Hip to be square

Unique log home company in Central Saanich building its own future

Hermann Thoene has taken designs and square log building techniques from a builder from Ontario and adapted them to a home construction company on Vancouver Island.

Nestled in amongst some traditional homes on Stelly’s Cross Road in Central Saanich is a unique log house, a show home for Van Isle Ecolog Homes.

Owner Hermann Thoene built it two years ago as he was getting his new business off the ground. He lives there with his family, has a rental unit on the lower floor and it is still visited by many potential customers wanting to see what a square-log house looks and feels like.

On first glance, it appears to look very much like a traditional log house. But look again and you notice the logs used are square. Thoene says they are cut that way on purpose, from hemlock and Douglas fir sourced from Vancouver Island and custom cut by Cowichan Lake Timber. Being square, they fit together well and quickly during construction. Pads are added between each log and they are further insulated and protected against water and the weather, like other log homes.

The result is unique in look and the houses themselves retain heat very well. During a tour of his Central Saanich house, Thoene pointed out with an Energuide efficiency rating of 79, his houses stay warm much longer than traditional post-and-beam construction.

I’m able to use my wood stove and use only two cords of wood each winter to heat my house,” he said.

The interior is bright (Thoene used a much lighter stain than for the exterior) and uses the space well — it’s a three bedroom, two bathroom upper level. The logs give the home a lot of character, as none of them are exactly the same.

Thoene said building the house in Central Saanich meant he had to follow strict municipal guidelines, but found the district to be supportive of the design.

“They cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ here,” he said, “but Central Saanich was positive on the design and the house itself.”

It’s unlikely, however, that Thoene would be able to build entire neighbourhoods of such houses. Since he started the business, the market has been soft and he averages one or two homes built each year. The latest ones went up in Calgary and Saskatchewan. He said he’d love to build more of the houses on the Island, but he’s fighting the local economy and, to some extent, people’s unfamiliarity with building a home from the ground—up.

“People sometimes need to see what they’re going to get,” he explained. “they want to see a place first and they want to know what it will cost. Often, builders don’t give them very accurate prices and that can be concerning.”

Thoene is a computer programmer by trade, who had worked with a friend in Ontario who has his own square log home business. Using those designs and manufacturing techniques, Thoene started Van Isle Ecolog Homes on the Island. He now designs houses for customers and co-ordinated the collection of building materials from his contracted saw mill and other suppliers. From there, he can help clients select a builder and other contractors.

He encourages buyers to find a builder they trust, one with experience and excellent references. And if a customer is handy or experienced themselves, building an Ecolog Home can be done quite easily, Thoene said. He built his own home, along with an experienced friend.

Thoene has some 30 detailed floor plans for a variety of house designs online at www.ecolog-homes.ca. As well, he can help a client design their own, unique house.

While Thoene is content with designing and getting one or two homes built each year, he does want to grow his business to two to three new homes on the Island each year. Right now, however, he’s waiting out the Island economy and using his show home to attract potential customers to the log home lifestyle.

 

 

Just Posted

Traditional salmon designs brighten Salish Sea Lantern Festival

Children from ȽÁU,WEL,ṈEW̱ tribal school built salmon hats for festival on Sidney waterfront

Speculation tax forces sale of Oak Bay’s ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read