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A log home never goes out of style


Sat, Apr 5th, 2003
Posted in Features

I give you shade, I give you warmth, your words are scrolled upon my breast. I grow tall for all to see. This is what God intended for me. I am just a tree.

"It just kind of evolved. We talked about building a new home somewhere along the way. We’d seen a floor plan and it looked like it should be a log home," explained Jeanette Serfling of rural Preston. She and her husband, Dan, have put many hours into designing and creating their log home, which is located just off of Hwy. 14 west of Preston. The log home is built on a four-acre site within an 80-acre parcel the couple farms. The Serflings are presently living on the home farm, a mile east as the crow flies, from the new home. Dan raises crops, beef, and pigs. Jeanette works for Greenfield Ag Service in Harmony as a receptionist/bookkeeper. As one makes their way to the log home, a gently winding driveway works past a red covered hoop structure, and a log garage built last summer by Dan with his own logs. The log home is only a few yards beyond, perched on a slope that accentuates the beauty of the structure. When a guest first steps onto the front porch (its overhang designed by Dan) one passes through a beautiful glass front door. A large wood-carved bear greets guests. Jeanette loves collecting bears. As you step forward, a spiral wood staircase captures your attention, climbing nearly 10 feet to the loft. The staircase, called "Pine in a Box", came from Pennsylvania, and took Dan just one afternoon to put together. He split 2x4’s for the case’s railing to match the loft’s railing. The naturalness of the home is uninterrupted as the staircase is both functional and acts as a country accent.To the right of the staircase is the kitchen and the living room/dining room combination, known as the "Great Room", in log-house terms. The "Great Room" faces the southeast looking down into the neighboring valley dotted with farmsites and miles of woods. The large windows and patio door open up onto an all-encompassing deck, which continues around to the backside of the house. The home’s main floor measures 30’x50’ with an 8’x12’ entrance. Next to the kitchen and "Great Room’ that features a fireplace, there will also be a bedroom, bathroom, and office. The loft is approximately 660 sq. ft. and will be used as an open sitting area and a guest bedroom for their grown-up children. The basement will include another bedroom, bathroom, family room and utility room."She designed the house. I got to put a few logs in here", smiled Dan as he and Jeanette reflect on the project. Dan’s contributions include the cultivating, stripping and cutting of the logs used in the garage and home’s roof beams, and the many handcrafted pieces he has created including the family name’s signage and a wooden bench. He even has another couple hundred logs available for other housing projects stored in a hoop structure near the house. The home’s deep red colored tin roof has a heavy layer of Styrofoam insulation to keep the noise of rain and hail out. Snow will easily slide of the 10-12 pitch slope. Where does one start Jeanette stressed that it’s really important to know what everything is going to cost. Some things might appear cheaper than a traditional house, but not always. A ballpark figure of $150 per square foot, which covers basement material is typical. "It’s sort of depends on what company you’re working with and what package you end up with," noted Jeanette. Meadow Valley Log Homes, Mather, WI, located 125 miles from Preston, is where the couple felt most comfortable doing business. Their quotes were in line with the couple’s wallet. The business has been easy to work with and has answered questions readily. The rest of the material came from Prosper Lumber."They have a row by row floor plan, which shows exactly what log goes in what spot," noted Dan. Originally, the Serflings had made arrangements to supply all their own logs. It became apparent, though, that a kit was a better way for them to go."I don’t think we had the patience, time or expertise. There’s lot more craftsmanship involved with trying to use your own logs compared to using a kit,” noted Jeanette.Site preparation is another important consideration. Along with the ground being properly graded and settled, the foundation itself must be able to handle the weight of all those logs. Ten foot log walls are extremely heavy. The White Pine logs are made out of the heart of a tree. The couple have a poured foundation with a brick pattern. These homes can also be built on wood basements. The logs were delivered October 1, on two trucks. Logs are air dried one year, evenly rounded in a scope, dipped in borate, to eliminate bugs, and arrives in 10x10 cants which can be as long as 20’. "Out west when you have forest fires, after the fire’s out, the bark is burned off, a lot of companies come in and harvest those trees and use them for log houses," explained Dan. " They strip them, the fire has dried them out and the logs can be used right away." It took two weeks to put the logs up. Serfling used his loader and boom to set the logs in place; 12" spikes every two feet, re-rods, and a layer of foam between each row, were used to join the logs. There has been a lot of part-time help to accomplish the many segments of building the home. The outside windows have been painted to match the red roof, a striking contrast against the stained logs, which makes the combination even richer looking. Jeanette has helped stack logs and spent hours and hours sanding everything, getting it ready for staining. Organic honey yellow stain will be sprayed on, then brushed in. Hardwood floors and scatter rugs will compliment the home. “It’s a work in progress,” says the lady of the house! The life expectancy of a log house is equal to that of a traditional home. It’s recommended that the outside be restained every five to seven years and when landscaping, keep soil at least two feet away from the logs. You don’t want moisture constantly battering the foundation. It is also more of a challenge to build interior walls in a log home as those walls must bunt up against a partly spherical surface. Serflings used car siding for some of their interior walls. With all this wood around, is there more of a concern for fires? "It takes more to burn a log house because of a round log. This will smolder a long time, but it will not go up in flames like a regular house," explained the couple."One thing about the log house is that it absorbs the heat and reflects it back", said Dan. Sunny days bathe the logs in warmth and as the evenings cool down, the heat is reflected back. The logs are rated R 12. The home will be heated with Geo thermo. This means water will be pumped from their well, into the furnace and pumped back outside to a pond. They’ll also have a gas fireplace. If one is contemplating building a log house, hire professionals from "the get-go" recommends the couple. The most common mistake made in such a structure is not having the walls straight and "plum". Wiring is also a bit tricky as the wire is sandwiched between the logs, resting in a V-groove. You must be very careful when pounding in the 12" spikes to not hit the wires. When do Dan & Jeanette plan to move in? "When we’re done, when we’re done", grinned the easygoing man who looks like he could be a relative of Grizzly Adams. Jeanette is looking at the end of June or first of July. She smiles as this is spoken. The couple hopes to have an open house in August.

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