Slowly but surely, one man and his company are bringing Little House on the Prairie to the Borders.
Bowhill-based Caledonia Log Homes builds handcrafted, eco-friendly log cabins from sustainable local forests, within 50 miles of the yard.
Founder Chris Houston from Hawick set up the company in 2011, after 12 years away at Sheffield University, and then in British Columbia in Canada, where he went to play rugby, but fell in love with the big tree country.
“When I started as a full-time log cabin builder out in the sticks, there were plenty of bears, but not much rugby,” he told The Southern. Chris later toured Europe and New Zealand building log houses, and finally put down roots back in his home soil in the Borders.
Now, two years on, his business is growing, employing three full-time builders: Rhys Jackson from Jedburgh, Graeme Hill from Lilliesleaf, and most recently Frenchman Julien Serrand. “It’s more of a lifestyle than a business,” Chris said: “You’re working outside in all weather, all year. There aren’t many comforts. You’ve got to love it.”
The team are currently building two houses in the woody parkland of Hawick’s Chisholme Institute and Whitchester Christian Retreat, and have completed ‘garden studios’ – or miniature log cabins – in Hawick and Lauder, with another going up in Stichill.
Wooden homes are built to the client’s design, but generally there are three traditional styles to choose from: a cabin made of interlocking logs; post and beam; and a hybrid of the two. They typically take two to three months to build from Douglas Fir or Larch, with an average cost of a two-bedroom home at £100,000.
“People dream of living in something natural and unique,” he said, “and log cabins are now modern homes, expertly made.”
In an odd turn last year, Caledonia Homes also made maybe the fastest picnic benches in the west, constructing 25 9ft tables for Formula 1 staff in Woking, plus 12 5m tables for the Udder Belly at the Edinburgh Festival, and the shelter and fencing for the Forest Pitch project.