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  • wdbrooks2013

House Build Diary 1 - It starts with a big idea

In the last ten years, we have built two custom homes and learned quite a bit about home building that we did not know before. I don't claim to be an expert on building a house but I think we have a lot of information that we can share about the process and the things that we have learned along the way. We spent over $750,000 on each of these builds. If you are going to spend this much on a house I believe you will want to know the details. You will want to know what are you paying for and why. You will want to know some of the common terminology and what items are included in your house. You will want to know how they work and why you need them. Unlike blogs that want to show you pretty pictures and sell you something, this build diary should provide you with an understanding of the build process so you are better able to understand what you want to build and what questions and costs you might encounter in your own build.


Maybe the first thing to address is why to build something for yourself instead of buying the house you want. Our driver was that we had a certain style that we liked and could not find. We looked at various websites and came up with ideas of elements we wanted to see in the house. Then we drew some pictures.



With the first house in Nashville Tennessee, we were going through a Mediterranean phase and we had an idea of what we wanted the house to look like.



This is how it looked at completion. We were first inspired by a house in Northern California which was called Pavel Villa at the time then we added some other beach house elements to the plan.



For our second build in Montgomery County Maryland, we went with a modern farmhouse look because it was a better fit for the neighborhood.


This was the basic plan for the Maryland house.



Here is what it looks like after completion.


Our TN was inspired by a villa-style house in Napa Valley CA. Our MD house was inspired by the Craven house plan by Allison Ramsey architects in South Carolina. Their plans are amazing. The Craven design was smaller than we wanted but it had various elements that we wanted in our house.


This is the best part of house building. It is free and you can spend hours looking at houses and house plans. You can draw pictures of anything you imagine you would like to see in your house. My wife is the artistic one who created the spaces and the ambiance.


I created the structure to house the spaces and provide the services to make the spaces work. We worked on flow diagrams based on our daily activities and tried to integrate as many of the spaces as possible and tried to achieve an overall ambiance that felt right.

For example, we imagined a kitchen with interior brick and a colorful tile background and we worked it into the house.



You start with your ideas and see how far you can take them. For example, we had an idea for a double slipper tub in a nook by a window with a pendant light. It is against code to have a beautiful pendant light right over your tub. Plans change and evolve as you go.


House building is full of challenges but if you know what could happen and possible workarounds for each problem you can still get most of what you want.



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