RHB: Schwemmer Part 2
When we last talked with Brian and Suzanne Schwemmer their new house was in the framing stage. Construction has progressed at a steady pace, and now they are about a month away from their move-in date. We chatted with the Schwemmers about how building the home has affected their daily routines and what they are most looking forward to when they move in.
Building a home in South Carolina while still living in Florida hasn’t presented any problems for the Schwemmers. “Mark and Teresa at Hip & Gable Corporation have done such a good job of coordinating everything and staying in touch,” said Brian. “We’ve been able to go on with our lives in Florida and run our business and leave a lot of it up to them, because they’ve done such a good job and we have such trust in them.”
“Being far away has been a challenge only in terms of being excited but not being able to run over and see what they’re doing every day,” added Suzanne. “I’m always worried if I picked the right things because after I pick something I have to wait months to see it.”
At the time of our second interview, Brian and Suzanne were visiting their new home for the first time in almost two months. Many dramatic changes have taken place since their previous visit. “The last time we were here, they had just finished drywalling and were beginning to paint,” says Brian, who originally planned to stay in Florida and have Suzanne come check on the house because it’s the busiest time of year for their seafood business. In the end, he couldn’t stay away. “Suzanne was all set to come, had booked her ticket, and at the last minute I just couldn’t stand it. I decided I had to come see the house too,” he said.
Upon arrival, they were both “blown away,” said Suzanne. “There’s nothing in the house I don’t like, it’s all beautiful. I’m overwhelmed when I walk in because usually your eyes will travel to something that’s really pretty, or unique or architecturally superior. But when you walk in, all of it is so stunning I find myself saying, ‘Oh my gosh — look at the granite! Oh my gosh — look at the chandelier! Oh my gosh, look at that island!’ she said. “And Kenny, our cabinet maker, should have been an artist. The kitchen is unbelievable!”
The Schwemmers have gone over budget on nearly everything in the home, but don’t regret it one bit. “We’ve lost our minds. Completely lost our minds. We’re not living in reality anymore. We went over on everything. ‘Hotel Fantasy’ is what we call it now,” laughed Suzanne. “This is really a dream home,” she continued. “There are things we’ve always wanted — Brain’s always wanted a pool table, I wanted double ovens and have never had them, we both wanted to live on the lake — and we decided to just do it all.” Brain added, “We got a bit carried away. On paper we didn’t realize how elaborate the house is. It’s a little larger than what we thought. We don’t regret any of it, though. We’re having a ball doing it and we’re going to enjoy living there. We can’t wait to move in.”
None of the Schwemmer’s friends or family have seen their new home in person, but most of them have seen pictures. When asked what the general reaction is, Brian and Suzanne both exclaim, “Wow!” in unison, and laugh.
Asked what they’re most looking forward to, neither hesitates in answering. “I can’t wait to take a bath,” says Suzanne. “I love the master bathroom. I’m just going to stay in the bathroom all the time,” she joked. Brian’s looking forward to enjoying the outdoor elements of the home. “I’m going to get a little rowboat and go out on the lake, do a little fishing,” he said.
They both enjoyed choosing the interior finishes for the home and found the process to be fun rather than overwhelming. Asked about their decorating style, Brian is quick to praise Suzanne’s skill. “She should have been a designer. She does it right or she doesn’t do it at all,” he said. Suzanne elaborated on the overall style she’s creating for the home, “It’s a cross between traditional and contemporary. The couches are leather, and they’re very comfy — there’s nothing fancy about the furniture. The dining room furniture is formal, but not fussy. Everything is usable and comfortable and practical, but pretty and made with nice materials. There’s no plastic slipcovers or furniture that looks uncomfortable or delicate in our house — it’s all very inviting. We bought it to use and to share with our friends and family.”
The only selection that either of them found at all difficult was the lighting. “We spent so much time at the lighting store, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I spent three hours with them and then I left to play golf. 18 holes later, they were still at the lighting store,” Brian said. “It doesn’t seem like it should be difficult,” said Suzanne, “but there are so many choices, and you want to make sure you stay in the same vein as far as color and style throughout the house, so it took some time. I had the most fun choosing the tile. We had the whole store in stitches. It was one of those situations where you had to be there, but I just had a ball,” she laughed.
With the interior elements selected and the home nearing completion, the Schwemmers have turned their attention to the landscaping. “We’re actually leaving most of it up to the landscaper and Mark,” said Brian. “We want to leave the lot as natural as we can. We only took out trees where it was necessary. I told the landscaper I only want to have plants that are indigenous to South Carolina. I’m not familiar with the type of vegetation in the area yet, so I want it to be fairly basic and we can add to it as we learn more. I don’t want to spend all my free time working in the yard,” he added.
Something they’ve both enjoyed is the relationship they’ve developed with their builder. “They’re stuck with us now,” laughed Suzanne. “If we ever decide to sell this house, I will immediately call Mark and Teresa and have them build us another, smaller ‘too fancy’ house.”
“I really can’t recommend anyone more highly than Hip & Gable,” said Brian. “There’s so many people in service who you can’t get hold of, and that’s frustrating. But I have Mark’s personal cell number, he picks up when it rings; I have Teresa’s personal cell number, she picks up when it rings. We never have trouble communicating with them or finding out what we need to.” Suzanne added, “I miss Teresa when I’m in Florida. I feel like I should be able to see her, and go have lunch or whatever. The whole experience has been positive.”
Finding a good builder tops the list of advice the Schwemmers would give to others who want to build. Brian also feels that homeowners should consider the future resale appeal of the home. “We looked at possibly buying an existing home before we decided to build, and the biggest mistake I see that people make is that they build it too much for their own lifestyle. I believe if you build you should make it comfortable to fit your needs, but you have consider that someday you might have to sell the house, whether you plan to now or not,” he said. When asked for an example, he elaborated, “We walked into houses where I thought, ‘oh my gosh what were they thinking, they’ll never sell this house.’ It might be perfect for them, but they should have said to themselves, ‘I only like to take showers, but since I might want to sell someday maybe I should have at least one bathtub somewhere in the house.’ Those kinds of things can come back to bite you later on.”
Suzanne added, “In a time when nothing is selling, we had two offers at the same time on the house we just sold in Florida. I think it’s because we put things into our houses that people want. We had a 3-1/2 car garage, and Brian had part of it as an air conditioned workshop, but there was still room for cars. It’s important to put in what you like, but bear in mind that you might want to sell, so don’t get chintzy. In this market, your house needs to look like a model, feel like home, and have the amenities that people are looking for.”
Join us in the next issue as we visit with the Schwemmers after move-in and see how life is shaping up in their new dream home.