RHB: Garrow Part 2
Garrow Reality Story – Part 2
Ron and Dana Garrow live near Charlotte, NC, and though they loved their beach house near Wilmington, NC, they recently sold it because the location – about a 4-1/2 hour drive from Charlotte – was preventing them from using it as often as they would have liked. They decided to build a vacation getaway in the mountains on High Rock Lake near Denton, NC, about 30 miles away from their primary home. The new home is close enough that it will be easy for them to slip away to enjoy it for a weekend or even just a night. The Garrows’ long-term plan is to have the new house become their “permanent vacation,” as they plan to move into the vacation home when Ron retires.
Ron and Dana have four children – three sons and a daughter - ranging in age from college-age to elementary school. Their oldest son, Jonathan, is a junior at NC State University. Second oldest, Phillip, is a Junior at Mt. Pleasant High School. Youngest son Alex is in the 7th grade and daughter Claire is 8 and about to enter 2nd grade. Ron works for Bank of America at the Corporate Center in Charlotte, and Dana “organizes the Garrow family,” something Ron is quick to point out as the more difficult of their two professions.
When we last visited with the Garrows the home was in the framing stages and just beginning to take shape. This time, the home is much further along and at the point where it is very easy to visualize how it will look when it is finished. The roof and siding on the exterior is in place and the stone is nearly complete. Inside, the flooring, trim and sheetrock is in place as well as the some of the cabinetry and plumbing fixtures. The Garrows are enjoying seeing the house take shape.
“We ride out to the new house at least once a week, and sometimes more if we know a major change is going to take place,” Ron said. “We’ve enjoyed spending our free time coming out to the house to check on the progress,” Dana said. “It’s also been exciting to just come and spend time on the property – fishing in the lake and talking about plans for landscaping and future projects.”
Gary Hartsell, a local builder who specializes in larger custom homes, is overseeing the project and the Garrows couldn’t be happier.
“We are thrilled to have Gary building our house! We trust him and his judgment and know that he is looking out for our best interests. He’s doing a fantastic job,” said Dana.
There has only been one unexpected hurdle to the construction process. When clearing and excavating the lot for the basement they ran into more rock than expected, which held up construction for about 45 days while it was hauled away.
“Working through the foundation struggles with the rock was a major challenge,” Ron said. “We thought we would have someone dynamite the rock but that didn’t work out. Fortunately my brother had the equipment that would move the rock so that helped us tremendously, but dealing with it pushed our move-in date back by about 90 days.”
“Fortunately, since this is a second home the construction delay didn’t affect us like it would if it was our primary home and we needed to get in by a certain date,” Dana added.
Aside from the rock issue, construction has progressed smoothly. “The weather has not hindered us much. Gary and the subcontractors have been very efficient in selecting areas under the house or inside to work on during days when the weather was bad,” Ron said.
As construction progresses the Garrows have found that it is getting easier for them as well in terms of choosing finishes and fixtures for the home. “As we see the house going up we can see the character and the nature of the house, so it’s easier to select colors and textures that go with it,” Dana said. “We don’t second-guess ourselves because we can see it.”
So far Dana and Ron have been able to stay within their budget and allowances other than the unforeseen cost of clearing the rock. “The rock problem added a cost that was not part of the original building contract, and it did put us over budget but was something that could not be helped,” Ron said. “It’s a problem that has been hit-or-miss through our neighborhood – some people have hit the rock and some haven’t. Unfortunately we did.”
“What has helped us stay on track with our budget otherwise is that we did a ton of research and brainstorming before we began building so we could show Gary exactly what we wanted,” Dana added. “He was then able to work the price of these features into the contract up front, which meant our allowances were very realistic for our expectations and we did not have any trouble staying within them.”
“We also were able to select some items that were not in our original budget that were reasonably priced, like upgraded decking and an upgrade to the closet system in the master bedroom,” Ron added. “These will save us time and money in the long run and are a big advantage for us.”
Ron and Dana are planning to make their new home a relaxing retreat for themselves and their extended family. “We plan to entertain more at this house, especially around the holidays,” Dana said. “Our friends and family have been out to see it and they really love the house. This will be a house to simply relax, to put your feet up, and to enjoy spending time with family and friends.”
“We are shooting for a relaxing, comfortable style in the home,” Ron added. “We’ve chosen soft, comfortable furniture with the main pieces in neutral colors, so we can change the accent pieces with the seasons. The porches will have places to gather and chat around the fire and rocking chairs to spend lazy afternoons, and the basement furniture will be really rugged since that’s where the children will spend most of their time and we want them to enjoy themselves without worrying about damaging anything.”
Dana said, “We’re planning many of the areas in the house around our hobbies. There’s going to be a scrap booking/craft area in the game room for me and my daughter, a pool table and game table for the kids and a comfortable screen porch that will be a perfect place to read or relax.”
“Outside we plan to keep most of the lot natural. We plan very little grass and we are going to replace as many of the trees as we can that had to be removed during construction,” Ron said. “Along with being easy to maintain, we want to preserve the natural beauty that drew us to this area in the first place. And I want to be able to spend most of my time here enjoying the house and the lake – not mowing the lawn,” he added.
“We’re very excited and already have a stash of furniture and decorating items ready and waiting for move-in,” said Dana. “The kids are really excited as well and they are helping choose the colors and decorations for their own rooms. They’re especially excited to put the new game room to use and to celebrate the holidays in the new house.”
When asked if they have any advice to share with others who may be ready to build a home, the Garrows recommend that you be very particular about selecting your builder. “Find a builder who knows how to build the style of home you want, and go visit homes the prospective builder has constructed in the past. This is how we knew Gary was the builder for us... he built other homes that we fell in love with and we knew that his style matched ours and that the quality level was what we were looking for. Beyond that, be sure that your personalities match, because you will be working closely with this person for an extended amount of time. We really feel as if we hit the jackpot with Gary and working with him has been an absolute pleasure. We really can’t say enough good things about him.”
Be sure to look for our next issue where we’ll visit with the Garrows after they have moved in to see pictures of the finished home and find out if it all turns out how they expect.