Task at hand: Building and landscaping our new log home.
Timeframe: October 2005-March 2006
Log Home Diary Entry # 2
Once we cleared the minimal amount of land we needed for our new log home, we were ready to start building. The home was to sit on a massive sheet of bedrock, which meant that to build a full in-ground basement, we’d need to blast that rock out —not a task (or expense) we were ready to take on. Instead, we opted to build atop a poured-concrete 4-foot-high crawlspace, which meant we’d need for a significant amount of clean fill around the foundation (we didn’t want it to look like our house was sticking 4 feet out of the ground), but it solved our problem.
With the foundation down, our general contractor, Dennis Gaestel, and his team got to work. It turned out that a good chunk of the project was going to have to take place over the winter, but our framers got to work quickly and got the crew under cover for the majority of the worst winter months. Even with the severe cold and messy weather that tends to go hand in hand with Wisconsin winters, Dennis was able to keep things pretty much on track.
Because our primary residence is 65 miles away from where our log home was being built, we were able to stop in and check out their progress almost every weekend. Although we had no idea how many crew members were there every day, we do know that there were a number of occasions when we showed up to find, to our delight, that multiple subcontractors working simultaneously.
We also had a little family help from my cousin, Eric, who came all the way from Tucson, Arizona
. He designed and built our powder room vanity from knotty-alder and mesquite. Topped off with the copper vessel sink, the finished product really has the rustic look that we were striving to create throughout the house.
One of the most exciting parts of our home’s construction was finally getting to watch the log walls go up. The folks at Wisconsin Log Homes
utilize half-log walls in their construction, so they began with a 2-by-6-inch core insulated wall and then added hand-peeled logs that had been cut in half. We chose 10-inch saddle-notch spruce logs for the exterior and 10-inch pine logs for the interior walls. Besides being energy efficient, we found that the half-log walls were ideal for installing our wiring, plumbing and HVAC ductwork in the walls, which is something we were concerned about before deciding to build a log home.
With the home constructed, our thoughts turned to the landscape design. We knew we’d entertain a lot, so one of our main goals was to extend our living space to the outdoors, so the area between our home and the lake would flow seamlessly.
We chose natural stone retainer walls (made from 6-inch-thick limestone) on both the north and south ends of the lot. This will give the back of the property a tiered look, tying in the back deck with the walkout steps. We’re using Uni-Lock Brussels block pavers to create unique walkways around the back of the home and to support a 48-inch GE Monogram cook top range, perfect for our outdoor eating area. And, to add a cozy sitting space, we’ll include several large limestone steps to create another tier to house a large fire pit.
So far, our favorite part about the construction process is being able to watch, every step of the way. From pouring the foundation to the framing of the home, we’ve had a great time visiting the site and taking lots of pictures. It’s really cool watching your ideas evolve from just a passing thought to a completed project. The home has really turned out to be much more than we anticipated. We both continue to marvel at the craftsmanship that goes into building a log home.