Kevin and Jill Piccoli have as much need for a log home as anybody. Working in New York City can provide great ups and downs, and also the need for some time away.
“We first purchased our land in May of 2000,” Jill said for this web-exclusive home tour. “After living though the events of 9/11 (Kevin was across the street from the towers when the first plane hit), we find much solitude in our log cabin. The minute we leave NYC and start the drive to the cabin, we start to decompress. It is as if we are in a different world. Being with nature and seeing all that Mother Nature provides us gives us the ability to face another week in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.”
Kevin, Jill, their son Michael (14) and their 7-month-old Bernese mountain dog Buddee retreat to the home as often as possible, and Kevin and Jill plan to retire there. They began to plan years ago and found Alpine Log Homes at a log-home show, then hired John Berger Building Contractors in West Kill, N.Y., as the builder and general contractor.
Building started on July 4, 2005, and took 18 months — a fairly typical time frame … unless you work in NYC.
“Being someone who works in New York City, everything took longer than I thought it should have,” Jill says. “ I have come to learn with my log home living, that all good things come with time.”
The Piccoli’s were on site virtually every weekend. “During the drive up to the house the conversation was always around ‘how much do you think they got done?’ ” Jill says. “This lead to either ecstasy or frustration upon arrival, depending on the amount of work done during the week.”
Jill and Kevin answered these questions for the Log & Timber Homes Network.
Did the site affect the design?
We wanted the front of the house to have a lot of windows to take in the views of the valley; the side of the house, off the master bedroom, to have a private deck to view the 3-acre lake, and a deck off our son’s room on the third floor.
How far is the home from the road? Was it difficult to hook up utilities?
The home is located one mile, 1600 foot vertical climb, off of the main road. The road is at a 15 degree slope with three hairpin curves, which made for some exciting times when we had to have 5 tractor trailer loads of logs climb the mountain. To make matters worse, the second and third load arrived at the same time a hurricane hit the area with gale-force winds and sheets of rain! We ended up unhitching the trailer and hooking up the flatbed with the logs to a special “yard tractor” and supplemented the power with a log skidder in the front pulling the rig and a log skidder in the rear pushing the tail end around the curves.
Utilities were brought up the mountain on poles to the edge of the woods and then ran underground to a transformer behind the garage and then underground to the home.
Any surprises during construction?
No real surprises, thanks to a lot of advanced planning and good communication between us, the general contractor and the sub contractors
What type of sound system do you have?
We installed a Bose surround sound system in the great room and Bose speakers in the dining room, kitchen and on the deck.
Did you use Smart House technology?
In every room of the house, we installed two Cat-6 cables, telephone and Cable TV cabling. We also installed cable “pull throughs” in key locations throughout the house to facilitate rewiring in the future.
Any special lighting features?
All of our lighting matches the cabin décor and was selected through extensive Internet searches. After selecting the lights we wanted for every room, we worked with one lighting store we found on the web and they were able to obtain all of our lights at a volume discount.
Tell us about the bathrooms.
The master bath has a Jacuzzi tub with windows that overlook the lake; there are 3 and ½ baths each with a cabin theme (camouflage for our son’s bath, pine cone, moose and bear)
Did you provide for specific changes/improvements at a later date?
We intentionally designed the house with the master bedroom on the main floor so that later in life we would minimize going up and down stairs. We also wired every room with Cat-6, cable and telephone.
Do you have any special memories of the construction of your log home?
Whenever possible, my son (12 at the time) and I worked with the contractor in building the house. We helped dig the foundation, put the logs in place, and helped shingle the roof.
What type of flooring did you use?
After researching various flooring we decided on a Vermont hickory floor for the main floor and upper floor as this would stand up to our Bernese Mountain dog. For the ground level and foyer, we used a native blue stone in uneven shapes.
What type of cabinetry is used in the kitchen? Any special appliances/finishes used?
The cabinets were custom designed by a local designer and were installed by cutting them into the logs. The countertop is a granite top-mined from the area (it is Adirondack Garnet, which is the top layer of the local granite containing pieces of garnet stone)
Tell me about the stone fireplaces.
The home has two fireplaces (in the great room and family room) and one Vermont Casting gas stove in the master bedroom. The stone on the fireplaces is the same as the stone on the outside of the house, a native river rock. To help lower the heating bill, we have built in Heat-a-lator fans to provide better hot air circulation.
Any special lighting features?
We had three antler chandeliers built by a local schoolteacher/part time chandelier maker; all of the fixtures have a cabin theme and were selected through much research on the web.
Any special heating used?
We used radiant heating on the first and second floors with old-fashioned radiators on the third floor
Tell us about the décor of your home.
It is a cabin theme throughout. Each room has its own theme – evergreen trees, moose, bear, duck, and camouflage for our son. Throughout the home we have local animals, all caught on the property, and preserved by a local taxidermist – we have a bobcat lying on a truss in the great room, posed on alert for his next prey; a raccoon climbing up a log in the loft; a turkey in flight over the great room; a porcupine sitting on the bar; a bear to meet you coming up the stairs; and a fox resting above the door in the master bedroom. We also have hand -arved bear and raccoon in the posts for the staircase and on the main fireplace mantle.
What are your guests’ reactions to your log home? Do you entertain a lot?
We entertain as much as possible; we love to show off our log home! We have a guest book where each guest writes about their experience, the animals they saw, and the adventure they had (hiking, ATVing, snowmobiling, fishing, or just being lazy.)
What is your favorite room of the home?
Our favorite room is the great room. Here we are a family, watching the sunset, playing cards, reading a book and just unwinding from the everyday stress that we left behind.
Would you recommend others to build their own log home?
Absolutely, there is nothing like the warmth and comfortable feeling that a log home brings. It is the epitome of country living.
Tell us about the log package that you used for the home.
Alpine Log Homes provides hand-hewned logs. The logs were cut, assembled and numbered in Montana and then disassembled and shipped to NY state. Alpine sent a foreman to the site to assist the contractor in the erection of the logs. The “package” provided design and architect services and the logs. Everything else had to be provided by the contractor.
What type of wood species?
Alpine uses pine from the Pacific Northwest that has been standing dead for at least 5 years to minimize the moisture content and shrinkage.
What’s the type of corner notching, size of logs?
Cove notches, with a log size of 10” to 14.”
What is the square footage of the home?
7,400 square feet
Do the logs have any special treatments (hand hewn, scribed, etc.)
The logs are hand-hewned with many having special characteristics such as burn marks or knots to add character.