Don and Carrie Mann are in love with life, and it’s a good life indeed. Their menagerie of dogs, ducks, and horses keeps them happily occupied on the home front.

A rewarding veterinary practice, airplane for spontaneous getaways, and log home on 12 acres of bucolic central Ohio countryside don’t leave much to want for. “Then there’s Carrie’s goat,” jokes Don, “which tempers the goodness of it all with a little bit of an evil element.”

It’s about a 10-minute drive from the center of Mount Vernon, Ohio, to the Mann residence, which is tucked in a forest that surrounds pasture, pond, and meadows with, yes, a stream running through it. The driveway to the home is long and winding, and without a neighbor in sight, a quiet privacy prevails here. Picture James Harriot in central Ohio.

Carrie found the property on an Internet listing. “We liked the quiet, secluded location, and the opportunities to see wildlife appealed to us,” she says. “We routinely watch wild turkeys in the pasture with the horses, and a few nights ago we were delighted to see two spotted fawns from the deck as they grazed behind the house in the prairie grass plot.” The drive from Don and Carrie’s veterinary practice is a 30 minute gentle commute on scenic country roads, and the couple finds it is a good time to talk out the day and begin to unwind. Don says, “By the time we get home and walk into the house, I feel like my blood pressure has dropped a bit and everything begins to slow down. Being surrounded by the forest seems to insulate us from the rest of the world.”

Don and Carrie chose log construction for its warmth and natural beauty. Don elaborates: “The beauty of natural wood is unsurpassed by any other building material. We often have people comment that our house is very inviting. When we ask them to define that feeling, they talk about the wood.” The couple turned to Ohio-based Hochstetler Milling for their log package. While growing up as an Amish youth in central Ohio, Levi Hochstetler learned the age-old building techniques that the Amish and Menonite people have been practicing for generations. He started his own company in 1986, and says he operates his business based on a single commitment: to provide the finest quality product at a fair price.

The couple planned the home for the two of them, but with an eye toward entertaining. “We sacrificed some upstairs space in order to have a vaulted ceiling in the great room,” says Don. “We didn’t need all of the second-floor rooms in Hochstetler’s original plan.” Carrie adds, ”It’s turned out that we have most of the family gatherings here during the holidays. The open floorplan lends itself very well to entertaining, and every year we get a bigger Christmas tree! Decorating this house for the holidays is tremendously fun.”


With the design of the home finalized, the Manns contracted with builder Mahlon Hochstetler (a relative of Levi’s with his own construction company), to build their log home. Don says, “This was a turnkey build, completed entirely by our builder, with the exception of our buying and delivering the appliances.” There was a moment early in the planning process when the couple considered doing some of the finishing themselves, and even discussed putting up the logs. “I’m so glad we didn’t try that!” exclaims Don. “We wouldn’t have been able to achieve the fit and finish that the builders did, and with both Carrie and I working, the construction would have taken forever. Working with logs takes experience, an expertise that became quite obvious to us while watching our builder.” When the house was completed, Don and Carrie did build a playhouse for the grand kids out of the leftover logs. Carrie laughs, “It took us much longer than we had anticipated! Keeping the walls straight as the log courses go up is more difficult than it looks, watching the pros do it. But, to our credit, the playhouse is still standing!”




During the building process, Don and Carrie stopped by at least every other night, after work, to check on the progress. “It was very exciting to see the house take shape and to see exactly how it went together,” says Don. “I don’t remember any major changes being made during construction. Carrie and I had spent several evenings around Mahlon’s kitchen table before construction began, and the advance planning really paid off. We feel we reaped a significant benefit by working with a local log home producer and builder. Everything went very smoothly.”

The square footage of the Mann residence is approximately 2,500. The open main floor features adjoining kitchen, dining, and living room areas, with the master bedroom suite in one wing. “Our master bathroom,” says Don, “has a double shower, which speeds mornings up a bit!” There is also a half bath/powder room for guests conveniently located in the entry hall. An additional room off the entry hallway, which could serve as a small guest bedroom, is used as an office and library. A guest bedroom and full bath occupy the loft area.


The Manns chose Hochstetler Milling’s 6×8-inch D-shaped white pine logs. The D shape features a round log surface on the exterior with a flat surface on the inside. Additionally, with the use of D-logs, no chinking is used. The logs interlock, one on top of the other, with an insulating strip between each course. The R value of the logs is about 7. Once the logs are heated or cooled to a given temperature, they tend to hold that temperature for a good while. Describing the insulation value of the roofing system, Don says, ”We chose an asphalt shingle roof after considering standing-seam metal roofing. The metal roof was attractive, but not worth the extra cost to us. Rigid foam insulation was attached to the roof sheeting when the roof was installed. We opted for five inches of foam, and are happy with the results.”


The couple went with energy-efficient Andersen windows and exterior doors on the advice of their builder and designer. Carrie opted for permanent internal window grids to achieve the country look she was after, with the bonus of easy window cleaning.

The Mann residence is a home for all seasons. The vaulted ceilings in the great room allow for a large view of the great outdoors. During the warm summer months, Carrie and Don spend evenings on the deck until dark, or later. “The back of the house,” says Carrie, ”looks out on the woods, affording us beautiful views, whether it be colorful fall leaves, the snows of winter, or the greening of spring leading to summer.”

Winter in the log cabin is especially warm and comfortable. The couple is treated to watching deer and turkeys moving through the bare trees during the winter months. “On winter afternoons,” describes Don, “sitting next to the big windows and occasionally looking up from a good book to watch the woods is a great way to spend time. Watching a snowstorm through these same windows, while listening to a crackling fire, is pure contentment.”



“We’re still putting the final touches on the place,” says Carrie, “adding to the landscaping and looking for the final form.” An addition to the horse barn is currently in progress, but the Manns feel that they have plenty of time to improve the property and still enjoy daily living there. Planning to retire in this home, Don says, “We have no plans to go anywhere else to retire. The house has an upstairs and a basement, but with the laundry on the main floor and only three outdoor steps leading up to the front door, growing old here shouldn’t be a problem. Everything required for day-to-day living is on the main level.”

Summing up the experience of designing and building a log home, Don offers, “A house like this takes a bit more planning compared to a conventional home, but is a very reasonable thing to build if you stick with it. During the initial planning stages, we spoke with a lot of people who were somewhat negative about log homes, but many of the reasons we were given for avoiding log construction just aren’t true. Finding a builder familiar with log homes is extremely important. And not all lenders or insurers are interested in working with you on a log home, so there is some legwork involved in that process. Do your homework first, and the due diligence will pay off.”

Carrie concludes, “We are completely happy with our log home. It’s our dream house. We wouldn’t change a thing about it. Do the research, in Don’s words, ‘homework’, and your efforts will result in an ‘A+’ score.”

Photography by Roger Wade Studio