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HOMEOWNERS - Lisa and Andy Bayliss

HOME SITE - Eastern North Carolina

BUILDER - Tab Premium Built Homes
(1-252-638-8310)

BUILT - 1999

INTERIOR - 7,400 square feet

BEDROOMS - Five

BATHS - 4-1/2

HIGHLIGHT - The grand foyer's flared staircase with wrought-iron scrollwork and hardwood handrails

FAMILY'S FAVORITE ROOM - Home theater with marquee, velvet ropes, and handpainted mural of Marilyn Monroe in a ticket booth

HOUSE-BUILDING TIP - "Always design your house around your budget instead of stretching your dollar too thin. Put more money into features rather than size."

A View of the River

Luxury Kitchen

Eastern North Carolina — This is the third house Andy and Lisa Bayliss have built for themselves and their children. And though they completed construction in 1999, they actually laid the foundation many years ago.

Even as a young married couple, Andy and Lisa had the building bug. They enjoyed driving around looking at houses, and they dreamed of building a place of their own someday. When their two-bedroom townhouse began to feel more cramped after the birth of their first child, Andy started looking at floor plans and rounding up quotes from various builders. "We needed twenty percent of the cost up front," Andy remembers. "When we realized it would take us twenty years to save that much money, we really got discouraged."

Shortly after, an inheritance provided the money Andy and Lisa needed to make a down payment on a starter home in a brand new subdivision. "We sold the house a year later because we thought we could make enough money to build," Andy explains. But after talking to three different builders, he realized that building was still beyond their means.


The dream home of Lisa and Andy Bayliss embodies the best of all those ideas they'd gathered over the years. Shop Outdoor Living.

About that time, a salesman came by the family's electrical supply business and suggested that Andy build his own house. "He told me I'd been blessed to be real good with my hands, that he would hold my hand and tell me what to do when, and who to call and when." When he looked into it, Andy realized he and Lisa could indeed afford to build if he "put a lot of sweat equity into the house."

BUILDING A HOME OF THEIR OWN

So at age 23, Andy built his first house. He plumbed it with a friend, painted it, built half the cabinets, did some of the electrical work, and installed the landscaping. He went to the construction site on weekends and most days after work.

"I couldn't afford to pay anybody," he says. "Luckily, I was crafty enough to do a lot of it myself."

Andy says that while he was working, people would walk up and ask if the house was for sale. "Quite a few people made offers," he says. "The business part of me thought, 'I could sell it and make some money.'" Two years later, that's exactly what he did. "We made a good bit of equity, so we bought a lot and reinvested in building another house."

Again, Andy did a lot of the work himself, and the same thing happened. "A lot of people kept coming up and trying to buy the house," he explains. At that point, Andy decided to get his contractor's license and pursue housebuilding — his "real love."

"When you have the opportunity to get a piece of land, and six or eight months later, there's a house and a family living there, you have a long-lasting, tangible result of all your work," Andy said.

"As a builder, I have a real respect for the very best labor and materials."

Andy's parents provided him with yet another building opportunity when they asked him to design and build their retirement home on riverfront property they had recently purchased. When the lot next door became available, the real estate agent called Andy's father and asked if he wanted to buy it. "I don't," said Mr. Bayliss, "but I know somebody who might."

"Dad knew I'd always wanted to live on the river," says Andy. "So Lisa and I bought the lot and held onto it for two or three years before building."

When they sold their second house in 1999, Andy and Lisa were given six months to move by the new owners. Though their house-under-construction was barely habitable, Andy and Lisa decided that moving the family into a partially completed house was preferable to moving twice.

"The house was complete enough to get a certificate of occupancy," says Andy. "It was a minor miracle that I was able to pull it off. I was working in the electrical business and doing this on the side. The house looked like a doggone anthill. We had guys in it, on it, around it. My wife had to put up with it, bless her heart."

THE HOW-TO OF HOMEBUILDING

From the very first, Andy's method of homebuilding was to find a good basic floor plan and then personalize it. "It's rare to find a plan that gives you exactly what you want," he says. "I use the base plan as a foundation to get started, to get the wheels turning."

He whites out and redraws the plans "to get the rooms I want in the sizes I want," cutting and pasting as necessary until he's satisfied with the result. He then takes the revised plans to a local drafting company where they're transformed into blueprints, which an engineer then uses to develop foundation and framing plans.

When it's time to build, Andy hires the best subcontractors he can find. "My job is to get the right guy in the right place — I just give them the opportunity." Some of the subs have worked with him on all four houses. "I find guys who work to the level I like and develop a long-term relationship with them. I pay well and treat them with as much respect as a district court judge. When you're laying a roof in 98-degree weather with 100% humidity, you're going to get a bad roof if you pay poorly."

"As a builder, I have a real respect for the very best labor and materials." He cautions that "you waste money trying to save money buying cheaper stuff. It's better to go with the very best."


HOME HIGHLIGHTS

"We put a lot of time, energy, and effort into the grand foyer," says Andy. He and Lisa had two goals in mind: to create a favorable first impression and to maximize views of the river. The drama created by the foyer's flared staircase is heightened by ironwork railings with hardwood handrails which were crafted in Charlotte, assembled off-site, and installed over a three-day period.


The grand room's ceiling opens onto a bookshelf-lined balcony accessed
via the foyer staircase. Shop Furnishings & Décor.

The adjoining light-filled grand room is actually two stories high: the ceiling opens up onto a bookcase-lined balcony skirting the perimeter of the second story above. French doors leading from the grand room and balcony onto lower and upper terraces offer splendid views of the river. The balcony is accessed via the foyer staircase.

It's details like these that make a house, says Andy — especially the millwork. He designed a unique profile for the door and window casings and had them milled to his specifications. Ten-foot ceilings and eight-foot doorways convey a sense of spaciousness without compromising warmth.

"You can feel lost if the ceilings are too high," says Andy. Also, to create extra depth, he used two-by-sixes to frame the walls. "The decorating benefit was that we could mount plantation shutters flush with the casing."

The heartbeat of the house is the kitchen. "When I was a kid, the kitchen was in a back corner of the house," says Andy. "Today, it's the focal point." Wood, granite, stainless steel, and stone create an intriguing mix of textures and finishes.

Furniture-grade cabinetry — the same cabinetry used in the family room — elevates the room's status. To unite the two rooms even further, Andy used the same type of stone for the backsplash behind the range and the family-room fireplace. An artist from the next town painted the kitchen floor with a rug-like mural of fruits and vegetables.

Her handiwork also decorates one of the children's bedrooms, where Andy and Lisa's daughter is shown having a tea party with her rabbit friends. The same artist is also responsible for the lifelike painting of Marilyn Monroe standing in a ticket booth which adorns the doors to the home theater. Andy asked her to paint the mural on a piece of plywood, then screwed the plywood to French doors.

To recreate the look of an old-time theater lobby, he also built a movie marquee illuminated by fluorescent lights, posted a signboard with show times, and put up velvet ropes. The kids like to stage sleep-overs here and watch movies all night with their friends.

"We have everything we want right here — a home theater, swimming pool, a 1958 mahogany Chris-Craft tied up at the dock, and family next door."

Andy's inventiveness shows up elsewhere, too. When the kids complained about a chair partially obstructing their view of the family-room television, Andy bought a dining-room buffet and converted it into a TV cabinet. Though the drawer fronts remained in place, he replaced the drawers themselves with a mechanical lift which elevates the 42" plasma TV to a comfortable viewing height.

Future-proof wiring includes two fiber-optic cables. "We should be able to handle any technology that comes along," says Andy. A whole-house distribution system allows any member of the family to enjoy any audio or video medium, from CDs to satellite TV, in any room of the house.

Andy sees the system as a cost-saving device that eliminates the need to install individual music and video players throughout the house. A wireless network connects household computers to the Internet the instant they're turned on.

A HOUSE IN FLUX

Andy is continually making improvements to the house. Since the family moved in four years ago, he has installed coffered ceilings in the study and family room, added a built-in bar and shade-giving pergola to the pool area, and put in a knotty-pine workout room on the third floor where he also framed-in a sauna to be added later.

His favorite project, however, was converting his wood shop into a billiard room. "I'd always wanted a pool table," Andy says. "So I moved the wood shop to my office and created the gentleman's room." Outfitted with a pinball machine and 65" high-definition TV, it's the place the kids come to play video games and friends gather to watch the Super Bowl.

Next on his list are improvements to the master bedroom. "Along with the kitchen, it's the most important room in the house by far," says Andy. To give their bathroom more of a "furniture look," he's going to rip out the existing vanities and replace them with bowed Bombay-chest door fronts, granite or marble countertops, and an under-mount porcelain sink. Then he plans to tear out the carpeting and laminate shelving in the walk-in closet and install tumbled marble flooring, cherry cabinets with glass fronts, and an island "where you can chuck a suitcase on top."

"Fine tuning satisfies my building bug," says Andy. "My house is my hobby. I enjoy doing what I do so much, it doesn't feel like working."

HAPPY AT HOME

Every six months or so, Andy and Lisa receive an offer to buy their place. "Where are we going to go?" asks Andy. "God made all the waterfront property he's going to make." Though they have access to a condominium on Atlantic Beach thirty miles away, Andy and Lisa rarely make the trip.

"We don't gain anything by throwing our stuff in a car," says Andy. "We have everything we want right here — a home theater, swimming pool, a 1958 mahogany Chris-Craft tied up at the dock, and family next door. Our house is like a little resort."

"We're striving to make our home our own little piece of paradise," he concludes, "a place our children will enjoy and remember. We're very fortunate."

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