Richard McDaniel is back at Tucker Mountain

BY CAPTAIN D

Richard McDaniel, a congenial white-haired man everybody calls "Mac," is back
doing the job he has loved nearly 20 years— explaining to people the advantages of owning Tucker Mountain Log Homes. He says that after a year of staying home painting the house and mowing the lawn he could hardly wait to get back to his old job.

This has made Judy Albee, who with her husband Cliff owns the handcrafted, log home company, a very happy person. "When Mac left it was like losing a member of the family," she says. "Mac was with us for 18 years, and we got very close."

Mac's official title is Sales Manager, and he is a natural for the job. His enthusiasm for houses crafted by Tucker is boundless. “I love their houses,” he says. “I really do love their houses.”

As he sees it, Tucker Mountain log homes are perfect for the age we're living in. They're ecologically sound, energy efficient, technologically highly-advanced, and can be economical to build.

Since the 1970s, engineers have come to grips with the problem of these homes settling by allowing for such settling. The technology involves a system of jacks for minute adjustments. In other areas, such as above windows, the design simply allows for some settling. The heavy log retaining walls are able to settle independently of interior walls.

"Once upon a time, when log homes were shacks in the woods for hunters, it didn't matter much if their roofs sagged," Mac points out. “But then for many people log homes became their ultimate dream homes. Once that happened, it became imperative that they remain in perfect alinement.”

Way back when, log cabins often lacked plumbing and electricity. No more. Now people demand at least two bathrooms and sophisticated wiring. "We had to figure out how to make these things available," Mac notes. "It was challenging, but we met that challenge."

To Mac, one of the most appealing attributes of a log home is its energy efficiency. "The logs provide incredible thermal mass," he points out. “They retain heat, unlike fiberglass insulation. In the morning a house is cool, and it takes several hours to warm up. Then, in the evening, it releases the heat slowly even after its gotten cold outside. The bottom line is the house remains comfortable nearly all of the time.”

Everybody at Tucker Mountain Log Homes is mindful of energy efficiency. This involves doing a number of things well. For example, their homes are sited to take full advantage of south-facing glass for maximum solar gain.

Mac says studies have shown that log homes are at least 50 percent more efficient than stick-built homes to heat and cool.

Log homes can be economical to build and maintain, Mac insists. “We use whole logs,” he points out. “Stick-built homes convert logs to lumber. They square the log, which necessarily entails waste—at least ten percent of the wood.”

C.A. Construction will erect log shells for people interested in doing finishing touches themselves. “With this in mind, pretty much anybody can afford one of our homes,” he points out. “They might have to do without the forty-thousand-dollar stone fireplace, the fancy gables, the metal roof, the granite countertops and all of that, but the basic log home is within everybody's reach.”

During the month of August, C.A. Construction will erect a handcrafted log home on their property on Route One in Sullivan. The 28-foot-by-22-foot structure will demonstrate the ecological nature of sustainable reforestation. The red pine logs are from trees planted a half century ago in Stockton Springs. In Maine, we are burning many such logs as bio-mass when a better use would be in construction, Mac says. The crew is using the centuries-old, Scandanavian full-scribe method in construction with saddle notch corners.

A second Tucker Mountain demonstration home is nearly completed on a seldom-traveled road near Tunk Lake in Sullivan. Incorporated there are many of the features that can make log homes incredibly appealing.

One trick of economy, Mac notes, is keeping corners to a minimum. Corners are costly and time-consuming. So, with economy in mind, this house incorporates a square, four-corned design that allows for optional add-ons adaptable to numerous lifestyles.

The house was designed by C.A. Construction's full-time architect Chris Strehan with input from both Cliff and Judy. Chris, a Blue Hill boy, has been with the company for four years and is responsible for dozens of beautiful designs dotting the Maine landscape.

“We call the Tunk Lake home the Bear Mountain Design,” Mac says. “It has all of the amenities of a large home in a cozy, easy-to-heat and maintain package.”

Without the add-ons, the basic shell is 30-by-40-feet, a 1,200-square-foot package compact by anybody's standards. It comes with a stone fireplace, stacked washer/dryer, and log furnishings designed and built by C.A. Construction's versatile crew.

Inside, there are two Master Bedrooms, one upstairs, the other downstairs, both with bathrooms. “There could be a third bedroom,” Mac notes, “but at Tunk we've turned that area into a full loft.”

"You enter this house through the mudroom, which is something everybody in Maine should have,” Mac asserts. “Then you go into the kitchen, and to your right is a beautiful archway into the dining area. This area is all windows for the sun and a door to an open deck. The living room has a big window that looks out onto a screened porch. Walk down the hallway and to the left is a closet with the washer/dryer and a linen closet. In the Master Bedroom downstairs, which lets out onto the screened porch, there is a little logged sittee with a window for reading.

Head up the massive log stairs to a big loft area. To the right is a Master Bedroom and Master Bath. From here you can walk out onto a covered, screened porch which is just a great place to sit out in the morning and have your coffee.”

“For heat, we're thinking about geothermal,”Mac notes. “Geothermal, which utilizes heat drawn from the earth itself, has huge potential that we have barely begun to tap.”

Tucker Mountain Log Homes are constructed initially at the company's New Brunswick facility by skilled craftsmen using only chainsaws, chisels, and grinders. Each log is hand-fitted to insure high quality of workmanship throughout the construction process.

"While our work has earned us national recognition,”Mac notes, “we are small enough to give clients individual attention. From the planning stage to the reconstruction of your log home, we will give your project the complete attention it deserves.”

Again and again, Mac returns to the subject of energy efficiency.

“Winter or summer, everything is done outside, so we have no big mill to heat,” he points out. “Then the homes are disassembled and trucked to permanent sites. Our homes are among the most green products you can buy.”

Sound interesting? You can peruse Tucker Mountain's website (www.tuckermtnloghomes.com) for more info and floor plans or call Mac at 207/422-3232.