Three years ago Brad and I bought land in a gated community in the North Georgia Mountains, with the intention of building a summer home of our dreams. Last fall we bought architectural plans, hired a contractor, and received building permits to start construction at the beginning of this year. Upon clearing the land and building a foundation our one level, two bedroom cottage turned into three levels. There went our small house! The lot is sloped, so it needed a large deep foundation. Our high ceilings begged for a loft so that space wouldn’t be wasted. It made sense, and the second bedroom was relocated upstairs as we made room for a larger master bedroom. We also added an office in the loft overlooking the great room. This was all decided from our house in Florida with numerous phone calls and video chats with our contractor, Duane.
When framing neared completion we flew in for a walk through. The kitchen was too small, but we had a random room behind it where we could expand. We changed some windows, and added a door in the bedroom leading out to a spacious deck. The three of us figured out the placement of appliances, what made the most sense for an easy flow, marking accordingly for electric and plumbing lines.
Before we headed back to Florida we picked out windows, roofing, outside paint colors and other immediate issues. We continued daily chats and photo updates with Duane as he got things done. Construction was moving along, until we didn’t hear from him. A week or two passed, we finally got word that he was in the hospital from a massive heart attack. We’d become friends with Duane, this tragic news affected us and our community.
My husband decided he could take over the completion of our house. We loaded up our plane, dog and necessities for the long haul. Already owning a rental duplex we stayed there, getting kicked out on weekends to keep our rental agreements intact. The evening of our arrival we checked on construction progress. Much needed to be done, but I knew Brad could make it happen and I’d help anyway I could.
He looked at his phone a bit teary-eyed. “I just got a text. Duane passed away at 7:45. That’s about the time we walked in here.”
“Wow. So sorry, but it didn’t sound very promising the past few days.”
Brad got busy organizing specialists for the upcoming weeks. Electric, A/C, flooring, painters, trim, plumbers, and cabinets. There were no shows, high quotes, phone calls not returned and others too busy to take on new projects. In the mean time we had my handy nephew drive up from Florida to help with some minor stuff. We kept him busy with the outside fencing and cleaning. We found dependable hard-working painters who started right away on the exterior.
We had to decide on fixtures, starting on the door handles.
“I’d like a statement piece on the front door.” I said.
“What about the rest of the doors?” he asked.
“Just normal door handles.” I responded.
“What’s normal? They have different colors, types, locks?” He asked.
“Just the normal round knobs in nickel.”
“You don’t like the hooked door handles?”
“I don’t care, its a just a round knob with a lock right?” I said in frustration. “You pick the rest of the handles, and I’ll find the statement one for the front door.”
This is pretty much how we chose the details at first, until we sat down for a day or two searching and comparing our individual styles on Amazon and similar sites. Fans, lights, sconces, sinks, faucets, fencing, appliances, indoor paint colors, trim colors, flooring and tiles. I missed Duane’s opinion as he was helpful with decisions. We made daily trips to Lowes, an hour and a half round trip. I noticed the details in these things everywhere I went in restaurants, stores and houses. They were in my nightly dreams when I wasn’t running around trying to save my pup from strange creatures chasing us… a topic for another blog or a psychologist.
We visited my family in Cincinnati for a weekend, allowing occupancy for renters who had booked months prior. We had to pack up everything into storage or take it with us. A heat wave engulfed the east coast which made flying around or above the cumulus clouds and weather a bit harrowing.
Back in the mountains I made a point to go hiking when possible and occasionally relax at a winery for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with an amazing view. Amazon packages arrived regularly, and on some days the construction site looked like a beehive with everyone working.
We’re leaving the basement unfinished for now. It’s framed out with space for two bedrooms plus a storage area, and a sauna/hot yoga room wired for the required 220-240 voltage. We have to leave again this weekend for our rentals and we’ll either camp out at our new house, or visit a nearby town such as Asheville. I’ve been slacking on blogging, but it’s been a busy year