Board Feet From Logs?

Geary N. Searfoss gscpa at
Wed Oct 15 12:54:53 EST 1997

mcready at wrote:

> Just out of curiousity, how many board feet of lumber is needed to build
> an average three bedroom house? 

Information I've collected (and I cannot vouch for it's accuracy) says 
that the board foot equivalent of 20 cords is used in the construction of 
an average 1800 sq ft home.

 And, how many houses could you build with
> lumber made from a three bedroom log home?  (Always wanted to know this.)

I just got done building a log cabin (from scratch) on property I own in 
WI. The logs were small, averaging about six inches in diameter at their 
midpoint, 20 to 30 feet long. The main part of the building is about 18' 
x 20' with a six foot front porch on one end with a loft above it. The 
walls each have 15 logs (4 walls). Added to that are the logs used in 
building the trusses (probably in the neighborhood of 8 to 10), the 
purlins and ridge pole(another 5 logs) and then the traditional lumber 
used for the roof and the floor. If you have a hankering, you can 
probably figure out how much wood is in the building by that description.
> I would think log homes would be an 'awful waste' of trees! 

Obviously, I don't think so - I think that a hand scribed building is a 
work of art. It certainly is a heck of a lot of work! It took me a day to 
lay one log (I'm a little slow) so it took me four days of work to raise 
the wall height an average of 6"!

I guess a person can make a case that anything that is not necessary is a 
waste. But then, a lot of things we take for granted in our normal day to 
day existence aren't really necessary and would have to be classified as 
a waste! After all, you don't need a car to get from point A to point B 
but most of us own one.

 But, you
> don't hear the environmentalists call for the banning of log homes they
> live in.  They just want you to stop cutting trees to build other people's
> houses.

That's the impression I get as well.
> Wouldn't it be nice if educated foresters, not environmentalists, could
> manage our forests?  Forest management has come a long way since the
> clear-cutting of the early 1900s.

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