Smart pre-planning and diligent weekend work helped this Tennessee couple build their dream log cabin in under six months.

Story by Whitney Richardson
Photos by Roger Wade
Styling by Debra Grahl

exterior log cabin

Having construction know-how doesn’t just provide the obvious cost savings of being able to serve as your own builder– it can also help you get your home erected and ready to move into in under six months.

That was the timeline provided to Pat and Carion Markland for creating their log cabin in Del Rio, Tennessee. Thankfully, Pat — a commercial builder — was working on a project only two hours away from the home site, so he was able, along with Carion, to make good use of weekends to purchase materials and tackle key preparatory elements of the home’s construction.

“We were able to purchase all of the finishing materials all the way to our appliances and have them ready to go, so by the time the package arrived, we pretty much had all our finishing materials there,” Pat recalls. “The day the package was delivered, we started sorting logs and I took my forklift and I started hauling stuff to the house site. And the next day we were putting down sill plates and starting floor joists.”

log cabin porch

This extensive pre-planning, which included the construction of a heated 40-by-60-foot workshop to house all of their purchases until the cabin was ready for them, was the key to executing a quick, but smooth, construction process.

“It’s a great deal to be able to get that stuff, store it, and have it ready to go when you need it,” Pat notes.

The workshop also served as the base for important pre-construction projects — namely, application of polyurethane to all the interior tongue-and-groove paneling, which would have been a major hassle to undertake had they waited until the wood was already installed.

“I was the one who got the wonderful job of putting all of the polyurethane on all of the logs and the interior wood,” Carion jokingly boasts. “Everything that has polyurethane in this house — it belongs to me.”

The Right Setting

Before they could begin their construction process, however, they first had to find the land. In 2004, they sold the farm they had been living on in Indiana and hit the road in an RV to tackle some work projects. Their nomadic work had taken them all over the country — “from Alaska to Southern California to Florida to Maine,” Pat explains — but Tennessee had always held a special place for them.

“We just always loved Tennessee, especially east Tennessee around the Gatlinburg area,” he states. “That’s just our favorite part of the country — the people, the Smoky Mountains there.”

deck

In 2006, they wrapped up a project in Alaska and began a dedicated search. They lucked out on a 18-acre parcel that abuts Cherokee National Forest on two sides.

“It was a finding that ’66 Corvette in a barn for $1,000 type deal,” Pat states.

Although the couple did the vast majority of the construction work themselves, they sought outside expertise for the excavation and foundation work. That local contractor was also instrumental in helping to site the home as someone who knew the area and the drainage around the property.

A Simple Plan

The couple had been scouring various cabin and log-home magazines for ideas and plans. Coventry Log Homes had advertised a special sale in one of them, so Pat began to research the company.

“I found they had a really nice home. I liked the way they put it together with the hog-log screws and just everything that they had,” he explains. “And all the blogs we researched had nothing but good things to say about them.”

kitchen

The couple chose a stock plan right off the bat, opting to make a minimal design changes on-site during the construction process. The 1,600-square-foot, three-bedroom plan had all of the features needed to create a comfy home that they could share with their German shepherd and visits from their children and grandchildren, who also pitched in during the cabin construction process.

“Our plan is for this to be the family home, and it’ll go to our granddaughters and then their daughters and their granddaughters,” Carion says. “It would be cool for them to always know, ‘Oh, my Pappa built this, or my great-grandfather built this.’ I just think it would be a great legacy for all of our kids.”