Log Home Builder Breaks Record


Dr. Larry George's latest building project is hardly your average log home.
For one thing, it will boast 113,000 square feet or about one-and-a-half times the square footage of the Rim Country Mall. That's enough to put it in the record books as the largest log home in North America ... and one of the largest homes of any type.
Just as a point of reference, in the year 2000, the average square feet of a new home in the United States was 2,250.
George, a 14-year resident of Payson, is in charge of U.S. operations for Pioneer Log Homes of British Columbia, which for 30 years has been building custom, hand-crafted log structures all over the globe.
The four-story, $28-million-or-so mansion George is building will boast a 580-by-95 footprint once it has been fully assembled in the mountains of Northern Colorado. Construction involves mostly western red cedar logs ranging from 24 to 36 inches in diameter ... and one 2,000-year-old, 14-foot-thick tree trunk that, by itself, will cost around $75,000 to transport and install, complete with root structure, in the home's library.
The library, by the way, will be one of the home's dullest features. The built-in amenities will also include an athletic court, a basketball court, archery ranges, a large movie theater that will seat "maybe 150 people," bowling alleys, George says, and "probably" an indoor shooting range. For the moment.
"Right now, the homeowner is expanding it, making it larger as we speak," George said. "We just added another 6,000 to 7,000 square feet this week."
Currently under construction by 50 log craftsmen in Williams Lake, British Columbia, the home will be dismantled and shipped for re-erection on its final Colorado resting place in April a hauling job that will require more than 60 semi-trucks.
And once all the work is complete, by the way, George's masterpiece will be home to one man, one woman and their two children.
George has been Pioneer Log Homes' "chief babysitter" since 1992, when he bought one of their homes and was so impressed with its quality and workmanship put into it that the former Scottsdale veterinarian decided to cut short his retirement to join the Pioneer team.
Since then, George has plied his trade in places as far away as Switzerland and as close as Chaparral Pines, where he recently supervised construction of a comparatively quaint log home of a mere 4,500 square feet featured in the March 2002 issue of Log Home Living.
The company has a contracting division, Pioneer Log Construction, that also travels the world to exotic places like Heber, where it just finished a 22,000-square-foot "turnkey."
But never has George or anyone else overseen a project quite like the one that is now consuming his time.
"Basically, this home will go into perpetuity. It is being engineered and constructed to last 500 years plus," said George, referring to the work of yet another Payson resident involved in the daunting project: Floyd Swenson, who for 25 years has specialized in engineering custom log structures from his Rim country base.
As Swenson does the math, George works closely with the homeowners-to-be on design changes, production scheduling, pricing structure and delivery.
"My function," he said, "is just to make sure things go smoothly, to make sure we build what the customer wants, and to deliver the best product in the world."
But not necessarily the biggest or the most expensive, George adds. His company has produced guest houses as small as 500 square feet, and recently built a 56,000-square-foot structure on Mile Zero of the Alaskan Highway in Northern British Columbia.
George's record-breaking project came about unexpectedly, when he met the homeowner at a log-home show.
"He had spent a lot of years researching companies that could build the structure that he wanted," George said. "He wanted European handcrafting, he wanted to use only large trees ... so we met, sat down, started sketching things out, and finally he said, 'Let's just build it.'"
Despite the scope and sweep of his current professional challenge, George thinks that the ever-growing appeal of log homes is due to a desire for simplicity.

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