Race to the Finish is reprinted with permission from Log & Timber Home Living magazine.

Story by Adam Headley | Photography by Allen Mowery

A pastoral setting in thoroughbred country provides the perfect reason for a retired couple to return to their childhood home.

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As their careers wound down and retirement approached, Dean and Annemarie Wasniewski returned to their roots.

After years in sales, marketing and administration had seen them relocate to New England more than a quarter-century ago, they remembered where they both grew up and had raised their son, Toby, and daughter, Erica. “We wanted to move back close to our families, who live in Lake George and Schenectady. Saratoga lies square in the middle of all,” says Dean.

So, 32 acres of spectacular land in the Saratoga-Stillwater area of upstate New York, with its centerpiece — an 8-acre pasture — provided the perfect setting to build the home of a lifetime. “We knew right away this was the place to build a special house,” Dean gushes. “We’re avid horse race fans, and Saratoga Race Course is the oldest thoroughbred track in the United States. So this seemed like the right spot for our timber home. Our love for horses is woven throughout our home, as are our fond memories of previously living on the beach and Cape Cod.” A friend had recently built a 5,000-square-foot log home in Somerset, Pennsylvania, and after visiting a few times, Dean and Annemarie decided to follow up on their recommendation to work with Timberhaven Log & Timber Homes. From the beginning, the Wasniewskis knew what they wanted. Annemarie envisioned a sunroom for hours of reading, while Dean wanted to nurture his love of the outdoors and pay tribute to his father’s passion for big game with a trophy room.

Race to the Finish: Must-Have Ranch Design!

“We planned a ranch all along,” they recall. “We have a large family of all ages, including great-grandma, and we also have many family gatherings, so the one level works well. Our friends, the Sacchini family, hooked us up with Lynda Tompkins, and we took a trip to Timberhaven to share our ideas and see how they could customize a timber home for us.” Lynda, a principal at Middleburg, Pennsylvania-based Timberhaven, welcomed the opportunity to work with the Wasniewskis. The consultative process was immediately energized and produced a blueprint for success.

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“Through conversations in regard to what they wanted to achieve and listening to ‘how they wanted to live,’ in their home, we were able to identify the specific design and aesthetic elements,” Lynda explains. “We utilized concepts from several past houses that lent themselves to the project, and ultimately inspired a new model, the ‘Saratoga,’ for Timberhaven. We then customized this new model for the Wasniewskis based on their specific design goals. They shared what they wanted – including single-floor living with an open entry, great room and galley-style kitchen.”

Dean and Annemarie admit that their knowledge of log and timber homes was limited when they first approached Timberhaven. Lynda and company set the couple at ease, providing numerous design and layout suggestions while noting the features and benefits of each element. “Timberhaven was incredible to work with,” they say. “Lynda streamlined the entire process. Adding general contractor Mike Lewis, who knew both the Timberhaven product and timber home building, closed the loop on all of it.”

The complementary match of Timberhaven and Mike’s building outfit, High Peaks Log Homes, located in nearby Chestertown, New York, indeed pulled the entire project together. “Timberhaven was able to provide the complete materials package supported by Mike, who is our local representative and could provide the construction services as well,” Lynda remarks.

“Once Lynda referred us to High Peaks, we were ‘off to the races’ literally!” Dean says with a laugh. In his role as general contractor, Mike pulled permits and directed the Wasniewskis to local suppliers for electrical and plumbing fixtures. “Dean and Annemarie were very proactive with ideas and how to proceed,” Mike comments. “They were familiar with building and worked diligently to make decisions to keep the project moving.”

Construction got underway in November 2019. Framing began three months later, and the Wasniewskis moved into their new timber home in mid-October 2020. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work progressed. “There were some delays due to COVID-19, but keeping the subcontractors informed allowed the build to stay mostly on course,” Mike shares. “It is critical, especially with the delays we are experiencing due to COVID-19, to make decisions well in advance.” Dean and Annemarie agree.

“Fortunately, the town building inspector did not shut us down, as we had a small building crew,” they reflect. “Also, we were very fortunate that no one on our crew came down with COVID. The project could not have taken place without great partners. Timberhaven and High Peaks were just that. We feel blessed.”

Timber Frame / Hybrid Home Specs

Modified Saratoga Timber Frame / Hybrid Home by Timberhaven

2,550 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

Sales Rep: Mike Lewis, of High Peaks Log Homes, Chesterton, NY

For the complete story as seen in Log & Timber Home Living, click here.