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Rural Marion couple builds dream home

Staff writer

Ken Stuchlik of rural Marion grew up farming with his father and brothers west of Lost Springs.

He went on to become an engineer for a large company, but farming remained in his blood.

About 10 years ago, he purchased a quarter section (160 acres) of land north of Marion with the intent of eventually retiring on it and working the land.

In May 2012, he and his wife, Malinda, moved onto the land, living in a camper as they built a house. They constructed a large metal shed to house the camper and store equipment.

After doing a lot of research, they purchased a log house package and began building their dream home, doing much of the work themselves during hours away from their full-time jobs. Fleming’s did the plumbing and installed a geo-thermal heating and cooling system. Stuchlik did the wiring.

After pouring the concrete for the basement and laying floor joists, they began cutting and laying the logs using a hoist on rollers. It was hard work and time-consuming, so they hired a crew from Missouri to finish constructing the log frame and rafters.

Stuchlik constructed many of the interior features.

“Malinda came up with ideas, and I created them,” Stuchlik said. “I’m the grunt guy. She’s the aesthetic person.”

They moved into their home about a year ago and finished the trim work and flooring a month ago.

They opened their house to friends and family Sunday.

The exterior walls are constructed of square-cut oak logs rounded on the outside. With no insulation necessary, the logs become walls on the inside.

The interior is open to the rafters and features a second-story loft overlooking the living room as well as two bedrooms and a bathroom. There is a master bedroom and bath on the ground floor.

Ceiling beams feature prominently throughout the interior. Floors and vaulted ceilings are finished with tongue and groove pinewood.

A stone, high-efficiency, wood-burning fireplace is the central focus of the living room. The Stuchliks used a cedar tree to create the mantel.

In addition to providing an expansive view of the landscape, large windows on the south side of the house provide solar heat and light in winter.

Constructing a log house presented a special challenge, Stuchlik said. The logs were not completely dry, so window frames and sheet-rocked interior walls were required to be installed in a “floating” condition to allow for shrinkage and settling. The company that sold the package sent a representative to make sure it was done right.

“You have to know in advance where everything goes,” Stuchlik said. “You can’t change it after it’s in place.”

The house has full-length porches on front and back. It has a full basement that is not yet finished. Sliding doors lead to a sunken patio underneath a section of the back porch.

Ken retired from his job a year ago. Malinda continues to work as a special education teacher at Circle High School near Towanda. They hope to enjoy their home for many years to come.

“We could not have afforded to have someone else build it,” Malinda said. “We saved a significant amount by doing it ourselves. It was a lot of work, and we’re pleased it turned out as well as it did.”

Ken said the project turned out to be bigger than they originally thought, but he’s happy with it.

“With the Good Lord, my mom’s prayers, and a few helpers along the way, we got it done,” he said.

He is doing what he dreamed of years ago. He is farming the land using equipment he acquired along the way. He plans to add livestock in the future.

Last modified Dec. 18, 2014

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