Building a Home in Bethesda

So what I haven’t shared with my readers is that my husband and I are actually crazy enough to be building a new house in downtown Bethesda. We are “closing in” this week (for those who don’t know the jargon, that means that the county has approved the fact that there are no holes in the exterior and the interior is ready to be dry walled), but it’s been an almost two year journey already. You won’t be subjected to all the messy details (and they are messy…and there are details), but I thought it might be fun to occasionally check in on the progress of this major endeavor.

I’ll fill you in on the background really quickly…just to bring you up to date. We currently live in a townhome in downtown Bethesda, where we literally “walk errands” and we love every minute of it. My husband retired a couple of years ago and was all of a sudden spending a lot of time at home…and missing gardening and open spaces. So, I drew a very small circle and agreed to move back to a single family home as long as it didn’t go outside of that circle. We were fortunate enough to find something (a small Cape Cod on a great lot) and hired an architect for a rehab. Very long story short…the county rejected the plan and sent us back to the drawing board. Once that happened, we decided that we’d do better by tearing down and rebuilding. We hired another architect and went to Plan B...which was approved by the county, but challenged by a neighbor over one foot…and, although we offered to change the plans to concede that one foot, we went thru months of an appeal process that never happened because twice the county appeals board couldn’t meet because of a lack of a quorum. So, back to the architect and on to Plan C..which was again approved by the county (couldn’t be appealed by the neighbors) and building finally began last September.

Once we finally got underway, it’s been kinda’ fun. The first time we could actually stand inside the structure was a real thrill. And in the next two weeks, when the dry wall goes up and we have walls, it will be really cool. There haven’t been many challenges during the process. We feel lucky that both our architect, Glenn Fong, and our builder, John Thompson, have become friends in the process and we trust them implicitly. My husband has the time to hang out at the site and knows every worker by name…and that has been a real positive experience. 

There was that one day when the stucco people put up the “final” coat. When I drove by, I quickly recognized that it was not the mottled look that we had contracted for. Several quick phone calls put a halt to any further work and two days later, the owner of the stucco company, the architect, the builder and the builder’s assistant all met with us on site to figure out the next step. The end result…a change in materials…brought the look we were looking for and proved that everyone cares.

I’ll keep you posted.

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