FROM THE GROUND UP
Building in the beauty begs a woman’s touch
By Susie Ouderkirk
Las Cruces Bulletin
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh installment in a series that chronicles the building of a New Mexican home, from the ground up.
This phase of the building of the “From the Ground Up” house could be called rough for a number of reasons. Contractor Daniel Kolson is in the middle of the “aboveground rough in,” which is how he would describe progress on the house to another contractor.
To the rest of us, this phase looks a lot like the last phase, which was a peek into what goes behind the walls. The walls are still wooden frames (insulation and Sheetrock are next on the agenda) but now the “undergarments” of the house are in place: comfortable underwear (plumbing), a well-fitting brassiere (HVAC) and silky stockings (electrical), which is the culmination of work by three separate trade companies.
The house now has metal ductwork for the heating and cooling (HVAC) systems, courtesy of Metalcraft, and electrical wiring and fittings by OC Browning. JV Plumbing installed the plumbing and Villages Construction completed the initial paper and wire phase of the stucco.
Whereas the plumbing and electricity were previously “stubbed up,” they are now “roughed in.” A walk-through still shows exposed wires, PVC pipe and 2 x 4s, but everything is taped up, labelled and tucked away and seems to be waiting for something.
“Now we’re waiting on inspections,” Kolson said. “Lots of inspections.”
Each trade— HVAC, electrical, and plumbing— requires an inspector’s approval before the stucco-ed walls get their evaluation, which is called a “lath inspection.”
“This can be a little tedious,” he said. “Not my favorite part of building.”
This phase makes Kolson feel “no progress is happening,” even though he knows the build is on schedule.
The waiting game continues until all the inspections pass, so in the meantime, Kolson has turned his attention to some of the more subjective decisions. He admits he needs a woman’s opinion about some of the “softer” elements of the build, such as light fixtures, cabinets and appliances, and has called on his wife, Sarah, to assist with some of the more subjective decisions.
Sarah Kolson started her career in real estate where she was able to see the many different styles of design in Las Cruces.
Real estate “truly helped me develop my own particular design aesthetic,” she said. “Building our first personal house gave me the confidence to work on all our following homes. Now, I think, in each home I have helped Daniel design it is evident how important a ‘designer’s eye’ is from the need to tie one finish into another to how significant the perfect balance of the interior finishes must be. The finishes have to be just right – so they enhance and not compete with the exterior views that are specific to each home.”
The Kolsons are working with Designer’s Mart for lighting.
“We have tried other lighting companies over the years, but we really do keep going back to Designer’s Mart,” said Sarah Kolson. “They have worked with us so much over the years that now when we go in they know our particular style of design.”
They always find a fixture that is “just the right combination of two different styles and then custom order to our tastes,” she said. “It’s nice being able to drop off a set of building plans and know they will figure exactly what we will need — from built-in ceiling lighting to the number of fans in each room.”
Her style for the budding house is understated but still Southwestern with a “slightly more modern direction. We have chosen a lot of iron finishes for the fixtures with slightly frosted glass. There is so much natural wood that is being incorporated into the design, that I thought it was important to bring another slightly contrasting element into the home. The iron will help carry the natural grey from the kitchen cabinets and granite slabs into the rest of the home.”
As for color scheme, it will be from a “truly warm southwestern palette” inspired by the surrounding desert landscape, she said.
A husband and wife working together might encounter some challenges but, Sarah Kolson said, “I have to say for the most part our sense of style is very similar. When we do disagree, it is more over the “costly” styles I continually insist upon, from the newest lighting to the extra finishes that make each house special.”
Husband Daniel gives in a lot more than most builders would, she said.
“I am sure many women have used this approach, and I know he is probably quite aware of my methods by now, but I always go into a discussion asking for far more then I know he will agree to and then narrow down my list to the pre-existing essentials I came into the negotiation with.”