In July we celebrate our American heritage through Independence Day and the accompanying parades, fireworks, and barbecue. It also is when we honor a timeless American style of home—the log and timber frame home—as this July marks the fourth annual National Log Home Open House Month.

Throughout the month, NAHB Log and Timber Homes Council members will be hosting model home tours, log raising demonstrations, factory tours, seminars, and much more. It is a great opportunity to learn more about these charming houses.

Although log homes originated in Europe, they are a symbol of the American frontier. Seven U.S. presidents were born in log cabins, most famously Abraham Lincoln.

The modern industry began in the 1970s, when consumers voiced preferences for these elegantly rustic homes. Today's residences capture that vacation feel and connection to nature while including the latest amenities.

Log and timber frame homes are systems-built houses, meaning that their main components are constructed in an enclosed, climate-controlled environment and then delivered to the building site, where they are assembled and completed to become a home.

Other types of systems-built homes include modular, panelized, and concrete homes. Each of these housing types has unique characteristics regarding their prefabrication process, but they share a number of benefits.

One advantage is quality control. A factory setting enables more consistent construction processes and inspections. Weather delays, theft, vandalism, and the task of coordinating subcontractor schedules are minimized or eliminated, saving both builders and home buyers time and money. Systems-built homes also use materials that exceed most site-built requirements, as the components have to withstand the rigors of shipping.

And then there is the green factor. Because their parts are built in an enclosed indoor environment where it is easier to control waste, these houses more easily can meet key components of the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard and other green certifications.

Systems-built homes are energy efficient, lowering home owners' heating and cooling costs. Some houses incorporate SIPs—one of the most effective insulating wall systems available—enabling them to exceed most energy code requirements.

NAHB's Building Systems Councils includes councils for log and timber, concrete, modular, and panelized homes; an associates/suppliers council; and a systems-builder council. These councils allow members to exchange ideas, refine their products and services, and work together to address industry concerns.

Systems-built pros and those who are interested in systems-built housing should take advantage of the resources to help grow their business. I also encourage builders to learn more about prefab homes—they may be able to apply some of the systems builders' best practices or share their own trusted strategies.

Even though prefab and on-site builders use different construction methods, both are responsible for housing families, and it's important to exchange ideas and experiences. Together, we all move our industry forward.