RHB: Garrow Part 3
Reality Home Building Part III - The Garrows
The Garrows’ new home is finished and the family couldn’t be happier! Ron and Dana and their four children knew they would enjoy spending time at their vacation house on High Rock Lake in Denton, NC, but thanks to some big life changes they are spending even more time there than they first anticipated. Ron recently accepted a new job with MasterCard Worldwide, based in New York. To accommodate the change they decided to sell their main home in Charlotte and make the new lake house their permanent home base. Ron is renting a place in New York where he lives during the work week, and he travels home on weekends and holidays to be with Dana and the kids as much as possible.
They say the one thing that is always constant is change, and that certainly is the case for the Garrows. For the foreseeable future Dana and the kids have officially moved in to the lake house, though in the coming year they will be scouting homes in New York with the plan to relocate the family to be with Ron. While they wait to sell their main house in Charlotte, the Garrows are finding the lake house to be an ideal “temporary residence.” Because of its close proximity to Charlotte the younger children are able to continue at their previous schools without disruption, yet they also get to enjoy the fun of being at the lake. Ron’s current place in New York is a bit small, but this temporary arrangement allows opportunity for the family to visit him in New York and to have input in selecting their new home in that area. From the time they decided to build, the Garrows’ plan has always been to live permanently at the lake house after Ron retires, and that is the one thing that has not changed. The family also plans to enjoy vacations at the lake house after they are situated in New York.
As the children keep growing the household has also changed because now the two oldest are away from home for the bulk of the year. Jonathan is now 22 years old and about to graduate from college, while Phillip just turned 18 and is starting as a college freshman. Ben is 14 and a freshman in high school, and Claire just turned 10 and beginning 4th grade. Everyone still enjoys the time they are able to spend together in the home, especially during the holidays.
The Garrows have enjoyed entertaining at the lake, and found the house is ideal for hosting large parties.
“The lake house has been a great home to entertain in. We have hosted large holiday gatherings for the family and even a group of 25 from my office,” Ron said. “The home plan makes it very easy to accommodate everyone because of the screen porch and spacious decks and patio.”
Along with entertaining, the Garrows have found much to love about their new home. The screen porch is a favorite of the whole family, especially since it functions as an outdoor room complete with a fireplace and flat-screen television.
Dana said, “We love to sit out there and just curl up on the couch and watch TV, build fires when it’s nippy, watch the hummingbirds by our feeder outside the screen and simply just be. Any time of day or night, it’s really a great place to relax.”
Another thing Dana loves about the home is that there is a place for everyone in the family to enjoy. “Downstairs is perfect for the kids, upstairs for us – and the outdoors for everyone. It’s really a great plan for the location that we have. We can enjoy each other’s company without being crowded.”
Ron said, “This past winter was fun because we always had a fire going, and the boys would be sprawled out with blankets and popcorn while Dana and Claire were in the craft area doing their scrapbooking. We could all be together while still doing the things we each enjoy. I like to cook and had fun making snacks and suppers for everyone. It’s just a great way to enjoy the cold weather.”
This summer, the Garrows found a way to further enhance the enjoyment of the warm weather by building a dock. Dana said, “The addition of the dock was easy and something we always planned to do after we moved in. Alcoa governs the construction of piers on High Rock Lake and the other lakes in the area. If you have enough lake frontage on your property to meet the requirements (which we did) you can only choose from two approved styles of docks to build. We chose the version that allows for boat tie-ups along the sides. All we had to do was find the builder, obtain the permit and get it inspected. It was done in a week.”
Ron said, “The dock isn’t very big because Alcoa does a lot to preerve the lake’s natural shore line, but the kids still love playing on it and it’s a great addition to the property. You can’t remove any trees when building a dock. Even the path down to the water has to be natural materials, not concrete or pavement. So there were limits on what we could build but we are happy with them because that is what makes this lake so beautiful.” The Garrows son Phillip was instrumental in creating the natural pathway to the lake – see page 25 for more details.
Other future plans for the exterior center around additional landscaping. Dana said, “This fall we’re adding stone steps leading from the laundry room door down to the “man cave” under the screen porch. We’ll also connect it to Phillip’s path to the lake.” She continued, “We’re going to be adding more trees to replace some that are dead, and adding a few more flower beds to cut down on our mowing time.” Ron said, “We want to have as little grass to maintain as possible, ideally just the strip around the house. And next spring - if all goes according to plan – we’re adding a small pool off the lower patio, and a built-in grill. If we have all that we’ll hardly ever need to come inside during the summer.”
Inside, the Garrows have not had to make many changes and felt they got most things the way they wanted. They did decide to add a water filtration system after finding that their well water has a high iron content. Dana said, “We had trouble with the water staining our appliances and bathroom fixtures, so we wanted to fix that before permanent damage was done. At the same time we decided to add a second hot water tank for future needs. There haven’t been many occasions where we’ve run out of hot water but we imagine that as the family grows it will be needed, so we’ve decided to go ahead and do it now.”
Dana also plans to have Gary to come back and build some extra shelving in their lower-level storage area. Now that they will be spending more time in the house and storing items from the Charlotte house, additional shelves will be a welcome amenity. “As this becomes more of a full time house we’re finding that we need more storage than we originally planned,” she said.
Overall there is little the Garrows would change if they had to do it over again. When pressed, the only thing Dana mentions is that they would choose a different floor on the screen porch. “The floor is decking floor instead of tongue and groove; small bugs/spiders can maneuver through and it requires lots of cleaning. But that is a pretty minor complaint and I’m sure if I tell Gary he’ll find some way to solve that issue for us.”
“We’d do this again in a heartbeat,” Ron said. “The right plan plus the right builder plus the right location equals perfection.” Dana laughed, “Don’t you mean ‘priceless?’ You’ve converted to MasterCard now, after all!”