Every house starts with a dream. A dream for better future, life or a new beginning. Our project manager Tomi Kinnunen is aimed at helping this dream come alive with his modern and forward-looking log house design.
Hello Tomi! Please share with us where you are from?
I am from a small town called Kuusamo, situated in Northeastern Finland, close to the border with Lapland.
How did you end up making wooden houses?
I’ve been studying construction engineering in Rovaniemi. For several years I worked in different companies involved in the construction of wooden cottages. I joined Rovaniemi Log House company in 2010 and have been working here since.
How would you describe your role in the company?
My role is to provide the client with the best service and the best house that the client has envisioned. I am constantly in contact with the client, making necessary changes to log house design, calculating costs etc.
How does the planning of a “dream house” start?
Well, there are two approaches. One approach is to browse through our collection of projects. There are all kinds of houses, starting from small and cozy ones sized 150–200 m2, up to spacious and grand houses with the size of 200-400 m2 and even larger. Projects include townhouses, summer cottages, homes and saunas. Another approach is to propose your own architectural plan. By this I don’t just mean a plan from the architect bureau. It could be just a simple drawing, made by the client himself, which would be enough to start the process of log house design.
Is it possible to personalize a house from the collection of projects?
I think we could fulfill up to 95% of changes. We can change the size or position of the windows, internal plan of the house or we can add some new elements. Our client can also choose a construction material from many different variants and sizes.
What are the benefits of a wooden house?
It is the simplicity of a wooden house, and the speed of construction. Wooden log is actually a ready wall material! You just need to treat it with some wax or lacquer from inside and outside and that’s it! Wooden house is also an ecological house. According to researches, the air in wooden houses is healthier. You also need to remember that when you choose timber as a construction material, it is beneficial in terms of the CO2 amount, because trees bind CO2 while they grow.
What was the most difficult project for you to complete?
It was a project called “Hope”, built in Russia. It has three storeys, which is quite unusual for a dwelling house. Besides the living quarters, there is a swimming pool and a fitness area, which is also a rarity. The frame of the swimming pool roof is firm, however wooden logs need settling. That required for quite meticulous planning.
So the architects did not consider that the logs need to settle?
The architect bureau did a nice design, however quite often the architect does not decide on which materials will be used in the construction. His goal is to visualize what the client wants, or to propose his own vision. My goal is to fulfill these visions, materialize that log house design. Nevertheless, such projects like “Hope” serve as a fine example that wooden house construction can also be quite modern and flexible.
Where in the world Finnish wooden houses have become popular?
It’s the European countries, situated around the Alps, such as Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia. They appreciate wooden construction and our houses fit their mountain areas very well. They are popular in Asian countries, such as China and Japan. In China there are significant problems with air pollution and our wealthy clients choose to build their retreats in remote areas, far away from the cities. Our wooden houses suit this purpose perfectly! They don’t have the same traditions of wooden construction as we do, however, Chinese people are fast to take on new trends. Japanese people traditionally like Finnish design and Finnish products, such as Marimekko, Iittala and other brands, so our wooden houses are popular there as well. We have built many houses in Russia, where Finnish wooden houses are extremely popular due to their quality.
Why do you think Finnish wooden houses are so popular abroad?
Finland is the world’s largest producer of wooden houses. There is an incredible amount of know-how here, as well as experience with wooden construction. We use the latest log house production technologies in the world and we possess all of the necessary certificates of performance.
What new markets are you planning to expand to?
Lately there has been a lot of interest in the Near-East. Finnish producers have already started shipping wooden houses to Turkey, mainly the mountainous areas, and Cyprus. Recently we have sent an offer to an interested client in Iran.
Are there any differences to the houses made for Near-East?
Not really, because they are usually designated to be built in mountain and forest areas. The main difference is the absence of Finnish sauna, which usually frees up some space for a larger bathroom.
What wooden construction materials are popular nowadays?
It is, of course the laminated log, which is available in different sizes. Today’s novelty, however, is a log that incorporates cross laminated timber, or CLT, in short. We call it “non-settling-log”. It consists of regular laminated pieces, as well as the cross laminated timber parts at its core. Thus, it prevents the log from settling, as well as gives it high durability. We also offer some materials, which are available exclusively in Lapland. A so called “Golden pine” has a beautiful Golden color. It is achieved when only the outer bark layer of the tree is gently removed and it preserves all of its natural properties. We also have “Kelo”, free standing pine, which is a special material. The pine grows slowly in Lapland and sometimes, when it reaches a certain age, its needles and branches fall off and the root system stops receiving nutrition. If the tree remains standing, it dries out and can be used for construction. The main advantage of ‘Kelo’ is that its appearance changes little over time, because it has minimal moisture content. ‘Kelo’ also has an appealing silver colour and unique texture.
What architectural feats are in trend nowadays?
Nowadays it is popular to combine different materials. The outer shell of a house or one of the walls of the facade can be constructed out of bricks. Such houses have a modern and dynamic look.
And what kind of house are you living in?
In Rovaniemi I have a regular house with a wooden frame and brick facade. However, back in Kuusamo I have a summer cottage, made out of round log, which I designed myself.
Do you go there often? What things Finns do at their summer cottage?
About once a month. Nature is very important for Finns. We like to spend time far away from the city. We enjoy silence, sitting at the shore of a lake, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms. And, of course, every Finn likes going to the sauna!