Location Location

BY MARGARET LOCKLAIR

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On Short Street in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, a custom home is being built by a national homebuilder that—until recently—limited its Charleston-area work to master-planned communities.

The Old Village, of course, is anything but master-planned. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, its oldest home dates to 1759. Tucked among huge trees and views of Charleston Harbor, the homes there run the gamut from grandeur to modesty.

The Short Street house is a showcase for David Weekley Homes’ Build On Your Lot program, which has concentrated to date on East Cooper and Daniel Island.

A much larger circle has recently been drawn, however, around portions of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, where the company is offering to build custom homes on lots outside its customary communities.

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Sarah Kemp, marketing director for David Weekley’s Charleston and Greater Hilton Head Division, says that the company was the first in history to wear the homebuilding industry’s “triple crown.”

Twice named National Builder of the Year by Professional Builder Magazine, most recently in 2013, it also received the National Housing Quality Award from the same publication, and the title of America’s Best Builder from Builder Magazine.

The Build On Your Lot program initiative reflects a trend. “So many people want to move back to city centers,” Kemp says. “Others have held onto their empty lots for years as the neighborhoods grew up around them. And some love their lots but not the houses already on them. This program includes the ability to tear down an existing house and rebuild—or build for the very first time.”

Two new sales consultants, Paul Bird and Kim Buck, are specialists in Charleston’s Build On Your Lot program. Part of their approach involves finding individual lots, and part involves locating customers interested in building somewhere other than in a planned community. Bird and Buck work directly with their clients throughout the entire construction process.

The company maintains furnished models in Carnes Crossroads (Summerville), Foxbank (Moncks Corner) and Carolina Park (Mount Pleasant). It has at least 20 unfurnished “showcase homes,” however, in neighborhoods of high visibility. Prior to sale, these serve as models of construction type and quality for the Build On Your Lot program.

One example of a showcase home is the completed house (pictured above left) at 2433 Bending Oak Loop in The Pointe at Rivertowne Country Club in Mount Pleasant. Elevated over a three-car garage, the 2,758-square-foot house sits on a third of an acre. The neighborhood’s private dock offers day boat slips on the Wando River.

The house exemplifies a number of the hallmarks of David Weekley floor plans: an abundance of natural light, flexible use of space, privacy, clear sight lines and thoughtfully planned traffic patterns.

Gas lanterns on the lower front porch light the front steps while, out back, a landing on the exterior stairs can serve as a grill deck just off the screened porch.

Inside on the main floor, 8-foot doors and 10-foot ceilings expand the sense of vertical living space, while walls of windows expand it horizontally.

The floor plan, The Champlain, offers a number of dining options: formal, informal and fresh-air. An example of “flex space” is positioned off the foyer. With its double French doors, it can be either a study or a living room.

On the main floor is a nearly hidden owner’s retreat, an example of the company’s emphasis on privacy and natural light. The bedroom has a bay-shaped wall of deep windows, scaled for a love seat and chairs. A large square window lights the master bath, with its garden tub and a fully tiled shower, and yet another window illuminates the room-sized master closet.

Substantial crown moldings look down over the white glazed cabinetry, dark hickory floors and granite countertops of the gourmet kitchen, which features a large center island, wall-hung ovens, a gas cooktop and traffic patterns that give several chefs room to work at once. The kitchen has a full view of the open family room, its gas fireplace and the light-filled breakfast area.

A large room upstairs, which the floor plan labels a retreat, waits at the top of the stairs. Its uses seem endless: a fifth bedroom, a second family room, an office, a playroom, a studio … Down the hall are two tiled bathrooms and a trio of carpeted bedrooms, two with direct access to the upstairs balcony. The sale price of the home, $599,607, includes the price of the lot.

The Build On Your Lot program, which does not include the lot price, offers its plans in two collections. Homes in the Lifestyle Collection have slightly less square footage than those in the Executive Collection and start at a lower price point.

Both collections include a number of niceties as standard features: Hardie Plank siding, for example, and granite countertops in the kitchen, as well as a full array of “invisible” features designed to promote energy efficiency.

The major differences in the two are the foundation type (slab versus crawl space), and interior upgrades in flooring, moldings, appliance packages and cabinetry—most of which can be customized for each house.

All of those choices are made in the company’s design center, located in its Mount Pleasant office, which is staffed by two fulltime design consultants.

“We prefer potential homeowners to use one of our own plans, but we can customize those to meet their individual needs,” says Kemp. “You can see online the 20-plus plans in each collection that are pre-priced, but we have access to more.”

Each client or couple who builds with David Weekley Homes is contacted weekly by a “personal builder” assigned to them, and is given access to a website that tracks the progress being made on their future home as it happens.

That aspect of the company’s platinumrated reputation, Kemp says, is driven home by the large number of letters the company receives from homeowners delighted with their home and the service they received during the construction and beyond.

Margaret Locklair is a Lowcountry freelance writer and editor. locklair@homesc.com or 843-450-4089.