Sweat Equity, Sweet Serenity

By Iyna Bort Caruso
Photography by Roger Wade

Scott Moran spent a decade running an ambulance service, overseeing 140 employees and dealing with 911 emergencies. After life in the rescue-and-recovery business, he says, “the serenity of a log home in the country has great appeal.”

And so does the home. The sprawling gabled residence is set on 70 acres in rural Cambridge, Wisconsin, a 15-minute drive east of Madison.

Moran sold the ambulance business in 1998 and invested a solid year of his time building the home he and his wife, Tonna, long imagined. “Ever since I a was teenager I always dreamed of owning a log home, and my wife had the same aspiration.”

The Moran home is a custom 5,800 square foot plan with thermal log construction that features 8″ white pine logs with saddlenotch corners. Moran liked the beefy designs offered by Wisconsin Log Homes — which employs a full-time in-house design department — and its detailed engineering approach.

The logs for the Moran home, like other Wisconsin logs, were machined to close tolerances so everything fit together on site. They were also shaped with a drawknife, resulting in a more traditional, rustic look and one that better holds the stain. For continuing log health, the raw exterior was given a good cleaning and then sprayed with borate, which acts as a preservative and natural insect repellent.

Moran particularly liked Wisconsin Log Homes’ use of heartwood, but it was the thermal log system that won him over. Tom Steber, director of national independent sales for the company, says the thermal log system “gives us the energy efficiency we’re looking for.” It’s super insulated with 6″ thick corewalls. The core is airtight and draft-free, and once the home is done, Steber says “there’s never a settling issue.”

Here are more ideas that the Morans used for their home’s design:

  • His-and-hers closets, a study and a bathroom with side-by-side showerheads in the master suite.
  • A Heatmor stainless steel outdoor wood boiler was installed 265 feet away from the house. A lean-to shop houses the firewood. The boiler supplies heat and hot water to the home and two other buildings on the property, a woodworking shop and a storage building/mechanical shop.
  • A heavily landscaped half-acre features three ponds interconnected by streams circulating 10,000 gallons of water every hour. What was once a grassy knoll with a dilapidated barbed-wire fence is now a mini ecosystem, which serves as a home to diverse wildlife and restored prairie grass.

To read the full story of the Morans building project, check out the October 2004 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.