Hamm Log Cabin Designed for Mountain Views
Owners: Steve & Robin Hamm
Floor Plan: Modified Aztec
Year Completed: 2019
Size: 2,140 SF; Main: 1692 SF; Porch: 448 SF
Log Profile: 8×12 D-Log
Roof System: Heavy Timber and Trusses
HALH: Tell us what you feel comfortable sharing about yourselves and your family.
Robin: Steve and I are both Chemical Engineers nearing retirement. In 2013 we bought 27 acres of land in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southern Virginia knowing that we would eventually build our retirement home there. We wanted a fun place that our four grown children would want to visit. We enjoy hiking, kayaking and spend most of our time outdoors. Steve wanted enough land so he could have a large garden and orchard. Since the cabin build has been complete, he has been bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the table during the summer and canning for wintertime. Robin wanted to have a workshop, so she could put her own stamp on the cabin by building custom furniture and built-ins.
HALH: Why did you choose a log home over a conventional home?
Robin: I have always dreamed of having a log home. I love the cozy feel that a log home provides. We have lived in conventional homes for 25 years, so I wanted to finally have my dream of a log home. Initially, Steve preferred to build a conventional home, but agreed to the log home build, because it was what Robin wanted. After living in the log home for three years, Steve says he would choose to build a log home again, “…the log home feels right on our wooded lot.” We both like the heavy timbers in the great room, kitchen, and dining area. And we like that every room feels bright and open due to the large windows.
HALH: What dealer did you work with and how did you find them? Why did you choose an Honest Abe Log Home dealer to custom design and manufacture your home?
Robin: Steve and I had spent a year reviewing the designs and standard plans for several log home providers and visited a couple model log homes trying to get a feel for what features we liked. Then, I came across a standard plan from Honest Abe that I thought would work for us (Aztec plan). I met Darlene Dawson of Bear’s Den Log Homes at the Asheville, NC Log & Timber Home show in the fall of 2016 and knew immediately that I had found the dealer that I wanted to work with. During our short conversation, Darlene was able to expand on and make recommendations on a few of the ideas that I was considering. I remember thinking ‘yes, yes, yes, she knows exactly what I’m thinking and is able to explain the process clearly and take it to the next level’. I had previously interviewed other dealers who kept trying to talk me out of some of my ideas. Through the whole process, Darlene worked closely with me to make my ideas come to fruition. I don’t think she ever said, “no, we can’t do that.” Instead, she always said “this is what we need to do to make that happen.”
HALH: What sold you on Honest Abe as a manufacturer?
Robin: We were comfortable going with Honest Abe Log Home, because they have a stellar reputation. We toured one of their log homes and spoke with several Honest Abe cabin home buyers as well as an inspector who closely followed one of the cabin builds. Normally inspectors won’t provide details on a builder or log manufacturer, but the inspector was so impressed with the quality of the logs and workmanship of the building crew, they were willing to provide a highly positive referral.
HALH: How did you develop the perfect plan?
We started with a standard plan, the Honest Abe Aztec plan. We modified the layout of the bedrooms and bathrooms, added a mud room/laundry room, added a lot of windows, and added a gable style back porch.
We chose the Aztec plan based on the great room, kitchen and dining room. The number one item on our wish list was lots of windows. We wanted to feel like we were outside in the woods. The Aztec plan has a combined great room, kitchen, and dining room on the end of the home, which allowed us to add extra windows on three sides of the room, making it feel like you’re outside. Most log home plans have the great room and kitchen in the middle of the home, limiting the windows.
HALH: Why did you choose the D-Log profile?
Robin: We chose the 8”x12” D-logs for their look and extra insulating value. Although I prefer the look of a round log, I wanted the flat side of the logs on the inside of the home. I’ve been told that the round logs catch a lot of dust and require more work to keep them clean.
HALH: What design choices did you make to accommodate your retirement planning.
Robin: Ultimately, we wanted to downsize from our previous 4,000 SF home that had a lot of excess space after the kids moved out. Since 90% of the time, it will just be my husband and me living in the cabin, we wanted the two spare bedrooms to be used as primarily our space – office space, exercise space, craft space, and we needed space for the piano.
However, we have four children and wanted the two spare bedrooms to also have space for a Murphy bed and a convertible daybed/trundle bed, so the grown kids would have comfortable sleeping space when they visit. I drew the initial layout on ¼” graph paper and then cut out furniture pieces in ¼” graph paper as well. I could then move the furniture pieces around to see how they fit and ensure that we would have sufficient space for walking around the furniture. I found that the initial layout was too crowded; therefore, I modified the layout, extending the length of the cabin by 7’ to accommodate our needs.
HALH: What is the most outstanding feature of your home?
Robin: Steve and I both love the large windows in the great room, dining room, and kitchen. They provide a panoramic view of the mountains and woods. We also love the beauty of the heavy timber trusses.
HALH: And your favorite place in the house?
Robin: My favorite place is the front porch. It has a beautiful view of the mountains as well as the wildflowers that we planted in the field. Sitting on the porch I get to enjoy watching numerous birds as well as the deer that are frequent visitors.
Steve: My favorite place is sitting on the front porch watching the sunsets.
HALH: How was your construction experience (separate from your experience with Honest Abe?
Robin: Our construction experience was excellent. We used three companies for our log home build.
Bear’s Den Log Homes LLC, Darlene Dawson, was our dealer/sales representative. Darlene was awesome to work with. She was readily available to answer questions and eliminated the scary part of trying to navigate building a log home for the first time. Darlene was very helpful in assisting me in making my selections and design decisions. She was able to answer my numerous questions about how the electrical and HVAC would work. If there was ever a time she didn’t know the answer, she would ask the builder or Honest Abe or put me in contact with the right person to answer my questions. As I noted above, Darlene never said, “No, we can’t do that.” Instead, she always said “this is what we need to do to make that happen.” Ok, correction there, Darlene did say at one point, “you can’t put THAT many windows in, your logs are going to fall over.” But she was very patient with me, discussing options, and coordinating between me, Honest Abe and Pella Windows as I pushed to have the biggest windows spaced just right, so the logs wouldn’t fall over. Darlene also coordinated the dry-in build with a log home builder. This was a big help for us.
Carolina Precision Construction Inc. (CPC), Lars Ekberg from Mooresville, NC, was the log home builder for our dry-in build. Lars’ crew completed the log home build, installed the windows and doors, and completed the interior framing.
Samco Construction, Scott & Tony Moore from Stuart, VA, installed the foundation and did the construction of all the interior finishes of the cabin. Samco Construction also coordinated the clearing of the land, installation of the well and septic, and built our garage.
I would give all three of these companies a 5-star rating. The work done by all was outstanding. It was obvious that everyone was intent on doing a high-quality job. They also worked well together in coordinating the shipping of the logs and coordinating which crew was responsible for each part of the build.
HALH: Any advice for others hoping to build a log home? Lessons learned?
Robin and Steve: Building a log home is different than building a traditional home in that you’re dealing with multiple groups, i.e. the log manufacturer, the log dealer, and the builder. In our case, we had two different builders, one for the log dry-in build and one for the interior finishes. Dealing with so many different groups can be overwhelming. I found that the central part of coordinating all the activities is the dealer. Make sure you have a dealer that you are really comfortable working with. The dealer is key to helping you coordinate and understand all the activities between the log manufacturer and the builder. The dealer is also key to helping in the design stages and selecting materials. Darlene Dawson with Bear’s Den Log Homes was a great dealer. She and Honest Abe were very responsive and helped to make the build go smoothly.
HALH: Would you do this again? If so, would you choose your dealer and would you choose Honest Abe as a manufacturer?
Robin: Yes, we would definitely do this again. And yes, we would choose the Bear’s Den Log Homes as our dealer and Honest Abe as our manufacturer.