Memoirs of an Owner-Builder on Building their Log Home

by Dean Dalvit on June 3, 2009

Introducing: Karen Colburn and Cort Stevens. I first met Karen and Cort in 2007 when we were discussing their property in Fremont County and their vision to build their log dream home and ranch out in the open space of Fremont County, Colorado.

Since then, we have worked together with Atrium Log Homes to design a Honka log home that is highly customized to their specific needs, and the special characteristics of their site. Also, they had made the decision to act as Owner-Builder on the project and play an active role in the construction of the home.

Karen and Cort in their new Great Room

Karen and Cort in their new Great Room

Beyond managing the project, they have also done a lot of the heavy lifting as well. With the help of family and friends, the home has taken shape. The construction schedule takes a little longer, but is part of the experience. Wearing the many hats, Karen describes the experience, “The thing is that we are very much enjoying the process, and know that this is our life-home. No  moves ever again. So, as all good things, it takes time.”

Cort installing the metal edge at the fascia

Cort installing the metal drip edge at the fascia

A big challenge for them was finding a local supplier for the roof truss system. Says Karen,”We had a lot of trouble with our roof trusses, which we did locally, and unfortunately gave us a lot of trouble and delay”. The truss company they selected was having difficulties, and were not able to provide qualified services in a timely and professional manner. Since then, that truss company has gone out of business, further complicating matters. Sometimes a project has limited choices for vendors based on the location. Unfortunately, there weren’t many options.

But, the good news is that despite the troubles with the truss company, all turned out ok. Karen explains,”The roof trouble was well worth the effort…  The home is no vanilla box… I could not be more pleased.”

Trussed roof with dormers

Trussed roof with dormers

We are pleased to share that the realization of the project was a success from beginning to end. Karen has commented, “You took our vision and gave it bones. Those bones are almost complete. The porches you thoughtfully designed will take us through the heat of our almost-desert summer with some cool, shady relief. The overlooks off of the dining room are high enough to view the spectacular rock vistas yet still afford the needed shade. Great design…”

Well, I can certainly say that it was a group effort. With Karen and Cort’s involvement and clarity of program, and the collective efforts of everyone from the staff at Honka to the lumber supplier (and yes, even the truss supplier), and all of the “ranch hands” that have helped erect the structure, the vision has become a reality.

And a special thanks to John Colburn, as well as all of the photo credit for the  shots. Looking forward to seeing more when the place is completed!

Lending a hand

Lending a hand


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