Building a New Mexican house, one step at a time
By Susie Ouderkirk
The Las Cruces Bulletin
Imagine for a moment the quintessential American dream. It usually includes a cozy house with a white picket fence, a loyal dog and twopoint- five children playing on the emerald green lawn while mom and dad sip lemonade from the shady front porch, waving to neighbors passing by. It’s no different in southern New Mexico. Well, ok. It’s a little different in southern New Mexico. Down here we don’t often see the archetypal two-story wooden clapboard house, constructed from old-forest oak to withstand thousands of pounds of winter snow and angry, driving rain.
New Mexicans are far more likely to envision their dream home as an earthy, Pueblo- style structure with soft, radial lines, gentle vigas peeking out from thick adobe walls and a view of the Organ Mountains. Whatever your taste in houses, they all have one thing in common: construction starts from the ground and goes up.
Over the next several months, the Bulletin will be chronicling the building of a house from start to finish, sharing with our readers the process — the good and the bad, warts and all. If all goes according to plan, the house will be ready for its new family in August, and you, gentle reader, will come along for the ride.
So this week I give you the lot on which the house will be built.
Obviously this lot was chosen for its exceptional view of the Organ Mountains, which builder Daniel Kolson of Homes of the Southwest by Kolson, insisted be a top priority. Home designer Steve Calderazzo and Kolson are resolved to keep as much of the natural terrain as possible with minimal damage to the native flora making its home on the 2.5-acre lot. And with this series of articles, they will be closely watched.
Kolson searched for the location of this build for months, turning down several sites in the process, just waiting for the one lot with the perfect view.
Now that he found what he was looking for, the unsexy part of building a dream home begins.
“Right now we’re finalizing plans for approval, which should take about two weeks,” Kolson explained. The subdivision, of which this lot is a part, is in “phase one,” he said, which means the houses being built here are in the first third of the total number planned.
Kolson drew up a basic plan on lined school paper, handed it to Calderazzo, emailed him several pictures of houses he liked of the same style, and then let the artist do the rest, by hand.
“Yes, people still draw!” said Kolson. “It’s not all done by computer, even though you might think it was.”
In preparing for these articles, I studied the photos carefully, so as to remember how the lot looked the first day I saw it: pre-construction. I’m looking forward to watching this process and sharing it with the Bulletin readers.