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Category:aaron rambles Posted:06-21-2013 03:23 AM Views: 418006
Synopsis: Designing a custom house is fun, rewarding and nerve racking.
So, we moved from a great neighborhood in Ohio to Tennessee in the summer of 2011 to be closer to family. It was a good move but we miss our house dearly. With 5 kids you quickly realize that things like a mud room, large bedrooms and extra closets and general 'space' is highly valuable. When we moved here we had a plan to buy some land and build a custom home. While looking we realized small parcels of land were just flat out impossible to find in the area we wanted to live in. We wanted a 2-3 acre spot that we could have some breathing room but the prices people wanted for land were silly.
We ended up finding a fairly neglected home that was 20 years old but was situated on a 5 acre beautiful lot nestled off a quiet side road about a mile from the lake. We bought pre-auction from the rep that was auctioning of the property due to a messy divorce between the owners. So anyways, we bought the dumpy house that was too small for our family because we saw the potential for what it could be once it was cleaned up and updated. Plus it had enough land that it could be divided so we could build a larger home later on.
We ended up with a ton of equity at closing by getting a smoking deal on the home that was basically a pet store for the owner. 13 dogs. Poop everywhere. It was unbearable to even walk in. 18 gallons of KILZ, $65,000 in upgrades (new kitchen, flooring, doors, trim, fixtures, bathrooms, AC, some electrical, light fixtures, trim, exterior doors, massive amounts of landscaping, new 650' paved driveway, exterior paint, new 600 sq ft deck) and a whole lot of work later we moved in. It only took 4 months and we did a fair amount of the work ourselves and relied on some talented tradesmen and women to work their magic on the home which is now a stunning and unique home with a FANTASTIC view from nearly every angle. We can't see another home from nearly anywhere on the lot due to the ultra thick and tall foliage that surrounds the property. It's been a perfect place to recalibrate and plan for the future and to plan for a new home that will fit our largish family of silly kids and my love of cars (2 car garage is not working out)
We quickly realized we were going to need a serious lawnmower and all sorts of stuff like a chainsaw, a fourwheeler to pull our 60" trailmower around, a slew of tools to keep the property maintained and nearly 500' of hose just to get water to the trees in the orchard of fruit trees we planted. Now that we have been in the house 1 year we have nearly all of the details finished like interior lights, a few minor trim pieces and other little bits and while we love it we just don't have enough room for our 5 kids in a smallish 3 bedroom house. Lets be clear, we would have even considered LOOKING at this house because of the bedroom issue but when an opportunity to get 5 acres in this town for what we paid including the house there is just no way to walk away from the deal. Having 100K in equity at closing is crazy in todays market and with the upgrades we have made we have a very solid investment. So what do we do? Well, we split the property into a 1 acre lot with the house and a 4 acre lot that we 'gave' to ourselves for free. That's how you get some land in this town and we got a smoking deal on the whole package.
So the new house will have a modern edge but will have very traditional roots- gables and steep pitched roof, simple materials and crisp design that has some modern elements like large windows, galvanized gutters, metal shed roof details and other elements that will help it fit into the landscape and feel like it could have been there for years and years. We'll see where it goes. We should be able to have some feedback from the builder in a month or so.
For the last 10 months I have been designing a new house to plop on the other 4 acres and am nearly finished with the design phase and am working with a architect/CAD modeler to get the plans drawn up. It's been a wild experience but having a background in design makes designing a house not much different than designing any other object (my experience in design is mostly consumer goods, and sporting goods with a few medical products in the mix). It has to have certain features, certain flow, material selection, relationships of walls, rooms, windows and all sorts of other variables that I'm used to thinking about. Finding ways to make them all work in a cohesive design that is hopefully beautiful and functional and within budget is just part of the fun.....we're getting there. We have been going back and forth with the bank on financing and all sorts of complex variables that can only be defined once the house has been designed and a build quote is generated which is combined with the value of the land and other witchcraft and nonsense...
We plan on keeping the 'old' house as a rental and a potential future temporary home for not only our kids and their families but possibly our parents as they age...we're definitely not selling it.
...anyways, I have a Pinterest board that I keep images that will help define the details and overall feel of the house both inside and out should you wish to check them out: http://pinterest.com/aaron_cornaby/2013-early-acres-house/