Home by Satterwhite Log Homes | Story by Danny Grizzle | Photography by Danny Grizzle, Peter Grizzle assistant
Finding the ideal spot for a second home or retirement residence can be a challenge, but not for Mike and Lois Johnson. They simply moved up the mountain from their existing cabin to build a spectacular new dream home.
Twenty one years ago, the thought of moving away from metro Atlanta was not such an easy choice.
“Mike wanted a place in the mountains, but I was a little unsure of being that far out of the city,” Lois recalls. How things have changed. "Now, the mountains are home,” Lois says. “Work is in Atlanta, but whenever we are there, we can’t wait to get back to our home in the mountains.”
The Johnsons’ new mountain home began when the couple visited the Satterwhite Log Homes office and show home on Highway 515 just north of Ellijay, Georgia. Lois was captivated.
“The Satterwhite Mountain Laurel is fabulous. There is something about it unlike anything I’d seen before. Not just a cabin, but a home. Contrasts, colors, textures, details — this was nothing like a typical monotone all-wood mountain cabin.”
First impressions are one thing, but far more important is satisfaction with the final result. Lois knew they needed to find a builder to make their home project a success.
“At first, I was concerned that Satterwhite does not contract construction in Georgia,” Lois says. “Instead, they gave me a list of qualified local builders.”
Satterwhite’s Don Estes explains the reasoning behind using local talent. “For over 35 years, Satterwhite has been the dominant log-home builder in the south central United States, and we contract construction in many areas of the country. But when we opened offices in Georgia and in Utah, it made better sense to work with local builders, not compete against them. The customer gets the combination of outstanding Satterwhite materials and locally experienced builders with established reputations.”
In Satterwhite seminars, held each spring and fall, Sam Satterwhite confirms: “Building a custom home can be one of life’s great experiences, or one of the worst. Contracting is not a simple matter of getting bids. If specifications are good, bids will be very close. Apart from the money, it is critical to get people you like. Life is too short to work with unpleasant people.”
Lois knew she had to find a compatible builder, because she would be managing the construction project in the mountains while Mike attended to business in Atlanta. To begin her project, Lois carefully interviewed builders, checked references, contacted previous customers and inspected past work before selecting Tim Hall as her builder.
As construction progressed, Lois showed support for her team by supplying the crew with cookies and pies. And dropping by with baked goods helped her keep tabs on the project. “I wanted to see what they were doing,” she admits. To her delight, the project went very smoothly. “We’ve built other homes, but this one was different. Everything was such a pleasure.” In every project, there is give and take. “Tim made huge contributions with suggestions that were important to me,” Lois recalls. At the same time, plans as built sometimes vary from plans as drawn, especially on large projects that evolve during construction. “It is important to work with people who are flexible,” Lois says. “Both parties, customer and builder, need to be good listeners and keep communications open.
Thanks to everyone’s hard work, the finished project lives up to the Johnsons’ vision. Beyond offering a range of styles and sizes of logs, Satterwhite offers a wide variety of beams, posts, railings and specialty finishing woods. These are much in evidence in the Johnson home, adding color, variety and style.
“We love this home,” Lois says. She and Mike plan to retire here someday, but already their dream home in the Appalachian Mountains is truly the home of their hearts. As Lois says,“There is something special about coming here. Worries and stress fade away. Friends and family gather. There are quiet moments in early morning, listening to birds over a cup of coffee. It is wonderful. We are so blessed.”