Real Estate News

Local construction company, volunteers say putting together 'dream house' in a week was hard work - but worth it

It's not a mansion, but it seems like one to India Dickinson, the recipient of anew home in Beaufort thanks to ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."The construction of the 4,000-square-foot Lowcountry plantation stylehome was directed by local builder Todd Hawk, owner of Bluffton-based H2Builders, who supervised about 3,000 volunteers.

"I will never meet them all, but I wantto thank everybody who helped for theirhard work. They are the unsung heroesof this," Hawk said at a press conferenceoutside the new house Wednesday.

There, the Dickinson family thanked theshow, H2 Builders and the volunteers. Marinewife India Dickinson called the home"a mansion" and "my dream house."

The Dickinson's original home, whichwas razed, had mold, flood damage, shoddyelectrical and an inadequate foundation,representatives of the show havesaid.

With six bedrooms and four bathrooms,the house at 45 Mystic Circle has a bedroomfor each of India and Bill Dickinson'sfive children: Grant, 16; Brianna,14; Bailey, 10; Isabella, 8; and Sophia, 16months. The Dickinsons were selectedfrom hundreds of candidates. MarineStaff Sgt. Bill Dickinson, a 17-year veteranof the armed services, is deployed in Afghanistan.

Hawk said under normal circumstancesthe house would have taken about a yearto build and the price tag would be "in the$850,000 range." Instead, it was built in aweek, and thanks to local fundraisers, theDickinsons won't have a mortgage.

The exterior of the two-story house,which has a front porch on each level, isboth impressive and welcoming. A porchswing and rocking chairs are painted lilac,and the porch ceiling is "haint blue" - aGullah tradition where people paintedtheir ceilings blue to ward off evil spirits.The tiny eye of a security camera is visiblenear the front door, and in the backyard,a wooden play structure promisesplenty of fun.

The house has Hardy plank siding-which Hawk called "very lowmaintenance,"an oversized, gourmetkitchen with natural gas appliances, andfireplaces in the backyard and in the diningroom. The garage is finished withtabby (crushed oyster shells mixed intoconcrete) and attached to the house by acovered breezeway. In addition to brickpavers leading to the front door and newgrass, the front yard has a white picketfence, arched trellis and fountain.

Hawk, who had 15 to 25 employees workingaround the clock at the site, said constructingthe entry stairs to the house wasdifficult because of the volume of foot traffic.He said he's still sorting out how muchparticipating in the show cost his company,but is glad he did it.

"It was an excellent opportunity to giveback to the community," he said. "We justdon't want clients to think we can buildhouses in seven days."

Founded in 1996, H2 Builders was theHilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber ofCommerce Small Business of the Year for2009,and has received many Lighthouseawards from the Hilton Head Area HomebuildersAssociation. The company hasbuilt custom homes in Belfair, BerkeleyHall, Colleton River, Hampton Lake andBattery Point in Beaufort.

INSIDE THE HOUSEDetails about the interior of the homeare under wraps until the show airs. Butsources who've been inside the homecreated by Ty Pennington and his designteam of Paul DiMeo, Jillian Harris and Xzibitsay it has space that can be used for cupstacking (a game where participants raceto stack plastic cups in a pyramid), murals,a skate-board themed room for one of thedaughters, an audio system and electriccloset doors that operate with a remotecontrol.

Local businesses were a big part of themakeover.

Anna Ruby, vice president of marketingat J. Banks Design on Hilton Head Island,said the company designed and staffed theVIP tent. J. Banks emloyees "pulled an allnighter"to place accessories and art, workingas assistants to the stars, Ruby said.

"We saw how much it takes to do this.There is so much going on behind thescenes," she said.

For some smaller businesses, participationin the show involved real sacrifice.Mira Scott, owner of Picture This, saidshe received a "cold call" asking her tocontribute time and materials for framing.She worked quickly to frame 19 photographsin about three days.

"I enjoy being involved in philanthropyin the community," said Scott, who is presidentof the Hilton Head Island SchoolCouncil for the Arts, "but in this difficulteconomy, this was a stretch."