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Planning an Affordable Hunting Cabin in Tennessee

The wild of Tennessee fuels one man’s passion for hunting game and the perfect log home.

Photos Courtesy of Honest Abe Log Homes, Inc.

Pete DeSocio fell in love with his land long before he ever owned it. The property in Henry, Tennessee, once belonged to a business-associate-turned-friend, and Pete had spent many happy days there indulging his longtime passion for hunting. So, when he bought the property and it came time to build a home of his own, a log home, built on that particular piece of land, was Pete's first choice. "Log homes are an art form," says Pete. "Luckily, we picked a builder who has mastered that art." That builder was Larry Bell, a contractor with 32 years of experience building log homes. He's also spent the last 16 years of them as a dealer for Tennessee-based Honest Abe Log Homes.

When they first met to discuss ideas for the home, Pete and his wife Trish were pleased to find how hands-on Larry is as a contractor. "It's a big advantage to draw the plans myself by hand, not by computer," says Larry. "This way, I know everything about house before I ever begin building it."
Even with the careful planning by the DeSocios and Larry, some changes still were made to the design once the project got underway. "We must have changed the plans fifty times!" said Larry, and Pete agrees — joking that they "started with the plan and made changes with a chain saw." But Trish points out that eventually everyone learned to leave well enough alone.

"At the beginning, we carefully chose every aspect of our home, but we had to let it take on a few characteristics of its own during construction," says Trish. 

The biggest priority for the DeSocios was to maximize the space in the home to get the most bang for their buck. You'll be hard-pressed to find any dead areas in the 2,400-square-foot house — built-ins are tucked under the eaves in the loft, storage areas are well placed over the master bedroom and the kitchen cabinets have interior fittings to properly store of all of Trish's kitchen tools (she's an avid cook). Over 2,000 square feet of decking adds ample outdoor living space as well. "When you're talking about how much your home is going to cost per square foot, you don't want to make the mistake of wasting space," said Pete.  

As for the interior decor, both Trish and Pete had treasured items of their own that found a home in the new home, plus a few special pieces of furniture that were brought in for a touch of Southwestern flavor. The interior of the white pine logs, were clear coated yet not stained, so they'll darken with age, adding to the home's rustic appeal. A spiral staircase leads to the loft and the railings are easy to look through, keeping the main living areas of the home open and airy. One very special design feature can be found in each of the home's two guest bedrooms. Because Pete and many of his friends are avid hunters, each spare room has its own private entrance so the occupant can come and go in the wee hours of the morning without disturbing anyone else in the house. And while Pete and his pals continue to enjoy their favorite pastime, the DeSocios' hunt for the perfect house has come to an end, thanks to their Tennessee trophy of a log home. 

Cutting Costs without Cutting Corners

Trish DeSocio says the biggest blessing when trying to spend money wisely is having the time to do plenty of research. With so many variables that go into any log home, it pays to make sure you have all the available information at your fingertips before trying to make any sort of decision. "Poor choices can turn out to be expensive," said Trish. "Our intention was to have the best quality so that it would last us for years and not look dated."

And, contrary to popular belief, the best quality is not always the most expensive choice. The DeSocios chose their wood flooring from a source recommended by their contractor Larry Bell, instead of a more expensive material they had found on their own. "The floors turned out to be more beautiful than we had even expected," says Trish. "We ended up with a better product that cost less."

Keep in mind that affordability is a long-term issue and not just relevant when you're building. Choosing features that might be a little bit of a budget stretch at the time, but that will live a long and low-maintenance life, while still looking beautiful might be worth the upfront cost. For example the metal roof that the DeSocios chose, will save them money over time since they won't have to replace the roofing as often as, say, a shingled roof.

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