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1808 Bob Timberlake Log Cabin Project Diary

Restoration of a 200-year-old cabin
by Country's Best Log Homes Editorial Staff
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Butch Phillips and Bob Timberlake pose outside Bob’s studio in Lexington, N.C. The larger of the two structures, the cabin used to create the studio was completed in 1809 and measures 26-by-52 feet. The original footprint of Butch’s cabin is 20-by-40 feet.

Who knew back in 1808, when this massive authentic log cabin was built, that 200 years later, it would bring together two gentlemen who share the same passion—old log cabins?

One was Bob Timberlake, a famous, well-known artist from Lexington, N.C., whose work encompasses an array of paintings featuring Mother Nature to a simple flower blooming against an old rock wall to the warmth of his fine furniture collection.

The other man, Butch Phillips, is the founder of Grandfather Mountain Log Homes from Pittsboro, N.C. Although he produces traditional log homes and cabins, his passion is reclaiming authentic antique log cabins. “You cannot reproduce the hand-hewn marks or the aroma of a 200-year-old log, but you can preserve it for others to enjoy for another 200 years to come,” he notes.

Through conversation, and mutual interest and friends, Bob and Butch were introduced, and the story begins. According to Dan Timberlake, Bob’s son, the cabin to Bob’s studio was disassembled and stored. It was clear that there was no more room to build this cabin, and they wanted to know if Butch had interest in buying the cabin. The answer was “yes.”

“The purpose of building this cabin is very simple: It is for my family and friends to enjoy—to finally create a cabin that hopefully will be enjoyed by all who sit, relax and reminisce about the past, present and future,” Butch says.

Join us as we start the step-by-step journey of rebuilding and recreating a log cabin of yesteryear.


Log Home Diary: Entry #1

1808 Bob Timberlake | Open SpaceFinding the right location.
By Butch Phillips

We’ve finally found it: the perfect location to put the 1808 log cabin! After only 18 months of searching, we have the most undeniable setting you could imagine.

During a conversation, Bob Timberlake asked me, “What do you plan to do with the cabin, and where are you going to put it?” I answered the “what” question—to create a guest cabin for family and friends—but in terms of where, I told Bob I had no idea. My wife, Karen, asked me the same question: “Well, where do you put the cabin?” It’s simple: The mountains I’ve been building and developing on the last nine years in Boone, N.C., and Blowing Rock, N.C., along the Blue Ridge Parkway…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #2

1808 Bob Timberlake | Front and Rear Revised Floor PlansBlueprints and Third-Party Inspections.
By Butch Phillips

Obtaining your building permit from the county and/or state can be an eye-opening experience, to say the least. Building inspection offices are for the protection of consumers against people who build or use inferior products. And when it comes to old log cabins, we have to deal with the past, present and future of these products.

The past: What can time tell us? Our 1808 cabin has withstood the test of time—storms that can snap trees like toothpicks and make rooftops sail, hurricanes and high winds that can cause walls to collapse. Only solid foundations can survive Mother Nature’s unbridled fury. Our cabin stood for 200 years, braving the Civil War, Great Depression and harsh winters, because its builders were great craftsman. The homesteaders built their cabins to endure hot summers and cold winters, harsh times and good times; it was their home…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #3

1808 Bob Timberlake | Waving flag in front of logsRelocating an Authentic Log Cabin
By Butch Phillips

How many disassembling and moving processes must an authentic log go through from the time you find it until it is finally reconstructed? The answer is many times—too many to count. In fact, the more I count the heavier the logs become!

The thing about old cabins is that, although some cabins are just standing there in their original form, some have been covered with layers of updated siding as the home grew with each generation of homeowners—from old stamped shingle patterns in either red or gold hues to lap wood siding and even additional layers of vinyl, brick or rock. Once those layers have been removed, then you can start actually disassembling the cabin, preferably in late fall after the first good heavy frost to avoid possible bee or hornet nests. (Wintertime is best, but the cold winds can blow right through you.)…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #4

1808 Bob Timberlake | Reclaimed stoneworkObtaining Additional Reclaimed Materials
By Butch Phillips

Never in my 19 years of authentic cabin hunting have I found a log cabin that was 100 percent complete—i.e., all the logs were intact and in great condition, the roof had no leaks, all the joists and flooring were without sag or rot—just sitting there waiting for the right person to come by and simply relocate this perfect cabin to its new site. Instead, it is quite the opposite.

Six to 10 years ago, you could find cabins that would grade out 80 percent of the logs or better. Today, there are less authentic log cabins, old barns and other wood structures available, so you take what you can get and be thankful. For example, back in 2008 and 2009, we must have looked at 20-plus cabins and purchased three; one man gave us one that wasn’t worth hauling off. Finding the a good cabin requires a lot more traveling, reclamation of more old structures and less yield per unit for your work. Count on discarding about 40 percent of the materials in any structure because of damage, decay or breakage during takedown…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #5

Surveying the Area and Positioning the Cabin
By Butch Phillips

One of the major decisions to make during the building process is where to place a cabin. But isn’t it fun. Many people have walked onto their property and said, “This is it. Right here is the perfect spot—no question!” Then they decide to tweak it, moving it backward and forward, right to left. Patience will be tested in by how many times the cabin may be moved. There are so many things to consider: the perfect site, angle, approach and axis.

At Justice Plantation, there were only two decisions to make in determining where to place the 1808 log cabin. The area where the cabin would be placed on the plantation was a given, but positioning the cabin properly might take a little planning. Not only did I have to contend with the basic elements of siting the cabin…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #6

Weather Issues: Rain Plus Snow Equals Delays
By Butch Phillips

Even the best-made building plans can come to a screeching halt and leave your hands tied. It is called weather. We always factor in additional build time due to weather delays–typically two weeks in flat areas and 30 days in the high country. That does not always work out; sometimes you have only have a few days of bad weather, depending on what time of year you are building. In our case, we are only 89 days behind schedule because we elected to work with the current weather conditions: rain–some days three to four inches–snow, freezing rain, and more rain and snow.

The ground was saturated. The grass had plenty of water and was in good shape, but that all changed drastically when we brought in the equipment to dig the footers for our cabin. We created nothing but a mud pit. The grounds went from wet grass to knee-deep mud and a torn-up work area. Even when the footers had been dug out, rain filled them up with water…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #7

Zoning: Residential to Commercial
By Butch Phillips

I’m not going to pretend to be an advisor or attorney on this topic — I’m far from it. I’m just a log cabin guy with a passion for old authentic log structures and hearing about things of the past from the old timers. There aren’t many old timers left here in Chatham County, North Carolina. (At 53, I might become one of the “old timers” before long.) I’ve seen and am seeing a lot of changes here — some bad, some good. Drastic changes for land use and raised fees for residential building are making it almost impossible for small businesses to come into Chatham County, including our planned development.

Every county in North Carolina has different zoning rules and regulations. Do your homework before building: Get your facts from all the different departments in your county before you ever start a project that requires zoning…(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #8

Easement Issues
By Butch Phillips

Be skeptical when you purchase land, especially if the word “easement” is mentioned. Some property provides direct access for its owners and does not require an easement; other land requires an easement that allows you to go across another property owner’s land to gain access to your property. In my case, the land I purchased required an easement.

Easements are common. Most banks require a 30-foot deeded easement to obtain a loan. In the offer to purchase the land, you ask for such an easement. At closing, you ask to see the easement in writing. Once you are satisfied, it is written in the general warranty deed. You check to see if it is there, and you close on the purchase of your land. The attorney has done a title search, everything looks right, so what can go wrong? …(Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #9

On the Road Again: Seeking County Approvals
By Butch Phillips

My last entry was less about a bump in the road and more about a pothole knocking the tires clear off my truck. Thankfully, we’ve had some relief on the easement issue, so now the situation is closer to driving with three good tires and a spare. Starting this week, we’ll move forward with the Chatham County minor subdivision and rezoning applications.

This process is not for the light-hearted; if it were easy, then everyone would take on such a task. I paid dearly for permitting in June 2009. (See Entry #2 for a brief recap.) We received approvals for septic permits that included the existing 1908 Justice house, 1808 Timberlake cabin, the proposed Magnolia Barn and Pecan Grove Catering, and the old Johnny house … (Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #10

Is It Worth the Effort?
By Butch Phillips

After the past few entries, one might wonder: Is relocating an authentic log cabin worth the effort? Yes, it is worth every minute, every dime and every bee sting. I may differ some afternoons, after preparing maps and documents for the county appearance commission or re-zoning board, moving debris, or cleaning out old barns and buildings (although I think I’ll take the cleanup and yard work over the journey of obtaining all the approvals).

I have to do it, though. Although it may be a challenge at times, I look up and see the old farm, smell the hundreds of roses surrounding the old farmhouse, hear the birds singing and feel the heritage it had and what integrity it still holds today. There aren’t many places left in America like this, and that allows my inspiration to grow more each day. … (Click to continue)


Log Home Diary: Entry #11

New Find — An Old Civil War Log Cabin
By Butch Phillips

After dwelling on the legalities that have essentially put this project on hold (and will hopefully be settled in July 2010), I finally have some positive news to share: not one, but two old cabins to complement the Timberlake cabin I’ve been trying to build and provide additional lodging on the Justice Plantation property.

The first is an 1850s pre-Civil War Virginia log cabin that is, to say the least, beautiful. It has two full stories of 8-inch-thick, 12- to 18-inch-face oak logs with huge V-notched corners that will grade out 90 percent. What is rare about this log cabin is the long lengths are still there and have not been cut. … (Click to continue)

Published in Country's Best Log Homes
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One Response

  1. This is a grate project to see. I have seen reclaimed projects in Montana for sale ( a bit overpriced out there) but its time people used what is out there instead of everything brand new and never as good a quality of old forest wood. Best of luck with this project.

    dusty fisherOctober 30, 2009 @ 7:18 pmReply



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