Continuing the Lake Tradition

Terry Corpening moved into his log cabin on a North Carolina lake in 2017. He shared his experience and offered advice for log cabin lovers who, like him, have always dreamed of living in a log home.

HA: Why did you choose a log home over a conventional home, and why did you choose an Honest Abe Log Home?

Terry: I always wanted a log home on my lake lot. I love wood and the look and feel of a log home. I met Rodger and Darlene Dawson of Bear’s Den Log Homes (Independent Dealers of Honest Abe Log Homes) at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh. I looked into many different log home manufacturers and felt Honest Abe had the best offering of any.

HA: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Terry: I grew up in the Hickory, N.C., where I live now, approximately 15 minutes from my lake cabin. My family always had a boat, and I grew up around the lake constantly. So, for me being on and near water is a lifestyle. My children grew up on the lake, and/or in a pool their entire lives as well. I consider the lake cabin a family retreat. My parents started it, and I want to continue the tradition. It may be my personal residence, but I’ve encouraged all of my family to come and enjoy it as much as they can. They all have a code to open the door and make themselves at home even if I’m not there.

HA: How did you settle upon the final design, your choice of log style and other technical specifics for your lake log house?

Terry: The plan I selected was the Eagledale, which was modified to fit my needs. I worked with Darlene Dawson to decide on the various aspects of log style (6” x 12” dovetail D-log), internal floor plan layout, deck modifications, stains, windows, doors. I did extensive research online to review various aspects of log homes to decide what I liked and didn’t like. I also worked with an architect who helped me with floor plans/spaces/looks, and most importantly the actual layout/orientation of the home on the extremely narrow lake lot. My main focus was the look and view from the lake side of the house. I live on a long gravel road with almost no neighbors and only woods around me. So, the look driving up to the house was not as important as the lake side. In addition, I took advice from a log home builder who made many suggestions about foundation types, and roof design. I hired an interior designer to help me with stain colors (inside and outside), interior wall finishes, lighting fixtures, cabinets, counter tops, etc.

HA: How did you like working with Bear’s Den?

Terry: Excellent experience, great folks to work with!!

HA: What is the square footage of the cabin?
Terry: Main floor, 1,008 SF; Upstairs loft, 476; Basement, 1,008; Porches, L-shaped deck/porch is 12’ wide with lengths of 48’ and 40’.

HA: How many rooms and what rooms?

Terry: Main floor: den/kitchen (open); ½ bath; master bedroom; master bath. Loft is open to below living area below. Basement: den; full bath; bedroom; laundry/utility/mechanical room; large walk-in closet.

HA: Is there anything special about the location of the home? If so, explain.

Terry: The lake lot was purchased by my parents in 1983. I was 25 at the time. They placed a 12 x 40 mobile home on it with a 14×40 screened in porch on the front. I built docks and various other wooden structures around over a period of 18 years when my parents passed away. My children grew up spending most of their summers at the lake. I inherited the lot and trailer. I always wanted a year round permanent home/cabin on the lot. I got divorced and needed a new place to live. My son and I tore down the screened in deck/porch, and I had the old 1964 trailer pulled out and taken to the dump. That was a defining moment. I knew then a log cabin was in the works.

HA: Were there any design choices you made to accommodate your personal interests?

Terry: Somewhat. I knew I didn’t want a big home, as my kids are all adults and on their own. It was just me and possibly one more someday. I prefer simple and humble homes, and I wanted the cabin to accent the lake with a large deck overlooking the lake. I wanted the outside spaces to be the primary part of the home. In a way “outside” is my hobby. So, I expanded the deck from 8 ft. to 12 ft. I had the roof extended out 12 ft. over the end where I had an outside wood burning fireplace built, with another fireplace (gas) exactly opposite on the inside as center of the den for wintertime enjoyment. I also had two sets of double French doors on either side of the fireplace to add to the outside look, feel and function.

HA: Outstanding features?

Terry: Stairs to loft have railings made with mountain laurel limbs intertwined as the balusters. Double French doors on either side of fireplace. Dual fireplaces – back to back – outside on deck is wood burning with a gas starter bar installed, inside fireplace is strictly gas

HA: What is your favorite thing about your new home and why?

Terry: First thing is, it’s on the lake! It’s very private, quiet and peaceful. It’s absolutely beautiful to look at, inside and out, with some extremely unique features. When I walk outside each morning with my coffee in hand and look out over the cove from my deck, I feel like I’m living a dream. I get validation from everybody who sees it for the first time as they can’t get over how nice it is.

HA: How was your construction experience?  

Terry: Overall a good one. I general contracted the job myself but hired a professional “log stacker/builder” to dry it in. Weather caused some delays, but the timing of the job actually helped me have time to make some decisions I had not made as of yet.

HA: Would you do this again? What could be better?

Terry: After retirement I would consider it maybe with a mountain cabin. But I’d never do it again while trying to work and GC a house. The only thing I think I would do better if I did it again is to ask for more lighting design help. That is a problem once the logs are in. It’s nearly impossible to add electrical for accent lighting, which I wish now I had more of.

HA: Do you have advice for would-be log homeowners?

Terry: Many people including me have/had a misperception that a log home is less expensive to build than a conventional home, not sure why except it just seems less engineered and modern, which tends to suggest less costly. I fully appreciate the quality of the materials/logs I received from Honest Abe and the expertise of the engineering and construction it took to build mine. I completely understand the extra costs it takes to build a log home, and it’s well worth it!

Interview by Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Log Homes

Photos provided by the homeowner


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