Life in a Lancashire log cabin
PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 July 2016
Bond Hardman never suffers from cabin fever – he and his partner live in a lovely log house. Roger Borrell reports.
It wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Little House on the Prairie but this striking log cabin isn’t in the backwoods of Minnesota but Shay Lane, a couple of miles from busy Burnley.
And it’s certainly not rough hewn – the home Bond Hardman shares with Karen Corr is as remarkable inside as it is out with the sort of luxury features never dreamed off by the pioneers of the Wild West.
True, there are a couple of arrows stuck in an exterior wall but this has more to do with Bond’s sense of humour and an interest in archery than any passing Apache raiders.
What’s more, it didn’t break the bank coming in at £5,000 below their £100,000 budget. Kevin McCloud, of Grand Designs, would be tearing out what hair he has left at such fiscal prudence. ‘Actually, one or two people did say we should be on Grand Designs but that’s really about things going wrong,’ says Bond. ‘We wanted everything to go right.’
The end result shows Bond got his wish. It’s the sort of building that should have a name but when you ask him what he calls it, he just laughs and says: ‘Home.’
It can’t have seemed too promising to start with when three articulated lorry loads of cedar logs weaved their way through country lanes on the moors just above Burnley and deposited 66 tons of wood.
The trees, with their bark stripped, came from plantations in Devon and Cornwall and a specialist company in the Midlands supplied them and spent six days fitting them together into what was basically a gigantic log box.
From then on, it was all Bond’s project. He and Karen, both passionate endurance horse riders, keep their mounts on the neighbouring fields. ‘We had a cottage in Bacup and a caravan here near the horses,’ he says. ‘We starting living in the caravan about eight years ago and never really went back.
‘We decided to put in for planning permission and Karen asked me what kind of house I wanted. For some reason, I said I’d like a log cabin so we had a look at suppliers and the idea grew from there.’
Once the box had been created, Bond had to cut through the internal logs to create rooms and windows. There is a smart kitchen which runs into a dining room and then through to a snug living room, a modern quality bathroom and two bedrooms.
His task wasn’t helped by a tumble which resulted in a broken collar bone and dislocated shoulder. But a small thing like that didn’t stop Bond from getting on with the job.
Despite being wooden, it’s light and airy with great acoustics. and is cosy without feeling at all cramped. Much of the furniture has been made by Bond and the construction meets all the building regulations. He and Karen believe it’s the only log cabin in Lancashire that meets that criteria. It has top grade insulation, under-floor heating and a sophisticated wood burner that provides hot water and heating at a bargain weekly cost of just £10.
Having log walls means nothing is flush and that does create problems. Virtually everything has to be freestanding and doors and windows have to be on sliding frames. There is also some clever thinking needed to hide electrical wiring. And you can’t be put off by bumps in the night – the logs crack and bang as they gradually dry out.
‘We had one neighbour who raised concerns but the planning people loved it and when it went before the committee all 13 members voted in favour,’ says Bond. ‘Karen loves living in it and I’ve not met anyone else who doesn’t like it. It really has that wow factor. We’ve even had friends bring visitors from Canada and America to have a look.’ Near the front door, the log end has small tags hammered into the wood denoting the rings created in the years Bond and Karen were born.
Bond had the right skills set for the task. He started off as a fencing contractor but he went to college and trained as cabinet maker, creating his own designs from a workshop in Burnley.
‘Then my sister said she’d like a shepherd’s hut so I built one and that created a lot of interest, leading to me setting up Lancashire Shepherds Huts,’ he says. ‘I build one every three to four weeks depending on the complexity and I’m never out of the workshop. I just become engrossed and have to be dragged away.’
A finished hut can cost around £6,000 depending on the interior features. They are all fully insulated using alpaca fleeces supplied by a friend with a herd.
Would he ever move away from the log cabin? ‘I love the house so someone would have to make a silly offer – and then I could go and build another one!’
Sanding down the logs to get a smooth finish for the interior walls was probably the longest and most messy job. ‘But there’s one good thing about having a log cabin,’ he laugh. ‘I’ll never have to wallpaper a room.’ w
You can find out more about Bond’s work at www.lancashireshepherdhuts.co.uk