Taking The Hybrid Approach

A Wisconsin home blends logs, timber and shake for a cutting-edge look in log homes.

Exterior of the log home

An increasingly popular style of log home is the hybrid. Hybrid construction is essentially a blend of structural log and/or timber and conventional stick-built framing. Virtually any material can be used to clad the conventional framing: cedar shake shingles, stucco, natural or cultured stone, half-log siding, and bark. In fact, of the roughly 15,000 log homes built each year, about a third of them can be considered hybrid. Given the different building styles involved, building a hybrid can occasionally be complex. Hammering out a workable floor plan, bidding out the materials, and coordinating different crews can be daunting.

For one couple, the complexity of log-home was made simple with the help of a well-established log home company. The hybrid construction experience was so remarkably easy, in fact, the family went on to become dealers for the company. “I’ve been in the construction business for over 20 years, and about 10 years ago I helped build a custom log home for the first time,” says Cal Weber. “From then on, I was hooked. I love the creativity and the unique look of logs and wood.”

Over the years he has built a variety of log homes, but when he and his wife Kathy decided to build one of their own in Delavan, Wisconsin (about 50 miles away from Milwaukee), they chose Tomahawk Log and Country Homes. The Webers met with Tomahawk Vice-President Ron Volz and were attracted to Tomahawk’s log wall system: Basic 2x6 wall construction covered with draw-knifed half-logs inside and out. The indistinguishable log-look is astonishing and the insulation factor is an impressive R-38.

View of the open floor plan

During the effortless planning process that even took the Webers by surprise, they decided to become dealers for Tomahawk, using their home as a one-of-a-kind model. In addition to a tailor-made floor plan, they selected an array of woods and materials to use throughout the home to demonstrate the endless of ways in which a log (or hybrid) home could be designed. Cal believes that this is the perfect complement to his construction business and is positive he made the right move. “In the past, I was unhappy with way dealers put together a package and then went to the builder to see if it could be done. This wasted time and was very dissatisfying to the customer. I thought I would offer my customers a better process. I could help them design, get creative and build a home they would be happy with. I can easily guide them from point A to point B.” In their home, the Webers experimented with an open floor plan concept.

“No matter where you are on the main floor, you can still be a part of what’s happening,” says Cal. “But we also made an effort to delineate each room with the use of railings and a variety of flooring and wall materials: reclaimed barnwood, pine bead board, half logs, gypsum, and even thin plaster board walls.

Dining area

“I enjoy showing our clients how easily a log home can be decorated and that there are many options to choose from,” says Kathy Weber. “With the tall cathedral ceilings, wide open windows, and lots of wood, decorating can be intimidating. I find that lighting fixtures can play a big role in the personality of each room and I have selected pieces from many companies, again to demonstrate the variety.”

Another tip the Webers like to pass along to prospective customers is to use their imagination and to not let the logs limit your design. “The one thing we have learned over the years is that whatever can be done in a conventional home can be done in a Tomahawk log home,” says Cal. “With the half-log system, the sky is the limit.”

More about this home, including different pictures and a floor plan, ran in the magazine.