Monthly Archives: March 2013

A little History…

It all started, not long ago, in a faraway island near the quirky town of Key West, FL.  As wonderful as the Keys’ Life was, Steve & Jane were looking for something more.  “Time for a new adventure,” they exclaimed!

Jane had been drawn to the Asheville NC area all her adult life & Steve’ daughter, Sonja, had once lived there for over 12 years.  He was familiar with the area.  Jane had never even visited there.  So they planned a trip in November 2011 to just get a feel for the place they might come to call home someday.  Steve wanted 20 acres at the top of mountain, away from civilization &  Jane wanted to be close to the Spiritual energy & happenings in Asheville.  Hmmm……

November ‘11– January ‘12. They decided to look at lots with their new found realtor, Katharina, but nothing was feeling quite right.  After a fortuitous reunion brunch and walking tour of Asheville with Jane’s friend, Kathleen, Jane had had enough of wanting to live close to the city – much to her surprise. Kathleen mentioned that the Creston Conservation Community would be a great match for her.

Creston to the North West

Creston to the North West

We made an appointment with Katharina for the next day to see Creston.  Delightful Russ & Charles accompanied us on our search & by the 3rd lot we had found “The One”: Lot T-77.  Oh, oh – this is a year too early into our plan. But five acres high on the mountain top overlooking the valley with multi-layered close, intermediate, & long range views – wouldn’t be available in another year.  This was Heaven.   So Steve got his mountain top, albeit less acreage & Jane got her Spiritual energy (communing with Nature) & only 30 mins from the city of Asheville.  They happily closed on Lot T-77 in January of 2012.

January – May. The next 5 months were feverishly spent getting two houses ready for the market as well as selling a lot in Nova Scotia, fine tuning the 20 year old plans for the cottage & preparing for Creston’s ARC (Architectural Review Committee) Approval.  Steve is going to be our owner-builder & we’ve hired a very talented local craftsman, named Wayne, as our on-site superintendent, coming highly recommended by many of  our future neighbors.  By the end of May we had rented our homes, packed about 6 months worth of belongings, and said good-bye to friends & life in the Keys. We made our way to Black Mountain & a rental we were hoping would be sufficient for the 6 months of so before we could dry in the house & get a C.O. from McDowell County (so much more easily done than in the Keys’ Monroe County!)

The Hell months of June & July.  We were living in a 560 SF carriage house apartment that was, well, let’s just say, was not working out very well.  Here we were, depressed,  in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains dealing with 2 contracts on Steve’s house failing, Jane’s contract failing at the 11 ½ hour, the Nova Scotia property, scheduled to close back in March was still in flux pending the “Crown’s” resolution of a right of way issue. Jane’s new job that she started 2 days after arriving (ugh!) was a bust.  So, we decided on Plan B:  Build just the Carriage house with 2nd floor apartment first, then build the main house after the properties sold for sure.  Excavation was put on hold, pending ARC approval regarding our change in plans.

Lesson #1:  Expect the unexpected!  Delays & surprises are the norm.

Lesson #2:  Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.  A contract on a lot or a house no matter how solid, does not mean it’s  s-o-l-d.

Lesson #3:  Don’t get so excited about your building plans that you make premature or impulsive decisions.

Lesson #4:  Be flexible & be patient.

Then the tides turned in their favor….

The Promise of August.  As soon as I left my job, I had a strong sense that things were now going to move forward.
1. My Nova Scotia property finally sold/closed after 4 months of painstakingly dealing with the “Crown.”
2. Steve’s lot that closed last year – the final balloon payment came 2 months ahead of schedule.
3. We found a beautiful 2 year old 3 Bd/2.5 BA mountain home in Creston with super views, only 1 mile away from our lot to rent until our Carriage house is done.  (One Sunday, Steve & I decided to take a ride through Creston to see if there was a house that didn’t look lived in and see if the owners would consider renting for 4 months.  Well, we found the perfect spot and called our buddies Brian & Debbie who know all that’s going on up here.  They knew the owners and we made contact on Monday.  Had a verbal lease by Monday night and began moving in on Wednesday, Aug 1st.  Now, how cool is that?!

Our Rental.  On the Mountain at last!

Our Rental. On the Mountain at last!

4.  Our former landlords were gracious & returned our security deposit!
5. Russ, general manager at Creston, is considering partnering with me to expand the land sales division here in Creston.
6.  We passed the ARC’s ok to change our plans & build just the carriage house, waiting to build the main house when our houses sell in the Keys.
7.  We could then start building! We’d finish the excavation, & build some of the retaining walls, footers and slab of the carriage house.  We were on our way!

Looking SouthEast

Looking South East



Steve & Jane’s New Adventure

Kids will be kids.....
Forever young…..

I fell in love with the Maple Forest Cottage at the back of Sarah Susanka’s, The Not So Big House, the first time I saw it back in 1998.  It was a magical, fairy tale type of house designed by Michaela Mahady in 1993 that immediately felt like home – a haven of a place that would envelop you with warmth & coziness.  I copied pages from the book and saved them in my “Dreams” folder and filed it away as a ‘Wow, I wish…Wouldn’t it be wonderful?!’

Fast forward 14 years later – Summer of 2011.  My partner, Steve, and I are living on the ocean in the Florida Keys near Key West.  He’s retired, I’m working in real estate. An idyllic life by most standards.  But we were becoming restless….

This blog is about our new adventure that led us to the mountains of Western North Carolina and the building of our dream home, The Maple Forest Cottage, in Black Mountain.  Curl up and read on – it’s bound to be quite a ride!

Our view East North East

Our view East North East