California Mountain Log Home

At Real Log Homes, we pride ourselves on having a complete team that provides services from design to construction and beyond. Sometimes, however, homeowners wish to work with local architects or designers. Also, sometimes homeowners will add embellishments from other providers. We are happy to work on these projects as well, and this is a story of one such log home.

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This log home was designed and built by Meeker Log Homes, a Real Log Home’s Independent Representative. The home is situated on top of a hill in the Sierra Nevada, which made for a challenging build site. Care was taken to protect the oak trees surrounding the site, and this house was built to take in the wonderful views.

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The massive front entry with its scissor-truss design and trapezoidal footings suggests an oversized Craftsman-style log home. The exterior logs are 8-inch V-Groove style (also known as “D” logs), but many different types of wood are used throughout the home. The ceiling is lodge pole pine tongue-in-groove, while alder is used for the kitchen cabinets. Out back, a massive deck overlooking the mountains is constructed with ipe, a resilient wood that also pays homage to the owner’s Brazilian heritage.

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The great room space also finds two features provided by other companies. The massive logs framing the prow window in the great room are California redwood, provided by a local company. The half-log staircase uses wood from Minnesota and iron working from a nearby welding company. Using this staircase takes us to the master suite, which occupies the entire upper floor of the home. Both the bedroom and bathroom naturally command impressive views.

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The guest bedrooms are located on the main floor, separated from the great room by the home’s only hallway. Each of these bedrooms has its own private bathroom. Back on the other side of the home, we find an interesting feature in the kitchen. While the range hood looks like copper, it is actually a wooden piece designed to look like the metal.

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We hope this mountain home has shown you how we enjoy making a quality home, whether we design it in house or collaborate with other designers and architects. If you’re looking to design a log home, or are even already consulting with an architect or designer, please contact Real Log Homes today.

To learn even more about the design and building of this REAL™ Log Home, pick up a copy of the 2016 September Issue of Log Home Living and flip to page 30!

The Pros and Cons of Vessel Sinks

For the past few years, a different type of sink has been gaining in popularity in both homes and commercial developments. The vessel sink, unlike most sinks, uses a washbowl that is placed on top of the countertop or vanity. This arrangement has both its advantages and disadvantages over more widely used sink styles. Here are some considerations for determining whether a vessel sink is right in your home.

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One advantage to the vessel sink is its style. While what’s in style can come and go, this type of sink has an appearance that is both modern and antique at the same time. Before indoor plumbing became standard, a sink placed on top of a counter was the only option. While this can give the sink a rustic feel, modern materials and forms can instead be used for the sink construction to create a modern look. Judicious selection of the faucet can also give an old or new appearance as desired. Log or barrel pedestals are very popular choices for holding vessel sinks in the log home, which creates a cohesive look with the rest of the home.

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Another advantage to the vessel sink is that the plumbing uses less space inside the cabinet on which it is mounted. Surface mount sinks have their bowl below the level of the vanity, so they require space below both for the sink body and the plumbing. A vessel sink, since it sits on top the vanity, requires only a small space below for the plumbing. This can be especially helpful when repurposing a drawer or other piece of furniture to serve as a bathroom vanity, or just when trying to maximize bathroom storage.

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The recently featured New Castle uses a vessel sink on top of a barrel.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the vessel sink is that they are difficult to clean. While surface mount bathroom sinks typically have a smooth surface from the counter to the sink bowl, the elevated vessel sink has an acute mounting between the sink and counter surface. This makes it difficult to clean, requiring more time than a typical sink. Also, the higher vessel means that placing items in the sink is challenging, so use in a kitchen or bar area is usually avoided.

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Tall vessel sinks should be used with care.

Another drawback is the vessel sink can be harder to use than other sinks. The elevated position means that water is more likely to splash out onto the counter, again requiring more frequent cleaning than other sinks. The higher position also makes the sink harder to use for children or even shorter adults.

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Surface mount sinks can also provide a rustic feel.

While the vessel sink is quite popular at the moment, it also has its drawbacks. We hope this guide has helped you decide on what sink would go best in your new Real Log Home. Please contact us to further discuss the design of your dream home.

Building the New Castle, Part 2

20090314-IMG_6423Last week, we started to tell the story of the construction of the New Castle log home. We left off with the log rafters being installed on the home. The next major step is for the ceiling to be installed over the rafters, and for the dormers to be framed. Eventually, the dormers will be clad in a log siding for a consistent look.

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At this point the roof is constructed. The bottom layer is the tongue-and-groove planks that form the ceiling for the room bellow. On top of this is a plastic vapor barrier, then 6 inches of foam insulation. On top of this is the oriented strand board that forms the roof deck, upon which tar paper and shingles will finish out the roof.

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Here, with the roof and dormers built, the log siding is applied to the dormers. While these siding logs are thinner than structural logs, the ends have the same thickness and profile as the structural logs. This creates a seamless appearance between the dormers and log walls.

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While the window and door openings are pre-cut from the factory, the installation of the fireplace requires cutting the walls on-site. This is certainly one of those times when the maxim “measure twice, cut once” is very important!

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Now that the interior is closed-in, the flooring is installed. In this shot of the upper floor, a wide plank flooring is used. The flooring is arranged so that seams of adjacent rows do not line up together. The wide planks feel right at home in this farmhouse, while also installing more quickly than a narrower plank. A rectangular room also helps the flooring go in quickly.

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Down in the kitchen, the cabinets are installed and then the granite counters. At this point the electrical wiring and plumbing has been roughed in as well. The black sink is a unique touch.

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This house uses a geothermal heating system and at this point the wells were dug. The system works by pumping water in a closed loop through six wells, each 100 feet deep. This extracts heat from the ground in the winter, or it can be used to pump heat into the ground in the summer to cool the home. This type of system is more energy efficient than an air-source heat pump or air-conditioner.

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Once the flooring is in place, staining is the major task left to complete. Rollers can make quick work of flat surfaces like floors, but the rafters and logs require brush painting or spray staining. The homeowners also finished the floors with four coats of tung oil. While this staining and oiling was a lot of work, it ensured that the house was beautiful and durable.

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Four years on, the New Castle is the centerpiece of a pastoral estate.

We want to thank the Crellin family for letting us share their home and photos and hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the construction of their “New Castle” home. If their story has inspired you to build your own log home, or have it built for you, please contact us today to get started on your own dream log home.

Building the New Castle, Part 1

Last Week, we featured the New Castle floor plan. While the finished home as presented in that post is indeed a wonderful Real Log Home, what truly inspired us to feature this home was the story of its construction. The Crellin family documented the building of their home with 569 captioned photographs. While we encourage you to browse their gallery, here’s a look at some of the important milestones in the building of the home.

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The footers are installed.

The first major step is the construction of the foundation. For this home, footers were constructed of reinforced concrete. These concrete pads help to spread the weight of the home into the earth below. The footers must reach below the frost line to ensure a stable foundation. Wall forms are then constructed on top of the footers, and the concrete foundation walls are poured on top. The log walls rest on these foundation walls.

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The logs arrive!

One of most exciting parts of the build is when the log walls arrive. This picture was taken just after the logs were delivered from New England. Even for a median-sized home like this one, you can see that a lot of logs are used.

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The logs are numbered and lettered to make assembly a snap. The letter tells you which course the log goes in and the number tells you where in that course the log goes. Since the logs are already cut to size, they quickly go together like a bigger, heavier and sturdier version of a toy building set.

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Here you can see the first three courses of logs laid down. The openings for windows and doors are already present when the logs arrive on the job site. This means less waste, both in terms of materials and time on the work site.

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A few days in, already a story tall!

This picture was only taken a few days later, and fifteen courses of logs have been assembled. This means the walls are already ten feet tall, despite a snow day during construction. The log walls are well on their way to becoming a home. At this point the second floor joists are installed.

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The first structure built for the second floor is the gable end. The log wall continues, but grows narrower with height. The slope of these logs will define the slope of the roof. For now, a temporary brace holds up the wall, but the ridge beam will be up shortly.

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A settling jack being installed.

Temporary supports hold up the second floor as a post is installed. This post has a jack screw at the top, for leveling the home as the log walls slightly contract. You can read about this simple procedure here.

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Now its looking like a Real Log Home!

In this final shot, the ridge beam is in place and the log rafters are being installed over the home. These rafters will support the roof, as with the roof being built over the garage. Join us again next week as we continue the tale of this log home’s construction.

The New Castle Floor Plan

Many of us dream of building our own home, and log homes especially tend to attract these kinds of do-it-yourselfers. Naturally, people have many questions about all the steps that go into building a log home, especially if they have not built an entire home before from start to finish. So this week, we thought we would feature a floor plan that also can show all the steps that go into building a Real Log Home.

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The New Castle was built in 2009 for the Crellin Family. While McMullen Construction was the builder of the home, the Crellin family was intimately involved in the construction of their home. From pouring the foundation to the finishing stain, the Crellins detailed the entire construction project in this photo album. With 569 captioned photographs, we encourage you to take a look and see how a log home is built and finished.

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The garage under construction.

TheL11293-New-Castle-TownsendDE-Plan finished home is, of course, a work of beauty befitting the love that went into its construction. The first floor of the home consists of a garage and living areas, each around 1200 square feet. While this large garage is helpful on this farm property, it is at a right angle to the home so it is not conspicuous. Approaching the home along the driveway, you instead see the outline of a classic two dormer farmhouse.

The great room has a woodstove built into a fieldstone chimney, providing useful heat as well as visual appeal. For more hands-off heating, the home has a geothermal heating system fed by six 100-foot geothermal wells. Of course, you can find many pictures of this installation in the construction photo album. In addition to the great room, kitchen and dining room, the first floor also houses a master suite with walk-in closet and master bathroom. A mudroom with laundry is conveniently located between the garage and home.

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The kitchen nearing completion.

Upstairs are a pair of spacious bedrooms for the children. There is also a second full bath, as well as a sizable office and loft space overlooking the great room. But the biggest feature of the upper floor is the 1200-foot game room occupying the entire space above the garage. While it has some closets for storage, the bulk of the room is an open space. This great space allows for a ping pong table, pool table, workout bench and entertainment space to all coexist with space to spare.

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The massive game room.

We hope you’ve liked this look at the New Castle plan as well as the construction photos. If you’re interested in a plan like the New Castle or any log home, please contact Real Log Homes today.