OAKFIELD, Maine — For more than 40 years, Katahdin Cedar Log Homes in Oakfield has been designing and building homes and other structures to fit each customer’s request.
So when a customer approached marketing director Gabe Gordon, a third-generation businessman, about purchasing a structure that did not look like a typical log home but was just as energy efficient, durable and sustainable, he set out to make it happen.
That project was the catalyst for Arborwall Solid Cedar Homes, the newest line to be introduced by Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, which was founded in 1973 by Foster Gordon, Gabe Gordon’s grandfather. David Gordon, Gabe Gordon’s father, now runs the company.
Arborwall is a new, custom-built, more contemporary-style home offered by the company. It looks less like a traditional log home, in that it does not have the rustic finishes and trappings, but it has the same strong insulating properties and energy efficiencies and is more open and versatile.
“This was sort of a natural evolution for Katahdin Cedar Log Homes,” Gabe Gordon said. “We were able to create something that was much more refined than a traditional log home, dramatically improves energy efficiency and still retains our high quality. Its a great product we can offer for our customers.”
Gordon said this really has been the first customer-driven product in the company’s history.
“We were getting requests for more hybrid styles of homes,” he explained. “So it made sense to explore creating this when it became a customer request.”
The exterior face is rendered into a clapboard or shiplap profile constructed of solid northern white cedar in 6-by-6-inch milled timbers. Then the home is assembled using the company’s highly refined and perfected method of interconnected stacked timbers. Gordon said Arborwall homes are built with interlocking corners and tongue-and-groove joinery found in fine woodworking; the construction creates a continuous wall of solid cedar timbers around the entire perimeter of the home.
Northern white cedar has the highest insulation value of any wood species, according to Gordon. He added that in Arborwall’s solid cedar homes, rigid panel insulation applied to the interior forms continuously insulated mass walls, creating an exceptionally tight energy envelope. They also use approximately the same amount of wood as a stick-built home.
The company needed to design a new grade of log in order to create the home kit, Gordon said, adding that there is really “not much cost change” between the Arborwall home and a traditional log home.
Gordon said Arborwall’s contemporary look appeals to various types of settings.
“It is a totally different look and feel on the exterior as well as the interior, so you get total design versatility,” he said.
In the long run, Gordon said, the homes last for hundreds of years and are financially sustainable, saving money on energy bills each year.
Since the new style launched in early 2014, homes have been built in locations that include Roque Bluffs, Maine and Cadiz, Kentucky. Several more are on order.
While he acknowledged the new design has not been “flying off the shelves,” he pointed out very few homes have been selling well since the downturn of the economy.
“Inquiries are picking up each month, and we are hoping that they increase more in the future,” he said. “The downturn in the economy was crippling to the housing industry, and we weren’t immune. And we were very fortunate to have survived it. Many of our competitors aren’t even in business anymore.”
Thus far, the company has not been able to add any new jobs to the company as a result of the new line, but he hopes they will be able to do so in the future as sales pick up.
For more information on Arborwall Solid Cedar Homes, visit their website at www.arborwall.com.