Our build at Palmetto Bluff is now in its final week or so. We will update with a final blog on the finished home, but until then, I thought it would be useful to use this space to reflect on the process, those things that went well and what we could improve on. This has after all, been a project with many dimensions for us, family home, investment property, construction project, but mostly a labor of love.
We started the process with a simple sketch, a few glasses of wine, then a long family conversation on just what we wanted. A place for family. A place to play, with large decks for outside-living, a small pool for grandchildren, a large garage for my hobbies, an apartment for guests and a semi-wild garden for fun. We are lucky to be at a time of life when financial pressures lessen and, due in part to having a location within the community of Palmetto Bluff, we can offset build and operating costs by renting the home when we are traveling elsewhere. All those considerations went into the mix and a simple sketch came to life. The time to save costs is at the design stage, which is what we also tried to do, basing the design off simple "A" Frame structures and avoiding complicated trim-work. It's perhaps my inner "European minimalist" driving some design decisions here.
Next was the body & breadth of the design stage, and we were lucky enough to find an architect in Pearce Scott. They guided us around some of the limitations of location and positioned the home to maximize both sunlight, views, and the constant breeze that wafts around "the Bluff" come summertime.
Next came build permitting. Charleston SC has its unique processes and frustrations. Believe me that Bluffton SC has them also, with the additional complication of the neighborhood of Palmetto Bluff having its own rules. On the flip side, the town is helpful, taking pity on the helpless and inspections are quick, generally next-day, and they have a good Citizen Access Portal on the web to keep track of everything (more or less).
The build itself went mostly to plan. One hurricane was predictable in this location, early wet weather caused a lot of drainage issues, contractors could be difficult, but heck, this is the real world, right? We also needed to establish working relationships with these new contractors, outside of those contractors we regularly work with in Charleston, and that's always a courtship of sorts. This is to be our home and has a place in my wife's heart, so I decided to be a hands-on project manager both onsite most days and picking up tools when not on the phone. I was not as fit as I thought I was. It's been a long time since I did an outside job through the heat and humidity of a Southern summer. I'm better for it though.
We overspent on some items (the pool) and under budgeted on others though that was balanced by savings in design and in procurement (as illustrated in previous blogs). We also re-used a lot of historical materials from other projects we had completed in downtown Charleston, but I'll leave illustrating the final results for the finished photography and upcoming blog.
Just how long did the actual build take? My estimate is 40 weeks or 9.5 months in all. 4500 sq. ft of heated and cooled space with 8500 sq. ft. of construction in total, including garages and porches. Yes, the porches are big. The total cost was roughly $1.5 million for everything from entitlement, design fees, permitting, holding costs, land clearance and preparation, construction, landscaping and interior fixtures and fittings. That translates to about $180.00 per square foot of construction. It's a lot of cash, but in the end we also have a lot of home with considerable equity built-in. Is it expensive for a typical build cost at Palmetto Bluff? Well no, not even close, which is one advantage of doing the job yourself. The other advantage? I fit into all my old clothes!
Lastly, I'd like to pen a line of gratitude for our General Contractor at Simplified Construction - Ryan Hain. He has been a rock throughout this process and unfailing in his energy and attention. We could not have done this without him.
I hope you enjoy this Blog series. Ask any questions you may have or come for a visit and see the build up-close. And, after it's finished - we'd be happy to show you how it all turned out! Click on previous blogs below to follow the series along from the beginning:
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