Posts Tagged With: Battle Creek Log Homes

two years, and A LOT of hard work later, the time has come for our final inspection!

For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, perhaps you will recall that it was the first week in September of 2013 when George Lewis rolled in with his giant Tonka toys and single-handedly cleared our lot, helped us decide how to position our cabin with the best possible view of the lake, and then prepared the site for our lovely home to be built. By mid September, Superior Walls had come in and within hours, we had our foundation in place and were ready to have the logs delivered. On Halloween day, Kenneth Lipham and his amazing team of log home builders From Battle Creek Log Homes arrived and proceeded to work seven days a week, sun up to sun down, to build our “little” fishing cabin. Working in the rain after dark on the final day, using the light from their iPhones, the team finally finished their end of the job and had our cabin dried in. They pulled out on Thanksgiving day. Those were exciting times and Dave and I were lucky enough to be down there almost every day to watch the progress! If you missed It then, feel free to scroll back through our blog archives and check out the process!

Since my last blog entry, way back in February, all of our energy has been put into pulling the place together to make it a livable home. This is an ongoing process but one we very much look forward to!

We had been enjoying our fireplace since we’d built our first fire over a year ago, but one thing that had been missing was a mantle. We had chosen a log from one of the hardwood trees that George had left when he cleared the lot, to use for our mantle once we were ready. When we were finally ready to tackle that project, Dave started by sawing the log in half lengthwise, stripped it of it’s bark, and, after several attempts to carve out two arches that would rest perfectly on the two protruding logs he had attached when the fireplace was built, he was finally successful and our new mantel was ready to put into place!

With the fireplace done at last, we moved on to finishing the breakfast bar. We had gone back and forth about how to finish off the side facing the dining area and in the end decided to use some of the left over stone from the fireplace. Three tractor-seat stools we found at Sams Club (of all places) turned out to be the perfect accessories to complete the kitchen/dining area!

Another item that we spent much time deciding over, was what to do about window treatments for the wall of windows over looking the lake. We discovered early on that the sun beats in through the windows by early afternoon and creates quite the heat box in the living room. We needed to figure out something that would protect the interior from sun damage and to keep the place a little cooler, without destroying our beautiful view of the lake or the cozy cabin feeling of the great-room. We perused many a log home magazine looking for ideas, but finding nothing we liked there, we settled upon custom made plantation shutters, crafted by a company called Shenandoah Shutters out of Richmond, Va. This was NOT a cheap option so we were extremely nervous about how the end product was going to look. Thankfully, we were thrilled with the end results once they were installed!

With all of the main projects completed, aside from installing bathroom vanities that we’d been waiting for since January, our time was spent tackling odds and ends that still needed to be taken care of.

Still patiently waiting for our bathroom vanities to arrive, we didn’t let that stop us from having friends and family down to enjoy the place. After all, we did have two working sinks and both showers and toilets in working order as well, so when 4th of July rolled around, we decided it was high time to host our first neighborhood party, complete with real fireworks shipped up from South Carolina! It was a huge success and probably the most action Colemans Lake had seen it years!

When August rolled around, we had one last summer get together with the family before the kids head off to school…

And finally, nine months after our initial order was placed, our bathroom vanities arrive!!!

And so, with the vanities finally in place, two years after construction began, we were ready to have the county inspector out for our final inspection. We passed the erosion and sediment control inspection with flying colors but, although over all the inspector loved what we’ve done with the entire cabin, we had one minor, teensy-weensy detail that prevented him from giving us his seal of approval…the wooden handrails! Apparently, handrails need to be narrow enough for a person to grip with their entire hand. The 4″ x 4″ beams we used on the front steps as well as the 2″ x 4″ on the basement steps, don’t fit the bill. Details. We’ll add a metal pipe handrail, like the one used going up to the second floor, along one side of the front porch rail and also replace the basement hand rail with the same. Easy peasy!

So we’re still not done, but soon, very soon…we will meet again, Mr Inspector….IMG_3836

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day 26-29….and they’re done…

Day 26

It was not even remotely a surprise to Dave and I when, at the end of the day last Monday, the crew was still not finished. However, they had completed the stairs to the second second floor (excellent job José!), attached the front porch rails, put in the fixed widows in the great room, as well as the heavy detail on the roof trim. Dave stayed long after the sun had set and they were still working on laying the last layer of roof felt, in the dark, using their iPhones for light!  Heavy rain was due to set in the following day so it was imperative that they get the felt down before they quit for the night.

Day 27

I drove down Tuesday morning, expecting the crew to be finishing up and leaving that afternoon, and I wanted the opportunity to say goodbye and to thank everyone for all their hard work. ¬†The rain had already begun and there was a bustle of activity inside and outside when I arrived. It seemed clear to me as soon as I arrived that there was still way too much left undone for them to really be leaving that afternoon. However, I knew that even if Jos√© and his crew didn’t leave, Mr. Lipham still needed to leave by the end of the day in order to get home to his family in Tennessee in time for Thanksgiving. Shortly after I arrived, it was discovered that they were 150′ short of roof flashing and asked if I’d run up to Home Depot to pick some up. ¬†Not a huge deal, but the closest Home Depot is thirty minutes back in the direction I’d just driven from. By the time I drove up there, bought the flashing and drove back to the work sight, I knew I’d have to turn around and leave as I had to get home to start prepping for our own Thanksgiving festivities. So much for my thoughts of hanging out to get a group shot of the guys and to say a formal farewell before they wrapped things up and pulled away. There was such a storm of activity inside when I got back, as the crew worked to get things finished, that I felt I was in the way, so, I just snapped a couple of photos, expressed my thanks to Mr. Lipham, wished him a Happy Thanksgiving and off I went in the rain.

Dave went down later that afternoon, after I left,¬†and was able to get the guys to pause for a moment to snap a group shot of the guys on the front porch with his iPhone shortly after he arrived. (You can see in the photo that the rain was pretty heavy at this point.)¬†Regrettably, I had chosen not to leave my camera down there for him to use when I left, so the photo was not the great shot I had hoped for. Still, I’m glad he took it as it was better that not having taken one at all.


The Coleman Cabin building crew! From left to right- Mateo, Raymond, Mr. Lipham, José, Talon, Carlos, Nelson and Miguel

As he left Tuesday evening, they were still working on putting up the railing on the deck, again in the dark, this time using a flashlight that he had happened to bring along. Mr. Lipham did go ahead and take off so he could get home in time for the holiday leaving José and his J. M. Log Craftsman crew behind to finish.

Day 28-29

Dave went back down for a short time Wednesday to find them working away diligently in the heavy, cold rain, pausing every now and then to try and dry their coats by the fire.  They worked through the day Wednesday and finally finished on Thanksgiving day.  Needless to say we were not there to witness them wrap things up and to wish them well as they drove away. Such an anticlimactic ending to the dry in phase of this building process.  Mr. Lipham and Andy will be back in a few weeks to finish up the wiring and staining and to put in the basement windows that had to be reordered as the ones that had been sent did not fit properly.

We went down after Thanksgiving to check things out and, as we walked through the place taking in all of the details, we¬†couldn’t have been more pleased. ¬†It was such a great experience dealing with Mr. Lipham, Jos√© and the rest of the J. M. Log Craftsman team (¬†¬†)¬†and we can’t even begin to express our gratitude and appreciation for all of the effort that they put in to building our home.

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day 24 and 25…they’re still heeere

We had been back and forth as to whether we should have a full masonry fireplace built or put in a more efficient wood burning insert. ¬†After much research on Dave’s part, we decided on an insert, as long as we could find one that would still give us the look of a massive wood burning fireplace that we feel every log cabin needs. ¬†After finding just the right one, Dave, after more research, decided he would be able to install it himself and went ahead and placed the order. Expecting it to arrive after the crew had left, he had it delivered it to our Midlothian residence, hoping it would be in smaller pieces as the total weight would be 600lbs. ¬†We were rather surprised when in showed up two days later, on two separate pallets, one of which we were able to break into smaller sections to get into my van, the other, the insert itself, in one complete piece and impossible for Dave and Max to lift even with a hand truck. ¬†I’d like to give a shout out to our awesome neighbors, Brian and Jason Astroth, and Bill Durow, who came over to lend Dave a hand in hoisting the massive thing onto our trailer so we could haul it down the the cabin…thanks guys we owe you one!!! Once down at the site, it took all six crew members plus Mr. Lipham and Dave, to heave it up the four feet onto the front porch and then bring it into the great room. ¬†Thank goodness they were still here when it arrived! Unfortunately, I was sick that day so there are no photos of the whole production. ūüė¶

It came as no surprise to Dave and I when the end of today arrived and our Battle Creek crew had yet to wrap things up as we had thought it incredibly optimistic of Mr. Lipham when he set today as the new finish date. ¬†They had ended up losing two crew members durning the course of the time that they have been here which has slowed down the progress somewhat and, in addition, there was a discrepancy between what the Battle Creek rep had agreed to have completed for us and what Mr. Lipham and his crew had been expecting to complete. Fortunately for us, Mr. Lipham and crew have been great to work with and, despite running way over their expected finish date, they’ve been knocking out much of the finish work on the outside that they were not expecting to have to do.

They have spent the past two days working on the roof and porch trim, running more electric, starting the steps between the first and second floor and figuring out where all the railings need to be placed.

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day 19 – 23…framing the second floor, sealing the log ends and building the roof system

By Monday of this week the tongue and groove had been replaced on the second floor.  Thankfully, the crew had been able to pull it up and put it back down without damaging the boards!

Once the floor was put back into place, they moved onto framing the bedrooms and guest bath on the second floor.

Much of the week was spent working on the five layered roof system. ¬†First to go down was the tongue and groove that makes up the ceilings of the second floor and great room, over which was placed the first layer of roofing felt. ¬†That was followed by the layer of super thick insulation, followed by a layer of OSB and finally another layer of roofing felt. We’ll eventually have a tin roof placed on top of all of that.

With much of the major building complete, they began to work on smaller details.

We had heard from a few different sources, one of which was the Perma Chink rep at the Log and Home show, that log sealant should be used on the log ends…Mr. Lipham had never heard of such a thing nor seen anyone else seal their log ends in the 14 years that he’s been building log homes. Pretty sure he thought we were crazy for doing it, but we did it non the less. The log sealant turned out to be the consistency of Elmer’s glue and smelled remarkably like it as well. ¬†Actually, it ended up drying somewhat like Elmer’s as well. ¬†We’re now pretty well convinced that’s all it is.

Though Dave had stayed down at the work site till dusk several times, I had yet to be down there long enough to see what the sunset would look like from our deck.  We had arrived so late the day we went down to seal the logs that I finally had my chance as we were just finishing when the sun began to set.

We are still completely amazed that in just over three weeks we’ve gone from having just a foundation to being almost completely dried in! Although the first estimate was to be done in 16 days, Mr. Lipman’s new goal is to be finished tomorrow which will be 25 days…only 9 day over….stay tuned to see if they meet that goal. ¬†ūüėČ

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day 15 and 16….t & g ceilings and…this is why wiring a log home is different than your average house

We both missed going down last Thursday to check out the progress on the cabin and were completely astounded when we arrived Friday at the site of the great room ceiling! We’d seen countless photos of the interior of many a two story great room in our Log Home magazines but were still unprepared for what we walked into that morning…it was simply breathtaking.

Most of the crew worked outside putting up more log siding, finishing off dormers and laying down more roofing felt. They’d been working particularly hard so we thought we’d bring in pizza for lunch.

Although some of the first floor wiring had been done, we hadn’t witnessed first hand just quite how difficult some of the wiring would be. As I had mentioned in a previous post, all of the wire has to be hidden in window and door frames, across the first floor rafters and under the second floor t & g, and also up over the roof for the second floor ceiling lights and fans . ¬†This requires drilling through the heavy 12″¬†timbers and running over half a mile of wire, all to be connected down in the basement.(I’d somehow turned off the autofocus on my camera so some of the photos are slightly out of focus. Boo.)

Andy had to leave at the end of the day to drive back to Alabama and I must admit, we were sad to see him go. ¬†He has added such a positive energy to the work site, constantly laughing, helping everyone out and keeping the entire atmosphere upbeat. ¬†Before he left, he told us not to hesitate to call if we need help while we’re finishing the inside of the cabin…we may just have to “create” a problem so we can call him to come help us out! ¬†;-D

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day 14…closing in the front dormers, framing windows and placing more t & g on the roof

Another unusually chilly and windy November morning on Colemans Lake. I spent most of my time sitting by one of the two fires we had going!

The crew continued to put down the tongue and groove on the roof and to close in the front dormers today.

While most of the crew worked up on the roof, foreman, José, and our multi-talented electrician, Andy, worked on building the frames for the wall of windows in the great room while Dave and Mr. Lipham discussed our ideas for our fireplace.

After helping with the window framing, Andy does a little more wiring while Carlos, Nelson and Mateo start placing the tongue and groove roof around back.



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day 13…building the front dormers and laying the first layer of roof felt

We were very happy to have both Andy and José rejoin our team today! Despite a few snow flurries and crazy cold wind blowing off the lake, the crew started on schedule and began to close in the second floor dormers on the front of the cabin and to lay the first layer of felting on the roof.


While around back, the fireplace box was being closed in, inside Dave discussed with Andy and Jos√© whether or not we could remove one of the off center rafters in the great room ceiling. ¬†In the end we decided to keep it even though structurally it would have been fine with out it, taking it out would be more of a hassle than it was worth. ¬†Andy pointed out that once the tongue and groove ceiling was in and the cross ties up, there would be so much going on up there that we wouldn’t notice it.


view of the back of the cabin today

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day 12…staining the outside of the cabin

Unfortunately, Max was sick the day the crew started staining the outside of the cabin so I missed the big event.  On top of that, Dave forgot to bring my camera with him so what few pictures he took were with his iPhone, which leave a bit to be desired. Better than nothing though and he did get a little video footage:

Getting them to stain the outside for us was definitely a great decision…it would have taken us weeks to do what they did in a day! ¬†The process looks pretty simple, one person sprays the stain on the logs while another follows behind with a brush to make sure it goes on smoothly…however, they’ve done it a million times so I think they made it look a lot easier that it would have been.

While half of the crew worked on staining, the other men were on the roof putting on the tongue and groove that will make up the ceiling of the cabin.

Our concern in choosing the Oak stain was that it looked much lighter than what we wanted and was also had a little more of a yellow tint to it than what we had in mind. ¬†The Cedar, on the other hand, was too red and too dark but there was no color choice in between the two. So we went with the Oak stain and decided to put on two coats to make it darker…thank goodness we didn’t go for the Cedar because even the Oak initially looked much darker that we wanted! ¬†Thankfully though, it didn’t have the yellow tint that it had in the sample and as it dried it has lightened up a good bit so we’re really happy with our choice. ¬†Good thing ’cause there’s no going back!

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day 10 & 11…bleaching the logs and adding the log siding on the second floor

Saturday morning Dave went down ahead of me so that he could be there when our stain was delivered.  We had initially planned to do the staining ourselves but when we saw first hand just how high the second story is on the back of the cabin where the double wall of windows will be, the more daunting it seemed.  We made the command decision the day before that we would have our Battle Creek crew go ahead and do it while they were here, given that they had all the necessary equipment and knew what they were doing.  However, this put us in a time crunch as the forecast for the next week was freezing temperatures and snow flurries.  Mr. Lipham said that if we could get the stain overnighted, they could start staining by Sunday and be finished before the icy temps set in.  After much back and forth, it was decided that the cheapest way to have it overnighted was to pay a driver to drive it down from Tennessee.  We also had to make a quick decision as to which color to choose. After attending the Permachink talk at the Chantilly Log and Timber show, we decided to go with their Lifeline Ultra-7 line as it had the best reviews and only requires one coat.  This left us with fewer choices, none that really jumped out at us.  In the end, after talking with Mr. Lipham about it and listening to his advice, we went with the Oak.

The stain arrived as scheduled and the crew went to town trying to get everything done on the outside in order to start staining on Sunday.

By Sunday, the log siding was ready to be placed. ¬†The full timber logs make up the first floor walls as well as the double story wall around the windows in the great room, while the two second story side walls are framed, covered with OSB and then covered with the log siding. ¬†Once it is finished and stained, they will look like logs as well. ¬†Once the logs and siding are finished, caulking is placed, if desired, in areas where there are slight gaps. ¬†While the crew was on lunch break, Dave decided he would pick up a caulking gun and start doing a little caulking himself. ¬†Clearly none of the crew members know that Dave has done his share of caulking in the past. I heard a quiet muttering in Spanish behind me as one of the crew members tried to catch Miguel’s attention to let him know what was going on. ¬†Next thing we knew, several heads appeared around the corner of the front porch as everyone came to see what was going on. ¬†Miguel promptly came over and removed the caulking gun from Dave and proceeded to do it himself. ¬†Lunch break over!

By the time the caulking had been finished, the wind had really picked up and the command decision was made to call it a day and wait till Monday morning to start staining.  Just as well since ideally the caulk needed to set for 24 hours before applying stain.

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day 7…back on track

Having recovered from the previous day’s setback, our Battle Creek crew was back in action early Wednesday morning. ¬†We hadn’t stayed long enough Tuesday to see the three newly replaced beams running the length of the first floor ceiling, so were thrilled to see how awesome they looked. ¬†The two 12″ x 6″ beams on either end that will be supporting the second floor bedrooms are lamibeams, while the middle beam is solid timber.

With the first floor framing complete and the temporary flooring back down on the second floor, with the help of one of the other crew members, Andy was able to begin running the electrical wire to the two floors. ¬†As they are working with log walls that will remain exposed, the wires need to be run down door frames and across the top of the heavy timbers. ¬†Channels need to be cut into the wood before the tongue and groove ceiling and the flooring goes down…the wire will then run along the channels and be hidden.

Outside several of the crew members were going to town on the front porch…

while others continued framing the roof and dormers along the front of the cabin.

Around back we had yet another group working on framing the roof over the great room. A slight dilemma occurred when the heavy timber peak was put in place and it wasn’t level. After a brief discussion, the solution was offered by Andy, our electrician- Lift the A-frame and place two 2″ x 8″ s on top of the log wall to bring in up to level. ¬†Yep, definitely thinking Andy knows a little more about building log homes than just running the wire! I think I forgot to mention in the last post that it was Andy who discovered the lamibeam/timber mixup the previous day.

After talking to Andy a bit, he told me that he has built log homes before and knows how to do a bit of everything that goes into building a house. ¬†However, as much as he loves running wire and building, he only does it on the side. ¬†His real life occupation is owner of a Sears store in Alabama. ¬†When I mentioned this to Dave, he replied, “hmmm, Mr. Lipham has a son who owns a Sears store. ¬†You don’t suppose…..” ¬†So it turns out that Andy is actually Mr. Lipham’s son and has been building log homes with him for 10 years. ¬†That explains alot! ¬†And what a great team they make…we are fortunate to have them both on our team.

By the time we pulled out, the cabin had taken on quite a transformation from the previous day and once again, we were completely amazed and thoroughly impressed be everyone involved in making it so.

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