Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's been our dream, we want a log cabin in the woods...where do we start? PART TWO.


About 4 months after hiring Becky, she called, asking when I could come to Montana. Two weeks later I was driving across the pan handle of Idaho across the old Bonners Ferry and into Montana on the new Highway 2 .I was on my way to meet Becky and look at some land. Being excited to be in the mountains again, I forgot the time change and was an hour late. With an embarrassed smile and a shake of the hands we were off.

When Andi, my wife and I sat down to establish for ourselves what we were looking for, we wrote down a list of the things we needed in the purchase of our land. This was the catalyst in taking the first step. For us, our priorities were a minimum 10 acres, lots of trees, access by maintained county road, lots of trees, a stream if possible and minimal neighbors were the bulk of our list. Oh, did is say “lots of trees”. We wanted to be within 30 minutes from a hospital and other services and yes of course we had a budget.

Becky and I drove 20 miles west of Kalispell, and turning a few miles up an old county road we meet a developer who was subdividing a 400 acre tract into 20, 40 and 60 acre lots adjoining a small 10 acre lake. The road only had the first cut with a dozer and the travel was rough. The topo map and subdivision map however told the story. I loved the lot layouts and the land, a part of an old homestead ranch like the one I grew up on. This was the only piece of land ever sold from this ranch and none of the adjoining property around had been developed for 100 years. The only tenants aside from the family at the ranch were the Angus cattle that seemed to be everywhere, some deer and a few wild turkeys that seemed to own the place. A quick note: if you need to review engineered maps when looking at property to understand what you get, bring a professional that can interpret for you. In my case I am a builder and understood what was presented.

At this point its time to remember that we did have a plan and although most of the items we had on our list are present, we needed to look at the land to see if we could find a desirable building site for our new log home. Its hard not to get caught up in the moment and forget what the ultimate goal is. For us to find some land we could develop for our selves, our dream log home and have space for horses and room for a little log guest cottage was all we wanted.
The lot we ultimately chose was 20 acres bordered by the stream coming from the lake and Flanked by a spring on the other end of the acreage, that flows year round. In the middle of the property there is a small rise (about and acre) coming off the road. The rise is facing south west with a view of the mountains. Tamarack forest and aspens lined the stream to west. The space was perfect. We had trees, open pasture, a nice building site and water.

I traveled back to California with photos for my wife and an offer to review. A few weeks later, Andi and I flew up to Glacier Airport and renting a car drove to the site. The minute we arrived on the land, Andi confirmed my feelings and said it feels like home. In our case the subdivision included, new county approved roads, power to each site, certified perk for septic and phone. The land also included and easement of 8 acres that connected to the small lake that was designated for private community use. This 20 acres was our ideal scene, truly the beginning of our dream.

We purchased our land and began the process to design our dream log home. Now, more planning, more priorities, more lists and new dreams.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Its been our dream, we want a log cabin in the woods…were do we start?

Its been your dream for years. You subscribe to all the log home magazines . It’s an ache you have and the only way to fine peace is to take the step and start down the path to having your own Log Home or Log Cabin in the woods. The first question is… where do we start? The best place to start down this path is with your land. With rural land there many options!

I think the first thing you have to figure out is where do I want this log home. Where do I want my log cabin? The first item on your list is to examine how you live. If you really intend to use this new log home, is it accessible? This is an important question. Only we know our own life styles. Some people will drive 6 hours in the middle of the night to catch fresh snow on the slopes or that perfect stream with grandpa’s fly rod. Others will travel a few hours at most and will feel its too much. Some already know, and have been looking for a place, but have not really seriously said to themselves, it’s time to buy some land, I want my own log home in the mountains. For my wife and I, we figured a days drive or access by air would be acceptable travel.

When my new bride and I began feeling the urge to get out of the city and possibly build a second home we had to look at the long term plan. We had to examine what we really wanted. We were newlyweds with two boys in high school and found that one thing we had in common was the peace that comes when we left the city and went to Beaver Island on lake Michigan and or our trips up to the Flathead Lake in Montana . Being from Montana I always longed for the smell of bailed hay in the fields and the smell of the larch and pines on our old family ranch. Our homestead ranch house was an old log home built in the late 1800s, as was the barn and I missed the place. The wood burning cook stove the wood shed and the two sweater outhouse I could live without.

We decided to find some land and build a log home in Montana that could be used in summer and winter. As we were not familiar with North Western Montana, we hired a local Realtor. The first Realtor was a real disappointment, sending us on a wild goose chase for over a year. This person never really took the time to listen as to what we were looking for and sent us looking at everything.

It is important to be real clear with what you want. You need to lay out your intention for yourself and your Realtor so nobodies’ time is being wasted. It is important to write your intentions down and its ok to refine them as you progress. With our budget , we had to decide that what was more important, being on a body of water or having more land. We decided we wanted a large piece of land with a view.

After stepping back and reassessing our intentions, we found a new Realtor at Coldwell Banker Wachholz & Company Real Estate. Becky Jones of Coldwell Banker in Flathead Valley was like an angel from heaven. What we liked her low key attitude and we didn’t feel like she was trying to sell us every dirt lot in the mountains. Every time we had a question or need some impute she was there. We finally felt like we were on our way to finding that perfect place for our new mountain home.

Cont. in Part Two............