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Dirt to Done: The Best Laid Plans

With feet firmly grounded in the present but an eye turned toward the future, the Ducharmes embark on one of the most exciting parts of the log home process: design.

Written by Adam Headley


Time waits for no man, woman or log home project. Jim and Michele Ducharme were keenly aware of this fact when they began transitioning ideas for the design of their log home on a wooded tract bordering Salmon Falls River in southwestern Maine. 

The couple spent long hours discussing, imagining and researching just what they wanted in a log home that would serve them well in the present and future. It needed to fit day-to-day living as well as those times that lay ahead.


See also: Plan Your Forever Home


“We wanted to build a home suitable for our current situation: children still living with us, me still working from home and through our eventual retirement,” explains Jim. “We knew we wanted a great place for entertaining our entire family, including eventually – hopefully – many grandchildren. As we were thinking about the design, we thought about key elements that we wanted. For example, Michele wanted the kitchen in the back of the house, we knew wanted a large great room with a grand fireplace and a loft overlooking the great room.” 

Throughout the design process, Jim and Michele displayed a remarkable knack for “getting there.” They scoured magazines for concepts, considered a growing family and then planned for lifestyle changes that will inevitably emerge. Along with their own savvy and skill, they brought technology to bear.

Jim used home-design software to provide perspective, understand which elements worked and which didn’t and help with fine-tuning. “Thanks to this software, I was able to do 3D renderings and even virtual walk-throughs of our design to ‘test drive’ it. This was incredibly helpful,” he explains.


See also:  20 Tips for the Perfect Floor Plan


“However, looking at a design on a computer does have its limitations,” Jim admits. “For one, it doesn’t give you a sense of scale. It’s easy to draw out the design with room sizes, but are they big enough? Too big? This is where we would visit the site with stakes and flagging tape in hand and lay out all the rooms. We were able to stand in our pretend kitchen, walk into our pretend bathroom and get a much better sense of size.”

Assessing the retirement years, the Ducharmes considered 36-inch-wide doorways and a primary bedroom initially on the second floor with ease of transition to accommodations on the main level if stairs become an obstacle. Attention to detail today will pay incredible dividends tomorrow. But there was more – much more – to do.

“I would say the biggest benefit Michele and I had in this process is that we were so aligned on our vision for what we wanted the exterior to look like,” Jim shares. “Once we had that, we needed to consider how to lay out those elements inside the ‘shell’ based on the key elements we spent so much time talking about.”

At this juncture, the couple thoroughly engaged their professional teammates: the Coventry Log Homes group and their builder, Brandon Perry, who made suggestions that preserved the desired aesthetic but solved a structural issue related to trusses in the purlin roof construction. Coventry architects revised the original plans to everyone’s satisfaction.


See also: Finding the Log Company That’s Right for You


This was just one example of the team approach that would eventually render fantastic results. 

Jim and Michele acknowledge the value of their professional partners and advise, “Find your Brandon! Calling Brandon ‘our builder’ doesn’t begin to explain the value he brought. Our advice is to get a builder early in the process simply to give creative input to the design. If you can get him or her to understand and invest in your vision, like Brandon was in ours, they can be instrumental in making your dreams even better.”


Next Installment

As they edge closer to construction, Jim, Michele and their team get the site in tip-top shape.


Take a look at the other installments of Dirt to Done: 

Dirt to Done: The Maine Event

Dirt to Done Video: Episode One

Dirt to Done: Set Your Sites on Success

Dirt to Done: Can I Get a Raise?

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