Building a home is like putting together a puzzle. There are many pieces that need to fit into just the right place before the picture is complete. The building puzzle for Bob and Kathy Cole had many unique pieces that took almost a year and a half to assemble.
The “picture” they hoped to create was a two-level vacation log home on a tranquil lake along the southeastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This would take a team of architects, inspectors, craftsmen, and a respected log home company to pull it together.
The first puzzle piece was the lot. Floridians Bob and Kathy had vacationed with friends on Glenville Lake, near Cashiers, North Carolina, and snapped up a lake lot when it appeared on the market.
“We had been vacationing in the area for 15 years and appreciate the cooler summers,” says Bob, “We decided to build a vacation home here so that we could eventually enjoy this area permanently when we retire.”
The pie-shaped lot they purchased was not the steepest on the lake, but still had a very sharp grade. They knew it would require a bit of engineering to erect a home in such tight constraints. This, in turn, would necessitate an experienced builder who was familiar with building on such a pronounced slope.
Luckily, Willie Farrell of Farrell Log Structures is very familiar. Farrell began building houses in the Colorado Rocky Mountains about 24 years ago. In search of warmer weather, he moved to the Cashiers area 11 years ago and began specializing in log and timber frame construction. His Colorado experience with steep grades and complicated construction sites made him the perfect leader for this project.
At the same time, the Coles were searching for a log home company that could deliver a complete and durable package. This piece of the puzzle was key, as Cashiers is located in the only temperate rain forest east of the Mississippi and having a moisture-resistant log was top priority.
The Coles located a company near their home in Florida, which also is the corporate headquarters for Suwannee River Log Homes. Suwannee River’s 20 years of experience with custom homes and work with insect- and moisture-resistant cypress log structures was all the evidence the Coles needed to place that piece of the puzzle.
“When Bob and Kathy Cole approached us to possibly build their mountain log home, they mentioned that they were building near a lake in North Carolina,” says David Miller, vice president of Suwannee River Log Homes. “This lake location tends to be humid and there are not many wood species that can handle these conditions. This was the reason Bob and Kathy showed an interest in cypress.”
Cypress grows in the coastal region along the Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and up to Delaware coastline. Since it already grows in a tropical environment that produces a lot of rain, it’s an ideal wood to build by a lake. It’s also a very dense wood — the tree’s growth rings are close together — and will shrink less than wood native to other climates.
The next piece of the puzzle was finding a floor plan. The Coles were drawn to Suwannee’s Silverado model. The plan has a 20-foot cathedral ceiling with a king truss and more than 1,900 square feet of main-level living space. The square footage is duplicated on a lower level that opens to a lakeside dock.