Gatlinburg man rebuilding home after wildfires, getting closer to moving in

GATLINBURG (WATE) – When his home was destroyed in the Gatlinburg wildfires, Dean Cato knew rebuilding was the only option.

When the husband and father of two kids realized the home was $140,000 underinsured, he knew rebuilding the home himself was also the only option. He says after insurance, the My People Fund and help from the Red Cross, he will be spending between $60,000 and $70,000 out of pocket.

Previous story: Gatlinburg man rebuilding home by hand

Five months after the wildfires, Cato is getting closer to moving into his new home in Chalet Village.

“We’re dried in, ready to put in insulation and wiring and cover it up and go from there,” said Cato. “We passed our first inspection with no problems, all of this with me being a contractor who’s never been a contractor.

Cato says building the home himself has been a lot of work but has allowed him to add in a few personal touches. Cato is constructing the homes stairs from trees that were blackened by the fire.

“We thought at first that we just wanted no reminders. But as we’ve been out here and building and getting everything done, and I’m looking at this and I said why not? It’s beautiful as it is. Just like many of us we may not look great on the outside but on the inside we’re strong and sturdy.”

Cato says the process has gone much quicker than he originally anticipated.

“Well the next five months will have us in our house,” said Cato. “When we first started this I was desperately hoping and praying that we would be in here by Christmas. Well, God’s favors been on this and we’re and we’re going to be in here this summer sometime in the next few months.”

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