Welcome to the Onalaska Log Building
One-day classes, you will learn to build a log building in that one day, guaranteed. The key to this success is the Butt and Pass building method, no notching and no need to season the logs before building, and no real building expertise is needed. We believe the biggest hurdle keeping people from reaching their dream of a log building is lack of confidence, we want to give you that confidence.
My name is Jack Tipping and with my wife Sharon, we have built 11 log buildings on our property in rural Onalaska, Washington (see photos). We took the Skip Ellsworth log building class in 1979 and built our log house in 1980, and our log garage in 1981. Starting in 2006, we've constructed one log building each year on our place with trees we planted in 1980, a total of 11 buildings. 2011 was the Fort, 2012 was the Saloon, 2013 the 'Jail', 2014 is a log building to house a working model, and 2015 was 'Clairhouse'. We have learned many things during our building that we wished we knew before we built our first building. In fact, I would have gladly paid 10 times the tuition price to know some of the things in this class. Students frequently mention that the class far exceeded their expectations (perhaps we are not charging enough).
2017 is our 8th year of teaching this class. Looks like all of our May classes are now full but if you want to be on a waiting list in case there is a cancellation, let us know. We will hold your seat with a $50 pp deposit. Many of our students previously took the Vegas butt-and-pass class but found that just taking notes for two days left them wanting hands-on experience.
Our house cost us $20,000 to build in 1980, including new appliances, and today it is valued at over $250,000. Building our own house allowed me to retire in 2005 at age 52 after working 30 years for Washington State Fish and Wildlife (fish biologist). Because we are hands-on oriented and local to the Northwest, we decided to offer a one-day class on log building construction. We have learned many things since taking the class in 1979 and some will save you hundreds of hours of effort, and keep your house from being infested with golden bruprestids for decades, like ours is. It is one thing to be told about how to lift logs, peel logs and chink but it is another to actually do it. The tuition cost is pennies compared to the cost of building, so why not learn all you can before you start.
On the day after class , if you'd like to visit and maybe help on an ongoing log building, a prior student has a project going about an hour drive from us, and he says that you'd be welcome. This is also open to prior students, contact us for directions.
NOTE: Many building code requirements were recently updated and now require a structural engineer, we will show you how best to work with those requirements.
There is nothing like the comfort of a warm and cozy log house, you will never want a stick house again. By building your own log home you will acquire a great sense of accomplishment. We estimate that a new 1,600 square foot log house will cost about $100,000 to $130,000 to build, depending on your desires and abilities, which compares to about $280,000 if you hired it done. We spend $2,500-$4,000 on the 12' x 15' log buildings which include high quality metal snap-lock roofing but does not include the cost of logs as we have our own trees.
Please do not buy a log house kit until you take our class, or you will regret it. We've had log kit owners call who have had to replace house logs for a steep cost after 7 years; we will show you how to design your structure so no logs will ever need to be replaced. A local realtor has hired me to recommend remedies for local log kit failures, the remedy runs about $20K and another $15K to replace rotten logs, tuition for this class is much less expensive. Also, the expense to finish a log kit is about 3-5 times the kit prices, so a $100K kit may end up being $500K.
We teach you how to construct your log building using ropes and pulley blocks, rather than using an expensive boom or crane. Two people is the ideal number for building. With the Butt and Pass building method, it is not uncommon to put up 8 logs in a day, compared to 1-2 logs for a notched house. The class will go into far more detail than the brief overview listed below, and you will be provided with a 38 page booklet and a CD of the PowerPoint for future reference. The class is about 60% PowerPoint and 40% outside. Class size is limited to 8 people and is conducted in our log home, so you can ask all the questions that you need; our goal is for you to leave with the knowledge and confidence to build your own log building.
You will also get to inspect our log buildings and the classroom part is held in our log house of 36 years. You will also learn from our mistakes, just knowing the best time to cut your trees is worth far more than the class tuition; there is a window to cut when you can avoid insect infestations and keep the logs from turning black with mold. Did you know that golden bruprestids will eat your logs and reside for up to 50 years in the logs before boring out?. Some students have said that they were quite impressed with the looks of our home-made log furniture and redwood doors.
One thing we strongly recommend is that before you build, that you construct a scale model of your building with sticks or dowels. As part of the class, we provide each party a stick package to build a model at home.
Assistance offered: We now offer our assistance to our students who want help getting started or any part of their project. All we ask is that you cover our expenses and make a tax deductible contribution to a charity.
We now have a working model (photos below) for students to put hands-on lifting a wall log, a ridge pole and a set of rafters. It is one thing to be told and to see photos but quite another to actually do the task, invaluable experience for when you start your project.
We are building a log 'Wishing Well' in 2017 and as part of class, you can help put up and pin a couple of logs. They will be short logs but getting the hands-on experience of pinning logs is worth a bunch. We poured the foundation in October. March 26, the lifting poles are up, waiting for the rain to stop. In April we put up the 4 sill logs and the classes will put up a couple logs for each class, will be great hands-on experience even though this is a much smaller scale. Here is the May 6 class putting up a couple of logs. Here is May 20 class putting up a couple of logs.