RHB: Sanders Part 3
Scott and Vanessa Sanders recently moved from Windermere, Florida to their new Frank Betz dream home, the Greywell, in upstate South Carolina. After a hectic few months trying to sell their current home and build a home out of state, the Sanders are finally getting nested into their beautiful new residence.
“We’re still trying to get settled and figure out where to put things, so right now it’s a little crazy,” Vanessa said. While most of the furniture and family belongings are in place, the Sanders still have window treatments and some furniture left to purchase for the new home. “I’ve picked out furniture for the sitting room, but we don’t have it yet. Once I get the house decorated, then it will feel more like home,” Vanessa said.
While the rooms aren’t totally furnished, the Sanders are quick to use the new features they didn’t have in the old house.
“I am really enjoying the central vacuum. I’ve used it every day so far. With all the hardwood floors there is a lot of dust, and with three kids there are a lot of crumbs, so it’s every mother’s best friend. I absolutely love it. I told Scott we’re never going back to living without a central vacuum. Even the kids want to vacuum,” Vanessa laughed.
“In our old house my office was close to the kitchen so it was hard to get work done when there was so much going on,” said Scott, who works from home. “In this new house, I really enjoy the office the most because it’s separated from the rest of the house,” he said.
While the keeping room is currently empty, the Sanders are hoping they can enjoy that room sooner than later. “It’s the main reason we built this home,” joked Scott. The Sanders plan to use the keeping room as a casual space for everyone to watch TV or hang out and be near the kitchen and breakfast room.
In addition to the location of the office and the casual keeping room, the Sanders loved the overall look of the Greywell, although they stumbled upon the plan by accident.
On a scouting trip from Florida, Scott found the perfect neighborhood for his family of five. The Sanders home is nestled nicely on a large lot with numerous trees and a view of a river. Their builders, Brad and Cindy Thompson of First Choice Custom Homes, also live in the popular subdivision in the Greywell, which is something that helped the Sanders tremendously when deciding which plan to build.
“We had the luxury of seeing our builder’s home first, and that really helped,” Scott said regarding the floor plan. “After visiting Brad and Cindy’s home, I thought, ‘this is the plan I want to build.’ “We would probably make the breakfast room a little bigger and re-design the laundry room if we could do it all over again, but it has definitely exceeded our expectations,” Scott added.
The Sanders are very excited about the changes they made to the plan in the beginning, including eliminating a wall in the kitchen to create more counter and cabinet space, as well as adding a basement.
“Having never had a basement before, it’s fabulous. It’s unfinished but we’re going to take full advantage of it,” Scott said. Vanessa added, “It’s right off the kitchen so I can keep the door open and hear the kids playing when I’m up here. It’s where we’ll do Play-Doh or painting, and I think I’m going to put a sandbox down there so that the kids can play when it’s too cold to go outside.”
The Sanders are also enjoying the basement for storage purposes. Freeing up closet space, the basement — although unfinished — allows Scott and Vanessa plenty of room to store toys and tools and keep their closets tidy.
“It’s nice because we can use it for storage so the closets feel much bigger and organized because we don’t have so much stuff jammed in,” Scott said. “Right now, we don’t have any plans or a need to finish the basement. But if we’re still in the house when the kids are teenagers it’ll be great,” Vanessa added.
Vanessa and Scott loved the ability to choose their own colors and products, something that can be overwhelming but rewarding in the end.
“You have the freedom to actually create something from scratch, whereas with a production home, you only have a few choices. In this house the ceilings are very unique and we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. So we’re really happy,” Scott said. While building a home gives you the ability to choose whatever products you want, Vanessa advises to build a home that best suits your family’s needs, not what is popular at the moment.
“Everyone told me to do lots of drawers in the kitchen because it was the ‘thing’ to do. Well now I am finding that I can’t fit as much in the drawers and wish I had done fewer drawers to free up space. So sometimes the ‘thing to do’ may not be what works best for your family. Figure out what your needs are instead of what other people are doing,” Vanessa said.
Another thing they might have done differently is to wait to build until selling their home. Living in Florida often made building a home in South Carolina difficult, but contractors Brad and Cindy Thompson helped by staying in touch throughout the process.
“Our builders were very good and very responsive to our needs,” Scott said. “Unfortunately, it was hard being in Florida because we couldn’t come check on the house very often nor see it during critical moments. You don’t see attic space and space that isn’t used on the plan if you’re not there. But our builder was excellent at using all of the dead space and making it into things like an extra closet and a bathroom. So anything that had the potential to be used, he used. Every bit of the house is functional,” Scott said.
Another long-distance hurdle was making decisions, sight unseen that affected their budget.
“The tendency when building a custom home, especially not being local, is that it’s easy to say yes to something that is only 250 or 500 dollars when your builder calls. But when you get these calls on a regular basis, you’re going to go over budget,” Scott said. Going over your allowance can cause headaches, but the Sanders added a large budget item after their initial budget was determined.
“We wanted a level backyard but our lot is sloping, so to make it more functional we had a beautiful stone wall made to level off the yard. It was significantly more than we anticipated though, and it wasn’t part of the initial budget at all. So that was a huge budget buster,” Scott said.
“You need to save money on the front end because it’s going to get you on the back end,” Vanessa advises. “We saved money on the lumber and framing so we thought we’d have extra money for something else later. And then we get this stone wall, which we didn’t budget for whatsoever, and the basement we weren’t going to build and those were huge overages,” Vanessa said.
Budget issues aside, Scott and Vanessa are very happy in their new home. From the Coronado Stone and Cedar Valley exterior to the Kitchen-Aid appliances and Benjamin Moore paint, the Sanders are thoroughly pleased with all of their selections.
Everything turned out so much better than I anticipated. I had no idea it would all look as nice as it does. The stone and cedar look great and we get so many compliments on the interior. And I had no idea the cabinets would turn out so nicely,” Scott said. “I love having my double ovens and new appliances, and love how the rooms have all come together. The people at Benjamin Moore helped me decide the paint colors in two hours and that was amazing. It all came out exactly like I wanted,” Vanessa said.
With room for the kids to play indoors and out, the Sanders are enjoying life in their new Frank Betz home.