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Interactive Designer Dream Homes Magazine, fall 2013
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  •  Featured Products 
  •  RHB: Albano Part 2 
  •  RHB: Garrow Part 3 
  •  Bathroom Trends 
  •  Kitchen Design 
  •  RHB: Albano Part I 
  •  RHB: Garrow Part 2 
  •  Tips for Building “Green” 
  •  RHB: Jorgenen Part 3 
  •  Bathroom Trends 
  •  RHB: Jorgensen Part 2 
  •  Kitchen Trends 
  •  RHB: Jorgensen Part I 
  •  RHB: Lavelle Part 3 
  •  RHB: Lavelle Part 2 
  •  Modifications 
  •  RHB: Schwemmer Part 3 
  •  RHB: Lavelle Part 1 
  •  RHB: Schwemmer Part 2 
  •  Bathroom Trends 
  •  RHB: Sanders Part 3 
  •  Find your exterior style! 
  •  RHB: Sanders Part 2 
  •  Outdoor Kitchens 
  •  Kitchen Organization 
  •  Luxurious Bathrooms 
  •  Reality Home Building 
  •  Home Theatre 
  •  The Spa Experience 
  •  Design with Light 
  •  Kitchen Design 
  •  Versatile Spaces 
  •  Hidden Spaces 
  •  Outdoor Living 
  •  Private Screening 
  •  Working From Home 
  •  Stock to Custom 
  •  Exterior Style 
  •  Exteriors Exposed 

  • Velux skylights in the living room. Click for more information.

    RHB: Sanders Part 2

    Knee-deep into building their dream home, Scott and Vanessa Sanders are experiencing first-hand the exciting and often overwhelming tasks that every first-time homeowner goes through. Building the Frank Betz plan, the Greywell, the Sanders are inundated with daily duties they hope will come together to create their dream home.

    “We don’t really have much free time right now,” Vanessa said. “Because I’m a very detail-oriented person, I like to make sure I am making the best decision.” Vanessa spends her nights online researching products and making choices, after spending her days at home with their three kids. “I don’t sleep much. It’s very consuming,” she said. Typical for many new homeowners, choosing products for the home is the most challenging. Between balancing budgets and trying to build your dream home, it is often difficult for families to envision the final product. “I have a great fear that the end result will not look good because we’re picking out so many little things. And while the little things look good, I’m afraid that the final product will look very hodgepodge. But hopefully it will turn out the way we hope,” Vanessa explained. Scott is more confident. “I don’t really feel overwhelmed. Trying to sell our current house has created stress, but the building of the new house excites me,” Scott said.

    Currently living in Florida, the Sanders are in the process of selling their home to move to South Carolina to be near family and back in the region they love. Not being local, however, has added more stress to this otherwise easy-going family.

    “I think after our most recent visit to South Carolina things will get easier. We have to try and pick out products in just a few visits. The lighting has taken the longest by far, which is funny to me. But we’re close to finishing the selection process,” Scott explained.

    The biggest hurdle in selecting products for the home is not having proximity to the house they’re building, but rather trying to stay within the proposed budget. Many first-time builders want the most for their money but also want to build their dream home. While the Sanders are going over their budget in some areas, they are also practicing the art of borrowing from one to pay for another, by using the landscaping and closet budgets to help pay for upgrades in the flooring and exterior materials.

    “It has been hard staying in the budget. We went over on the exterior. Originally we wanted to do stone and brick, but that has changed to stone and cedar, so we went significantly over budget on the stone,” Scott explained. The Sanders also upgraded their hardwood floors to American Cherry, which added a considerable amount to the bottom line.

    “We’ve stolen from other budgets though,” Vanessa said. “We’ll have wire shelving in the master closet, which is something we can change later. You can’t go back and upgrade your floors to American Cherry very easily, but you can add to or change your closet. So that’s what we’re trying to consider when going over our allowances,” she said.

    Because the Sanders’ new home is in a heavily wooded development, they were also able to borrow from their landscaping budget when funding the upgrades.

    “We’re not going to use quite as much money on the landscaping, since we’re trying to keep it as natural as possible. And we’re not building quite as big of a deck,” Scott said. The Sanders plan to leave all of the existing trees so they won’t need to plant trees. They hope to have sprinkler systems and spread mulch around the trees. It is the natural landscaping that provides such a gorgeous backdrop to this impressive home. “Our friends and family have been up here recently and love it. They think it’s a beautiful house,” Scott said. So far, the Sanders haven’t encountered any challenges that they couldn’t predict. Weather has fortunately cooperated with them, and the relationship with their builder, Brad Thompson of 1st Choice Custom Homes, continues to go smoothly.

    “Everything with Brad is going great. Things have been delayed a little bit, but that’s because we don’t live here so we weren’t able to pick out the paint colors and lighting when we initially needed to. But we’re trying to finalize it now and we are still on target with our original move-in date,” Scott explained.

    During the interim, Vanessa and Scott are trying to finalize all of their selections and determine how to best color each room and combine their old belongings with the new.

    “I picked out all the colors. It’s a lot of tans but I have blue in the dining room and a red bathroom, so we have quite a bit of color in the house, although I’d say our style is very traditional,” Vanessa said. Aside from the paint colors, she is also excited about new furniture and appliances.

    “We’re bringing pretty much all of our current stuff to the new house, but I am getting a new dining room set and we’re installing Kitchen-Aid double ovens and appliances, so I’m excited about that,” she added.

    While the Sanders plan to have the home looking as nice as possible, they are in no hurry to finish the basement and say that maybe sometime in the distant future they will complete the lower level. For now it is set up with plumbing and framed for whenever that day comes. In the meantime, the Sanders look forward to moving into their dream home and offer this advice to anyone looking to start building.

    “Sell your house first,” Scott said. “That’s what we always said we’d do and we didn’t follow our own plan. We were going to move up here and scope out the area and decide where we wanted to live but we didn’t follow our own advice,” He laughed.

    On his initial visit to the area, Scott was scouting neighborhoods and after 40 subdivisions he landed in his new one, fell in love with a lot and found a house to build. Meanwhile, Vanessa was at home with a brand new baby and their other two kids, having no idea Scott was ready to build quite so soon.

    “In retrospect, I don’t know why we started building. We could have just bought the lot and waited to build,” Vanessa said. But with their home almost complete, the Sanders couldn’t be more excited.

    “I can’t wait to see the final product and be able to just relax and enjoy it,” Vanessa said.

    “ So far, the building hasn’t been stressful to me at all. I’ve had a lot of fun,” Scott added. “I just advise everyone to take their time, whether it be with products or finding the perfect plan. Ultimately you will find something you like,” he said.

    Join us next time as we visit the Sanders in their new home, and see what life is like now that all of the decision making and moving is over.

    Communication is Key in Long-Distance Relationship

    Because the Sanders are located in Florida and their builders are in South Carolina, it was not always so easy for them to travel to their new home every time a decision needed to be made. Thankfully their builder, 1st Choice Custom Homes, was able to work with them through technology and great customer service. Read below for what it’s like for Brad and Cindy Thompson of 1st Choice Custom Homes to work with a long-distance client.

    Building a custom home long distance may seem daunting, but for 1st Choice Custom Homes it was what they agreed to do and was not a hardship. From their perspective, the long-distance building process was probably harder on the homeowner than on Brad and Cindy.

    “Homeowners are emotionally involved in the homebuilding process and it is often frustrating not to be within driving distance to see the their dream home in the making,” says Brad Thompson. “Cindy and I understand this, having built homes for ourselves and of course for others, how the one-on-one connection with a home and its owner is a valuable element in the ‘feel good’ aspect of homebuilding,” Brad said.

    While it’s always best to work arm in arm with a homeowner, today’s technological advances in communication have really helped in this particular project. Using email as the preferred communication avenue, the 1st Choice Custom Home’s team communicate clearly, and effectively understand the needs of the client throughout the homebuilding process. In addition, Brad and Cindy added a homeowner direct element to their web site called Builder Trend System. This system creates an internal web link to the hosting site that is set up for each homeowner and is accessible via pass code. Two-way communication between the homeowner and the homebuilder team is a snap, while the site records valuable information along the way. The Sanders and 1st Choice Custom Homes utilize this Web link to share images of the home being built, post selections like lighting and plumbing fixtures, and implement changes to the home as they occur. This site is also solely for the Sanders’ email communication. It creates a hub for their correspondence to ensure that their emails are received and identified, and later could be archived.

    “Building a custom home long distance is just another part of our journey as a company, says Brad. “Challenges in building inspire us to grow; not necessarily in company size, but in the way we think and approach the homebuilding process. Because communication is key for this project to be a success, we reached out to implement better ways to flow information that will just add value to our business going forward. Building a home for the Sanders is smooth and not a problem at all.”

    It’s all in the DETAILS

    ...the changes, additions, and extras that make a house a home!

    Vanessa created the idea for the children’s tunnel, making playful use of unused space.


    A dramatic archway separates the kitchen from the dining room, while a detailed ceiling treatment adds architectural interest.


    Since 1976 Frank Betz Associates, Inc. has specialized in custom and stock home plans. FBA has developed an unsurpassed reputation as a leading provider of home plans. With more than 100 years combined experience, their team of experts design trend setting, award winning home plans for builders, developers and consumers alike. Frank Betz Associates, Inc’s. goal is to create home plans that set the highest standards in residential design and support those products with unparalleled customer service.

    FRANK BETZ ASSOCIATES, INC. PLAN NUMBER: DDHFB23-3914 BEDROOMS: 5 BATHS: 4 WIDTH: 67'6" DEPTH: 69'10" 1ST FLOOR: 2499 sq ft 2ND FLOOR: 1130 sq ft LIVING AREA: 3629 sq ft FOUNDATION: Crawl Space, Slab or Basement

    One step inside and it’s easy to see that the Greywell’s character doesn’t stop at the curb. The kitchen overlooks a gracious breakfast area, as well as a fire-lit keeping room. Coffered ceilings and built-in cabinetry make the family room extra special. A children’s retreat makes the perfect playroom or can be used as an additional bedroom.


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