CLOVER -- One look and Christy Petit was mesmerized.
The log home, tucked away in the Bethany community outside of Clover, instantly caught her eye. It was owned by the man who later became her husband, Scott,
"I remember thinking, 'Is that really his?'," said the 36-year-old nurse at Kings Mountain Hospital in Kings Mountain, N.C. "I thought it was absolutely beautiful, and if I could live in that house for the rest of my days it would be wonderful."
That was eight years ago, and Petit's feeling haven't changed. In fact, the Petits have enjoyed the comfort of their log home so much that they have decided to add another 900 square feet to the existing 1,700-square-foot home.
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"As soon as you walk in, you feel the calm and peacefulness," said Christy Petit. "It's the fact of being out in the woods and secluded and being outside next to nature."
The Petits are among a growing number of homeowners who have chosen to have a log home as their primary residence over traditional stick-built homes. It's a move that has attracted hundreds of other home buyers in many states, such as Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio over the past 10 years.
According to the Log Homes Council of the National Association of Home Builders, there are more than 500,000 log homes in the United States, based on 2007 figures.
Log homes account for 7 percent of the custom home-building market. Home buyers have the option of purchasing log homes kits, which are assembled on the home site, or modular log homes, which are assembled in a factory, then delivered to the site.
The South Carolina Modular Housing Institute, which represents modular log homes, does not have statistics available on log homes in the state.
The number of log homes sold each year grew by 73 percent between the mid-1980s, when about 15,000 log homes were sold, and 2003, when the number reached more than 26,000, according to the log homes council. That increase, it says, is attributed to the growth in log homes as a primary residence instead of merely a vacation home.
Chip Smith, owner and president of Blue Ridge Log Cabins, located outside of Spartanburg, said his clients range from baby boomers looking for second homes to seniors wanting to downsize and young couples who are first-time home buyers.
Smith's company, featured on a recent HGTV cable television show, produces its modular log homes in a Spartanburg area factory. The company is a member of The South Carolina Modular Housing Institute in Columbia.
"What we are seeing is a trend in society to . . . have a place to get away that's simpler, that can take them back in time," Smith said. "Log homes are like the new Harley Davidson. Everybody wants one. It's an industry that is quickly gaining popularity."
The Petits, who saw the growth in the log home industry, recently began their own log home business venture. They are an authorized dealer for Country Log Homes, the company from which Scott Petit purchased their log home.
Scott Petit, with the help of his late father, Ed, and his brother, Chip, assembled the couple's two-story, custom-built home in 1996. The home is built with 8-by-12 square-foot Eastern white pine logs, and it took a year to complete.
The three-bedroom, two-bath log home includes a living room with a fireplace; a dining room; a kitchen that boasts the cabinetry work of Ed Petit, a former contractor; a basement with a fireplace; a porch that covers the front and rear of the home; and a two-car garage.
Scott said his father talked him into purchasing a Country Road Log Home from the company, based in China Grove, N.C., because of the quality of work.
"He thought this was constructed a lot better," said the 43-year-old, admiring the work on the almost 12-year-old home.
Scott Petit, a research engineer technician for FMC Lithium in Bessimer City, N.C., chose a log kit for his home.
The kit comes with all of the necessities needed in building the home, including all the logs, porch support beams, interior posts, interior beams, second floor ceiling joists, nuts, bolts, washers, insulation strips, construction overlays and standard model blue prints.
The kits start around $16,800 for a 384-square-foot cabin and run up to $98,660 for a 3,372-square-foot home. Prices depend on how much of the home the homeowner wants completed and the cost for the company's contractor to construct the home.
When purchasing a log kit, the homeowner has the option of building the home themself or hiring the log home company's contractors to do it for them.
Scott spent almost $100,000 to purchase his log kit and additional materials needed to complete the home. "If you can do any of the work yourself, then you can save money," Scott said.
The logs are held together by a four-way lock corner, where they are placed at one position. Scott said it's a job that can be done by non-construction workers.
Although he did most of the work himself, Scott hired a brick mason to create a basement, fireplace and garage.
Since building the home, the Petits are now running out of room and have decided to add on.
"The family got bigger and I decided to do the addition," said Scott, referring to the couple's three children, Matthew, 11, Tristan, 4, and Mackenzie, 2.
The 900-square-foot addition will include a new master bedroom with a fireplace, a master bathroom and plenty of closet space. The addition -- expected to cost about $45,000 -- will connect to the left side of the home. A front and rear porch also will be affixed to the new room and will connect to the existing porches.
The logs for the addition have been up for the past two months. It took five men five days to put the heavy logs in place, Scott said. Next on his to-do list for the addition is the roof. Scott hired a brick mason to lay the stones needed for the fireplace in the new bedroom and also had the garage extended.
Another reason why Scott chose a log home as his primary residence was the insulation -- he said the log home is more energy efficient than conventional stick-built homes. The Petits pay an average of $200 a month in utilities.
The Petits said their home, which sits on 6.9 acres, recently appraised for $232,000.
"They appraise extremely well, like a normal conventional type of home," he said.
Scott is sure that he made a good investment and is proud that his father had a hand in building the home that shelters his family. It's a sentiment that Christy shares, too.
She said: "It was a great accomplishment for them to build it . . . to prove that you can dream big and acquire that dream and make it what you want it to be. It's not unreasonable to dream about."