Our Story


Talk with founder and contractor Randy Nilsson for just a few minutes, and you’ll know that Great Lakes Carpentry's emphasis on being green rises from a true passion for earth-friendly building practices. That commitment is clear at every level: from the way we precision-stack logs and seal building envelops so that damage-causing moisture can’t get into or out of homes, to our focus on staying educated on the newest building science being developed in the U.S. and Europe. “This is exciting stuff,” Randy says, “and we love to share good things with people.”

A native of Chicago who has worked in the construction trades since 1974, Randy fell in love with the Northwoods at first sight. When he found himself searching out any excuse to return to the area, he knew it was time to move his construction expertise here. Great Lakes Carpentry opened in 1999. Thus began the journey to design and build the most beautiful, energy and resource-efficient full log and timber frame homes in Northern Wisconsin.

We have launched into a new frontier of energy conservation and building envelope science. In 2006, we built the very first Wisconsin ENERGY STAR Rated and GreenBuilt Certified Full Log Home in the State of Wisconsin. We are proud to have earned a Certified Green Building Professional designation through the National Association of Home Builders. We are also a trade ally of Focus On Energy New Homes Program. Our homes meet stringent requirements for certification through these programs. Your home will be comfortable, safe, durable and energy-efficient.

Along the way, Great Lakes Carpentry has partnered with top quality American companies who share the same values for quality and energy efficiency.

As Independent Representatives of Timberpeg®, The Artisans of Post & Beam, we use nature’s most desirable building materials and combine  time-tested methods of mortise and tenon joinery with state-of-the-art building envelope technology, materials, and equipment. The resulting Timberpeg home is not only beautiful, comfortable, and energy efficient, but it will cost less to operate, and it will last for generations to come.

As a certified builder for Pukall Log Homes, we provide locally grown and milled kiln-dried logs. Properly dried logs help build a tight, energy-efficient log home and reduce the risk of settling and shrinkage. We can provide FSC-certified logs on request.

Now in our 15th year, we are ever seeking to stay at the forefront of energy efficiency. We are proud to offer clients the opportunity to build with super-insulated Enercept SIP panels, which are 2.5 times stronger than traditionally built homes and can reduce heating and cooling costs by 40-60%. Randy is currently enrolled to become a certified Passive House builder. Perfected in Germany, Passive Homes are the gold standard, boasting 90% energy efficiency.


Complete with in-house carpenters and design team, Great Lakes Carpentry has the expertise and experience to bring your new home or renovation from dream to reality. We’re friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate about our work, and we take pride in going the extra mile to inform our customers of the benefits of building with a Certified Green Building Professional.

Won't you partner with us on this journey? Contact Great Lakes Carpentry to help you design and build your home for the future, today.