Knocking on wood: Opening the door to timber housing

B M Ashraf, managing director, Mohiudeen Wood Works, tells CW how the timber business has taken off in the UAE and how he expects more people to log on to a new housing trend in the region.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  July 1, 2006

|~|128int200.gif|~|Ashraf expects log homes to be well suited to the Gulf temperatures as they were originally constructed in the warmer regions of the US.|~|What is the company’s background?

Mohiudeen Wood Works has a long-standing history in
the logging and sawmilling industry, and was the first company in the UAE to set up a sawmill. We offer a variety of sawn timber, whole round logs and other natural timber products from all over the world to the region’s ever-expanding construction, oil and marine industries.

Based upon these factors, we have identified the advantages that log homes would offer to their owners, such as suitability for the climatic conditions of the Middle East and the aesthetic value in terms of design and ownership value.

Mohiudeen Wood has therefore tied up with one of the
industry leaders in log home construction and design — Neville Log Homes of Montana USA — to offer a variety of log home packages to customers in the UAE and Middle East.

What are the advantages of log homes over conventional structures?

Every log home is a unique structure and is tailored to its owner’s requirements and taste. While designing and constructing a log home, our designers and architects consider various factors such as the lifestyle of its occupants and the environment in which the house will be located.

Our 380mm diameter logs offer superior insulation against the elements — owners are able to save considerably on energy consumption for either heating or cooling.

When compared to an average concrete and steel structure our log homes do not face the regular settling issues such as cracks that appear in masonry walls. Our homes settle evenly, and since there are no walls of the traditional kind, there are no cracks. Logs do check over time (cracks that develop along the length of a log); but this poses no danger to the structural integrity of the house.

Are they suitable for the Gulf’s hot and humid climate?

Some of our log homes are actually built in the warmest regions of the US such as Texas and California, so we are certain that they will fare just as well in the hot and humid climate of the Middle East. We coat our logs with a special polyurethane wax, which acts as a barrier against moisture.

What type of wood do you use to build the homes?

They are built primarily from Canadian pine logs and are unique in the sense that they are derived from standing dead trees i.e. we only use trees that have died prior to felling as a result of forest fires, beetle attack or other natural causes.

The reason for using dry-standing trees is two fold: firstly, the trees are dead but are still standing and have
been seasoned by nature, hence all the moisture within the logs has been leached out and yet the trees retain their strength; secondly, this method of selective logging is good for the environment, as we do not fell live trees.

Neville Log Homes is a member of Timber Products Inspection Inc. (TPI), an organisation in the US that maintains a grading system for wood. We only use logs that meet TPI’s highest grading standards.

How long does it take to build a log home and how much do they cost?

This depends upon the design — our bigger houses are more than 1,988m2 and take six or seven months to complete.
We offer a variety of options to choose from. Seven out of
10 houses that we build are customised from scratch, but we currently have 28 standard designs for customers to choose from.

We offer log packages in various diameters such as 203mm, 228mm, 256mm, 306mm, 380mm and prices increase relative to the increase in diameter and length of the logs used. For example, the Big Creek model log package with 380mm diameter, full-length logs will cost US $312,760 (AED1.15 million).

Has business been hit by the rise in timber prices?

Yes, we are being hit by the global price increase of timber. But we are doing our best to maintain stable prices so our customers are satisfied and are not affected as a result of the same.

Has the company won a contract to supply log homes to anywhere in the region?

We are in the final stages of closing a few deals and these will be revealed soon.

What do you think it would take to persuade buyers and developers in the region to go for log homes instead of conventional structures, given that it is a new concept here?

We are certain that this new venture will be a success. It should be noted that we did something very unconventional when we set up our first sawmill in Ajman in 1992 — sawmills are normally situated within or close to sources of timber and not in the middle of a desert. But we did just the opposite and created something that was unique to service this market better.

Our log homes are unique, and since no two are alike,
customers have the added pleasure of owning a home
that stands apart from the norm and makes a statement for itself.||**||

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