70 New Acres of Gorgeous Land Inspired a Dream Cabin
In September 2018 we received an email from a friend in Parsons, WV, asking if we were interested in buying a 70-acre property abutting their place. With our respective retirements from development banking and preschool teaching coming up this seemed like a great idea. A few weeks later we became the proud owners of 70 acres of forest with magnificent views and lots of wildlife.
As we soaked up our beautiful new property, we wondered, “now what?” Our options were:
nothing – leave it as it is
buy an already built house nearby
build a parking place and use a RV
build a cabin
Eventually we settled on a cabin. The next question we faced was, which sort of cabin? Should we invest in a bespoke custom built, a kit set, or a modular home? We looked at each of the costs, availability of local contractors, and finally decided a modular home would be our best option. Now the next question, who should supply the cabin? After lots of googling websites of various suppliers and log cabin customer fora, it became clear Zook Cabins offered something pretty special. Unlike other suppliers there were no complaints we could find anywhere. No stories of delays, messed up orders, and quality problems. Their website was also super helpful in sorting out their cabins’ options. It was time to take the next step. We proceeded to an in-person visit of Zook Cabins.
From the Beginnings of a Rainy Day to a New Cabin Design
It was a rainy November day when we drove up from our home in Alexandria VA, to Zook Cabins in the heart of Amish county in Southern Pennsylvania. We met with Matt who gave us a tour around the show home and we immediately concluded this was our ideal cabin experience. We then began our initial order and discovered there was lots of flexibility in the layout of the home as well as the location of decks. At last we came up with an agreed design.
Then it was back to Parsons, WV to figure out where we would site the cabin and whether the design would work. This involved a committee of my wife and I, our new neighbors and our “project manager”. This resulted in a few changes in terms of the orientation of the cabin and location of the decks. We reported our findings to Matt and started to look at some preliminary plans.
Delivery Day Set! Cabin Details Perfected! Permits Tackled!
In late December 2018 we submitted our formal offer and down payment. We were off! Our cabin was closer than ever to ours! We agreed to a July 2019 delivery date with the understanding that if our site works weren’t completed, delivery could be deferred. The Zook team then prepared the really detailed plans. Who knew how much detail went into building a cabin? Everything you could think of and more, such as placement of electric receptacles, lights, heating system, etc.
With the plans in hand, we then began the process of gaining the necessary permits (septic tank-percolation and driveway) and organizing the various contractors we would need. We did this with our “project manager”. Dave, a close friend, had worked his life in construction and knew all the various procedural steps. He knew the people in the county administration and most importantly who were the reliable local contractors. We needed a team to drill a water well, build the concrete block foundations, make the plumbing and electrical connections. Last and most importantly prepare the site, build the driveway and develop the septic system (drain field).
Even Rain Can’t Keep Zook Cabins from Shining!
And then it rained – that year in Parsons there was 80 inches of rain and it delayed our contractors. We were worried about our delivery. With a lot of herding from our friend Dave, all the contractors came in and we made our early July delivery by the skin of our teeth. This team did a great job building the driveway and the parking area for the 100-ton crane needed and laying out the foundations perfectly. Our civil works guy had worked with Zook Cabins before so he knew what needed to be done.
The trucks arrived on time with the modular cabin pieces and various other building materials. We live on a fairly narrow country road and discovered afterwards they had to battle with the local cemetery and some trees to get through with the loads. With the help of the crane, the two halves of the cabin were then placed on the foundation. The building team came too, a team of very well bearded and hatted Amish gentlemen who put everything together and built decks over the next 4 days.
What a Happy 1st Anniversary!
We were delighted with our new cabin! However, our cabin still needed to be hooked up to everything, and this process of getting the power company to connect, the plumbers in, and delivering furniture and appliances took another couple of months. We would come up from our Virginian home and camp out in our unconnected house while all this happened. After those couple of fine-tuning months, our Zook Cabin was fully functional. So literally on our first anniversary we had a livable house with magnificent views and remarkable interior craftsmanship.
We have ended up using the cabin a lot more than we planned initially. It has been a wonderful haven during this time of COVID.
Would Our Cabin Worries Come True?
Things we worried about concerning our new cabin: Would it be warm enough in winter with backboard heating? Would it be cool enough with just ceiling fans in the height of summer? Thankfully, all our worries proved to be unfounded. The cabin has proved to be very livable and workable regardless the seasonal temperatures.
Superb Suggestions for Additions to Your Zook Cabin
A couple of recommendations. We added a 10×20 shed which has since been filled up with golf clubs, fishing gear, and all manner of garden, forestry, and construction tools. We added a large screen porch as part of the cottage design which we use extensively. It’s where we socialize with friends and relax throughout the day.
” A Whole Lot of Love”
To conclude we found the design, build, and contracting process excellent. There were no payment surprises. We even received a modest cash rebate at the end for materials that were not needed. Our new home matched the quality of the show home we had toured on our first visit to Zook Cabins. In short, we couldn’t be more pleased to have selected Zook Cabins for this undertaking. Our Zook Cabin is the first home we have ever built from scratch and a place we are very proud of. We hail from New Zealand and we have named the cabin Arohanui or as Led Zeppelin would sing, “A whole lot of love”. We have no hesitation in recommending Zook Cabins.