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the EAM group, inc. - Arizona Log Home Builder
Custom Log Home Builder

Mountain Magic
Story by Carol Sorgen, Photos by Lourie E. Dickson. As seen in Log Home Design Ideas, February 2002

Log homes aren’t an everyday sight in Arizona, but that didn’t stop Taber and Kim Anderson from building one of their own – and in doing so, fulfilling a lifelong fantasy.

“It’s that ol’ Daniel Boone dream,” Taber says. “I’ve always had a fascination with log homes and this was a chance to make that romantic vision come true.”

The Andersons had originally been looking to buy a weekend/vacation home but couldn’t find just what they wanted. They finally decided to build a home of their own. Once they made that decision, their next decision was easy: “Let’s make it special.”

What makes the Andersons’ new home a joy for them is not just the house itself but also its location. The couple, who live in Phoenix with their infant twins, Nate and Lucie, were looking for a site within a two-hour drive and with enough elevation to provide a significant climatic change. The small town of Pine, just 95 miles away, met all their requirements. Situated 6,000 feet above sea level and steeped with – as its name would imply – towering ponderosa pine tress, the property has a spectacular view of the Mogollon Rim, which separates northern and southern Arizona.

Taber is in the building and real estate development business so he wasn’t fazed by the prospect of building his own home. The site did present special challenges though, says Ronald Austerman, president and owner of The E.A.M. Group, Inc., the Scottsdale-based log home general contractor the Andersons chose to work with.

Austerman also says the Anderson property was one of the steepest lots he has ever worked on. This made common considerations especially challenging. They included:

  • Where to place the house to take advantage of the views
  • How to keep the trees that were already on the property
  • Where to locate the septic system on such a steep slope
  • How to deal with the rocky land

Another consideration common to many log building projects – how to move the logs to the building site – was especially challenging since manual labor (no cranes) was used on the Anderson project.

It was Austerman who recommended Precision Craft Log Structures. The Idaho-based log home producer has worked on many homes in Arizona, so Austerman was familiar with the company’s products and thought that bringing Precision Craft and the Andersons together would be ideal for both.

Working with Austerman, Taber and Kim came up with a rough design for their home and Precision Craft took those designs to the final drawing stage. From the beginning, the Andersons were happy with Austerman’s recommendation.

“Precision Craft has a reputation for a sound building system that made sense to me,” Taber says. “Building a log home is a complicated process so it’s good to have a log home supplier who’s on your side, working with you and not against you.”

The Andersons wanted their home to be made almost completely from full logs, not profile logs. “I’ve always been intrigued by full logs and the additional expense to use full logs throughout, even as interior walls, was not enough to make us shy away from that decision,” Taber says. “There’s really no substitute for the look you get when you use full logs.”

The Anderson home features 10-inch Engelmann spruce logs milled with a Swedish cope profile and finished by hand with a drawknife which Anderson says gives the home a more authentic look. Precision Craft had to take into account the extremely dry conditions in Arizona when preparing the logs for Taber and Kim’s home. The lack of moisture in the area did, in fact, cause the logs to shrink, but the company’s thru-bolt system, which allows logs to be tightened in just this kind of situation, eliminated any crises.

Drawing on their own professional expertise – Taber is in construction and Kim is in interior design – the Andersons worked closely with Austerman to design a home roomy enough for guests but not so spacious that it would lose the feel of a log “cabin.” The 2,500 square foot, three-level house has a three-car garage, an 8’ by 15’ wine room that can hold approximately 1,200 bottles and a storage area on the lower level.

A log staircase brings you to the home’s middle level with its center great room – a combined living room, dining room and kitchen. The master bedroom suite is off to one side of the great room; two guest rooms, a laundry room and a pantry ore off the other side. A loft and an additional bedroom and bath are on the third level.

When it came to the home’s décor, the Andersons wanted to create a historic Arizona/Old West feel. They accomplished that with antique movie posters and early twentieth-century Southwestern and Western furniture which lends the home a frontier look with a contemporary flavor. Six-inch wide hickory planked floors, hand painted claw-foot bathtubs in two of the bathrooms and stone showers with chrome faucets are some of the features that add to the old-but-new feeling found throughout the home.

Taber and Kim’s overall objective, however, was not to design a showplace, but simply to create a vacation retreat where their friends and growing family wouldn’t be afraid to sit down and put up their feet. “We wanted the home to be comfortable and inviting,” Taber says.

Though the Andersons are delighted with their home, they admit there are some things they might do differently if they had the opportunity (including the finances). Number one among those changes would be more space. “With a lot of guests – and we’ve had up to 16 at one time – it can be a bit cramped,” Taber says.

He also says he didn’t pay as much attention to windows and doors as he might have and, as a result, the pine framing he selected will probably need to be replaced with a harder wood in the future. If he’d had his druthers, Taber also would have spent more money on landscaping. But those are all small issues, he says, and there is no rush to get everything just so. “This is a work in progress,” he notes.

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