Building a log home is no small undertaking, and reaching a successful end to the process — aka move-in day — always warrants celebration. But, for Mike and Belicia Biskup and their three boys (ages 14, 13 and 11), the log home journey both began and ended with a bang. The couple broke ground on their northeastern Ohio home on July 4th weekend, and they moved in on New Year’s Eve. (Though the couple admits they were rejoicing as much over their new home as over the fact that their five-months of cramped motorhome living was over.
For Mike, stepping foot into the finished house was the realization of a life-long dream. As a young boy, he spent every weekend at his uncle’s Pennsylvania log home, riding four-wheelers and exploring the land. “It was something I always loved, and I said to myself, ‘One day, I’m going to have a log home.’ And now, here we are,” he says.
Being able to watch their three boys enjoying the log home life — and even take part in the building process — has been particularly fulfilling for the couple. “One of the coolest things was seeing our older son work with us through the grading process,” explains Mike. “He knows how to run equipment, so he was out there on a Bobcat helping.”
To prep the five-acre site — “an old farm field” the couple bought from a neighboring friend — Mike, a landscaper by trade, dug a pond at the front of the property to get the dirt needed to bring up grade and planted more than a hundred trees on the property.
When it came time to choose a log home company, the couple explored their options, eventually selecting nearby Hochstetler Milling. The couple officially began the building process during an impromptu weekend camping trip with friends. “We were in the area and everyone else was still sleeping, so we went to take a look at the Hochstetler model,” explains Mike. Three hours later, they were on the path to owning a log home.
The Amish, family-owned company won over the couple for their quality craftsmanship and in-house approach to log home building. “Our process is very in-depth,” explains Hochstetler design consultant Doug Coen. “We lease forests that we manage, own our own rough cut mills and have our own kilns,” he says. “We do everything from start to finish.”
The couple chose 6-by-8-inch eastern white pine D-Logs for the shell. Round, hand-hewn log poles give structural support and add character throughout the shared living spaces. “Mike wanted a rustic look so we used a lot of hand-peeled round poles and left the root flares on some of those poles in strategic locations,” explains the project’s architectural engineer, Steve Lykins.
And it doesn’t get more natural than the show-stopping addition just inside the front door — a tree with a 54-inch-wide root flare. “The tree is the biggest ‘wow’ factor, by far,” Mike says. “People don’t expect to walk into a house and see a tree.” The 24-foot-tall, 16-inch diameter post also serves as the home’s main structural support, which allowed Steve to create the free-flowing living, kitchen and dining area the couple craved.
Because of the open layout, the tree also serves as a strategic point to take cover during the daily Nerf wars that erupt among the Biskup boys. “With the way the house is designed with the catwalk upstairs, it’s a constant playground with projectiles and everything else flying through the house. “It drives us nuts,” laughs Mike, “but it’s really cool for them.
When a Nerf-war truce is in effect, Mike says there is a pervading calm that settles over the house. “Going into this, I didn’t realize the peacefulness and serenity of a log home,” he says. “The biggest high I get from the house is that when you walk in, it’s so quiet and still.” Then, Belicia adds with a laugh, “At least until the kids come home.”
Square Footage: 2,872
Log Provider: Hochstetler Milling