DIY Installation Guidance
This guide is mainly tips for installing the Berstch Holzbau range of log cabins although much of it can be applied to many other styles of cabins that we sell.
With Berstch Holzbau, and indeed many other makes, it is essential the base that the log cabin is going to be built on is flat and level, this is particularly important on the perimeter of the building – the outside edge of the base. Our installers have often found a lovely level base across the middle only to find the edges roll away, it cannot be stressed enough the values of a well laid base. Ideally the base should be made to the footprint of the building; this will enable the rain to fall past the base and into the ground rather than sit on the base, resulting in water being trapped underneath. We have also found it useful with log cabins to have incorporated a damp proof membrane into the structure of the base, this is especially important if it is going to be insulated and used as a studio, office, gym etc.
On delivery of the Berstch Holzbau building you will receive 1 – 3 packages containing the parts required, it is important to check the outside of these packages for fitting instructions and a contents list. On average you should allow 2 days for the installation, and preferably this should be in dry, still conditions. It is very important that where possible you don’t allow the logs to get wet prior to installation as these can swell making it harder to put together.
We suggest that all the parts are unpacked and laid out carefully into there various sections. Most kits are numbered or lettered according to the wall they belong to, these are normally A, B, C, and D for the four walls. The doors and windows will be already made up in there frames, these should be carefully put to one side. In the package you will also find; angled pieces – these are the bargeboards, profiled wood – these are trims for over the doors and windows, thin slats – these are also trim for use on completion. You will also have numerous pieces of T&G, these will be for the roof and floor. It is very important to consult the instructions as the length of roof and floor boards on some log cabins can be very similar, it is easy to make a mistake by using boards intended for the floor on the roof. Consult the packing list to ensure all the parts are there. Tip: when laying out the parts try to lay them away from the base to allow you space to work, try to keep them off the ground using parts from the delivery pallets, lay them in such a way that should it rain they can be easily covered up.
So, we have a good level base, all the parts are laid out and we’ve checked we have everything according to the inventory list; we’ll start to build the log cabin. Check the plans that have come with the building and note the position of the doors and windows and the general layout. The start of the build we consider this to be the most important part when installing the building, it is imperative that it goes down well at the start to avoid any problems when you get to the roof level and it is worthwhile spending time on the first few layers. Lay down the foundation beams, these are pressure impregnated on most makes of log cabins, our installers also recommend stapling a layer of damp proof course under these beams. The beams on the Berstch Holzbau range are held together with screws in the corners, other companies such as Lugarde use metal clips. Once these are laid down on the perimeter check that they are square – the easiest way to do this is measuring corner to corner, each diagonal should be the same. Check also that they are level and if necessary pack any discrepancies with thin pieces of wood. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of a flat and level base for the log cabin.
Now we can start adding the first logs, you will use 2 full size and 2 half size logs for the first layer carefully place these on the foundation beams making sure that the tongue on the log is facing up; these will then be screwed into the foundation beams. This is the only time that you should screw any logs together. After the building is completed you should avoid "fixing" the logs in any way, they should be allowed to move as required. Try and avoid any wall mounted cupboards or shelving that could vertically span several logs.
You will need to use a mallet in conjunction with a spare packing piece to knock them in, be careful not to damage the tongue. A wooden mallet is best, we have found that rubber ones tend to leave black marks on the wood, ideally a white rubber mallet can be used.
The first layer is now down so you should now work methodically round the building installing each log carefully and ensuring that you stop and check that each one is firmly tapped home. For the first 3 or 4 layers you should also check that the log cabin is still level and square. It is also a good idea to check again the plans, check how many logs are below any windows you have, it is anywhere between 3 and 5 depending on the model be careful not to go too high before looking at this.
Once you are at about level 4 consider putting in the door. This can be done later and indeed can be done with the entire log cabin erected; we do however recommend fitting it at about log 4 or 5 due to the weight of the door.
Doors & Windows
Install the door carefully lifting it first up and over and then sliding it down to meet the foundation beam. Fit the door furniture, lock and handles. Make sure at this point that the door is supported especially if it is windy. On Bertsch Holzbau buildings the keys are often fixed on the actual door frame with a screw, remove them now.
You can now continue with the building, install the windows in the same manner as the door when the appropriate level is reached. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of making sure each log is tapped home as you build up. Reaching the top of the wall level the building should still be square and level. You may occasional find gaps above the door or windows, do not worry about these at present.
We are now up to the top of the wall level and ready to start on the roof. It is now necessary to build up the gable ends and any trusses; the number of trusses depends on the size of the building. This part can be quite tricky and it is necessary to take a great deal of care as if any pieces are dropped the corners can be knocked off very easily. Consult the plans and this will show you how many logs make up the apex, it will also show you the position of the roof support beams or purlins. There is a number of ways this can be built but our fitters have found it best to apply the logs and gently pin those together using pins, this stops them moving should you knock against them, you do have to remember to remove these later. This part of installation is the hardest but as long as you are careful the trusses should go in fine, once you have the first two in place you can then add the additional apex logs and any further trusses to finish the gables. Do not remove the pins just yet.
Next is to finally check the measurements of the roof boards against the plans, it can be very frustrating to get the floor and roof muddled up. On buildings that have 45mm walls or thicker the floorboards are 22mm instead of 19mm and are wider so mistakes should not happen. Identify the boards and arrange a quantity of them against the inside wall. Position your ladders so one man can work in the centre and one to the outside. Fix a small block of wood onto all of the ends of the trusses, this is so you can butt up the fist roof board and to ensure it is perfectly level, try not to use your hand or eye as your interpretation can be different to the person you’re working with and result in the roof boards being applied unevenly. Attach the first board to the roof truss, make sure that the flat side is uppermost and nail once through the centre of the board into each beam.
We recommend you now nail on 10 boards, and then swap over to the other side and nail another ten, this way you can assure that they are all lining up correctly and that the V groove is straight. When you reach an apex remember to remove the pins that we were using to tack the apex pieces. Continue alternating both sides until you reach the end of the roof. At the end you will find that you are slightly under or slightly over when you reach the end of the truss. Apply the last board and using a pencil, mark under the board, remove this, draw a line and then using a saw cut this piece and reapply. If it is very thin use some wood glue and panel pins to attach it. This will then give you a smooth finish to the roof. Remove the blocks that were attached to the first roof beams that we were using as a guide
So, we now have the roof boarded and are ready to felt the roof. Within the various parts that make up your log cabin you will find profiled “L” or "T" shaped facings, these you attach to the underside of the roof boards, they should hang down below the roof line but are flush on top, screw these through to the roof boards.
Roofing Felt & Shingles
Our kits are not normally supplied with rolls of under-slating felt although it is advisable to fit some before fitting the roof shingles. This should be applied working along the length of the roof. Start at the bottom and overlap each layer by about 100mm or 4". Ensure the entire roof is covered. This under-slating felt is usually held with staples.
The first layer of tiles is applied upside down along the bottom edge with the cut outs facing uppermost, we do this so when the log cabin is complete and you are looking up it gives a nice finish. Ensure that your first tile is butt against the end of the roof and overhanging the roof edge by about 40mm. Once you have the first layer down you can now apply the tiles as normal, the first tile of this layer will now hang over the edge of the roof by one half of a tile this is so you don’t have any seams and is a common mistake with many fitters and customers alike so please be careful. We find it sufficient to apply a felt nail to each end and one at the top of each cut. If you are installing your cabin during the cold months we would also recommend that you use a small amount of silicon in each corner of the tiles to stop them lifting in high winds. This is not usually necessary in the hot months as the tiles melt into each other and form a good fixing which remains for the life of the tile.
Continue up the roof using a spacer you have cut to measure the depth of the tiles when they overlap each other, always work from one end and ensure each tile is overlapping each other so there are no seams. This should now leave you with a nice overhang on the roof edge and straight lines on the tiles themselves. To finish, you now need to lay tiles over the ridge. We find it very helpful to cut these individually on the ground, and then cut them again giving a slight angle each side on the top part; this will help them to fold better. These are then applied to the ridge and once again use a spacer to create a professional finish.
When completed you can now add the barge boards, these usually consist of the facing ones and then separate boards that go on top of the ends of the roof. We find it best to screw these as if you ever need to re-roof the log cabin they will come off easily.