RHB: Lavelle Part 1
Kristen and Mike Lavelle are seasoned homeowners and are very experienced when it comes to building custom homes. The Lavelles have chosen to build a Dan Sater home for their latest custom home project, which will serve as their vacation home.
“This will be the fifth house that Mike and I have built. We have built three primary residences; one in Oklahoma, two custom homes in Florida, plus a production home in Florida we purchased as a rental investment. We are experienced with the building process but not necessarily with building in a beach community,” Kristen said.
Knowing that model and Parade homes are often the best place to learn about popular building styles in a given area, Mike and Kristen researched houses in the Palm Coast area to find their perfect ocean getaway.
“We started the process by identifying houses that appealed to us and our lifestyle. My husband did a lot of research on houses in the Palm Coast area, mainly participants in the 2006 Parade of Homes. We have been very successful using that process in the past. In fact the plan that we modeled our current primary residence after was a Parade of Homes winner in 2004 in the Orlando area,” Kristen explained. Through their investigation the Lavelles found a Dan Sater home — the Nicholas Park — built as a model home by River City Homes and Development. They drove to Palm Coast one day during their vacation in hopes that the model home would be open for viewing. After touring the home, they decided it was well suited for their family and decided to proceed.
“The house was a good floor plan that really worked with our lifestyle. We were also attracted to the outside style and curb appeal. The placement of the outside balconies would allow us to take advantage of the beauty of our lot, as we have both a golf and pond view,” Mike said.
“We liked the plan and began discussions with the builder, River City Homes about changes that we would want to make. We found out it could be built to our specifications within our budget, so we decided to proceed with the quoting process.
They were very creative and helpful in trying to give us the house we wanted within our budget,” Kristen said.
So far the relationship with their builder has been exactly what the Lavelles were hoping for.
“Our builders have been great and very thorough on planning and documentation, which we have not experienced in our previous building processes. They appear very committed to doing a great job on this house,” Kristen said.
Some of River City’s commitments are helping the Lavelles make modifications to the original plan. Because of lot restrictions, the Lavelles had to alter the room dimensions in order to fit on their lot.
“Due to lot restrictions we had to shorten the width of the original plan by about four feet. To make up the square footage, we increased the depth of the house by approximately four feet and we raised the heights of the ceilings throughout the house to be approximately 10 feet on each floor,” Mike explained. “We are just a little concerned about how functional the actual room sizes will be now that it is re-designed and we can only look at the dimensions on the plans. We won’t really know how it will be until the rooms are dry-walled,” Kristen added.
Although the room sizes will be smaller than the plan originally called for, the Lavelles hope to spend more time in the larger common rooms and outdoor entertaining spaces of their home, as well as enjoy the outdoors in the beautiful area that is Hammock Beach. “We stumbled across the area one weekend following a vacation at Amelia Island after my father-in-law spotted it in a magazine. We fell in love with Hammock Beach from the minute that we drove down the main thoroughfare, and in 2006 we took two vacations to Hammock Beach and fell in love with the area all over again. We searched for the perfect lot, which we believe we found, and are building this house on it,” the Lavelles said. “We are anxious for the house to be built and be able to enjoy it in the lovely surroundings and amenities that Hammock Beach has to offer,” Mike said.
The Lavelles love to entertain and hope to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by their new home.
“We look forward to this house being completed and inviting friends and family to stay weekends, holidays and vacations,” Kristen said. Their primary residence is in Windermere, Florida, where they reside with their 18-month old daughter, Morgan, and two Jack Russell Terriers, Rascal and Snickers.
“As a family we enjoy going to the park, the beach, swimming, going on walks and frequenting the Disney Parks,” Kristen said. They hope to add spending relaxing getaways at their new vacation home to that list.
“We are very excited to be fortunate enough to build a weekend retreat that is so close to the beach – just a short walk away. We are also excited about being able to enjoy the views and take advantages of the outside spaces on each of the three floors. The first floor porch will have fireplace, and the second and third floor porches will have summer kitchens,” Kristen said.
Because this home is not their primary residence, the Lavelles don’t have a specific deadline for completion, though the building process has gone quite smoothly thus far, in part because of their prior experience.
“Since we have been through this before we know what to expect and how to make it as painless as possible - which is to be organized, maintain clear and concise documentation and stay ahead of the process by making timely selections. It will be a juggling act to keep all requests, research and selection up to date and documented
properly,” the Lavelles said. “The building process has gone well so far. It has taken a little longer to get to this point than we had expected but now it seems that the pace is beginning to pick up,” Kristen said.
Weather hasn’t been a factor in the Lavelle’s construction. Their biggest challenge so far has been trying to envision how the house will live with the re-structured dimensions.
“The biggest hurdle has been the lot restrictions. The original plan was a 44-foot wide plan. Our lot is restricted to 40 feet. As such, we had to have the house re-engineered to maintain similar square footage. Currently, our primary residence is greater than 6,200 square feet. Although we aren’t trying to recreate that in this house, we are just a little concerned about how functional the actual room sizes will be,” Mike said.
The Lavelles are not only concerned with how the house will live, but also how the resizing may affect resale should they decide they no longer want or need the home.
“We focus on things that appeal to our lifestyle but will also appeal to the market, so we preserve and/or enhance the value of the property in the event of resale. We focus on good and efficient appliances that will reduce or lessen energy costs,” Kristen said. This means putting money into things now that mean the most to them, as it is never cost effective to do it after the fact. They will also select and design a great and functional kitchen, romantic and inviting master bedroom and a comfy family space.
“If you are creative and visionary you can turn most challenges in a home into great spaces,” Kristen added.