Virtual Reality
A family plans their dream log home via the Internet.

With log homes frequently being built as getaway spots many miles away from primary residences, a long-distance construction process can be not only a logistical nightmare but also an increasingly expensive endeavor.

That’s what led Michael Gomez and Rosie Cuellar-Gomez to turn on their computer and rely on the Internet for crucial decisions and even casual browsing in building their Pecos, New Mexico, log home. “The combination of the magazine and the Internet made this building experience an interesting one,” says Michael, whose work requires him to spend much of his time back at the family’s primary house in Texas. “As we are nearly 900 miles away in San Antonio, we were not able to make as many trips to see the building progress as we would have liked.”

Enter Rosie and her computer. “My wife relied on Log Home Living and our Internet access to get this project to completion,” Michael says. “She went from a novice Internet user when we started to an informed and experienced one.”

To hear Rosie describe her adventures, the process has made her an Internet expert. Her approach to building the family’s dream home was methodical, with a clear strategy outlined. “Any company in the magazine that had a web site, whether it was in their ad or in the magazine’s index, I’d look up their site,” she says.

Before surfing the Internet, however, Rosie categorized each of the ads and web sites she found. She had stacks of information related to appliances, flooring, lighting and more. Then it was time to look up her interests on the computer.

Of course, there were the Internet searches Rosie would conduct for anything related to log homes, from producers to designers to decorators to lighting manufacturers. “When I did my initial searches in 1997, there were only a few related companies,” she says. “Now everybody has their own web site.”

The multitude of web sites led Rosie to keep a journal constantly at her side as she looked up companies and products on the Internet. “You need to write down the Internet address of every company you look up,” she says. “It gets a little tricky, because sometimes you’re dealing with a link of a link.”

It was during one of her early Internet searches that Rosie came across North American Log Crafters, a log supplier in British Columbia. The company carried the Swedish cope logs the Gomezes wanted, another decision the Internet helped her reach. Even after settling on a log producer, Rosie’s web searches were far from complete. She quickly discovered that virtually every step of the finish process could be found on the web. “Chinking, stain, any product you can imagine has a web site,” Rosie says. Though Rosie did not select her flooring from the Internet, she did look up the company’s web site to decide on the exact tint of the tiles she’d chosen.

Above all, Rosie enjoyed visiting “virtual showrooms” on the Internet and choosing the home’s accessories. “I never walked into a lighting shop,” she says. “I found all my lighting through web sites and then would call the local suppliers in Santa Fe near the log home.”

The process gave Rosie an endless variety of selections, far more than if she’d just walked into actual showrooms. “It’s great to search for products on the web because you control what you find,” Rosie says. “You’re not limited to what’s on display or out on the shelves.” She was also able to dictate her price ranges and then look up items accordingly. When she did need help or had special questions, Rosie always found company contact phone numbers or e-mail addresses. In addition to a nearly endless assortment of products, Rosie could look up information anytime–”Sometimes late at night,” she says–and could move at her own pace.

“The web gave me more options,” she says. “Otherwise, I never would have gone to Canada for a log home producer. By using the Internet, I really was able to expand my horizons, and the best part was that I never had to leave home.”

It’s also crucial to note the money saved by Rosie’s Internet forays, as opposed to if she’d actually had to head to the job site in New Mexico. “I went to the cabin only three times during the year that the home was built,” she says. “Without the Internet, I would have had to come every month–and paid hundreds of dollars each time in airfare, plus hotel, a rental car and meals.”

Rosie came to rely on many web sites, which include;;;;; and

Every summer and at holidays throughout the year, the couple reaps the rewards of Rosie’s Internet experiences. Family trips to the log home with sons Andres and Evan are moments the Gomezes treasure. “We look forward to it all year,” Rosie says.

Photo Courtesy of the Gomez family