Jim and Marilyn Gaster in front of their log home, which they built themselves and completed in 2010.
A majority of the wood and materials used to build the home were reclaimed.
The Gaster’s made a commitment to realizing their dream of living in a log house. It took them 30 years to complete the project.
By Marti Attoun
As money and time allowed, the Gasters worked toward realizing their goal of having a log home. For two years, they lived in a mobile home on their property and dug out the basement for their 1,200-square-foot log home.
“We made a commitment not to go into debt,” said Marilyn, who handles all the bookkeeping and marketing for Beaver Buckets. She also home-schooled their two sons, now adults.
In 1985, they bought 42-foot-long lodge pine logs for their home, which were pre-notched and numbered from a Montana company, and Jim took a two-week crash course at a logging school to learn how to assemble them.
BARGAIN HUNTERS: Living in their cozy basement with a roof—or floor, depending on your perspective—the family worked as money and time permitted on their dream house overhead. They kept an eye out for bargains, and one of their finest was a massive basketball court made with tongue-and-groove quarter-sawn maple that was removed from a local school gymnasium. The total cost of the flooring, which included renting a sander, was $800 and a lot of hard work. Marilyn heated and peeled off the old coating before Jim sanded because the old finish clogged the sander.
Today, the golden hardwoods add beauty and warmth to their home. The couple reclaimed other bargain woods, including a blue spruce that was downed by a tornado. Jim hauled it to a sawmill and had it cut into boards. They even used free pallet wood for decorative pieces in their bathroom and bought stone at auctions for their fireplace and entryway.
A lot of their “finds” came from word of mouth, including free marble for their fireplace.
“Someone would say, ‘I’ve got a house that I’m tearing down,’” Jim said. He was happy to take what they didn’t want and what he found useful.
MOVIN’ ON UP: In 2010—after living in their basement for 30 years—the Gasters moved upstairs into their finished log home. It’s economical to heat with a woodstove, thanks to 10 inches of insulation in the tall attic. They pump water with a windmill into a 1,200-gallon storage tank, which is plenty to serve their needs.
From their front porch that runs the length of the house, the Gasters relax in their log chairs and see the fruits of their labor. On the porch are wooden buckets and barrels that look centuries old, but were made by this modern pioneer with an appreciation for the past.
This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Fall 2014 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here
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