Making plans to build another house!  At our age, what were we thinking? 

We have each been down this road before; Char having built 3 other homes, one in MN, one as a single woman in NC, one in Naples, FL with Al and now our “toes up” home in beautiful Aiken, SC.   This will be the 6th home Al has built in various locales around the country.

We were very deliberate in our search for where to buy or build and had researched and visited many communities in many parts of the country, most specifically in the southeastern U.S.  Deciding on the region and evaluating the many factors one considers when making this big decision… we kept coming back to Aiken and Woodside Plantation specifically.   Woodside and Aiken always rose to the top of the discussion on where to settle.

We lived in Naples for 12 years, and when we made the decision to take a different path the economy and the housing market, in particular, took the now familiar nosedive.  It took some time to sell our home through the down economy, so Al actually got his Florida real estate license to help expedite the process and also listed and sold a few other homes during that period of time.

Mike Manney was our sales rep here in Woodside and stuck with us through the time it took to sell our Florida home keeping us informed on what was happening in the area and inviting us to return for Woodside and Aiken community events and to get to know this wonderful place and the folks who live here.

Each time we came to visit we would look at property under his guidance and based on our criteria.  I have to credit Mike for bringing us, more than once, to 201 Bridge Crest Court, walking the lot with us and helping us imagine what a great lot this would be on which to build our home.  One day, Mike stood next to me with his arm on my shoulder and said “just look out there Char and imagine the sunrise over Spaulding Lake.”  Al always tells me a good salesman’s greatest asset is the ability to “shut up and listen”!   I think Mike has that skill because he surely somehow, somewhere tapped into the fact that I love sunrise!  He was right; he brought us to a phenomenal lot at the end of a quiet street lined with the beautiful homes of our great neighbors and the best sunrise view anyone can imagine.  (See the photos!)

Our Florida home finally sold and we were lucky, in a time of foreclosures and bankruptcies, to actually turn a profit on our home.  We built in 2000 before the decline, so the home appreciated in the years preceding the housing market bust.

Finally, cash in hand, we packed up our life in Florida and headed north to Aiken and Woodside Plantation.  With no trepidation and looking forward to writing the next chapter, we bought the lot and signed on with Carolina Signature Homes to build a slightly modified version of their Steeplechase model.

Felling, Footings, Foundation and Frame

Men driving equipment with long armed grippers designed to tug tall, old trees out of the ground and hand them off to men with chainsaws fired up and ready to cut them into manageable lengths descended on our lot.  This was a hard day for me because I love tall, old trees, especially the ones that graced this particular lot and was distressed to watch their decades of growth end so quickly at the hands of that long armed gripper!  (I know that’s girl talk for thing-a-ma-jig, but I don’t know the technical name for that equipment.)  Al and the other men assured me we could plant more trees and that they grow quickly here in South Carolina.  In my head, I knew they were right and the stately old trees had to go to make room for the new home that was now being put to paper.  We were glad Mike Manney was able to arrange a lease on a cottage in The Village at Woodside so we could be nearby as the construction began.

Once the trees were felled and the lot was cleared, the sign went up showcasing the builder and introducing the “Future Homeowners”, Char and Al Love.  Now that the project was officially underway, there was a parade of people visiting the construction site, each day, plying their special trades and making determinations about their role in this overall project.  It was fun to get to know all the folks who would have a hand in bringing our dream to reality.

Lot cleared and graded? Check! Survey lot for location of the footings? Check!  Footing trenches dug and readied for cement? Check… and so it went.  This part of the process went quickly and soon the footings were poured and the block layers were on site laying the blocks that would be the foundation of the new homestead.  For a period of time, it looked like Stonehenge with pillars of blocks stacked in the middle of the crawlspace that, because of the location of the house on the lot, turned out to be a “tall space”; one in which we could shoot hoops and provided for some very nice storage.

Soon the foundation was up and capped!  Stonehenge disappeared to the tall space below and we could not resist the temptation to have our first “sunrise breakfast” in the, soon to be, dining area.  So toting our FL beach chairs, muffins, yogurt, coffee and the Aiken Standard we ventured to the site at sunrise, gave thanks for this blessing and welcomed this new and exciting day!

Framing was next and a very exciting part of the construction process because this is when you can actually begin to see the bones of the house and how it will all lay out.  The framing goes very fast too and you can really begin to imagine the day when you will begin your new life inside the structure rising quickly before you.

Felling, footings, foundation and frame – phase one of the Love Shack was well on its way!

Submitted by Char Love

June 22, 2013

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