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7/18/2004

The natural look

By Paula Aven Gladych
The Daily Times-Call

MILLIKEN — When most people hear the term “factory-built home,” visions of 1970s-era metallic, boxy mobile homes leap to mind.

But All American Homes and Town & Country Cedar Homes have turned that image upside down, or at least given it new dimension.

The company produces homes that look and feel like they are built of logs but cost half as much as a standard log home, regional sales manager Jim Bernecker said.

Called Ameri-Log Homes, the northern white cedar structures appeal to the recreational home buyer, but they also are within the means of a larger group of people, he said.

Built inside a 160,000-square-foot factory in Milliken, the walls, floor, roof, electrical and plumbing are installed in a constant 72-degree environment. For stability, the company uses 2-by-6 wood construction instead of the typical 2-by-4 boards. Factory-built homes actually have 20 percent more wood in them than site-built homes, Bernecker said, making them much sturdier and longer lasting.

The extra wood also makes the homes easier to transport to a site.

The half-log cedar finish is applied like wood siding after the structure reaches its final destination. Instead of using full logs, the company uses half logs to give the outside of its homes depth but also giving owners the ability to put in a typical, sheet rock interior.

The interior walls can then be finished off with pinewood accents, such as baseboards and ceilings in the great room, staircases and banisters.

Customers also can request exposed-log areas inside their homes.

Vaulted and tray ceilings also are options.

A tray ceiling is a dropped ceiling with a higher cutout that adds dimension to a typically flat ceiling.

Stone fireplaces also are available.

The log homes range from 1,100 to 3,000 square feet and cost between $180,000 and $300,000, Bernecker said.

“Everybody’s dream is a log home,” he said, but most people can’t afford the $500,000-plus price tag associated with stacked-log houses.

Norm Reichardt, owner and president of Northstar Homes in Loveland, said he gets an “overwhelming response” from customers when they see the many options available with Ameri-Log.

Northstar Homes is an Ameri-Log builder with a 10-year history of building modular and systems-built homes in Colorado.

“We can build that product for $130 to $150 per square foot,” he said, compared to the $220-$250 per-square-foot for a standard log home that a site builder would charge.

“It’s a huge difference, and they wouldn’t get as good of a product (with the stacked-log home),” Reichardt said.

Site builders take the materials and build buildings in the “absolute worst conditions you can do — theft, vandalism, weather, dealing with subcontractors,” he said.

A systems-built home uses the same materials and can be customized in the same manner as a site-built home, but it is put together in a building center, Reichardt said.

It is an environment in which quality control is higher, work conditions are good, work can be done year round and the home is worked on by the same people every day, he added.

Another benefit of the half-log system is that it is easier to maintain, Reichardt said.

The systems-built industry as a whole is still fighting the “modular” home stigma, Bernecker said.

“It doesn’t have to be like that anymore,” he said. “The one-dimensional modular home stereotype is gone.”

The company can manufacture between three and four homes at one time, Bernecker said. The log-home models can be completed in four to five months, compared to 10 to 12 months for a traditionally built log home, he said.

A cabin model also is available, ranging from 700 to 1,000 square feet and costing between $100,000 and $150,000 to build. Those prices do not include land costs.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.