The Log Home Builders Association is a non-profit educational association that teaches average men and women how to build a log cabin. We do not work with commercial or “kit” builders, only owner-builders and others who are interested in building a “real” log home for themselves.
We teach our own butt and pass method, which is perfectly suited to owner-builders with little or no experience. It’s fast and inexpensive and sturdy and requires a lot less skill than the various notched styles. Plus it doesn’t settle like kit houses do. The methods we teach are code-compliant and earthquake resistant enough to be built in every jurisdiction in the United States and the rest of the world. This method was largely developed by our (late) founder.
Skip Ellsworth, founder
The Association was founded by fifth-generation log home builder DeWelle Ferguson “Skip” Ellsworth in 1965. Skip was a craftsman, philanthropist, adventurer, and all around amazing fellow.
Student of Bruce Lee
In 1959 Bruce Lee moved to Seattle to start a new life. He was working as a waiter at Ruby Chow’s Chinese Restaurant when he and Skip first met. Skip had a reputation on the streets of being a good fighter, and Bruce was looking for students to train in Kung Fu. The pair agreed to a fight, and Skip later described it as the fastest and hardest anyone had ever hit him.
Shortly thereafter, Skip became Bruce Lee’s third student in America. He fought side-by-side with Bruce and won many competitions.
Building log homes
In his twenties, Skip got a job as a construction worker on the Alaska railroad. The construction workers were housed in a railroad camp that consisted of worn out tents that were cold, leaky and full of holes that let the wind blow through. While the other workers complained, Skip grabbed an axe and, with the help of the knowledge shared with him through his father and grandfather, built his own log house next to the camp. Skip was the warmest and most comfortable worker in the camp, and pretty soon the other construction workers were paying him to build them small log cabins to live in while they worked in Alaska.
At that time, Skip was just starting a family back in Washington, and he sent the extra money home to take care of his wife and kids. He also bought some property in a little town called Redmond, Washington, which would later explode onto the national map when Microsoft established its headquarters there.
Skip went on to build hundreds of log homes in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, becoming the world’s foremost authority on building log homes using modern techniques. He also founded the Log Home Builders Association of North America and began teaching others how to build log homes.
The Northern Exposure television years
In the early 1980’s, Skip built his own personal log home in Washington. He constructed a gigantic three story structure measuring over 7,000 square feet. That house was even used as the home of Maurice (the retired astronaut) in the television series, “Northern Exposure” in the 1990’s. The television series was filmed in Washington state and the production studio rented out several of Skip’s houses to film in and around.
Skip taught log home building classes at his home for many years, often sitting at the end of his 26-seat dining room table and explaining the details to standing-room-only crowds.
Saving lives with his charity
Skip retired from building in the 1990’s and decided to spend his time exploring the world and helping disadvantaged children. He and his wife Maribel “Belle” Ellsworth started a charity called The Alfonso Fund to provide free medical assistance to poor families on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Skip and Belle saved many lives during that time.
Skip’s passing and memorial
Skip died on August 6, 2008 at his home in the Philippines. He left the world peacefully, surrounded by family and friends. He is missed by all who knew him, and the many hundreds or thousands of his students who have gone on to build a log home, especially those who were able to do it without a mortgage, thanks to his teachings. To honor Skip, The Alfonso Fund has since been renamed to The Skip Ellsworth Memorial Fund.
The Log Home Builders Association today
Today the Association is operated in his memory by his son Ellsworth, a sixth-generation log home builder, along with Skip’s brother-in-law Steve. The Association periodically offers log home building classes to owner-builders worldwide. We are based in Las Vegas because it is the least expensive city for our attendees to travel to. Las Vegas has the most direct flights and lots of hotels to choose from in every budget range.
Our goal is to further Skip’s vision of every man and woman on the planet being able to build their own log home from scratch, without a kit and without a mortgage.