In 2017, the Tubbs Fire tore through Northern California completely incinerating many homes
in Santa Rosa, including the residence of Gary and Lynda Bayless. Undeterred, the couple rebuilt on the same foundation as before — this time, with upgrades. (Of the more than 5,000 Sonoma County homes destroyed in the fire, only Gary and Lynda rebuilt their log home.)
Square Footage: 1,772
Why a Log Home:
After Gary returned from the Vietnam War, the Baylesses’ moved to Carmel County, but they quickly grew weary of the influx of tourists to the area. To escape the bustle, they bought land in quieter Sonoma County and built the home they always wanted: a log home. “I built a cedar log home 45 years ago; that’s what burned in the fire,” explains Gary. “We raised our four boys here, and that’s the main reason we decided to rebuild — for our boys and our grandchildren.”
The rebuild was an opportunity to make major modifications that wouldn’t have been practical otherwise. Besides a bigger kitchen and higher ceilings, the couple opted to include a range of wood species in the new house, provided by Coventry Log Homes
. Cedar, white pine, hickory, spruce and redwood are all used within the home — a response to California’s strict code requirements that mandate certain wood materials be used in specific areas. (For example, per code, the deck had to be made of redwood, and the threat of fire required a sprinkler system and fire-retardant sheathing.) Of course, the mix of materials has a benefit beyond satisfying codes: They create an earthy, heady scent, and the couple often sees the likenesses of animals and people in the various logs and timbers — an activity they refer to as “wood gazing.”
Speaking both from personal experience and as a log home industry pro, Coventry Log Homes’ Kris Still offers these helpful tips for those rebuilding after a tragedy or looking for a fresh start:
See also: Smart Landscaping Strategies to Protect Your Log Home from Wildfires
- Consider the footprint. Many county codes require that you rebuild on the same footprint as the previous home. If the foundation is salvageable, companies like Coventry can take measurements and design a home based on the original specifications.
- Create a home inventory. Keep a running list of your most valuable items, and store it somewhere off site or virtually, such as in an online cloud service. Do this before disaster strikes. “After you’ve been through a tragedy, there’s no way you’re going to remember every little thing that you lost,” says Kris.
- Embrace new opportunities.
- Many older homes weren’t designed to take advantage of their amazing views, or they lack an open-concept floor plan. “It’s an opportunity to rebuild your home, but better,” says Kris. Look for ways you can use the rebuild or renovation to serve your needs in a new stage of life.