"The Home Team"Log Home Living, October 1999
To borrow a line from a well-known advertising campaign, Sharon and Bruce Picciolo not only own and operate Country Heart Homesa PrecisionCraft Log Homes representative in Big Bear Lake, California they're also a client.
But the Picciolos path to the log home industry was somewhat different than many builder-dealers. Where most dealers might build a home and then decided to join the industry, Sharon and Bruce worked as full-service PrecisionCraft representatives long before building their own log home in 1998. Weve been building log homes for 18 years now, six of those with PrecisionCraft, says Bruce, estimating that he has completed about 200 log homes.
Its a team approach that the Picciolos take to each project. Bruce is the builder and general contractor, and Sharon is a real estate broker who finds the land and takes care of all the other preliminaries.
Despite these combined resources, the Picciolos home remained a long time in the making. Like our customers, we wanted to build what we dreamed, Sharon says. The process consisted of a lot of researchingand searching. Aside from wanting everything about the house to be just right, the family wanted the perfect spot to build. And looking for the right land in a prime resort area of central Southern California is a daunting task.
Relying on Sharons professional connections, the Picciolos six-year quest for land ultimately resulted in a smashing success. We have an unbelievable piece of land, a half-mile from ski slopes, with a horseback riding arena that opens into the San Bernadino National Forest, Sharon says.
With the acquisition of the land, Sharon and Bruce were ready to move quickly on the construction of their home. They knew exactly whom they wanted to work with, from the lending institution to the homes designer, who just happened to be Sharons father, Lyle Forbes. In fact, it was Lyle and Dee Forbes who got the Picciolos interested in log homes in the first place. My parents are Realtors who had been log home dealers, Sharon says. These days, Lyle provides the design services for Country Heart Homes.
During their years in the business, Sharon and Bruce had developed a mental scrapbook of what their home would look like. The process was similar to what their clients experiencethe gathering of design, construction and decorating ideas. We could appreciate and understand the process our customers would go through because we were doing it, too, Sharon says.
The design focus of the 1,850-square-foot home is the living room, where a fieldstone fireplace rises to the ceiling amidst the exposed log trusses. Our living roomor great roomis definitely our favorite place to be, Sharon says. The room leads to an open porch and the national forest that drew the couple to the site. The home is one level and has no stairs, designed with an eye to the future. I hope to grow old here, Sharon says.
The homes exterior features pine logs that meet in saddle-notch cornersbut no chinking. Its a perfect fit without the chinking, Bruce says, adding that Precision Crafts fastening system is a major selling point for the Picciolos California market. Weve had earthquakes since weve been in the home, and weve never had any problems, Sharon says.
However, the elements did become a major factor during the homes construction. With all their connections, experience and lineage, the Picciolos expected very few obstacles once it actually came time to build their log home.
Not exactly. That was the season of El Nio, Bruce says. Elsewhere, people may have laughed about it, but we got bombarded for two and a half months.
During that stretch, Bruce says, there was never less than six feet of snow at the Big Bear Lake site. At times, the snowdrifts exceeded 10 feet. It was wildthe house would get buried up to the roof, he says, recalling heavy snowfalls three to four times each week.
To make matters even more hectic, the Picciolos were building five homes at the time, including their own. Each site presented unique challenges, but El Nios snow created a common concern: access. Getting the crane in and out to get the trusses was really difficult, Bruce says.
The storm stretched the construction period from its normal time of six months to about eight months. Nevertheless, thanks in large part to the Picciolos considerable experience, all the homes were successfully completed, and the clients were thrilled.
What strikes Sharon most about the log homes they build are the variety of ways people choose to decorate them. Sharon knew just how she wanted their home decorated, from the master bedroom right down to the front doorhandcarved by Roger Shepard. We wanted people to come to our door and say, Thats the Picciolos! Sharon says.
Nothing identifies the Picciolo familySharon, Bruce and their children Carl and Karamore than their love of horses. The etched-glass door shows several horses running through the snowcapped mountains of Big Bear Lake. The Picciolos log home is modeled after a Southwestern ranch. Sharon chose unique, Southwestern-styled kitchen cabinets to match the theme. Carpeting adorns most of the house, but Sharon selected slate tile flooring for the kitchen and entryway. The kitchen also features sturdy granite countertops to handle the roughest wear and tear. I love the granite in the kitchen! Sharon says. We handpicked the slab for the counter ourselves.
Naturally, Bruce included his own amenities throughout the home. A bedside switch allows him to turn the kitchen coffee maker on, so a fresh pot greets him every morning. He also installed an intercom system that links the master bedroom to the 400-square-foot guest quarters, located above the detached garage.
And its no wonder that the Picciolos regularly welcome guests. Theres nothing more beautiful than a log home in the mountains, Sharon says.