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As easy as rolling off a log: log home builders say updated dwellings are both pretty and practical.

Everyone thinks he knows what a log cabin looks like.

Log cabins are supposed to be misshapen dwellings, made of rough-hewn timber and mud, with dirt floors and windows that are nothing more than holes hacked out of the walls.

Think again.

The products of River Oak Log Homes Inc. bear as much resemblance to the log cabins of old as a Model T does to a Lamborghini.

The company, based at Goshen in Washington County, is the brainchild of Mike and Mary Ladish. A former vice president with ServiceMaster Inc., Mike Ladish retired in January after spending 21 years in 13 cities with the contract management company.

The parents of four, the Ladishes relocated to Goshen with the hopes of finding a permanent home for themselves and their two youngest children.

"I knew I was going to retire about a year ago," Mike Ladish says. "We wanted a place where we could retire and the kids could finish their schooling."

The Ladishes, both 45, had intended to build a log dwelling as their retirement home. River Oak is an outgrowth of that dream.

John Ladish, Mike's brother and River Oak's vice president, is helping the Ladishes finish their log home. It is expected to be completed by the end of July.

Once finished, the 3,100-SF structure will serve as the Ladishes' home and office. It also will be the company's model home, designed to show potential customers what can be done with a truly modern log home.

"People think of them as a square box on a lake somewhere," Mike Ladish says of log homes. "Ours is what I would call contemporary in design."

The home includes cathedral ceilings, bay windows, a solar hot water system and two fireplaces.

"There will be a library loft," Mary Ladish says. "It's a real modern home."

Sell To Specifications

The Ladishes' firm will act as a distributor for Gastineau Log Homes, which is based in Missouri. The Ladishes, whose business will cover a four-county area, send their clients' orders to Gastineau. That company, in turn, ships the client the logs and necessary framing lumber to build a home.

The homes can be built to any size and specification, Mike Ladish says.

A small home costs between $35 and $40 per square foot.

Gastineau ships the logs by truck across the country. It also has sold homebuilding kits in Japan, England and the Netherlands.

The difference between Gastineau and other companies is the logs, Mike Ladish says. Hewn from the heart of Ozark oak trees, the logs are cheaper than pine logs. Gastineau is ones of the few companies in the country to use this variety of oak.

"It's considered the best oak in the country," says Mike Ladish, pointing out the untreated lumber's strength.

The log homes are also energy efficient.

"The logs offer a natural insulation," he says. "They provide uniform heating and cooling."

Modern home shoppers with a taste for nostalgia will appreciate what can be accomplished with a log home, Ladish says. He already has three bids out to build log homes for customers.

"Not everyone is going to build a log home," he says. "They want something different, but they want something luxurious at the same time."

"My great-great-great-grandchildren can come see the luxury and comfort here," Mary Ladish says. "It will be here for a long time."
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Title Annotation:River Oak Log Homes Inc.
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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