Do you ever notice that sometimes, when everything is a fight, you begin to think that perhaps you are not on the right path? That has been our story almost every step of the way since we started construction in 2007. We got through clearing and excavation, we set the basement walls, and we had the framer put on the first floor decking. Every step along the way, though, seemed like a struggle. The weather fought us, the delivery schedules fought us, the invoicing from certain vendors fought us, and the housing market fought us. Even horseflies started showing up to bite us! It was bad karma, I was certain.
We came upon the lot in Chesapeake City by chance. In 2004, Tony happened upon the property, but did not think much of the wooded lot on the end of a lonely road that had a “For Sale by Owner” sign on it. We were in search of a lot for a spec house. Months later, Tony found another lot near the Elk River, and called the number on the FSBO sign. The gentle elderly lady on the line asked whether he was calling about the lot on the Elk or the one on the canal. Tony’s curiosity was piqued, and he responded that, while he was calling about the lot on the Elk, he would like to know the location of the one on the canal. Taking the drive back to the site he had visited almost a year ago, Tony got out of the truck and walked through the property only to discover the lot was on an embankment overlooking the C&D Canal. He called me from the site, quite excited over his find. We bought the lot in 2005.
At the time, we lived in a lovely 3,500-square-foot colonial in Fair Hill on two wooded acres. It was like a Disney cartoon setting—lots of flora and fauna, lots of critters…lots of lawn care, lots of sticks to pick up after storms, lots of summer weekends spreading mulch. Lots of room in the house, too—4 bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, 2 fireplaces, finished walkout basement…plenty to clean, plenty to paint, plenty to heat and cool. I think you are catching the drift. The property was like a beauty queen—lovely to look at, but LOTS of maintenance.
We decided to keep the Chesapeake City property for ourselves. We wanted to create a living space that better reflected our lifestyle and building philosophy. We wanted to downsize. We put the home in Fair Hill on the market in the summer of 2007, just in time for the market crash, and planned our new home. Somehow, the plans went awry. We wound up with a beautiful house plan—but over 4,000 square feet of living space. Notwithstanding my personal reservations, we commenced construction of the home.
About four months into the project, we came to the realization that our home in Fair Hill, while a beauty queen, was not getting activity. Added to that were our construction struggles, horseflies and all. We tried everything; open houses, price reductions, and incentives for the brokers. Nothing worked. We were in the throes of the worst real estate market in 10 years. “How could this be happening?” we asked ourselves. We were stuck, and we knew it. We took a conservative approach, ceased construction, put a tarp on the project, had electric run for a dehumidifier and fan in the existing basement. It was fall of 2007. The wait began.
They say everything is for a reason, and, though at the time we were not convinced, we look back now and know it to be true. During the span of the almost two years it took to sell our home, we revisited the house plans. We engaged Mary Severino, AIA, principal of MGZA and Delaware’s first LEED-certified architect, and began imputing our vision of Infusion Design in a more meaningful way. We did a real downsize, incorporated passive solar concepts, made hallways wider and doors all 3 feet, and designed a curbless shower, just to name just a few of the many changes. The house is now reflective of what Infusion Design is intended to be—energy efficient, low-maintenance, comfortable, accessible and, of course, beautiful. Stay tuned to see our plans online (the old and the new), learn more about modifications we made to incorporate Infusion Design, and watch as construction proceeds.