16.5 Acres In Dayton Tennessee

We Have a Driveway!

So... big confidence boost from our builder within the last couple days. We are at least 3 weeks away from closing on our construction loan and he has already begun breaking ground on this project (without payment). That gives me a warm-and-fuzzy! We discussed last week with our builder where we'd like the driveway to go to leave as much open area as possible, tracing the tree line to the north of the 5 acre property shown on the survey map. Last weekend he had the top few inches of soil skimmed off and Monday he laid the base rock for the driveway. It's looking pretty. Every day we will get to drive by the pretty tree line to the north and pass right by the pond. We'd really like to lay a series of evergreens along the driveway path with those solar lights in between each. First three pictures are facing the path toward the main road.  The last one is from the main road up to the house. The stones are quite large - About 2-4 inches which is typical for a gravel base but uncomfortable to drive out. After a few weeks of heavy equipment smashing the rocks into the earth, they will top the stones with a smaller 1/2" to 1" sized gravel.

And guess what? Our builder says we will get to choose our own address! Fancy! I'm thinking "Longest Lane" sounds about right. It is about a 1/4 mile driveway after all!


Scrapbook Layouts are Easy. Floor Plan Layouts are Hard.

Our builder directed us to a couple of websites with great floor plans. All we knew we wanted for sure was 3 bedrooms, 2baths, and a loft overlooking a vaulted ceiling great room. It was easy to filter this criteria out but none of the floor plans were really speaking to us. So, we took inspiration from a couple of elements that we liked in a few different plans and came up with our dream home floor plan ourselves.

Features that we love:
  • Very open floor plan when you first come in our home.
  • The great room with a overlooking loft.
  • Stacked stone fireplace as a focal point for the great room.
  • Curved Staircase just adds some additional charm.
  • Master on the first floor and separate from the other bedrooms.
  • Walk-in pantry in the corner of the kitchen and a large island.
  • Large walk-in shower in the master bath
  • Master walk-in closet accessible from the master bath

Features that we love:
  • Loft/Study area is open to below giving the feel of a very large area for Liz to work from home.
  • Additional storage area that can be finished and turned into another bedroom or 2, or a home theater down the road.
Then, because Mike and Liz are both visual people, we took our floor plan (at least the first floor), into Google Sketchup to get an idea of the proportions of the spaces to each other and how well furniture and other items would fit around in the space.

We considered adding a third garage bay for a while and Liz's Uncle Bill had a brilliant idea - just extend the two-car garage and make it longer instead of having to pay for a third door! Perfect. We really wanted the extra space since our garage will pull triple duty of being a home gym, car storage, and Mike's workshop area.... at least until our budget allows for a separate workshop building.

Half of this back deck will be a covered deck (from the middle bedroom upstairs). So it will be easy to turn into a screened porch area right off our master (and a perfect place for a hot tub according to Aunt Dawn) and still have open outdoor space for grilling.

Tell us what you think of the plan - we are still making changes and tweaks based on things we see (mostly on Pinterest) and feedback from friends and family.

Would you angle the island?
Do you like the idea of having outside entry in the master?
Anything you would add or subtract (and save us money)?

Liz and Mike

The Land

So let's show you the land and views that we fell in love with.

Here you can see the break in the trees where the driveway will come in from the road. We are pretty far back into the property here, but still not as far back as where the home will sit. You are looking roughly North West here.

And this is the view to the west. This direction is where most of the windows on the first floor will face.

See that small tree to the very left of the photo? The house will be on the left of that tree. 

Here is that same tree, now more on the right of the photo. Our home will be in the middle here.

And this will be the view from our deck. Just kidding!!! This is in Great Smoky National Park and from a visit we did to Gatlinburg just a few weeks ago when the leaves were at peak color.

This is pretty close to where we estimated the house would sit, looking straight towards the road.

And for those super interested in the details, here is the parcel map. #3, the 16.499 acres, will be ours! 

And a Google Earth view for you. You can see where the pond is here and reference that from the parcel drawing above. While we have lots of cleared area, there is still a lot of wooded area that will be ours.

And here is a 360° video of the property from close to where the house will sit.

We still have many more inside updates to share with you including our floor plan, flooring selections, and an initial consultation for our kitchen cabinets and granite. And that is just what we have done so far. Many more decisions to come.

We've also been given the promising news that our builder is eager to move forward and had begun work on the property already, just 2 days after signing for the loan! So another update is coming your way for that.

Liz and Mike

It All Starts Somewhere - This is Our Journey

Welcome to our blog! Mike wanted 1 place for all of our stories and photos to live throughout this process of building a home. Both for us (he just called it digital scrapbooking - ha!) and to share with our friends and family back in Ohio. So welcome! We will share here as we learn about the home building process and share many photos of the progress along the way.

Let's get you caught up to today when we got to see our driveway prepared!

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July -September 2017

When we first started looking for houses, Mike thought he found his dream house and our realtor was pushing us to make an offer if we were interested. The right amount of square footage, a loft, over 5 acres, set back from the road - all things we really wanted in a home. It even had a pool. We wanted to think on it overnight and as we were leaving the driveway we tried to google directions home. Neither of us had any cell phone reception. With Liz working from home, this was concerning. We called our realtor and found out the homeowners used a hot spot for their internet. We spent the next week trying to search for viable internet solution and there just isn't one out there for this property - without having a low data cap, very slow connection, or paying more than double the average monthly cost. Saying we were bummed was an understatement.

The next few weeks were filled with lots of Zillow and Realtor searching, setting up to see a few other homes in person - in case they just missed photographing the wow factor for the listing online - and lots of disappointment. We spoke with our realtor again, expressing this frustration and brought up the option of building and if she would have any recommendations for a builder in Dayton Tennessee. Here's why:

Dayton Tennessee is a small town with most modern conveniences and a small community feel. It sits in the middle of some large mountains that capture the essence of the Smoky Mountain area quite well. Even though we are 100 miles west of the true mountain park. Most mornings you'll find a dense fog looming throughout the mountains in the distance. Seeing as Mike's job also resides in Dayton, it seemed like a good fit to build a home.

The challenges of finding the right home within or near Dayton, with the lack of zoning restrictions, and low median per capita income, proved difficult. We were blown away by the amount of shittiest-houses-you've-ever-seen, right next door to 450k+ properties. Even if you found the perfect property, there was a good chance you could be next to a real dump. For example, one property in a nice area appeared to have a washer and dryer collection consuming their front yard. Don't be surprised if traffic moves slower than normal, possibly because they are avoiding the stray chickens and cats roaming the streets. Coming from large cities in Ohio, we also didn't realize things like cell phone reception and internet availability were often not available in the rural areas we were looking. It is tricky to find the right property to say the least.

We spoke with one gentlemen who was very nice but had lots of things going on personally and wouldn't be able to start on our project for a number of months - estimated into January 2018 at the time. We went back to the realtor for a second recommendation and met with our builder.

Our builder has lived and worked in Dayton his whole life, and knows every one... literally every one. We talked houses we liked, and floor plans that had the features we were looking for. When we brought up land, there were some places we had in mind from our Zillow searching, but he had a recommendation.

He had recently bought 40 acres that lies in a cove on the west side of Dayton behind what is known as Lone Mountain. He took us out there just at sunset to gauge our interest. Initially it was not exactly what Mike was looking for. He wanted mostly wooded property with privacy. He wanted to be able to look in all directions and see no signs of civilization. He also didn't want to mow more than the 2 acres he did at our last home. However Liz was in love. The views, that we didn't know we wanted, were beautiful. We thought beautiful views only were available from high in the mountains, and not nestled between the base of them. Boy were we wrong.

The property was 80% cleared land, overgrown, and much larger than we thought we could afford. We asked the price per acre and were met with sticker shock. Our builder said to stop back the following week once the property was mowed for the season. We also discussed where the house would set to gain the best view. We talked about how the property would be broken up and what amount of land we could afford. The problem is, the property is T-shaped and we wanted the very middle which land-locked some areas and would require our driveway to pass through a different parcel.

October - November 2017

We continued our house hunt for about another month hoping something out there would spark our interest. But nothing even came close to the idea of building exactly what we wanted on this beautiful property. So we went back to the builder and asked if there was a way to save some money on the build to afford more land. The additional land began to appeal to Mike more-so as fall came and leaves fell. He noticed that there are no leaves to rake, the open land really grants the good view, and the house will look great from the road with wonderful curb appeal. All things we felt our last house was lacking and were exciting prospects to have this time around. Plus we were told that if we let most of the land grow, there are people who will come cut it twice a year if they get to keep the hay.

Long story short: With lots of back and forth between us and the builder, different loan options, floor plan changes, and general snail's pace of the south, we finally signed our intent to proceed with the bank Friday December 1st.

Now that you are caught up with where we are today the fun part begins. We have lots of photos of the land to share and a few decisions we have already made with the build.

So we think this is a good place to stop for now and will share all about the property on the next post!

Liz and Mike