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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)

TITLE: The Secret of Fine Home Building
By Brad Paulson


The differences between an exquisite home and an average home are not based solely upon square footage or price. Fine homes usually contain one or more elements that make up a central theme for the home. This theme can be carried throughout the structure bringing continuity and harmony to all the rooms. Two years ago I built a home that featured a massive stone fireplace. All four sides of the fireplace were open and faced different rooms including the library, formal dining room, bar and the entry foyer. The sandstone used to construct the three story monolith was imported from Colorado and was featured in other rooms of the home, forming columns and archways. Another element found throughout the living space was a continuous light shelf. Built-up out of several layers of walnut crown molding, it meandered horizontally through every room. Low voltage light strips were concealed atop the crowns to indirectly illuminate the upper walls and ceiling, creating a warm inviting atmosphere. The kitchen cabinets, library bookshelves, and bar were all made of walnut and contained molding consistent with the light shelf.

Another beautiful home I had the privilege of building was less traditional than the aforementioned. Eight thousand square feet of green slate graced the floors and bathroom walls of this contemporary dwelling. All of the window, door and baseboard moldings were sharp and angular. The entry foyer was small and unassuming, but a few steps beyond, the home erupted into an immense living room with a thirty-foot high clear story and vaulted ceiling. The most impressive feature of this home was the view overlooking the Oakland Hills, and San Francisco Bay. The majority of the west side of the home was glass, taking full advantage of the view and allowing light to flood into every room. The sunlight and slate combination created an outside airy feel that complemented the lush Oakland Hills environment.

Although both of these homes are among my favorites, mostly due to the amount of craftsmanship required to complete them, the finest home I have ever built was in Tijuana, Mexico last summer. In four days, eighteen high school students, myself and a few other adult leaders constructed a magnificent four hundred and eighty square foot single family dwelling. There were no fancy interior finishes, and no plumbing or electricity, just four simple walls, a concrete slab floor, a roof and a couple of windows to provide shelter for a family of nine. Of course this home was based around a central theme as well, the love of Christ. I have built many custom homes, some costing millions of dollars, but this was the first time tears of joy have been shed upon completion of one of my projects. My entire construction career has been a progression of learning and perfecting my trade. There has always been a larger, more prestigious construction project lurking beyond the horizon, creating an unquenchable appetite within me to build bigger and better. I never expected to find contentment and satisfaction in a little four-room mission house. The other homes I have built are beautiful to look at and admire, but this little place had a profound impact on the nine people who would live there as well as the students and adult leaders who built it. After all this time I have finally learned the secret to fine home building. It has nothing to do with expensive walnut trim or fancy slate tiles, it has everything to do with the heart.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Candice Kettell01/19/06
I was not sure if you were writing an informitive piece on housebuilding or if you were going somewhere else with this. My son in law would love to read this piece. He too takes great pride in building. Love of what you do showed in your desriptive writing. The ending made my heart fill with joy. The most magnificent home is the one with Christ dwelling with in. Great job!