*long day, long post
Tuesday, June 28th we commenced the kick-off of our building project! Our goal is to build a custom home on our 2.5 acres. In the next 10-18 months complete a barn and guesthouse, but in ~5 years build the main house. We had a full day planned…very un-Teton Time, but totally 650. Superman and I geek out at the prospect of “handling business” as we start the process, but as we continue to learn – nothing ever feels like business here. The full day of meeting our architect and 3 contractors served as evidence that humanity (still) exists…in the 208 it’s not (a building) business, but all parties care about the community and bettering people who want live in it.
We (finally) met our architect – she specializes in sustainable design and architecture, which we know nothing about. We initially fell in love with her aesthetic (no logs, no gaudy craftsmen, no knotty pine)…it’s just cool. From February to now, we have exchanged several emails and this was our first face-to-face meeting. I’ll call her – The Wind Whisperer. When we went to our lot to discuss the project she commented on the wind direction (who knew) and how that would impact our building placements. She is incredibly knowledgeable about her field and craft, we just ignorantly smile and nod at her acronyms, terminology, insights, and recommendations – all of which reiterate that we are in GREAT hands. The Wind Whisperer arranged our itinerary: check-in with her about our project, meet 3 contractors (back-to-back) and see their work, and plan next steps.
We first met with contractor 1, who I will call – Mr. Mellow. Our architect and Mr. Mellow have done several projects together and they ride on the same wavelength. The ~2,000sf home we viewed had some elements we could really see us incorporating – concrete floors with radiant heating, cement counter-tops, masculine metal accents, barn-doors, and open floor plan with great flow. Immediately you can see The Wind Whisperer’s stamp on the project. It is unique, eclectic, but always thoughtful in the use of each facet. Mr. Mellow earned his alias as an honest, chill, and open person to work with. He entertained our naive questions and gave us great insight to the step-by-step process of our project coming together. Just a nice guy, not a sales guy – something so refreshing for us jaded 650 customers.
Before meeting the next site, The Wind Whisperer took us to see the exterior of one of her recent finished projects – a very modern home with flat roofs, a wrap-around wall of glass windows, rusted metal exterior walls, and the rest was reclaimed wood. The kind of style I dream about when I let myself out of my box and I’m glad we’re working with someone who can push their client to that place. Considering this client originally wanted a log cabin, I am excited to see where The Wind Whisperer takes our vision when we finish.
We traveled to the job site of contractor 2, a ~5,000sf home under construction. The ironic thing about this home was that it had the exact flow and layout of the idea I have in my head for the main house. Very different from the first house, this was much more traditional feel, but with many high-end details. Contractor 2, who I will call – Mr. Nice. He has been working in the valley for years, seeing the bottom in 2008 to the craziness of the building-boom happening now! He is a family-guy who talked schools and soccer shop with Superman. Equally knowledgeable about the building phases and process interjecting his own experiences in build large spec homes in upscale developments in the valley. Mr. Nice earned his alias as just a stand-up, family man, who was so welcoming and kind. Upon leaving his job site, we asked The Wind Whisperer if she could throw a few jerks into the decision making process…so far, these guys were going to make our selection process difficult!
Our final destination was The Wind Whisperer’s 378sf brand-new custom tiny house (built by Contractor 3). Traveling there Superman and I realized we weren’t making any decisions about our project…we were just meeting people and looking at other projects. We were having such a great time meeting good people that we didn’t even notice we hadn’t moved any items on our “to-do” list (for the record, I don’t think anyone on Teton Time has a “to-do” list). While we weren’t sure whether or not this progression was moving us forward, it didn’t matter because we trusted The Wind Whisperer to lead us in the direction we needed to go. If this is the first step, we already trust that she was going to guide us through this first phase. Here in lies the first lesson in building a custom home – TRUST.
Contractor 3 met us at the tiny house, who I will call – Mr. Busy because in addition to co-running his construction company he has several other businesses in the valley. Mr. Busy and The Wind Whisperer have also done several projects together. They are two visionaries who are perfectly matched in their fields. She has the design aesthetic and vision and he has the same passion for new cutting-edge construction with the equal emphasis on sustainability and affordability. Mr. Busy has a young family and is also closes tied to the development of the community – using his talent to better the valley’s development. He has a hustle and professionalism about him (he’s the only contractor to give us a folder filled with resources), but balances it with realness and an eager-energy to help.
Mr. Busy was the only contractor we met who we didn’t see a custom home. The Wind Whisperer’s custom tiny-house is his work, but that doesn’t fully give us the vision of his work as it relates to our project. He made a call to another
client friend whom he built his office/garage, just down the road. We followed him to that site for a better idea of his work. On our lot we plan to build a “barn”…who are we kidding, no animals will ever be part of the gig, but it sounds better. We need a two-car garage, with another room for both storage and Superman’s (CrossFit) equipment/home-gym. Ideally, lofted above these would be Superman’s home-office for him to work remotely. Mr. Busy thought this finished product would give us an idea of a high-end version of what he could do. The office belongs to an amazing photographer who owns and operates his own creative business from the valley. The finishes were amazing and every detail was superb, nothing like what Superman will get…but, it was clear that Mr. Busy loves his work and can deliver at both ends of the spectrum – tiny house and tricked out offices!
Driving back to our summer rental house, Superman and I were fried. It was a long day and a lot to process. The Wind Whisperer wants us to select ONE of these great guys to work with on our project! She believes in design-build relationships with the contractors through the drawing phase…rather than complete the design phase and have it bid on by contractors. We will need to find something to differentiate between these guys, other than cost. Of course, the next day I emailed them all to thank them and they all emailed me back…no tipping point there. And, they were all so gracious to offer to call with any further questions. We will continue to lean on The Wind Whisperer to help us determine which contractor we can partner with to help carry out of vision, but there’s no doubt that all of them would do a great job! No matter what happens, we’d love to have a beer with all of them…when we live here.
Our lot, future views…