Our First 10 Years

At the end of the second day an inspector from the County Building Department showed up wanting to see the permit number. We gave him Sam’s name and number. We were told that night to continue building, that everything was in order… by Sam. By noon the next day the inspector was back and ordered us off the property and to stop work. That afternoon we went golfing at a nearby course. “Hey, we had room in my truck for two sets of clubs and we both loved the game. No good, but we loved it.” Again we were told to continue and again to stop work and leave. Golf again. Of course, same thing happened the next day. At least our game was improving. When it happened again a neighbor asked if we’d like to go sailing that afternoon. “Hmmm, golf or sailing?” His mom owned a small sail boat and we headed out in the Monterrey Bay for a wonderful day. This was living and we got to spend an afternoon skipping across the waves. By the final day, as we’re decking the roof, up comes the inspector with the local Sheriff ready to throw us in jail. We talked our way out of it and high-tailed it back to Oregon. Sam never did have a permit, but was trying to convince someone at the County that it was a temporary structure. I think we ended up sending two more log houses to his customers, but that was it. Doris was always trying to convince me to fly herself and a photographer out to California to cover Sam’s exploits. We liked the idea of being featured in an article for her magazine. I was willing, until she gave me an estimate of her expenses, than passed. I didn’t feel like paying for both of them to vacation in California for a week, staying at four star hotels and eating lobster tails.

We never did send a log home to Tennessee, for her world headquarters, but ran a few ads and were always listed in her Annual Buyers Guide showing all of the leading manufacturers. A few years later the magazine disappeared, nothing about the world headquarters was advertised and we all found out that Doris and her husband were living in the Cayman Islands. Is this a trend or is it just my luck? “What, something wrong with the food in Europe?” I was worried that they were not eating the best island food, or putting on the proper tanning lotion. She probably would have been very successful if she stuck with it, because now there are six national log home publications and they’re all doing very well. No world headquarters, but that’s OK. We all trusted her to lead our little industry in the right direction, but not to the Caribbean and numbered bank accounts. At least things were going better for us, so we bought out our fourth and got it down to three working partners at Homestead.

To keep busy we undertook all kinds of various projects. One weekend Tom and I bid to re-stain a log home in the area, not even one of our homes. It was extra money and a two day job. One of us was busy taping off windows and the other operating an airless paint sprayer. On the final day the owner drove us up to another log home that was partially completed. The bank had pulled the plug on the owner/builder because of the shoddy workmanship. I won’t name names, but it was the largest log home manufacturer at the time with mills in Nevada, Montana and Vermont. They had dealers in all fifty states and made every buyer a builder/dealer.

Their logs were peeled with a spiral de-barker and looked like barber poles. The wall logs varied between seven inches and eleven inches in diameter, but weren’t even beveled to match at their splices. A hardboard spline was set in a groove as each log was spiked together with gaskets. The owner must not have bought a level because the walls curved like a snake from top to bottom. Unfortunately, they had also spread outwards making the rafters too short, not reaching the ridge beam. Instead of starting over or re-notching the birds-mouth, he just added more spikes. The gaps were around four inches on each side and you could see all the spikes, some with six nailed in for each rafter. For his finishing touch he used the rough sawn sticker material that came as shipping pieces as the window and door trim. He just nailed it on, not even mitering it to fit. I learned why the banks in our area had given our customers such a hard time, the word was out. From then on they all required a general contractor’s signature and guarantee on the construction loan application.