Why more homeowners are turning to log homes

More people are embracing homes made of timber or other wood products, and not only are they ‘permanent’, they are also stylish.

Many, especially, in rural areas have been building timber houses for a long time. These houses have, however, earned the title “temporary” houses with the word permanet reserved for brick and mortar homes. The unspoken qualification being that such houses are merely a stop-gap measure, until one can build a ‘permanent’ house. They were seen as a solution fo rthe sytrucgling, any one with means shoulkd ber able to afford stone building afater all, has been the thinking. Not any more.

More people are embracing homes made of timber or other wood products, and not only are they ‘permanent’, they are also stylish.

At Vipingo Ridge in Malindi, residents are increasingly becoming used to living in log homes. In this zoned beachfront, living in the beautiful, red, slowly grown pine, tightly grained pure wooden houses is the norm. They are not alone.

“There is a group of Kenyans looking for typically simple living spaces that are different from the normal building culture,” says Martin Dias, the managing director of Financial and Property Consultants Limited.

According Dias, log homes have been in existence since the late 1800 mainly in Europe. They are, however, taking root in Kenya.

For example, Yogi (he declined to give us his full name), has lived in his five-bedroom log mansion with his family for the last seven years. The home is located in Lower Kabete and is smartly built. A few neighbours have also built log homes and offices.


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When Home & Away visited him in his mansion recently, the Sh90 million house looked new and fresh. The refurbished and intricately decorated house gave a feeling of the highly sophisticated contemporary African style. Since it was built seven years ago, it has had little maintenance.

“This house makes me feel like a guest every time I am inside it due to its unique layout. It is like I am in an urban safari,” says Yogi, as he took us around the house.

From the lounge, the entire house gave that feeling of an intimate boutique hotel owing to its African decor and generous facilities that featured in every room.

In Tigoni, a Sh2.5 billion Limuru Hills Holiday Homes & Spa project is already taking shape.

The development, which will be featuring 60 log houses with 35 of them already built and others in the final construction stage, will give the tea growing Limuri area a totally different look.

“It will be a holiday getaway resort made up of one, two, and three-bedroom log houses fully equipped with modern amenities fit for a family living and a holiday haven,” Kirit Kanabar, the chief executive of The Othaya Group, said.

Log houses have been embraced by a number of establishments, ranging from schools like the prestigious Brookhouse School’s Wangari Mathai Sixth Form Centre, to Vipingo Ridge and to uncountable homes around the country.


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But how viable is this model on a commercial property basis? Can log houses withstand climatic and  environmental factors?

According to Dias, a consultant in real estate developments and a property manager, it is high time investors and homeowners embraced new building technologies. “We will get to a point where we will be visiting restaurants for lunch while on road trips or around towns and due to the wooden facades that have been used to put up the structure, people will find themselves staying longer than they expected. This is money for the investor,” says Dias.

He says contrary to what many assume, log homes are cheaper to maintain; they have a long lifespan and can withstand climatic conditions and are environmentally-friendly.

tree cover

But bearing in mind these houses are built from logs and Kenya’s tree cover currently stands at less than six per cent according to the United Nations, isn’t this an avenue for depleting our own water catchment areas?

“As much as I would encourage Kenyans to embrace this fine taste of building log homes, to sustain our water catchment areas and to protect our trees, I would not advocate for tree cutting,” says Dias.

He says most log home developers import their raw materials: “For now, I am aware those doing these developments import logs, and they normally come in customised models to fit the request made by the person building the home. Some of the logs come from Scandinavian countries because their tree coverage is at 80 per cent.”


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According to Dias, those who have built log homes to let as holiday in Nairobi’s suburbs charge as much as Sh10,000 a night per person.

“Log homes offer modern, sleek guest rooms that can create a home feel due to their peaceful colour tones, decor and furnishing,” says Dias, noting that this can be quite economical for an investor who is looking forward to invest in holiday homes since log houses attract more interest than normal developments.

“Log holiday homes are generally expensive to spend a night in but they offer good returns to the investors. Developers normally ensure they have designed them to give an inspiring rest and relaxation mood, which is why they are expensive,” he says.

Mark Mutwiri, an architect with Benta & Arch Engineering, says that the log homes are dynamic and versatile in their design and offer a wide variety of building designs that an investor can choose from.

“The good thing with log homes is their versatility and cost-effectiveness,” says Mutwiri.

In spite of the fact that it is an upper-middle-class-domineered model of home building, Mutwiri says that its cost-effectiveness and versatility in design are what make it attractive.

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