When it comes to homes in Steamboat, those of the luxury log variety seem to best capture the area's mountain essence, buyers and builders say.
Options for designing and building a log home have expanded with the arrival of a Finnish company that specializes in high-quality log-home kits.
"Steamboat is something we've always had on our radar. ... Steamboat seems to be a very, very strong market for this kind of home," said Pekka Laine, president of Honka Homes USA.
With the help of a team of local builders and developers, the company is constructing its first home in Steamboat at 2214 Clubhouse Drive. The home, which should be complete in the spring and is on the market for $1.495 million, is a showcase project displaying the European craftsmanship and quality that goes into the homes.
"I'm very confident people are going to be extremely interested in this," said listing broker Bill Pyle of Old Town Realty.
Honka logs, made from polar pine that grows near the Arctic Circle, are kiln-dried and cut in Finland. A break from the typical 2-by-4 or 2-by-6 lumber construction, the logs are scribed to fit together without chinking, Laine said.
The kits include structural pieces and decorative trim, as well as triple-pane, Scandinavian-style casement wood windows and exterior doors.
"It's a very sophisticated kind of precut log-home-building system," Laine said.
With nearly 70,000 log homes delivered to 36 countries, Honka is the world's largest log-home manufacturer, Laine said. Established in 1958, the company is involved in about 20 projects in Colorado this year, including 15 log buildings that will be a part of the Minturn Racquet & Trout Club development near Vail.
Among the most impressive homes on Honka's list of projects is a 17,000-square-foot log castle in Park City owned by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
Honka's experience and vast log inventory translates into time and cost savings to the buyers.
Whereas the process of building a custom log home can take up to three years, Honka home kits are constructed in five to eight months, Laine said.
"It's much, much quicker," said Pyle, who emphasized that builders and buyers aren't subject to fluctuating lumber costs.
He also said the logs, which are cut in the company's Finland factory, are premium grade lumber that typically fetches triple the cost of regular lumber in America.
Laine estimated Honka homes average between $200 and $250 per square foot to build. The price range is very competitive with that of custom-built homes, Pyle said.
"The kind of finishes and look here would be about $300 to $400 per square foot in Steamboat," he said.
In June, builders began constructing the 3,400-square-foot Honka spec home in Steamboat, which sits on a half-acre lot near the Sheraton Golf Course. The two-level home will have four bedrooms, including two master suites, and 4 1/2 bathrooms.
In addition to a sauna, walkout basement and two-car garage, the home will feature an open great room and deck overlooking the golf course.
"When you walk in this house, you'll basically have a 60-foot wall of windows looking out over Fish Creek Falls and the golf course," Pyle said.
Builder Shawn Sullivan of Sullivan Construction of Steamboat Inc. and developer Steve Malacinski of Steamboat Log Homes LLC, are building the project and are part of the team put together to help buyers plan, design and construct their Honka log homes.
Though Honka has many existing home plans to choose from, the company will make kits for custom homes of all sizes, Laine said.
"There are lots of ideas to get started, but we also have full design capabilities," he said.
Pyle noted that customers can pick interior finishes and there is an opportunity for buyers to plan the interior finishes of the spec home.
"There is still a window here for anyone who buys the home to have an opportunity in the interior finishes," he said.
For more information on the Honka spec home, call Pyle at 871-1960. More information on Honka Log Homes is available at www.honkahomes.com.