Legacy Begets Legacy
Log Home Living - January
"Our client chose full logs for their
family house," says Dennis Davis, project manager for RJ Dailey
Construction, "believing the aesthetics would make the proper
statement about family and farm values: strong, stable and,
most of all, enduring."
RJ Dailey builds only custom
residences and estates, says Davis, "but up until now only in
California, where our company is based." It was an honor and
a pleasure for the company to be selected as the general contractor
for a log home on a family farm in Illinois, with Davis heading up
the project. "I have been working (with RJ Dailey) for this
client on and off over the past 20 years, on their primary
residence in California. The process of building a log home
for them was very new to me, and what a process it was!"
Log wall assembly, screw jacks for
adjusting the home to keep it level as it settles and "shrinks,"
installing slip joints in plumbing and electrical runs between
floors, as well as an education in Illinois state building codes
were all components that were part of Davis's nearly vertical
"I also had a lot to learn about
Illinois weather and pests," Davis admits. "Fortunately, the
farm hands and local subcontractors were more than willing to teach
a couple of Westerners' the ropes, and my client was correct in
claiming that the skill level of contractors in the area was very
similar to what I'm accustomed to in the Bay Area:
Darrell Karstensen of DK
Log Construction is a veteran log home builder with 25 years of
experience and 45 log structures under his belt. Based in
Beecher, Illinois, about 35 miles south of Chicago, Karstensen
completed all of the log stacking, timber work, and finish
carpentry in the home. "It was a complex project, to be
sure," the builder says, "but all of the pieces came
together. I was on the job for about six or seven
months. Dennis Davis was a great organizer when it came to
keeping things running smoothly and on schedule."
Because of the complexity of the
11,000 square foot log home design, Davis and his wife, Jeanne,
elected to live in guest quarters on the farm during the course of
the construction, with bimonthly returns to California to visit
their family. Their involvement began in mid-April of 2010,
when they started interviewing contractors, obtaining building
permits, and getting the engineering and floorplans pulled
together. "It was during this period that I approved
Expedition Log Homes' shop drawings and added several custom
features to both the interior and exterior woodworking," reports
Davis. "Everything was approved by my client via face-to-face
meetings in California, or emails. Expedition was able to
accommodate all of our client's aesthetic desires, as well as our
architecture's structural needs."
The architectural plans called for a
full 10-inch D-log with a dovetail corner, which Expedition had not
yet produced. "This was not the first time we created a new
style to meet a client's expeditions," says Expedition Log Homes'
co-owner and production manager, Mac Garcia. "to quote Plato,
"Necessity is the Mother of Invention.' I was initially
forwarded a picture of the corner look that they were interested
in, along with some basic details, including a 10-inc full
D-log. With the client's parameters and input from our
in-house design manager, Craig Seider, regarding energy and
structural requirements, we went about creating some sample
pieces." This step was crucial. It allowed Garcia to
get a handle on the tooling process and log specifications
necessary for the job. A sample mock-up of the actual corner
was presented for the client's review. Once the overall look
was approved the project moved forward to pricing and design.
"The initial goal was to implement our
full log system without having to alter the architect's original
design or vision," elaborates Expedition's Craig Seider.
"From my point of view, the most unique quality of the home is the
contrasting styles that you see throughout: touches of modern
architecture paired with the rustic full-log structure; clean lines
contrasted with natural 'imperfect' material." Seider says
his biggest challenge was getting their proven full log structural
system to work within the confines of the architect's already
complete and approved design. "We were able to accommodate
that," he says, "and the end result is stunning!"
Expedition's co-owner and sales
manager, Greg Grimes adds, "Craig actually made numerous
suggestions to the architectural firm, Thomas Kapausta Architects,
out of Chicago. Many of them were ultimately incorporated
into the plan. One of the more interesting aspects of this
project was the combination of a full log primary structure
attached to an angled half-log prow. Many full log structures
include framed gable end walls with half-log siding, but very few
combine both aspects on the main level." A significant
challenge, in addition to creating the new log style, was the
complexity of angle corners specified by the architect.
"Several of the corners were at a135 degrees," says Grimes,
"complex and challenging to construct."
Even though the design arrived at
Expedition as approved architectural plans, it took an additional
six to eight months for the plan to be finalized and approved by
all parties involved in the project. Construction started at
the end of July 2010. The home was set up with temporary
kitchen and laundry facilities for the family to sue on vacation in
August 2011 and then completely finished for a big family
celebration at Thanksgiving.
Clean up and accessorizing were
completed before Christmas of that same year. "Then Jeanne
and I headed home to California," says Dennis Davis.
"construction of the home was steady during all weather conditions,
thanks to DK Log construction and the tenacity and cooperation of
all of the other contractors. Winter in Illinois is beautiful
but challenging for construction progress. I learned, too
late, that shoveling snow is a young man's job!"