build a log home?

    Peg
     
  5. Gimpy_Magoo

    Gimpy_Magoo Well-Known Member

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    Many moons (15 plus years? ) ago my sister dated Skip.

    he offered to let me take his course free so he could get in good with the sis.

    good for me.

    intensive class held in (at that time) a very large log home.
    he taught both modern and "homestead type" building techniques.
    both where very doable and at quite a resonable cost.
    the cheapest building materials come from your own land. Cut em, rack em, season em, roll em, season some more and yes you can build you a home for 5K.

    What some folks tend to forget is you really dont need all this fancy manufactured logs and materials. Much less thier ideas on how things should be done.

    I put a second story on my 2650sqf stick built home. The roof cost me less than 6K and I do not dumster dive. all new materials with BCI's, 3/4in decking and 20yr 3tab, just a bit of savvy shopping is all it takes.

    Skip will show you how to season your logs. How to place them using nothing but ropes and tackle. Teach you how to build your own doors and yes - windows. I lauphed when I read doors and windows will cost more than that...
    Sure. Double thermo paned argon filles vinal double hung windows will cost a pretty penny BUT that's not why your interested in the class right?
    You'll learn how to make your own chinking for next to nothing too.

    I have one question however - what exactly is everyones perception of "good"
    The taj'mahal is "good" then again so was the trailer I spent last summer in.

    anyway.
    It's an all around good course and extremely informative.
    I am sure you can investigate his class before you spend money on it and make up your own mind.


    Oh, and to answer your question - YES. I feel I could build a log home based on his class.


    Gimpy
     
  6. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    We built our log cabin ourselves. The only training we had was a book by Vena and Branford Angers. We spent about $500. The neighbours let us cut the trees for free. We used rocks for foundation, cull 2x4s and roll roofing (lasted 30 years). We got free windows (single glazed - used plastic in the winter) from a building being torn down in San Francisco, CA. We had an outhouse at first, a gravity water system, a small generator (got power after two years), light was daylight and three Aladdin lamps, and some regular coal oil lamps. The floor boards were rough 2x6s, 2x8s Pine that the neighbours cut on their mill and sold to us for a good price, included in the $500.

    So, I guess it just depends on what you want and how creative you are about getting it. I think if you update the prices and are real careful, then the cost might be about $5,000 without power (add later) or running water (add later - you will want it sooner or later).

    From another post of mine,

     
  7. Peg

    Peg Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Gimpy. That's what I was looking for - someone who's taken the class. Thanks for the feedback.
    Alex, thanks for the info. I do remember your previous post and that beautiful picture. You're my inspiration!

    Peg
     
  8. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    Peg

    Inspiration, wow, we've never been that before! Thanks!

    Go girl and DH!

    All the best.

    Alex
     
  9. Reb

    Reb Guest

    Peg,
    Hey, my husband Mark and I took Skip's class over a year ago... and it's worth *every* penny. We're currently building our log home near Oxford, North Carolina. (http://www.esotericdesigns.com/loghome) if you want to see some pictures. We update the pictures as we get new things done, and soon, I'll put our story online, too. We hope to finish ours within two years, mortgage-free.

    Skip is no longer teaching, at least very often, but his son Ellsworth and my friend Steve teach the class, now. Skip is retired and bumming around the South Eastern Asian islands. :)

    Yes, it's possible to build a *small* home for $5,000, if you get logs for free (either from your own place or from somewhere like the Forest Service, after a bark infestation.. they'll give you lots of ideas at the seminar.), if you take a few years to build, therefore looking for good deals on materials, if you frequent garage sales and habitat for humanity stores, etc. Another great resource is freecycle.org, where you can often find good free stuff that people replace when they remodel. We just got our kitchen sink there, a $200 sink for free! (Plus a garbage disposal, etc.)

    The less "ritzy" stuff you need, the less it will cost, and the fewer utilities you desire, too. But, there are still ways to barter and get things for cheap. For example, my husband is a plumbing contractor, and he is going to trade labor with a local electrician/HVAC guy, so we will just pay for our own materials and exchange labor. You could do this for pretty much any "skilled" labor, if you're willing to paint a whole house for someone else who pays for their own paint, etc.

    Ignore the naysayers, because they haven't been to the class, they haven't met Skip, and they've probably never thought creatively about anything this large-scale. Steve is also always available to answer questions via email or phone, so even if you get stuck trying to remember how exactly to do a particular portion of the building, you can call and they will help you out tremendously.

    And yes, the stories about profits on the houses are actually true... we've met quite a few folks who sold their first homes for a nice profit, who went to the same class we did, and emailed us a year later or so.

    If you have any questions, drop me an email.

    rebeccafernandez@hotmail.com
     
  10. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    The only caveat I would give is that Mr. Ellsworth teaches a 'butt and pass' method of joinery...........this is probably the least desirable method. (It can work, but it is subject to gaps and air leaks)

    You may also want to check out:
    http://www.laskoschooloflogbuilding.com/Index.html

    Mr. Lasko teaches a full-scribe method of log building.........this means the logs are scribed to fit tightly one on top of the other....with an interlocking method of joining logs in the corners. It eliminates the need for chinking between the log courses. Also the corner joints that he uses reduces all of the maintenance that a butt and pass system requires.

    The Lasko log building school offers "hosting" programs......basically, he teaches a class at your building site and when you are done, you have a log shell built by his students. I've corresponded with Bill Lasko at another forum and he has always been very helpful with any questions that I have had. If you're interested in building your own log home, you may want to email him.


    Just a little food for thought.

    Best of luck with your project.
     
  11. Reb

    Reb Guest

    I'm not sure which type of butt and pass you're thinking of, but none of the homes I've seen with this method have any trouble with gaps or air leaks. Actually, the settling that does occur is much less than with any other type, because of the way you set the logs. Also, the chinking takes care of any gaps in the logs. Yes, the homes are not air-tight... nor should they be. They don't rely on traditional building techniques of insulation, and the homes "breathe" in a way that is necessary for a good log home. There is no problem as far as ambient temperature goes, which is really the only concern with "air leaks".

    Skip also teaches Scandanavian Chinkless, though he doesn't recommend doing it until you've mastered some other techniques. "Full Scribe" is a rather generic term... do you know what type Mr. Lasko teaches? I, personally, wouldn't do a chinkless cabin for my first one, because you have to wait a year to season the logs, and it's not likely that you'd be able to afford the quality of logs that are necessary for a good chinkless home. You really need first-growth wood, not the loose growth rings that you'll find today. Scribing the logs cuts into their growth rings, and if you don't have good wood, it's a disaster waiting to happen. (Growth rings are the log's natural protection against rot.)

    Again, I'm not sure what sort of butt and pass you're thinking of, but the type we use does not require maintenance after one year. (You rechink a bit after the logs settle, over the course of the first year, because you build with green logs. After that, nothing much is needed.)
     
  12. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    First-My post was in no way ment to be a "slam" of Mr. Ellsworth. Sounds like maybe you work with him or have worked with him at some time? He teaches a method of building that is certainly a viable option for someone wanting to build a log home. My only concern was that there are maintenance issues with the method of construction that the prospective builder should be aware of. That is not to say that the building method he uses is incorrect or not structurally sound, only that the issue of maintenance should be considered. Maybe I missed the discussion of maintenance on Mr. Ellsworth's website-if it has already been addressed, then I apologize for my redundancy.

    Secondly-I am in no way associated with Mr. Lasko or his log building school except that I frequent a log home forum where he sometimes posts and he has been very helpful in answering questions that I have had regarding log home building. If you have any technical questions regarding his methods.....I suggest that you email him directly. He is much more qualified than I am to answer. I do know that he makes sure that his methods exceed the standards set by the ILBA. you can check out logassociation.org for a pdf of those standards.

    Finally-Do you really believe that having air leaks in the walls of your log home is the preferable method of ventilation? Remember, gaps in your walls that let in air, also let in bugs and (worse) rain water. Hardly what I would consider an acceptable method of ventilation.

    ~One more thing..........I do not want to misrepresent myself here. I am not a log home builder. I am simply someone who plans on building a log home to live in and I am just sharing what I have learned while researching log homes and methods of log home building.
     
  13. Cedar

    Cedar Well-Known Member

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    Anyone take notice that this guy is pulling in WELL over a 100K for 2 days worth of work? 20 days worth of work and the guy just made a million...with taxes taken out no less.
     
  14. Cedar

    Cedar Well-Known Member

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    You all probably took lots of notes while you were there. How about photo-copying them off and spreading the wealth...?

    Quote on site:

    "It worked like you said in the class. I got my land without needing to spend any money, and I got my logs for less that $100. I'm living in my own log home now, with no mortgage on it. I can't thank you enough, and I can never repay you for what you did for me. - P.D. New York"


    Just wonder how he got the land for free. Is this a "no money down" kind of deal?


    ALSO...I checked the site and the guy is actually making 200K a weekend. Yeah...doubled the price since I last was aware of the site...and it was double then also. I think $125 was the starting price...then about $240...now $495.

    Also, the guy is paranoid about the government “catching” him. Whatever that means. Not sure if the readers here are aware but you have to interact with him exactly as he states. That means following rules when mailing. Knowing the wink-wink procedures, etc.

    Just saying there is an awful lot of money traveling around...combine that with suspicious activity and I'm thinking tax fraud. Is this guy still an US citizen?
     
  15. Reb

    Reb Guest

    Forgive me if I jumped down your throat. No, I don't work for him or Steve, but they are friends of mine. I took the class when Skip still taught it, a while back, and we became fast friends. I also met Steve at the class, who was studying to become an instructor, and we have stayed in touch. Both are good guys, though Skip is definately a bit eccentric. I was probably mostly set off by the second or third post in the thread that was awfully inflamatory, calling Skip a con-artist, etc. If someone had taken the class and felt that way, then fine... but to say that about a class you've never even taken seems pretty unkind.

    Well, that's the thing. The morter used for chinking is not "air tight", that is, yes, air passes through it. You don't, however, have air gaps, or bug-crawling gaps. If you use a "permachink" type of synthetic material, it will trap water between the logs, and create rot. Remember that logs will absorb water, but if there is ventilation, they will also release it. Rainwater is not an issue, as the roof has a minimum 3 ft overhang. Log homes built by this method are icy cold in the summer, and toasty in the winter. I've been in several, in different climates, and they are always the best house on the block to hang out in when the weather outside stinks.

    Forgive me if my post sounds curt, but I discuss these same issues with people in our industry all of the time--my husband works in construction--and it's frustrating to constantly dispell myths about log construction. (I am more patient with people who haven't studied log construction, but my patience wears a little thin with those who have studied it and dismiss butt and pass, assuming that all types of butt and pass have the same issues. Frankly, there are far more issues with "kit" homes than any hand-crafted type, and yet no one ever seems to bring up criticism of that variety!)

    Ok, I'm getting hungry and cranky. Best respond to the next reply and then sign off for the night. :)
     
  16. Reb

    Reb Guest

    No, actually the typical class is only about 30 people. Skip likes to keep the classes small enough for good discussions, etc. And he only teaches a few a year, anyway.
     
  17. Reb

    Reb Guest

    I doubt they'd make sense to someone who hasn't taken the course, but there are several of his students who've posted theirs online. We don't plan to put ours up until we've finished this house, so that we can refine them.

    Here are one student's notes, similar to ours:
    http://www.ourloghouse.com/cgi-bin/olh.pl?00206

    He didn't say he got the land for free. Just that he didn't spend any money out of pocket. It's very possible--we've done it twice. You buy owner or business-financed land with low monthly payments. Or, you barter for land, as one fellow we know did. The idea is to tie up the least amount of money possible in the land, so that you free it up for construction costs.

    No, he's not making $200K a weekend. But yes, he makes a nice sum of money. He also doesn't teach many classes, and the classes he teaches are worth every penny. Yes, he raised his prices. The area he lives in has very high property taxes. The home he built and teaches out of is 7,000 sq ft. He paid $30,000 to build it in the 70's. Today it's worth over a million dollars, because the area grew up around it. (In the 70's, it was a little ranch town.) So, yes, his expenses are a bit much to keep the home he built. I'm sure no one around here is a big fan of property taxes. In any case, he's a pretty old man now anyway, and not much interested in money. He doesn't even teach anymore, at least, he hasn't in the past year or so. His son is teaching, as well as another guy.

    Yes, he's still a citizen. He is an expatriate, living in the Phillipines, but he does return from time to time. No, he's not big on the IRS. He's also not "wanted" for any crimes. He's just an old mountain man whose got a lot of eccentric ideas, and who knows how to build log homes.

    Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  18. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    I would build my whole log house today for the price of a month long course.

    The logs can be Poplar, or Pine, you can buy land with adequate logs on it, which are suitable for the construction of your log cabin. In the time it takes to take a class you can have all the logs you need cut.

    Then in another month - without a crane, you can have all your logs up and in place. However, a crane sure would make life a lot easier, in one way. Though, I would rather slowly roll each log up an inclined plane with a rope and truck, tractor, or 'come-a-long'.

    Total price, with a new chain saw, less than $5,000. for a 20' x 28' two story, with front and back porch.

    When will it end? Next we will have breathing classes - so you can carry on and make it through the day. Then, maybe there will be an advanced blood pumping course, complete with heart rate awareness.

    There is nothing more straightforward than building a wilderness log cabin.

    Now, a very fancy and elaborate palace, well, OK, then you need some hints. I guess that is what some want or need to do, create a look-a-like homesteading place and have it all fancy. OK, then they're on the right track - I guess.

    Holly Cow, can't we take our own steps, and fall by ourselves.

    Let's have some fortitude, and fun.

    And, courses are most likely a great entertainment, and a good use of otherwise wasted time. I am sure I would learn many interesting things if I took a course. Do I need to know those things? hmmm ... maybe?


    Alex
     
  19. PerryMason

    PerryMason New Member

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    Hello. I met Mr. Skip Ellsworth and Mr. Steve White last year. They are both great guys.

    Skip is so sincere about helping folks become debt-free.

    I am not here to argue with anyone, but really, if Skip was scamming folks (which of course, he is not!), he would be charging more than $500 bucks (actually, less) and he would not have a the money-back guarantee.

    If you are reading this, are you really freedom minded? What kind of man or woman are you, really? Because this class is not really about log home building, it is about true freedom. If you are some kind of mouth-breathing, socialist/communistic/fascist pig (smiles) who cannot think for himself, then perhaps this course is not for you.

    Skip, et al, are not scammers-they are sincere men trying to help others.
     
  20. ChristieAcres

    ChristieAcres Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was looking up information and came across this thread! DH took a class from Skip back when he was in his twenties (he is 58 now). After that class, he built a 3-story log home, which turned out beautiful! It has stood the test of time, too. This home was sold after DH's divorce. We just purchased a property in Sequim, WA, and are first building a butt and pass log construction utility cabin. Next year is slated to start building our retirement home, using butt and pass construction. Just in case, any of you are still members of HT, I wanted to post!