Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mod Pod?

My sister suggested we go modular, sending me a link to Haven Homes.  Beautiful homes! I especially love the designs by Memphis architectural firm, Looney Ricks Kiss, like the Tucker Bayou.  Here's a shot of the porch from the Haven Homes website:

Modular homes are built fast, are inherently "green" because of their cutting/framing technique and can be very high quality.  Big Man automatically equated modular with junk and was surprised when he found that not to be the case.  I am so excited by the thought of them building the house in a few months!  How easy that would be...

However, I want to build a sustainable home.  I want to build something that looks and feels "old".  Can a modular company do this?

YES!  After much research, I found this forward-thinking company, New World Homes.  They build green homes in a traditional style.  I especially like the Denver and the Carson.  I am so excited about the company, I want to quit my job and spread the word for them.  They build almost exactly what I would build if I were building it on my own.  The houses are designed to feel "old" and to be "green".  You couldn't ask for a better fit.  I am head over heels.

Both of these companies made me feel very comfortable that they would deliver a beautiful end product.

Ever build modularly or know someone who did? I would love to hear about your experiences.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can we build it like they used to?

You know the saying, "They just don't build 'em like they used to." We're hoping that, in this case, conventional wisdom is wrong.  If anyone out there in the blogosphere has any experience in building something new that has the look and feel, the charm and character, the detail and stability of something old, I am open to tips, advice, references.  I am about to embark on the perhaps the biggest project of my life, and I can't do it alone.

Let's start out by how we got to where we are today, which in itself was a journey.  We are a growing family looking for a house to buy.  We were hoping to find an old four or five bedroom house with some land or privacy in or near my hometown.   We found some really beautiful homes that all seemed to be out of our price range (what housing crash?!). 

Here is an example of the "Forever House".  It is a charming custom five bedroom house, built in 1740, on 5 acres in affluent Chester Springs.  These pictures are courtesy of the listing.

Look at the pond! I wonder if you can swim in it?

I love this big old fireplace and how it casually sits next to the spiral staircase.  I can see the kids running down the stairs in the morning because they are late for the bus.

Love this one too, as well as the built in bookshelves and exposed beams.  I can see myself in a rocking chair with a good book and Big Man with nearby with guitar in hand.

Love these deep windowsills and wide french doors that bring in so much light.  Great for entertaining.

And no farmhouse is complete without a barn.

I love old houses!  They have so much character and charm.  Above is a perfect example of how beautiful they can be but also how out of our price range.

So, cute three bedroom houses in town tempted us.  We questioned ourselves, "Do we need to buy the "forever" house, or could we just jump to a "for now" house?" Here is an example of "For Now" House (too small!).  It could work, if only it had more bedrooms.  A bit newer, this house was build in the thirties.  Courtesy of its listing:

I love the ivy on the stucco and all of the trees.

Check out this backyard! It is ripe for a summer party.  I can see the lanterns in the tree already. 
What a great tree for Little Man to climb.

Also great for hosting a play date in the fenced in back yard (that backs up to 30 acres of protected land).

The inside is also really cute, with this stone fireplace, built by Wharton Esherick's apprentice.

and great hardwood floors.

They just don't make 'em like they used to.  Alas, it is just too small.  We would grow out of it before we even moved in! 

As we pondered this ("too expensive vs. too small"), my wise and generous dad jumped into the conversation, "Why don't you just build a house out on the farm?" Wow, what generosity! 

So, we hopped on board the building bandwagon to create our own abode on the family "compound".  The next question is, can we "build 'em like they used to"?

By the way, many thanks are owed to our real estate agent, Joseph McArdle, who patiently, conscientiously and expertly guided us through this whole process.  Much love to Joe, we wholeheartedly recommend him.