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Log Home Journey: Why a Log Home was Just Right

The log home journey begins for Gary and Becky Saymansky! Come along with us as they plan, build and achieve their dream log home in the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania.

Written by Gary Saymansky
Photography by Gary Saymansky

Let us begin by introducing ourselves. We are Becky and Gary Saymansky from Darlington, Pennsylvania. Darlington is a little town about an hour northwest of Pittsburgh dotted with a lot of small, picturesque farms — one of which we’re proud to call ours. This is where we will be building our log home.

Our journey began about four years ago as we were watching TV in our bedroom. During a thunderstorm, it began to rain right through our ceiling. After all was said and done, there were numerous buckets and a good four inches of water. That’s when we looked at each other and said, “It’s time!”

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The house that we currently live in was built on the family farm in 1838. It was designed as an inn on the Pittsburgh-Youngstown-Cleveland stagecoach line. It has double brick walls, which were kilned on the property and coated in plaster. Houses built in that era had very limited closet space and no insulation. Plumbing and electrical lines were added in the early 1900s, but only included one plug in each room. Both utilities would need major updating to meet code; and due to the enormous cost, that wasn’t really feasible. It also had only one bathroom, and the make-shift shower was in the stone basement.

Another major problem: Due to the lack of insulation, heating and cooling was a nightmare. During the winter months, once the bricks lost the heat they absorbed during the summer, it became very cold inside, and the cost of heating oil was outrageous! Likewise, when the bricks heated up in the summer, it was a sauna in the house.

We tossed around many different types of homes to buy/build — modular, stick-built, custom, log — and after educating ourselves on the various styles, the vote was unanimous. While we were shopping one day, we saw a copy of Log Home Living and came across an advertisement for Hochstetler Milling. Since their office and mill is located only about 80 miles away in Loudonville, Ohio, we decided to take a drive out. That was the best decision we made, as we fell in love with the log home concept!

The design we were leaning toward had everything that we were looking for, including the custom-built look, open floor plan, lots and lots of closet space, a pantry, laundry room and Becky’s dream kitchen! (Our final floor plan and layout will be discussed in detail in a future installment.)

See also The Sacrifices of Building a Log Home

From that point on, we taught ourselves as much as we could about log homes. We read magazines, enrolled in seminars such as The Log & Timber Home University and attended Hochstetler’s Log Cabin Days out at the mill where we saw a log cabin being built firsthand. We also contacted our local building inspector to get his input. After all of our “homework,” we decided that Hochstetler Milling was the perfect fit for us!

So, for the next year, we invite you to follow us on our log home journey. If all goes according to plan, we will have the log home we’ve dreamed of — and we’ll all learn a little something along the way.

The Saymanskys’ current home dates back to 1838 and has all the issues you’d expect from a house that’s approaching 200 years old.

Gary’s Log Home Guidance

Throughout our journey, Becky and I will offer tips that we feel were important to our decisions. We hope our experiences help you start a log home journey of your own.
Tip #1: Regardless of the house you want to build, make sure you educate yourself and then learn some more! Trust us: You can never have too much information.

Hochstetler Milling’s Log Cabin Days

Scenes from Hochstetler Milling’s Log Cabin Days, which feature demonstrations, horse-and-buggy rides and fun for the whole family. During Gary and Becky’s research into the best log home provider for them, they made the 80 mile drive to visit Hochstetler’s facilities in Ohio during Log Cabin Days and were sold on the Amish-based company’s time-honored techniques, attention to detail and approach to the log home design and construction process.

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