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"Sunshine Ski Lodge"

March 2007, Country's Best Log Homes


But that’s exactly the dream Larry and Carol Stake had in mind when they built their log home ski lodge in the middle of Florida. And not just any ski lodge, they wanted a western red cedar home with large 10” logs and a forest green metal roof.

The Stakes have lived in Florida for the last 35 years and have vacationed near Lake Tahoe to pursue their passion of skiing. "We fell in love with the ski lodge look and said that someday we would build a Florida log home that reminded us of the mountains," Larry says.

Hurricanes are a fact of life when you live near St. Petersburg as the Stakes do. So planning a log home ski lodge takes a little planning to deal with high winds or potential water damage.

First, a little research was in order. After the Stakes purchased a wooded one-acre lot 90 miles north of St Pet, they drove around the state looking at log homes. They primarily found log homes constructed of 6-inch cypress logs. Cypress is great for humid areas and is resistant to Florida’s house-hungry insects, but the Stakes wanted the large logs they remembered from the ski lodge.

“I talked to the University of Florida’s horticulture department to see what other type of logs species would work for this area,” Larry says. “They said that western red cedar would work if you kept much of the moisture away.”

After a tour of model homes in far-flung places such as New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Montana that featured the wood, the Stakes visited PrecisionCraft in Idaho. Larry was sold not only on the western red cedar, but on the Thru-Bolt system that could do a sturdy job holding the home together in high winds.

“They also worked with me on the shrinkage of the logs,” he says “Most logs are kiln-dried from 7 to 9%. But the Citrus County (Florida) Building Division had advised me that this could be too dry, and when the logs arrived in Florida they’d absorb the humidity like a sponge. PrecisionCraft dried the logs to 13%, and this has worked well for us.”

With the logs on order and the plans in hand, Larry checked with three local contractors to see about getting his ski lodge built.

“Three local contractors said I was crazy, that no crew would be able to put the log home up to my specifications,” he says. “So I did it myself.”

The logs were delivered in 1995 and 18 months later the Stakes passed the local building inspection and moved in. “We were finally 100% complete with the home by 2001,” he says. “That included the masonry fireplace, tongue-and-groove cedar walls, floors and ceiling, and hurricane-resistant roofing system.”

To prevent water problems, Larry went with a 40-inch stem wall foundation to keep the building off of the wet ground. The stem wall made of cinder block reinforced with steel concrete anchors the home’s foundation, working like roots to tie the house down firmly into the ground below. (Slab foundations can run into trouble when hurricane waters rush under the concrete and loosen their grip.)

Large roof overhangs and a wrap-around porch were added to protect the walls from abundant rainfall.

For his roof, Larry picked Galvalume from Sarasota-based Bradco offered. The metal roof is an aluminum/zinc alloy that provides twice as much corrosion resistance of standard galvanized roofing and is perfect for Florida.

“We’ve since had many hurricanes over the years and have not had any major damage,” Larry says. “Except for the screening on the porch, we haven’t even had a window blown in.”

“Unless we look out the window and see the trees blowing, we hardly know when some of these storms are coming through. Even the metal roof is quiet.”