Hamm Home Designed for Retirement

Steve and Robin Hamm’s 1,692-square-foot log home in Stuart, Virginia, was built with an eye toward their retirement. Constructed of 8”x12” D-logs with dovetailed corners, the Honest Abe Log Home has a great room, dining area, kitchen, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a utility/mudroom. The one-story home has a front porch that is 288 square feet and a back porch at 160 square feet.

Bear’s Den Log Homes, owned by Honest Abe Independent Dealers Rodger and Darlene Dawson, guided the Hamms through the design and construction process. Robin shared her story during a recent interview.

Why did you build in Virginia when you were living in North Carolina at the time?

We bought our land in Stuart, Virginia, several years before we built the house knowing we would eventually build our retirement home there. Stuart is a beautiful town located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. When we were looking for land to buy, we found that we really liked Stuart for its small town atmosphere, friendly people and beautiful landscape.

Why did you want a log home for retirement rather than a conventional home?

I’ve always preferred the cozy, rustic feel of a log home. For the past 25 years, we’ve lived in conventional, brick homes, so it’s nice to finally have my dream home as we head into retirement.

Why did you choose Bear’s Den Log & Custom Homes and Honest Abe Log Homes?

My husband 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 Bears Den Log Homes at the Asheville, N.C. 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. ”

How did you settle on your final floor 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 & kitchen in the middle of the home, limiting the windows.

What about the materials? What did you choose?

Although, I prefer the look of a round log, I wanted the flat side of the logs on the inside of the home. We chose the 8”x12” D-logs for their look and extra insulating value. I’ve been told that the round logs catch a lot of dust and require more work to keep them clean.

One of the outstanding features is the heavy timber trusses in the great room, kitchen and dining space. We stained the trusses darker than the walls to make them stand out. That is actually one of my two favorite features. My second favorite is the mud room/laundry room on the back of the home that allows us to take off our muddy boots before entering the main part of the home.

Were there any design choices you made to accommodate specific pieces of furniture, collectables or personal hobbies, etc.?

The entire layout of the cabin is based on our furniture plan. 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 & sewing 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 day bed/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.

How was your construction experience?

Our construction experience was excellent. We used three companies for our log home build.

Bears 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 Ekberb from Mooresville, N.C., 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, Virginia, 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 detached three-car metal 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.

Would you do this again?

No, I would not do this again J. I only say that, because we just finished the build, and I’m worn out from making so, so many decisions. If you ask me again in six months or a year, I’m sure I’d say, “Yes, I’d do this again. ”

I LOVE our cabin. Honestly, the build went so smoothly, and the builders were so intent on doing a high quality job, I can’t think of anything that could be better. My husband and I are very lucky to have selected an outstanding dealer and outstanding construction crews.