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A Personal Look at a Client Who is Rightsizing for the Long-Term

A Personal Look at a Client Who is Rightsizing for the Long-Term

By Associates in Building + Design
Published October 29, 2018

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Custom Home in Fort CollinsWe have a variety of clients who customize their home to fit their preferences. Have you ever looked at pictures of a home and wondered what made the homeowner choose that color, that location or that design? One of our beloved clients recently completed a three-bedroom, two bath custom home in Fort Collins and we had the pleasure of interviewing him. This interview shows his thought process, as well as the amazing features his new home offers.

Custom Home in Fort CollinsWhat makes this home your forever home?

I decided it was time to stop doing what I had done more or less the last 40 years and change my life. I wanted to radically alter my happiness prospects and environment, getting to a much more progressive community that offered easy adjacency to the kinds of things I like to do such as hiking, great running trails, trout fishing, and the mountains. This home for me represents a radical change in quality of living environment.  I’m just fortunate that providence has allowed me the good fortune to pull it off. You know, the other day I had an interesting insight – all my post-college adult life when I wanted to really be in a nice environment with “great accommodations”, I had to travel. Now, that is no longer necessary, although I will still travel from time to time, I now live in a beautiful climate, a beautiful environment and a lovely home.

Everyone’s circumstance differs, most people in their early 60’s are thinking of “downsizing” and eliminating a mortgage. In my case, I have a strong finance background and I’ve done a pretty good job investing over my lifetime so the idea of being able to earn 8 percent to 15 percent on my money over the long-term while being able to rent money at 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent seemed like a no-brainer. Therefore, my focus was on rightsizing for the long-term, locking in a substantial portion of my living costs, with the thought and hope that this could be the last home I will live in. As such, with it not being some place I may flip in seven to ten years, but rather a place I hope to spend the next 30 years or so in: appropriate quality was paramount, as was a design that facilitates aging-in-place.

Custom Home in Fort CollinsWhat were some of your ideas when designing your new, custom home?

When I set out to design my home, here were the blue-chip ideas I organized around:

  • The home had to be a gathering place that my children and friends would love to visit and hang out at. As I was designing and seeing it built, the words “Tranquility and Sanctuary” often came to mind.
  • To achieve my definition of quality which is not the same as perfection. Perfection is an idea, while quality is real. If something has quality, it combines a practical balance of resources, effort, form and function. It is as simple as it can be but accomplishes what it must.
  • Design for aging in place which meant substantial compliance with ADA architectural guidelines. A single-level home that wasn’t too big, but not too small, minimizing the need for steps as much as the landscape would allow was a key part of this.
  • Low- or no- maintenance materials, systems and design wherever possible.
  • Green build to include solar (a great way to fix a large component my energy costs).
  • Sustainable and mostly xeric landscaping.

Custom Home in Fort CollinsWhat are some of the unique features of the interior and exterior of your home?

Really the home has nothing unique, outlandish or special, but the sum of the parts, all tailored to my likes, wants and needs makes it pretty near perfect for me. One space that may be considered unique to other is my office nook. The nook accommodates two desks back to back.  First, a motor-driven computer desk I can raise to standing desk level or lower to sitting desk level-this is where I do all my thought work. Second, a fairly large beautiful quarter sawn oak roll-top desk, mostly for storage and some paperwork.

Also, I built a special pad served by a drip irrigation zone that will be the future sight (next spring) of three raised 4×4 foot square high yield garden systems (with room to add two more systems, should I wish) so I can grow a good deal of my own vegetables.

How did ABD work with your specific needs?

They were very open to the level of involvement I wanted with my home-build.  Not being a trained architect, I was able to do a lot of the design work, while they were there assuring it was designed to code and sourced with the right materials for the process. It was a very open and collaborative process. I felt we had very healthy communication all throughout the process.

What were the good, bad and ugly parts of the procCustom Home in Fort Collinsess?

Honestly, there were no bad or ugly parts to the process. Seeing a home of my own design built and outfitted was a lifetime dream so I enjoyed every minute of the process. Now, again I had a unique advantage of making the home build my full focus during construction. I did not have the stress of managing a career or caring for a family, as a distraction.

I think I went into a custom home build with very realistic expectations that there would be a glitch or two here or there, however, because ABD was open to my involvement almost daily on site, I was able to quickly spot issues and we were able to mitigate these in-process, rather than after-the-fact.  I also think a key is to leave ample slack in your budget for almost inevitable cost surprises.  What I mean is that you should build your home with a certain budget but be emotionally prepared and have the resources to tolerate spending up to more. If you do this, you will deal well with any cost surprises, be able to be happy about function, finish and other upgrades that you realize you want as building progresses and end up happy with what you invested in your home.

What made you choose ABD to build your new home?

I scoped out two other firms along with ABD.  One never got beyond phone calls and correspondence because I found the builder a tad arrogant.  The other firm I met with just was too big, in our initial meeting (with a mid-level project manager), they left me with the impression my project was not quite big enough to bother with.  As with most things in my life, it was an intuitive sense that ABD would be a good fit for me.  I liked that I was dealing with a family business where the owner took great and genuine pride in his people and his business reputation.  Bob’s upfront, high-touch involvement was very important to me.

Custom Home in Fort CollinsWhat are some specific items you asked for in your new home and why?

  • Green build – I wanted to set a good example for my kids.
  • Solar – a key component of green build. First and foremost, it is good for the environment, but because this was a long-term investment, with current federal tax and other government incentives, it also had a very acceptable pay-back and should fix for the balance of my life a key component of my energy costs.
  • Automated Irrigation System – I’m retired and want easy consistent management and low maintenance.
  • Master shower is step-less and has more handrails than a New York subway car – The handrails are not for now, but for the future.  Never-the-less, as a runner, they facilitate morning stretching under hot water!
  • Heated master bath floor – a tad bit of extravagance that I felt OK about given I was going solar.
  • Extended rock veneer wainscot with integrated rock chimney as key design elements – Really made the cottage feel of the house come through.
  • Mostly xeric landscaping – again good environmentally and low maintenance.
  • No Basement – space not necessary, as I age a staircase would add risk (from falls) to the livability of the house for an older person.
  • Special Pad for Square Foot Gardening System – helpful in living sustainably and having a healthy pursuit in retirement.

Custom Home in Fort CollinsAs a final thought, Rick added, “I am so grateful to ABD for their patience throughout the process and the top-notch yet down-to-earth team of individuals they put together for my house.” He continued, “No question I ever asked was too dumb, or intrusive. I got prompt, straight honest answers all along and one hell of an education in home-building.  I was able to share my dream of the kind of home I wanted to build, and they were artful in helping me raise it out of the ground to become a reality. The details of the house show real care, pride in product and concern for the Art of Building.  I could not be more pleased.”

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