Log house has the look, but not feel, of frontier Engineering couple had a kit trucked in to their Harford lot

Dream Home

January 07, 1996|By Daniel H. Barkin | Daniel H. Barkin,SUN STAFF

When Rob Bucchi broached the idea of a log home to his wife, Kim, she had visions of dirt floors and all the creature discomforts of the antebellum frontier.

"I thought, 'Oh, God, a log home, like Abraham Lincoln-type old, dark " recalled Mrs. Bucchi.

But a visit to a 1990s-vintage log home sold Mrs. Bucchi on the concept. And the 2,600-square-foot, two-story home the Bucchis have built on 3 1/2 acres in the northern Harford County community of Street is light, spacious and studded with amenities.

The logs -- round on the outside, flat on the inside -- are cedars from British Columbia. The rafters are Southern yellow pine. The Bucchis purchased the home as a kit from a Tennessee firm, Jim Barna Log Homes, and had it trucked up to their lot last summer, where it went up in the Norway pine forest in less than three weeks.

The Bucchis, both engineers at the Baltimore General Motors plant, had been living in the busy I-95 corridor of southern Harford. When they began house-hunting, they looked at 20 conventional homes, but couldn't get excited about any of them. So they decided to build a home and kept their eyes open for a lot.

Less than a week after making that decision, their real estate agent, Mary Donarum, found a lot for them, a slice of a sprawling woods north of the Saint Anne subdivision.

"It's just perfect for this house," Mrs. Bucchi said.

They bought the lot in March, and spent April securing all their permits. A local engineer reviewed the drawings that they got from Barna. They learned about Barna by spending 18 months scouring log home magazines for ideas and vendors.

"We had sketched out the house prior to submitting it to Barna, and then they did the engineering work," said Mr. Bucchi, a mechanical engineer. "They detailed it. This is a custom house."

The logs came up from Tennessee in four tractor-trailers that got lost in the middle of the night trying to find the Mine Branch Road site off Route 543.

"The police called me and said, 'Do you know anything about a home on wheels?' " Mrs. Bucchi recalled.

The tractor-trailers could only get so close on the winding, narrow road leading to the property, so Mr. Bucchi had to quickly learn how to drive a rented forklift to unload the logs.

The Bucchis acted as general contractors, drawing upon their skills working on large, complex automotive projects.

"We hired every function separately," said Mrs. Bucchi, an electrical engineer.

A local mason built the foundation, and the Bucchis hired other area subcontractors for various jobs. But much of the interior work has been done by the Bucchis.

"They love us at Home Depot," Mrs. Bucchi said.

Seven carpenters from Tennessee drove north to build the house in June, craftsmen from a company that puts up Jim Barna homes.

"Bunch of country boys," Mrs. Bucchi said. "These guys were great. They did it in 17 days; they worked 11- , 12-hour days."

The carpenters built the shell of the house, putting the subfloor down, erecting the logs, installing the king posts and the ridge ties, putting on the roof, and finishing the insulation.

The house was designed to face south, and an abundance of windows helps the sun keep it warm in the winter; in the summer, when the sun is much higher in the sky, the eaves projecting from the roof shield the interior from the rays. The trees in full bloom also provide shade during the warm months.

"It was part of our passive solar design for the house," Mr. Bucchi said.

A 60-foot-long deck runs the length of the home's front. Entering the front door, visitors are greeted to 400 square feet of ceramic tile that Mrs. Bucchi installed and grouted herself.

"My hands were numb afterward," she said.

Mr. Bucchi laid 1,000 square feet of 4-inch oak flooring that complements the ceramic tile throughout most of the house.

He also installed the Sheetrock, while Mrs. Bucchi did the finish work -- spackling and painting. The trim around the doors came with the kit, and the Bucchis put it up.

"She stains, I hang," Mr. Bucchi said.

A carpenter friend put up the cabinets in the kitchen for free. The Bucchis are proud of the kitchen's granite counter top, which has proven virtually impervious to scratches and heat.

The upstairs bedrooms are 17-by-24 feet, meaning that 5-year-old son Tony has ample space for his toys.

"We wanted Tony to have a big room, so he could play and not feel restricted," Mrs. Bucchi said.

The couple points to lingering small jobs here and there.

"This is a walk-in closet," Mrs. Bucchi said as she opened a door in one bedroom. "We did buy this stuff to finish it. Just imagine it looks like that closet right there."

But overall, the interior of the house looks as professionally finished as the exterior.

"That was the hardest six months of our lives," Mrs. Bucchi said.

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