While many buyers dream of owning a log home, it’s a dream that remains out of reach for many. In his more than 20 years in real estate in Tennessee, Don Flatt has seen scores of retirees looking to build a log home in the mountains only to have that dream derailed because they couldn’t afford a true log home or the cost of a lengthy construction schedule.
“This is a big retirement area and we get a lot of people from Florida coming up here, looking to build,” says Flatt. “But I would say that 60% to 70% of those buyers can’t afford a log home. They usually end up with something with conventional studded walls.”
But Flatt, owner of Cumberland Log Homes and Cumberland Cove Realty (Monterey, TN), thinks he has the answer. His company has recently set a log model home that was built with modular technology.
Less Cost, Increased Convenience
The 1,888 sq.ft. model home, which features an eight-inch D-log profile made from white pine, has the kind of interior amenities one expects in an upscale dream home. The home features ceramic tile, hardwood floors, and upscale countertops. Like other homes built with the modular building system, this one arrives on the job site nearly 80-85% complete, with kitchens, flooring, plumbing and lighting all installed.
“We use log siding for the gable ends (not uncommon in site built log homes), but other than that, it’s a true log home and it came out looking great,” Flatt says.
And it costs far less than comparable site built log homes, he says. “We’re offering a home that really can’t be matched by the competition, somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% to 50% less. Depending on how fancy buyers want to make the interior, we can hit the $90 to $100 a square foot price range pretty easily,” Flatt says.
“And the homes can be completed in a fraction of the time it takes to construct a site built home as well, Flatt says.”
“Once we placed our order with the factory, the home arrived 30 days later. We added a big 24×40 screened in porch off the kitchen, which took some time. Because we had interest from buyers, we moved pretty quick, finishing it in a little over 60 days. I think we’ll be able to offer our buyers completion times of 90 to 120 days.”
The full log modular building system is the brainchild of Debbie Woksa and David Clark, partners in New Horizon Homes in Goodlettsville, TN, not far from Nashville. Woksa and Clark are former builders of system built homes who got into the manufacturing business when their former producer went out of business.
The partners ultimately purchased their former manufacturer’s facilities, a 65,000 sq.ft. plant that currently employs 35. For the past two years, Horizon Manufacturing Corp. has been producing more conventional modular homes while their full log building system has been in development. But now after perfecting the system and constructing a handful of model homes for builders and developers, the partners say they are ready to offer it statewide in Tennessee to buyers and builders.
“We’d like to expand to other states eventually, but right now we’re really just focusing on Tennessee,” explains David Clark. Debbie Woksa agrees. “It’s important we concentrate on quality close to home,” she says.
The couple has more than 25 years in construction experience and they put a lot of into their log system, they say, such as using factory installed Pex plumbing. Debbie Woksa has been instrumental in developing a computerized pricing and design program, which gives dealers a detailed cost breakdown of a modular log home project, from footers, foundations and flooring, to final turnkey finishes. It’s fast and easy enough to use that dealers can price a home in minutes.
“Builders that have tried the system out have said it’s very helpful to them. Many of the prices that we’ve included in the system aren’t set in stone,” says Debbie Woksa. “It’s more like a baseline of what we have paid in our local market.”
Like other modular building systems, Woksa and Clark say the predictability of their system is far superior to the chaos of site building. “With year long construction schedules for many log homes, we can offer a kiln dried system that done in a few weeks,” Dave Clark says. “Plus our homes never get wet. With site building, one often has to scrub down the inside of the house to remove mold from the logs. There’s none of that mess with this system.”