View Full Version : Stone houses vs log cabins

05-04-2007, 04:09 PM
Hey folks,
I live in North San Antonio, so we have tons of stones in our soil. A quick glance at the historic homes in our area shows that they were built with stone and I just love the look. So, I was wondering if someone had any honest and educated opinions how stone houses compare to log cabins?

The reason I ask is because stones are easy to get here and logs are not. Is it feasible to build one on your own?

05-04-2007, 05:42 PM
While I cannot give you substantive feedback with regards to Stones vs. Logs, I can recommend a couple of books that I have read that will give you some ideas to consider.

Living Homes: Integrated Design and Construction
by Thomas J. Elpel

This book offers a glimpse, not heavy detail, into a number of alternative building systems including slipforming, log homes, etc. Well worth the read. You can check out his website at www.hollowtop.com for lots of alternative building resources and ideas.


Stone House: A Guide to Self-Building With Slipforms (Paperback)
by Tomm Stanley

This one is primarily building with stone and discussion of thermal mass, etc. He built a pretty nice looking home that is referenced in the book.

I have alot of stone on my property that I am considering incorporating into my log home (fireplace, wrappe columns, foundation, etc.)

05-05-2007, 04:32 AM
I live in a 1790/1807/1895 (3 sections as the family grew) circa stone house with 24" to 18" walls. Let me say that it is hard to get warm in the winter and cool in the summer but once you are able to get to the temp you want it will stay there. I would look in to the thermal mass figures for both and then compare to your cilmate to see which will fair better. When my house was built, no one cared about heating/lighting/cooling costs but one must consider them today. One advantage to my stone house, it will take a direct hit up to and including 50cal. MG. That's if you feel you need the fortress style living. Just kidding, Chris.

05-20-2007, 11:34 AM
skunker - I also live in the SA area, Helotes actually, (currently in King Salmon AK) and know/seen the homes you are talking about. Most are just facade, like the new brick homes you see, and are just a framed structure. You need to be careful if you are planning on building a completely rock house in SA. The southern exposure will sit in the sun 12 hours a day in the summer and then transfer all that heat back into the house all night.

A friend of mine has a stone faced house that he added onto. The new section does a good job of keeping the temp inside stable. The old section of the house has hot/cold spots (depends on the time of the year) due too the lack of insulation in the 80 year old construction. If a framed construction with a rock facade can show this kind of temp variations, I would hate to think what a completely rock construction would be like in south TX.

09-14-2007, 08:16 AM
I love the book The Stonebuilder's Primer: Charles K. Long. It is funny and very informative. I think the biggest obstical in building with stone is having it readily available to retrieve and stockpile.

09-14-2007, 12:31 PM
The land we bought has a creek on it and a ton of Flagstone and sandstone. I just need to learn how to use it in the whole cabin building process.

11-22-2007, 04:50 AM
I'm going to be building in the Northeast, the southwestern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. There is alot of natural stone there but you don't see many stone houses. There are some, but mostly they are quarried stone. What you do see are alot of very old homes with natural stone foundations. Because the Adirondack environment gets plenty of snow and rain, stone foundations are better than wood right down to the ground. That's why when you look at the old and new Adirondack camp style architecture you see mostly stone foundations. Stone construction, I'm told is very labor intensive and time consuming. It takes a loooong time to build a stone house but it will last for a few hundred years. There is a stone house where my mom used to live on Long Island that was built in the 1600's when Northport was a whaling town called Cow Harbor. It is still lived in today.

My neighboring farm has a 180 year old, post colonial farmhouse that has the original stone foundation. The rest of the house is post and beam and when you look at the attic beams the pegs are still dry and tight. I can see that they have had to patch the foundation over the years but it still stands through winter after winter. Because I too would like a stone foundation, I'm considering taking a course at the local college that teaches the use of masonry in construction projects. I've amateurishly built sidewalks and patios at my house using a combination of brick and concrete and mosaic. They weren't perfect but people admired them greatly and they've held up over the years to foot traffic and wheelbarrow traffic. And since it can cost up to 10K$ to build a stone fireplace, I'd say it was in my financial best interest to learn how to do it my self. Criminy! If the colonists were able to do it without all the fancy construction stuff we have today, I can do it!

11-22-2007, 09:37 AM
We are hoping to use allot of stone as well in whatever we end up building.
I think it adds strength and beauty to any home but especially log homes.
I bought a book on it and plan to try some smaller projects first.
I am undecided yet whether we will try and haul fieldstone from our
old home state ( Wisconsin ) or use the limestone that is sooo common here.
I may even use a mixture if that works out.
spiralsands, do you have any pics of your mosaic sidewalk?
I'd love to see it!

12-28-2007, 10:26 AM
Hey Will, We are back in the log home building. call me 205-821-0341


12-29-2007, 05:09 PM
Unless I sold it at a log home meeting, I have a copy of T. Elpels DVD on Slipform
stone construction. The buildings are insulated and cost competitive with log homes
(YMMV), but they do appear to be a lot of work! Since Elpel is an LHBA member he
may be able to give a better answer than me about comparing the two. Amazingly,
stone is a rare commodity in my area.

UPDATE: I do have the DVD after all. If anyone is interested I'll sell
it for $20 including shipping. -Rick


08-13-2009, 08:07 PM
Hey Rick, do ya still have that DVD? I'm very interested!