by Paisley Hansen
When purchasing a cabin, the most important inspection category to be aware of is the health of the electrical system. Problems in this area can be prohibitively expensive to correct and failure to do so can be disastrous. If your new home is a cabin, there are some specific issues that you need to be aware of.
Incorrect Wiring Installation
When electrical wires and breaker boxes are installed in a standard stick frame home, electricians use the space between the outer and inner walls and the sides of the wall studs to run the wiring. In a log cabin that space is not available. Correctly wiring a log cabin is not significantly more difficult than wiring a standard home, but the builder and electrician must have experience dealing with this particular style of home. Wiring a log cabin requires specific techniques that an electrician who has never worked on log homes simply will not know. If your home’s wiring was installed incorrectly, that is an obvious electrical hazard that will need to be corrected immediately. Faulty wiring can cause a whole host of issues, none more frightening than the possibility of an arc flash fire that has the potential to be deadly.
Insufficient Electrical Capacity
Many cabins were built as vacation getaways and, as such, their electrical system was not created to handle the load of modern everyday living. So, if you flip a breaker every time someone uses the microwave at the same time that you’re drying your hair, this might be the issue. Simply put, every home has been built with a set electrical capacity, the breaker panel can only channel so much electricity at a time. Don’t try to expand your electrical capacity by plugging in a multi-socket power strip at every outlet. This will only create more danger of overextending your wiring and cause dangerous issues.
Because wiring in log cabins must be drilled into the logs themselves, expanding the wiring is not a simple thing to do and can be quite expensive. This is why builders must be exact in planning the electrical system in a log home. If you see signs that a previous owner has tried to take shortcuts to expand the electrical capacity in your homes, such as exposed wiring stapled to the walls or a breaker box with obvious DIY patches plugged into it, this too must be addressed immediately.
The only safe solution to wiring issues is to hire a professional electrician to correctly upgrade your wiring and breaker box. It’s pricey but home safety is always a good investment.
Log homes require regular maintenance to preserve the wood’s integrity. A well-maintained log cabin, contrary to common belief, is actually safer from fire than a regular house. However, a poorly maintained cabin with dried or deteriorated logs can turn your home into a tinder box.
Unprotected wood homes are also magnets for insects and rodents who can damage not only your home’s exterior but its internal wiring as well. The combination of poorly maintained wood and faulty wiring is a recipe for disaster. A neglected log home can often be restored, but the cost for repairs may be extensive. It is best to have your home inspected for these issues prior to purchasing. No matter how much you love your potential home, if a professional advise you that its state of neglect makes it unsafe, you may want to move on.
Assessing your new home for safety should supersede any emotional attachment you’ve developed for it. A home inspection for a solid wood home should cover all the categories common for a stick frame home. Additionally, you’ll want to pay close attention to the electrical system in the home. If the system is too old, installed incorrectly, or has critical faults, get an estimate for the cost of fixing those issues. Make sure your inspector has experience with log homes and can correctly estimate how well the home has been maintained by its previous owners. A little caution today can save you money and stress in the future.
Paisley Hansen has worked in real estate most of her professional career. She graduated from the University of California – Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. When she’s not creating content or working with clients, she enjoys hiking and traveling with her husband.