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Building a Life
Tanner Owen Built a Home and a Life with his LT40HD
By Melissa Conrad
Date Posted: 12/1/2007
In 1993, Tanner Owen basically had two things. The first was a crisp, new diploma from Virginia Tech University in marketing. The second was a Wood‑Mizer Sawmill. Consequently, it was his Wood-Mizer LT40 Hydraulic Sawmill that would help him build more than a home – it would help him build a life.
With degree in hand, Tanner searched for job opportunities. Over and over he found that he would have to move to pursue a career in marketing. Virginia was home and Tanner wanted to keep it that way so he turned to his Wood‑Mizer.
On a part‑time basis, he began using his sawmill to do custom wood cutting and eventually build farm fencing. It's a job that never ended and led to a life he had always dreamed of and a career that chose him as much as he chose it. The man and the machine have built a life together – a life he shares with his wife, Julie, and their two young sons.
For years the couple lived in rental properties and fixed up homes that belonged to other people. "In '93, I had a goal and said I would build a log house someday," Tanner recalls. "I started accumulating lumber; sawing logs off my dad's farm and salvaged log from my brother's excavating business."
Four years ago they got serious about building that home and Julie put pen to paper and drew up the home plans. They had purchased 129 acres in Virginia in 2001 and worked on getting it ready a little at a time, starting the house in December 2003. Julie did the majority of the chinking and also finished the floors and ceilings. Julie's father, Algie Martin, built all the cabinets and even some pieces of furniture. Raw materials were sent out for secondary processing including planing and moulding.
In February 2005, they moved into their 2,112 square foot home plus a full finished basement and 12 foot deck on the back. The main floor features a great room with stone chimney, master bedroom and bath, laundry room/office, and a kitchen whose cabinets are like a walk through the forest. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a bath with lots of closet storage space.
Different species used in the home include pine for the exterior and some interior walls; red oak for floors, cabinets, and interior walls; walnut floors and trim; cedar closets and cabinets; and popular on ceilings and walls. Even some of the furnishing in the home were made from lumber cut on Tanner's sawmill. They cut 23,550 total board feet of lumber. His brother, Tommy Owen, did all the excavating work, grading and helped on part of the house. “Every step you got completed you knew you were a step closer to seeing the finished product,” Tanner recalls. “It wouldn't have been possible to do it without the help of all our friends and family.”
His Wood‑Mizer Sawmill has now paid for itself many times over by saving them an estimated $100,000 as compared to log home kit prices – not to mention the income from his on‑going custom cutting work. His LT40 Hydraulic with 24 HP gas engine cut 90% of all the lumber used in the home. He used 1-1/4” Wood‑Mizer Blade for his hardwoods, 1-1/2” for softwoods.
“Without it… it would have been a lot more expensive venture and there's no question about it… I probably would have never built the house," says Tanner of his Wood‑Mizer sawmill.
"It's as good a machine as I could ask for to Wood‑Mizer's credit," Tanner states. "I've been around a few other brands of mills and from what I've seen… if I had to buy another one it wouldn't be a question – I'd buy another Wood‑Mizer. It keeps running like it should. Wood-Mizer’s got them beat on all that."
Tanner says the home they built is Julie's exact dream. "We walk in and still say, I can't believe this is OUR house." Board by board, piece by piece, they have built a home and a life that is as true to their dreams as the truest cut of lumber from the finest log.
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