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"A Log Home That Has Everything"

Country's Best Log Homes, September 2002


A couple builds their fifth-and final-house and finally gets it all right.


Susan and Dale Buxton say that there is nothing they would change about their 4,400 square-foot, five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath log house. It is the fifth home they have built-and this time they got everything right!


Working with Ennis Gibbs of High Country Properties, whom they describe as a very knowledgeable Realtor, the Buxtons began searching for a home site within commuting distance of Salt Lake City, where Dale works for AT & T Wireless Services. Standing some time later on 7 1/2 acres in Summit County, Gibbs asked, "What do you hear?" "Nothing," Dale answered. "That's why you want to buy this property," he replied.


The beautiful Kamas Valley tract is a manageable 50 miles from Salt Lake City. It is also large enough to support horses, another of Dale's dreams. The land is in Utah where Susan and Dale were born and raised, reared their two children, and have family members living nearby. They soon bought the property as a location for their project.


This was to be the Buxton's retirement home, a country place, in contrast to the house they were currently in, located in one of Salt Lake City's bedroom communities. As they explored their options, they began to think that it might be "fun to build with log." Dale read numerous publications and he and Susan attended a log home show in Salt Lake City. It was there that they became intrigued with PrecisionCraft Log Structures' product. They traveled to the plant in Meridian, Idaho, to learn more.


I really liked their method of tying the logs together," Dale explains, "and the way they anchored the walls to the foundation." Another thing the couple agreed on was the appearance of milled instead of rough-hewn logs. "Neither of us wanted a rustic look," the couple says. "We wanted our home to be refined, with touches of drywall inside."


Beginning with a plan of PrecisionCraft's, Susan and Dale sat down with the company's designer. They added a den and a laundry room on the main floor, making it possible to live independently on that level alone. They also increased the size of the master bathroom and added a three-car attached garage and a walkout feature to the basement that would have storage, an exercise room, bedroom and bathroom. The three other bedrooms and two bathrooms were on the second floor.


When the design process was complete, the Buxtons again consulted Ennis Gibbs to find a builder. They soon met Todd Bowthorpe, owner of Class 1 Construction, saw examples of his work, and discovered it met all of their needs. "The interaction between PrecisionCraft and Class 1 Construction was very smooth and very professional Dale says, praising both businesses.


Before construction could begin on the undeveloped acreage, a driveway had to be extended from a rural lane. Although electric and telephone services were already available, a septic system had to be installed and a well dug. A propane tank was also put in place. The full basement was dug and constructed into a slope, providing the walkout characteristic.


For climate control, the Buxtons chose an in-floor radiant heating system. "I wanted tile on the floors," Susan says. "The hot water running beneath them would provide warmth and a degree of comfort." In addition, Dale knew that the tiles and also the logs would retain, then radiate, heat. Air conditioning was not needed.


Having chosen 10-inch logs rounded on both the exterior and interior faces for their external walls, the Buxtons chose to treat the outside surface with a light stain that enables the logs to weather effectively. This was followed by two applications of a clear-coat finish. The roof is topped with forest green asphalt shingles. Inside log surfaces were covered with clear coat only. All internal dividing walls were constructed with wood studs covered with drywall. "We really like the combination," Susan says. They selected an all-wood Windsor window system and a combination of door materials. With the exception of cedar for the front door, all exterior doors are steel. For texture, all interior doors are knotty pine.


The floors are covered with both carpet and tile. Earth-toned cultured tile with irregular edges and in a variety of sizes "wanders" from the front door through the kitchen into the laundry room and then to the garage. The same kind of tile is also found in the bathrooms. A Berber carpet, again in an earth tone accented by navy blue, burgundy and forest green, provides easy-to-care-for floors.


"The real story of this house is the trestle wood," Dale maintains. Found in the custom-made kitchen cabinets, the wood is more than 150 years old and was salvaged from a Union Pacific Railroad trestle buried in the Great Salt Lake. Dale likes to remind people that the rails of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroad were joined at Promontory, Utah in 1869, completing the first coast-to-coast connection.


"We investigated the wood', Dale explains, "but the only kitchen made from it was made in Jackson Hole, Wyoming-all we saw were pictures." They hesitated. Eventually, however, they located one piece of trestle wood furniture they could see first hand and were immediately captivated. "It was a natural fit," Susan says. "It is mineralized wood with all hues in it: purple, green..." To complement the cabinets, the Buxtons chose dark green granite countertops.


Carrying the railroad theme into the living room, a train engine has been etched into a glass entertainment center door. A large, comfortable, green leather couch brought from the Buxtons' previous home is blended with new purchases to reflect the beauty of the logs. Another of the room's eye-catching features is the large stone fireplace with an arched top. The use of stone is repeated downstairs and around the front door.


Susan and Dale chose practical lighting for their home as well as ceiling lights/fans to move the air around as needed. They splurged in the master bedroom suite, where they have a Jacuzzi bathtub and a doorless shower in the bathroom. The master closet contains an ironing board and full-length mirror. Windows throughout the house are covered with 2-inch wood blinds with the exception of this room. Here, Susan chose duvet blinds instead.


Wanting low outdoor maintenance, Dale and Susan hired a landscape architect to create a design for their property that could be implemented in stages. The perimeter is marked with a three-log rail fence. A circular driveway leads to the front door. A deck spans the home's sunny south side, where a recirculating waterfall gurgles merrily. Plantings include aspen, pine and bushes native to the mountain habitat. Low-wattage landscape lighting enhances the scene and night.


It has been three years now since the Buxtons moved into their fifth-and final-house. "What I like best," Susan says, "is that, except for some routine things that have to be done, we feel like we're on vacation all the time."