[Worldtrippers home] [Mountaintop home]

June 30, 2003
What to build

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The building site

Even before we closed title on our property, we began pondering what kind of home we would build.  We briefly discussed the idea of never building at all, but instead camping.  Gail decided that this was not an option.  She wanted to be able to visit year-round, even in the pouring rains (and rare snows) of winter.

The previous owner had done an outstanding job of prepping the land.  In addition to cutting and grading several dirt roads throughout the property, he had cleared four knolls, including the topmost point.  This mountain top, where we had the best panoramic views, would make an ideal building site: it was flat and had trees evenly spaced around the perimeter.  On the other hand, it -- and much of the entire property -- was made of hard, solid flagstone.

Gail and Russell were undecided whether to build a vacation home or a retirement home, so we kept an open mind.  The criteria that we agreed upon early were:

So we began several months of perusing home plan catalogs and Web sites (the Web is an incredible resource for this kind of thing).  This turned into one of the most fun and interesting parts of the process.  We researched everything from mobile homes to log cabins to kit homes.  We looked at, debated, and rejected dozens and dozens of possible home designs.  Here are a few of our "finalists"

(All graphics and information are copyrighted by their respective Websites and owners.)

"Bubble House" (our name) by Homestore (K-800-TA) and Architectural Designs (BV7124H-A)

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This was Russell's early favorite, with no less than three rooms that were round and completely encased in windows.  Perfect for our panoramic mountain top.  Unfortunately, when we consulted with contractors, several of them told us that round rooms are extremely difficult and expensive to construct.  Given the possibility that we might be building this ourselves, we reluctantly passed.

Riverside by Imagine Home Designs

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The Riverside Mark II was a compromise after we rejected the "Bubble House."  It had one window-encased round room (the dining room), but it also had a huge two-story prow window in the living room.  Russell liked the prow because it reminded him of an A-frame.  Gail rejected it for the same reason.  She said it looked too much like a ship.  (She also said it looked to much like every other vacation home that you see in the mountains.)

Fresno by Country Heritage Homes

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This one came close to the final cut for its sheer simplicity.  However, we ultimately decided that it didn't have enough scenic windows.

Topsider (CM-0303)

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Topsider uses a proprietary method of "post and beam" construction that enables octagonal houses with sheer glass walls.  Very modular, easily customizable, and absolutely beautiful.  Russell found this company on the Web and shared it with Gail.  She was absolutely stunned -- she had had a dream about a house just like this.  In fact, she had woken up and drawn a picture of it.

Topsider was Gail's hands-down favorite.  She even had several conversations with a Topsider sales rep.  In the end we rejected Topsider because they were more than twice as expensive as any of the other options.

Cool House Plans

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This was another compromise, after we rejected Topsider.  Again, a very simple plan.  We liked the openness of the main living area, as well as the large glass windows.  Our main reluctance was that the exterior was not as attractive -- it was a little bit too contemporary.  Ultimately, we decided that it did not adequately complement the surrounding nature of the mountain top.

And the winner is...


Graystone by Viceroy

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While researching the Riverside, we discovered that it was actually made by Viceroy, a kit home company in Canada.  As we perused Viceroy's Web site, we were attracted to another model, the Graystone.  The Graystone is large -- 2,364 square feet -- but it is also the best overall compromise of all of the features that we have been looking for.

Gail likes the openness of the second floor, where a balcony overlooks the vaulted first floor.  The balcony can also serve as a play area.  Gail likes the openness of the kitchen, where you can stand and look out through the living room windows.  Gail also likes the covered porch and the overall "country home" look of the house.

Russell especially likes the downstairs office with its window view.  Russell hopes that once the house is built, he will be able to work remotely for long periods of time during the summer.

After numerous phone conversations with Viceroy's sales staff, we went to a local home show on Saturday, June 28 and spoke with Bob Hammell, a company representative.  We remain impressed with the company.  Bob has been very flexible with us, extending a sales promotion well past its end date so that we could close title on the property and make up our minds.

We are due to go camping on the property for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.  We will bring a tape measure and Viceroy's house plans, and try to imagine sitting in our completed house on top of our mountain.


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