Say the words “beach cottage” and chances are a log home isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. Some people believe a log cabin is only suited for the mountains and that putting one along the shore and subjecting it to a daily assault of sea spray is the equivalent of log suicide. Well, the owners of this darling Vancouver Island log getaway and the staff of Summit Log & Timber Homes who designed and fabricated it, couldn’t disagree more. To them, log home living and beachfront living can go hand in hand.
“As with any log home, you want to use a good wood preservative and ensure you have proper overhangs to protect the logs from moisture and the sun,” counsels Robert Lockerby, Summit’s owner. “But in terms of effects from the ocean, there really aren’t any. The more pressing concern with beachfront property is the soil. You need to have a proper, sturdy foundation with adequate footings to handle soil contraction.”
This quaint cottage is a mere 1,079 square feet: 650 of those on the main level and a 429-square-foot loft — a stark contrast from the owners’ primary residence, a farmhouse also located on the island. The rooms are placed and scaled to serve the home’s two primary functions — gathering with friends and family and capturing tranquil views of Qualicum Beach.
Its diminutive size also affords a greater appreciation for the mastery that went into the log work and joinery. The handcrafted western red cedar logs average 12 to 14 inches in diameter and showcase some of the techniques that Summit is known for, including their latewood log finish and signature bell truss.
“In most trusses, the king post terminates at the bottom chord of the truss,” Robert explains, “but what we do is extend the king post below the bottom and flare it out. It gives an extra emphasis on the truss and allows us to preserve the lovely shape of the tree’s root base. Our various truss configurations are something we’re known for in the industry.”
As for the latewood finish, this is a specialized process whereby the bark of the tree is removed using water, leaving the outer cambium layer (and the natural contours of the tree) intact. “The wood gets these little ripples. This is a unique effect you simply can’t achieve with a drawknife,” Robert says, of the process, which has its roots in Japanese timber framing tradition. “To them, the wood is sacred.”
Another feature that makes this cottage a standout is the use of “piece en piece” construction. Piece en piece is a French term, which is essentially the same as full-scribe handcrafting, but rather than interlocking cross corners, the log walls terminate to a vertical post. This type of log construction works well with designs that require minimal to no settling.
“Piece en piece gives us design versatility,” says Robert. “Plus, on a small house like this, eliminating the protruding external cross-corners affords more usable space on decks and patios.”
Whether the owners are enjoying their cottage from the cozy interior or appreciating sweeping sea views from their front porch, they have a breathtaking log setting from which to enjoy it.
Square Footage: 1,079