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 12 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 in most years on our place with trees we planted in 1980, a total of 12 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' and 2017 was the log 'wishing well'. 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 the log peeling trick in this class. Students frequently mention that the class far exceeded their expectations (perhaps we are not charging enough).
We didn't even take shop in high school so if we can do this, you can too.
2019 will be our 10th year of teaching this class. We find that many of our students took the Vegas butt-and-pass class but found that just taking notes for two days left them wanting hands-on experience. However, you don't have to have taken another class previously to attend here.
We were going to retire but I convinced Sharon that we will hold class only twice per year and only if we have a full class. The next class is Sept 14, 2019 (Saturday) and there are 5 seats available. If you would like to be on a waiting list, please let us know. You will be asked for a $100 pp deposit. Tution is $375 pp or $325 pp in parties of 2 or more. THANKS ! The September 14 class is our last class of 2019, so if you are thinking about the class, best to drop us a note and make reservations.
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 some 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, 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 (built in 1980) 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 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.