As the fourth-largest state, Montana draws land-seekers from all over the country; after all, the picturesque state abounds with pristine property for sale. Yet, surprisingly, when Montana residents Julianne and Sean Hinchey set out to purchase a lot for their weekend retreat, they had to wait several years for their dream site to materialize.
“We had our hearts set on property on Lake Five,” explains Julianne, describing a tranquil community in the footsteps of Glacier National Park. “Unfortunately, there are only about 30 cabins or so on the lake, and it’s really hard to come by property there since most people have had the land in their families for years.”
Though nothing surfaced initially, Julianne and Sean didn’t give up. They had fallen head-over-heels in love with the area — and with each other — during their law school years, when they often visited Sean’s family who had property nearby along the Flathead River.
“We actually wrote letters to every single person who owned property on Lake Five,” recalls Julianne. “We expressed our interest in owning property there and asked them to contact us if they were ever ready to sell.”
Though it didn’t happen overnight, the Hincheys eventually received a call from one of the Lake Five property owners. They jumped at the opportunity and quickly became the owners of a picturesque lot that offers about 200 feet of lake frontage. They opted to keep a trailer on the site for a few years while they planned their dream home.
“We knew we both wanted a log home, though for different reasons,” says Julianne. “I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and my family had a weekend lakeside home that I loved. My husband is from California, and he was just psyched about the whole rugged log-home thing.”
Laying the Logs
Thankfully, getting the log-home project started proved a lot easier than finding the property. After looking through a bunch of log-home magazines, the Hincheys brainstormed a basic floor plan, then brought it to Top Notch Log Homes in nearby Columbia Falls, Montana. (The company has since renamed itself Natural Log Creations.) The design team at Top Notch helped make the plan a reality.
“Basically, we wanted a place where we’d be able to just look out on the lake and unwind,” shares Julianne. “So we needed a floor plan that would maximize the views without taking away too many of the trees on the site.”
The log package is just as striking as the view itself. The custom, handcrafted log home features hand-scribed tamarack logs with fully scribed natural corners. “All of the logs were hand-selected and hand-peeled, and scribed with single-notch, full-round corners,” says Kevin Peterson, owner of Top Notch Log Homes. “All of the logs are dry, standing-dead timber from Montana, ranging in size from 14 to 20 inches.”
The crew at Top Notch took several months to build the custom package on the company lot; then it was shipped to the Hincheys’ site, and the team erected the custom-built log shell within two weeks. “The building process went very smoothly,” recalls the log provider.
Once the Top Notch crew was done with its portion of the job, the Hincheys needed a master builder to complete the 1,500-square-foot home. They found that in local carpenter Bruce Jungnitsch, who tragically perished in an avalanche in January 2011. “The story of this house is really all about the talented man who built it,” emphasizes Julianne. “Bruce was a fabulous guy who was humble, honest and incredibly talented. We were amazed at his work.”
Living the Life
Thanks to Jungnitsch’s fine craftsmanship, the Hincheys’ home boasts exquisite detail and is a lasting legacy to the man who built it. The home’s old-fashioned decor, combined with its breathtaking views and come-on-in ambience, gives the cabin an irresistible charm. “It’s exactly what we envisioned and more,” gushes Julianne.
Whether they are hiking, fishing or simply sitting back on their deck to take in the view, the Hincheys know they have created a place where they can always unwind.
“As lawyers, we lead somewhat of a hectic life, and our cabin provides great solitude and relaxation for us,” explains Julianne. “When we arrive, our shoulders immediately go down and we feel much better. When we walk out on that deck and take in the view, it’s like being in heaven.”
As the Hincheys sit and gaze across Lake Five, they can’t help but think about their quest to find land, the fine craftsmanship of the late Bruce Jungnitsch and the great memories they have now created at their weekend retreat. Julianne sums it up best, saying, “It really is a dream come true.”
With a smart layout and such attention to detail, the owners who recently purchased Highlands’ spec home are bound to agree that this log package is nothing short of spectacular.
Home Plan Details:
Square Footage: 1,500
Log species: tamarack larch
Builder: Bruce Jungnitsch
Dining room light fixture: Alpine Lighting Center, Kalispell, MT (406-756-2539; alpinelightingcenter.com)
Log provider: Natural Log Creations, Columbia Falls, MT (406-892-0596)
Windows: Big Mountain Glass, Whitefish, MT (406-862-4206; bigmountainglass.com)