Bill Richardson drew our house. Here we are on the completed front porch.
Small world - this house building business in Tallahassee. About 7 years ago - Bill Gwynn built a guest house/workshop for me. He introduced me to Bill Richardson. Bill asked us a whole bunch of questions - then he went home and designed the building on his computer. The building has served us well - with over 150 guests.
So when it came time to design the new house - we went to Bill right away. Not only is he super fast - but he has tons of experience and his fees are very reasonable. He has a real gift of putting down on paper what he hears you say.
We sat down with Bill at the dinner table and went over a list of almost 200 things Lulu and I wanted in our home. We discussed materials - window placement - perfect symmetrical dimensions - the pitch of the roof. The almost impossible task - we wanted the windows outside perfectly spaced and the same size. This proved to be a problem for rooms and walls inside. We also wanted enough wall space that each interior shutter could fold back against the wall.
Within a few hours - we had our first plans sent over the Internet. Lulu and I went over them carefully and made many changes. It's nice saying what you want - and having someone else to do the leg work on it. After moving a few walls - bedrooms - bathrooms - and adding a pantry and steps - we had the basic floor plan.
So we had a plan - now we had to hire a builder. Lulu was determined to hire a big building firm. We interviewed a few - they did not seem excited about our project. We got a couple prices - but there was not much personal service - they said take it or leave it. We left it.
We called back Bill Richardson - and he suggested a small firm - Gary Shiver Construction. We called Gary - got the address of a few of his projects. We interviewed satisfied customers. Lastly - we visited Gary and his wife Cindy at their home. The more we heard about Gary - the more we were convinced he should do the project.
Gary gave us an estimated price. It was simple - we would pay cost plus a percentage. Gary would open the books to us - and every couple of weeks - we gave him a check. At the end we will pay him the "plus." Of course we added some features that may raise the cost - but things are coming out pretty good. None of our checks bounced - all the vendors and subcontractors have been paid so far.
Now it is time to plan a garage. We took Bill to lunch and discussed what we wanted in a garage. It will hold 3 cars - be pretty plain - but it will also have many of the same characteristics as the home - proportions - roof angle - etc.
I was very proud to give Bill a tour of the house he drew. I liked pointing out features that we demanded and he provided. Even after 85 days of building - we are still enjoying the building process - we are still good friends with our builder - and the house has come out better than we imagined.
We are not rushing near the end. We will not move in until the middle of January. Lulu wanted the house for Christmas - but there are tax advantages of finishing it in 2014.
We still have the floors to finish - the kitchen to complete - the appliances to install - the electricity to hook up - the external air conditioner to install - sidewalks and driveway - and 1.4 acres to landscape. When we hired Gary - he said it would take 100 days. Well - we are at day 85 - the house's outside is completed. The finish line is just around the corner.