We had a MAJOR snow storm right before Christmas, 2 1/2 feet! Look at all the snow behind the cute baby.

Cute Baby, Handsome Husband, LOTS of Snow

Pretty much the entire city shut down for 3 days. It took over a week before our street was plowed. Our new driveway is steep and windy and most definitely impassable. Tommy plowed it but even then the roads were icy for quite a while. I’m really not looking forward to driving during the winter.

Soooo, the schedule was pushed and we are now closing on January 7th! We’ve started packing and geez do we have a lot of stuff. Moving is definitely more difficult when there are babies involved, but at least this will be the last time we ever move. Yippie! So if you are in the area and are so inclined, we could use some help moving on January 9th for the small stuff and January 16th for the big stuff.

I’ve mentioned before how much we like our builder. Remember way back when they poured the concrete it wasn’t level in the center. Tommy went the extra mile and repoured the entire basement floor with some kind of extra smooth looking concrete. I don’t know the name of it but if you are interested I can find out.

And in other bonuses, the initial bid was for seeding and strawing of the yard (as required by code) only, no landscaping. We did this for two reasons, to save some money and because I’m not a huge fan of what most landscapers use for plants. I hate juniper bushes with the fire of a thousand suns (juniper trees are fine) and I hate climbing plants. We have both in our current house. The climbing plant is the worst. When I first moved in I got rid of all of it, yet each year it turns up again trying to get in between the siding. HATE! Well, as a Christmas present Tommy decided to throw in landscaping for free! We are floored and very grateful. To look a gift horse squarely in the mouth, I requested no juniper and no climbing or spreading plants. Tommy said no problem. I am so glad we choose him.

Enough talk, on to the picture.

First Floor starting from the right side of the house:

Laundry Room

Office, not large but adequate for our needs.


I can’t remember if I mentioned this before but we were able to specify exact shelf heights. We also designed that blank space on the back wall to store our freezer chest. Customization at it’s finest!

Kitchen ... now with appliances!


One of the thoughtful touches that Tommy did was line up the shelves in the glass corner cabinet so that they are hidden by the grill in the window.

Breakfast Room

Great Room

Routed Mantel

The fireplace mantel is a beautiful piece of solid maple. They routed the top and bottom and are going to stain it to match the kitchen cabinets.

Dining Room

Downstairs Bathroom ... Ooooo fancy!


Elegant Stairs

Front Door

Full View of Entry Way

Entry Way Light ... LOVE!

Back Deck. It looks huge.

Back Deck. This is more the actual scale.

Poured Front Porch

Front Walk Way

The light post to the right of the walk way there will eventually be painted black to match the light.

Car Port

One of the things that we planned to do ourselves later was build a detached garage connected to the house by a car port. When we met with Tommy to do the final grading, he said it would be more economical to grade the land and put down crush and run now rather than later since it would be at his cost. Now that it’s there one of the first things on our list to do is build the deck out to it so we can use the side entrance.

Whew that was a lot of picture … Annnnnnd … on to the second floor!


Master Bedroom

I can’t get over how much I love the gray/blue color. It really highlights the creaminess of the stone. I’m so glad I have an interior designer friend or I probably would have chosen a more electric blue.

Master Sinks

HUGE shower. Small child placed for scale.

Master Tub

I also love the tub and may actually use it. We currently have one in our old (pre-owned) house. I have a thing about whirlpool tubs (and especially hot tubs) being a breeding ground for germs and mold and other people skin cells. I think about all yuck that get caught in the jets and get all icked out. This tub will still have skin cells in the jets but at least they will be OUR skin cells.

Our kids bathrooms will the themed. Oh yes they will! The one at the top of the stairs is the Monkey Bathroom. At some point in the future I want to add either some wall paper or a stencil.

Monkey Bathroom

The one at the end of the hall is the fish bathroom. I want to stencil in bubbles. Our house might be fancy but it will also be fun!

Fish Bathroom

Apparently I forgot to take pictures of the two kids bedrooms that we actually plan on using. Here are the ones that are going to be empty for a while.

Back Left Bedroom

Front Left Bedroom

And scene!

We had a MAJOR snow storm right before Christmas. Look at all the snow behind the cute baby.

I like color. I’m not joking when I say our current house has a room of every color. However, I am REALLY not good at picking out colors. It takes me a few tries and much worrying to pick out a color that looks good. Those little color chips are so darn deceptive! I usually end up choosing a color that looks great on a tiny chip but turns out way to bright on the wall.

Choosing interior colors was especially hard because we’d be stuck with our choice for a really long time. When I’m painting, I usually get up one wall before deciding it’s the wrong color and then go buy more paint. I don’t have the luxury for the new house. Luckily I have a friend who is a very talented interior designer for UVA. I knew the color that I wanted for each room and she helped direct me to the correct shade. I seriously owe her BIG TIME. Even Tommy commented on how nice the paint colors were.

One of the things I did when trying to decide on a color was google the color. So this is for all you Googlers out there … Hi!

Main Color: Duron Inviting Ivory

It is a beautiful warm buttery yet neutral yellow. The color warms up the room but isn’t overpowering. In fact with straight on sunlight it looks almost white.

Duron Inviting Ivory

Duron Inviting Ivory

Downstairs Bathroom:  Benjamin Moore Butte Rock

A very neutral warm brown. It makes the room feel very cozy and yet elegant.

Benjamin Moore Butte Rock

Benjamin Moore Butte Rock

Monkey Bathroom: Benjamin Moore Salisbury Green

This is a slightly yellowey sage green. It looks softer in the picture than in real life.

Benjamin Moore Salisbury Green

Benjamin Moore Salisbury Green

Fish Bathroom: Benjamin Moore Yarmouth Blue

This turned out to be a much lighter shade that I expected but I like it’s softness. Blue is hard because you don’t want to come off as too baby blue.

Benjamin Moore Yarmouth Blue

Benjamin Moore Yarmouth Blue

Master Bath: Benjamin Moore James River Blue

This blue looks stunning against the creamy tumbled marble. They complement each other well and it’s not too overwhelming.

Benjamin Moore James River Blue

Benjamin Moore James River Blue

So one funny thing. At then end of the paint process Tommy goes through and marks all the places that need touch ups. It looks like our paneling is sick with the measles. I’m glad Tommy is so detailed. 🙂

Don't worry, I don't think it's contagious.

Happy Painting!

Funny enough our son was the key to finding our builder. A friend of ours had a birthday party at which we met another couple who was pregnant at the same time we were. We kept in touch through out our pregnancies. Every year after Christmas we have a re-gift party which they came to. The husband runs Fitch Services. Somehow the conversation turned towards houses. Since they have experience dealing with builders we asked who they recommend and they recommended CraigBuilders. So we called them but they don’t do custom homes and they referred us to Tommy (Dobson Homes) who used to work for them.

Tommy wasn’t the only builder we looked at. We also have a friend who works at Luck Stone and gave us a list of people he recommends. We contacted everyone on that list to get bids and BOY was it frustrating. You’d think in this economy people would be begging for work but it was very difficult to get most of them to call us back, let alone give us bids. At the time we had a very little baby and it really was difficult to arrange for us to meet with the builders. Most of them came to our house, a few we met at a restaurant, their office or their show house. Of all that we met, only about 1/2 ever gave us actual bids. I was really angry because why waste my time meeting with you if you aren’t even going to give us a bid. I’m still a little steamed about that.

Anyway, our experience with Tommy was great right off the bat. I called him to schedule a time to meet and he was more than accommodating to our schedule. I was a new mom and very sleep deprived. I wrote down the time, but I forgot to write down that we were meeting him at his show house. So we were waiting at our house and he was waiting at his show house. After about 15 minutes he called us to confirm that we were coming. Oops! Tommy said he was more than willing to come to our house but we decided we wanted to see his work so we headed over to his show house. The first thing we noticed about it was the beautiful front door.

Many of the other builders we met were much older, Tommy is our age. He was very nice and friendly and not at all pushy. We told him (like we told all the other builders) a hard number that was our max budget. He said he’d get back to us with a bid in a week. Maybe 5 days later he called me and said he just can’t build the house for our budget no matter how much he massaged the numbers and did we still want his bid. We told him to please give us the bid. By that time some of the other builders bids had come back all WAY outside our price range. Tommy’s was outside our price range but not by nearly as much as some of the other builders. When he met with us to go over the bid we told him that we’ll re-design the house to make it smaller. He gave us a few pointers, namely not to have a 2 story great room. Looking back I’m so glad we got that advice because that space would have been overwhelming.

We went back to the drawing board and completely re-designed the house. We told all the builders that we were going to re-design, but Tommy was the only one who called us after about 2 months to see how it was going. Once we were happy with the re-designed house, we re-submitted the plans to all the builders that actually gave us bids the first time. Tommy was the first person to give us his new bid. We actually had to string him along for almost a month before everyone else’s bids were back. In the end it was a toss-up between Tommy and Redlands. We liked both Tommy and Charlie from Redlands but Tommy was less expensive by almost $40,000.

We almost ALMOST didn’t go with Tommy because he was so much under all the other bids. We were worried that he had bid low and would either use really cheap materials or nickle and dime us on everything. We called his references and that was the clincher. His references (every single one) were beyond glowing. One very nice lady referred to him as St. Tommy. We were sold.

We had nothing to worry about, working with Tommy has been fantastic. We told Tommy that we choose him and he immediately started drawing up the blueprints from our plans. This was before we signed the contract. None of the other builders would draw up plans without a contract being signed.I thought this was very unusual and I think we even mentioned to Tommy that we hadn’t paid him anything yet. We didn’t cut him the first check until the entire plan was drawn up. I think that process took about 1 month. I was really surprised that he’d put so much effort forth without a contract being signed. By the time we did sign the contract we were pretty sure we chose the right person.

Building this house has been much less stressful than I imagined. In fact I think coordinate the whole move is way more stressful than actually building the new house. We’ve been singing Tommy’s praises so much that we almost sound like an advertisement but I can assure you that everything I’ve said has been completely truthful. I told the good and the bad, Tommy really has done a spectacular job.

Who we’ve used:

Patrick from Luck Stone – Exterior Stone

Charles from Better Living – Cabinets and Hardware

Pax from Floors R Us (not sure they have a website but they are north on 29) – Hardwood and Tile

Nancy from Builders Lighting – Lights

Both Patrick, Charles and Pax were really easy to work with, and builder’s lighting has really great prices although we weren’t thrilled with their customer service. I wish I knew who Tommy used for their electrician because he was super nice and very helpful. I believe his name was Kevin but I can’t quite remember and I have no idea who he worked for. Everyone on the site was very nice but we tried to stay out of their way for the most part.

This house is going up way faster than I expected. I really thought it would take at least 8 months to build but they are almost done! Our contract has an end date of sometime in mid-January but Tommy said he’ll be done on December 30th! Who wants to help us move?

Nearly all the lighting is done now. I was slightly concerned that the foyer light would be to big for the space but it fits the space perfectly. I think anything smaller would have been too small.

Front Porch Light

Entry Way Light

They also installed the granite.

Kitchen Granite

Kitchen Granite

Master Bathroom Granite

Installing Kitchen Granite

They are also making progress tiling the Master Bathroom.

Bath tub tile

Whirlpool Tub Tile

Master Shower Tile

They’ve also been working on the final grading. It has been raining a lot lately so it is super muddy.

And last but not least, they started painting real colors. The closets are all painted and they hung the closet shelves. I only have pictures of a few of the colors but there are more to come.

Overall Color

Master Closet

This house is going up way faster than I expected. I really thought it would take at least 8 months to build but they are almost done! Our contract has an end date of sometime in mid-January but Tommy said he’ll be done on December 30th! Who wants to help us move?

Nearly all the lighting is done now. I was slightly concerned that the foyer light would be to big for the space but it fits the space perfectly. I think anything smaller would have been too small.

This past week was a short one with Thanksgiving being in there and yet they still managed to make some pretty dramatic changes.

We’ve now got shutters on the exterior of the house.

Exterior with Shutters

They started installing the hood. It’s still missing the top molding.

Kitchen Hood

They’ve also been installing the hardwood floor. The upstairs is mostly finished and they were working  the downstairs when we visited.

Wood Floor

Hardwood Flooring

They’ve been working on preparing the master shower for tile for a while and now they’ve actually started laying the tile.

Master Bath Tile

Master Shower Floor Tile

While we were there, we also noticed they added some additional trim to the chair rail to make it more substantial looking.

Chair Rail

Finally, one little snag with the lights. I hate the look of amber glass so when we choose lights we specifically looked for white glass, however the fans that were installed had amber glass. We told Tommy and he’s working to fix it.

Fan with Amber Glass

I use to work on a weather satellite and I joke that it gave me some pull with the weather. In fact when Roderick and I were first dating we liked doing outdoor activities. Often it would threaten rain but by the time our date rolled around it was beautiful out. Unfortunately it looks like my pull is waning. Tommy’s been trying to do the final grading for almost a month now and it’s just been too muddy.

They are more than making up for the lack of exterior activity with interior progress. Behold a tour of the highlights.

All of the tile floors were laid but still need to be grouted. I can’t remember if I mentioned it but another nice little thing that we’re doing is using an epoxy grout which is easier to clean. They are also laying it so as to minimize the amount of grout. I love the look of tile but hate hate HATE cleaning it. It cost about $200 more per room but if it performs like I expect, it will be well worth the cost.

Monkey Bathroom Tile

Laundry Room Tile

Fish Bathroom Tile

They’ve started installing the bathroom hardware too.

Downstairs Bathroom Tile and Hardware

They’ve installed most of the lighting and it looks fantastic. The day I visited was cold and dreary but the house was so warm and inviting (even unfinished) because of the bright lights. I’m an admitted lightaholic. The brighter the better! I think we’ve got 60 watt bulbs in all of them. The huge chandelier in the foyer hasn’t been installed yet and I just can’t wait to see what it will look like.

Dining Room Light

Diningroom Transoms

They’ve also installed the fireplace mantle, a beautiful piece of solid maple. They are going to route it in place and then stain it to match the kitchen cabinets.

Great Room Fan and Fireplace Mantle

Kitchen Lights

Kitchen Hardware

And the piece de resistance the stairs! I love love LOVE LOVE the metal rails! They are beautiful, they are sturdy, and best of all they didn’t cost us anything extra. Have I mentioned that we love our builder?


Stair Sconces

Stair Close-up