A Place For Everything, Everything In Its Place
Published 10:00 pm Sunday, January 31, 2016
The tiny house movement reaches the Foothills
Written by Linda List
Photos by Mark Schmerling and submitted
Tiny houses are popping up in architectural magazines, on television shows, and newspaper stories about families choosing to downsize. If you’re single and living alone, or a couple ready to shed possessions, 500 square feet might be the right fit for you. Green River Log Cabins, located right here in our foothills in Campobello, S.C., is the premier place to go and find your tiny dream home.
Green River Log Cabins has been building small, custom homes for 20 years. They began with the RV and campground market. Over the years the demand for their custom cabins has expanded. Ten to twelve pre-sold cabins are built on location each month, with a three-month backlog. The cabins are shipped all over the country, some as far away as Colorado and New Mexico.
Green River Log Cabins provides suggested floor plans. RV Park style cabins range from 324-400 square feet and come fully equipped with full size appliances and washer/dryers. The modular cabins range from 400-2,400 square feet. All plans can be customized to fit each customer’s own needs.
The uses are varied. Campgrounds remain a big part of the business. However, the second home market has been expanding. As a result of the recession, people began to realize they didn’t need a large second home. A small cabin in the woods with the proper amenities and lower budget can easily fill their get-away requirements. The log cabins can make a perfect “mother-in-law cottage” adjacent to a main home or a separate home for those “come back kids.”
Recently a father and son looking for a vacation retreat decided on two cabins with a breezeway and porch connecting them. One cabin features a full kitchen including an island with a stove. The second cabin replaces the kitchen area with a complete bar, including a wine cooler.
Another cabin was built for a daughter whose elderly father was blind. She wanted him to be able to live close by, but still have his own living quarters. She had a cabin designed without any interior walls so he was able to walk throughout the home with no impediments.
Some companies have ordered cabins to serve as living quarters for employees. Others have been designed as guesthouses and hunting cabins. With Airbnb (airbnb.com) emerging in the tourist industry, Green River is finding a niche with customers looking for an affordable way to get into this market. A design that allows a one-bedroom cabin to easily offer more sleeping space includes the installation of a Murphy bed in the living area. Folded up when not needed, it quickly is pulled from the wall, ready for extra guests.
Units can offer electric, gas, or wood burning fireplaces, creating a cozy atmosphere in the cabin. Some standard features include a full size bath, kitchen appliances, Andersen windows and screens, a 45-year metal roof, pine wood interiors and hickory hardwood flooring. Some popular options offered are sleeping lofts, quartz or granite countertops, full size Whirlpool washer/dryers, ceiling fans, plus decks built on site. Every cabin reflects the customer’s unique needs and wishes.
“Communication is the key and customers are treated like family to assure that all stages of the construction go as planned,” says Wayne Gosnell, plant manager. “They can actually watch cabin cams showing their homes as they’re being built.”
Sales manager Todd Garland works with customers to design the cabins to their specifications.
“Because there are so many options, no two are alike,” he explains. “And all must meet building codes and restrictions. Some people find us on the Internet and everything is actually done over the phone. Many customers discover us just by driving down Highway 26. It’s never dull here,” he adds. “Meeting different people and listening to their ideas is interesting and a challenge. One woman wanted several cabins, all with a Swiss Chalet exterior. She has a wedding business and some of the cabins are for guests and some for the wedding itself. Another customer owns a spa resort. She needed cabins just for bedrooms, no kitchens or other amenities.”
Todd uses large windows to capture views and give rooms an open feel. Curtain rods are featured on all the windows, ready for the owner’s window treatments. Pocket doors save space. Drawers and cabinets are built in for storage, a place for everything and everything in its place.
Dean and Julie Garritson are the owners of Green River Log Cabins. In 2006 Dean was a very busy man, involved with several different manufacturing companies. Every week found him on airplanes headed to different locations and different problems. When he and Julie decided to start a family, he knew it was time to settle down. He found Green River Log Cabins and decided it was the perfect opportunity for him.
“The first couple of years I spent learning the business from the ground up,” he tells me. “Now I do a lot of research solving problems. For example, something you might not think about is how different environments in different parts of the country affect the wood. Colorado and New Mexico have very dry climates and over time the wood can shrink. I discovered a special latex to use that molds to the wood, to fill in any spaces. We’re working on some cabins for a plantation in Charleston where the humidity is very high. I noticed buildings there with mold growing on the exterior. So we’ll be using a stain on these buildings that is mold resistant.”
Green River Log Cabins ships each home on a custom steel framed trailer and sets the home on site. This narrow, simple shipping technique is a key advantage, allowing delivery to many more sites than traditional modular homes, and to have wider, more open spaces with higher ceilings. When it’s an off-frame modular, a crane is required to install the home onto the foundation.
If a tiny house fits your lifestyle and you see the possibility of one in your future, visit Green River’s website, www.greenriverlogcabins.com. Todd Garland can be reached at 864-457-2444, or follow Exit 5 on Interstate 26 and stop by for a visit. HGTV “Tiny Houses” featured Green River in January. Watch for repeat episodes.