Most custom home projects begin the same way: with a wish list and a budget. Aligning wants and needs with the bottom line is usually where the rub comes in; more often than not, something has to give.
There are those rare occasions when the stars not only align, but priorities and pocketbooks do, too. Such was the case with Bob and Lee Kennedy’s New Hampshire log home. Before purchasing a lot or vetting a log home company, the couple created a list with 20 must-haves for their forever home. They also set a budget and narrowed their sights on the New England area.
Fast-forward three years: “We got everything on the list,” shares Lee. “That absolutely blows us away.” And for the kicker: The couple came within $1,000 of the original budget. But the Kennedys will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t all their own doing. “We are a faith-based family and know we had some help,” says Bob.
Take, for example, the fact that the couple decided to lock in a kit from Coventry Log Homes in the beginning of 2020 despite not having a property in place. “The Hillside model had everything we wanted,” shares Bob, including an open-concept layout, a primary suite on the main level and a dedicated office space in the loft. Though unbeknownst to anyone at the time, their unusual (and typically ill-advised) decision to purchase the kit first meant they secured pre-pandemic pricing and avoided the impending sky-rocketing cost of materials. “There was clearly a plan in the process for us,” says Bob.
Over the next year, the Kennedys came close to purchasing a couple of lots bordering the one they now own but were stopped in their tracks. “We kept praying for about a year to find a lot,” Lee shares. Then, during an overnight visit to the area, they happened to meet a local real estate agent who insisted she had the perfect property for them. A five-acre parcel with winter water views and year-round sight lines to a local ski range. Turns out, it was a lot they had come across a year earlier and decided against. “The first time around, we didn’t have all the right information, but this time, we knew it was the one,” shares Lee.
Still, they had one concern: Coming from a close-knit neighborhood in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Lee was worried about the solitude that five acres in the mountains with no nearby neighbors would bring. Then, word came from their agent that the neighboring 10-acre lot had sold. “That was my final answer before signing on the dotted line,” shares Lee. Since then, the Kennedys and their neighbors have become fast friends, regularly sharing dinners, hikes and snowshoeing adventures. “You can’t tell me that wasn’t divine intervention,” says Lee.
Soon after their serendipitous property search, the Kennedys broke ground. To be close to the action during construction, they relocated to an RV at a nearby campground, a move that would afford them daily check-ins. During one such site visit, Lee recognized a missed opportunity to add windows to the home’s rear wall, which would open up the loft to water and mountain views. “It was one of only two change orders in the entire project,” shares Bob proudly.
Having a plan and sticking (mostly) to it kept the Kennedys’ project tethered to their budget, but there were a few major cost-saving change-ups that saved the day. They were able to swap a traditional masonry fireplace for an insert with a stone facade, bringing the cost down from $45,000 to $17,000 without sacrificing aesthetic or ambiance. In addition, a decision to run electricity to the house down the 400-foot driveway via telephone poles, rather than burying the cables underground as originally planned, knocked the bill down from $18,000 to $650.
While the couple is convinced much of their building journey included divine design, Richard Titorenko of Coventry Log Homes says Bob deserves at least a little of the credit. “He had his mind made up that he was going to give Lee what she wanted, and in the end, they were at the very top of their budget but got everything they hoped for,” says Richard. “It was a true testament of love.”
Though move-in day was nearly two years ago, the couple is still in awe of the forever home they’ve dubbed “God’s Blessing.” “We have to pinch ourselves,” says Lee. “We are so blessed.”
Square Footage: 2,100
Log Provider/Designer: Coventry Log Homes