Garage floor proves style doesn’t have to stop at the door

From the back corner of the Idea Home garage, Eric Ruhlin of Lowcountry Concrete Coatings mumbles something through his mask as he leans a long roller against the breaker box.

The conversation with business partner Jason McDowell is unintelligible, with both men speaking through heavy duty respirators. But it’s a good guess the discussion was about whether to pour out more top coating for the new epoxy garage floor.

“One can can cover about 600 square feet and this garage is right around 650 square feet,” Ruhlin explains as he lifts his mask to take in a few breaths of fresh morning air. “Our industrial sealer will outlast anything on the market.”

And with a tilt of the can, he pours out another thick pool of industrial-grade sealer over the gray and white polymer chips, picks up the roller and gets back to work.


It took Ruhlin and McDowell a day to complete the new epoxy garage floor, which features a four-color blend of white and grays called Stonehenge.

The coatings have become a standard for new high-end homes, and with industrial strength materials and an equally strong lifetime warranty, many existing homeowners are jumping on board.

“It's one of those things that if you don’t see it, you’re not thinking about it,” Ruhlin said about the floor coatings. “But once a person sees the product, they’re wowed. And it ultimately leads to a cleaner garage because people don’t want to clutter up the new floors.”


Take me through the process of installing one of these garage floors.

Ruhlin: There are three parts to the process. The first takes about 1.5 hours and consists of floor prep and installation of the base coat with the decorative broadcast chips. We return about two hours later after the base coat dries and apply the clear protective top coat. We take our time and push in the sealer with a foam roller to make sure it fills in all the spaces around the color chips. We can do about 3,000 square feet in a day.

Speaking from experience, I know my garage sees a lot of wear and tear. How do your floors hold up?

Ruhlin: Like anything, the lifespan of the floors depends on how you maintain it. We use an industrial, marine-base sealer for the protective top coat which comes with a lifetime guarantee. This sealer will outlast the other products on the market. The last thing you want is to drive your car into your garage in the middle of summer and have your floors peel up under the hot tires. The floors can withstand a lot of abuse, but they’re not bulletproof. The good news is that the floors are repairable. Just give us a call and we’ll be out.


What color combinations can I choose from?

McDowell: If you can dream it, we can do it. The floors are completely customizable. We use Torginol polymer ColorFlakes and the company has the capacity to custom match any color under the rainbow. To help clients, we’ve put together 11 color options -- everything from whites to different shades of tans and grays -- that have proven to be the most popular over the years. This allows us to always have those colors in stock.

I notice there’s a sheen to the top coat. Are the floors very slick?

McDowell: Actually no. Our floors are textured, and while they’re smooth they’re not slick like some other products out there.

What’s cleanup like?

Ruhlin: Because we use a polyurethane top coat, there’s no need for chemicals. Most messes can be cleaned up with water and a towel. For anything more challenge, we recommend using hot water. We recommend golf cart owners buy a mat to protect against any battery acid that might drip onto the floor.

For more information on Lowcountry Concrete Coatings, go to



Fixtures and finishes

Despite a soggy week, the 2016 Charter One Realty Idea Home designed and built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes looks as fresh as ever.

Outside, budding bottlebrush, magnolias, palms and privets rise above fresh pine straw and grass. Garage doors are illuminated with sleek black sconces, and the floor awaits a stylish epoxy finish, coming this week.

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Inside, hardwood hickory floors are warm and inviting, and the kitchen is simply stunning. Top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances from Play & Gourmet in Bluffton include separate Liebherr refrigerator and freezer, as well as Fisher & Paykel-branded wine fridge, ice machine, dishwasher drawers (three), microwave, oven and warming drawer.

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A quatrefoil backsplash in the kitchen pulls everything together. The white and gray background complements the Carrara marble countertops while the gray/brown wood grain accent tile picks up the the Pumice color of the main kitchen island.

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Elsewhere in the home, the bathrooms are nearly complete, with brushed nickel hardware, white vanities upstairs and gray/brown in the master. Brushed nickel shower heads and a large soaking tub from MTI are ready to be put to good use.

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Elsewhere, kitchenettes are in place, ceiling fans are spinning, and the outdoor kitchen awaits its new grill.



Arrival of countertops is icing on the cake

The sun’s glare was almost blinding as it reflected off the more than 1,500 pounds of white stone secured to a trailer being backed up ever so gingerly to the front door of the Idea Home in Colleton River.

The countertops have arrived, and they’re beautiful.

Inside, installers from Professional Countertops in Hardeeville carried the heavy slabs of marble and quartz to the guest bathrooms, kitchen, and master bathroom.

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Bernardo Lopez, owner of Professional Countertops in Hardeeville, installs a piece of marble countertop in the home's kitchen.

With every counter, the men took an approach similar to the way a parent might lay a sleeping baby into a crib. Every move was coordinated, calculated and oh-so gentle. Because, well, maneuvering a 150-pound piece of stone between pristine kitchen cabinets shouldn’t be rushed, and needs to be perfect.

"I tell my guys to take the time to make things right," said Bernardo Lopez, owner of Professional Countertops. "I try to be picky because for me, it's all about the details."

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Marble countertops in the master bathroom.

One of those details includes the way the bathroom sinks are attached to the stone tops. While other companies might use silicone or wood blocks, Lopez cuts notches into the back of the slabs so the sink can be attached with screws. It's a method he insists is fail-safe.

"Silicone and wood blocks can wear off or rot, and then the sink will fall and possibly damage the plumbing. We use screws to make sure this never happens," Lopez said.

Unlike in the bathrooms where the countertops aren't boxed in by cabinets, installing the stone around the kitchen's perimeter is a little more complex. To avoid a snug fit that would potentially scratch the cabinets, tiny notches are cut into the sides of the slabs to accommodate the cabinets' slight raised edge, and cabinets are shimmed to give the marble a little breathing room.

"Creating the smallest amount of space can make a big difference," Lopez said, after tapping wood shims between the side and lower cabinets. "Even just 1/16 of an inch can change everything."



The main color of the home is Sea Salt from Benjamin Moore.

Bring on the color

The first coats of color are on the walls of the 2016 Idea Home, and it’s magical.

Nearly 80 gallons of paint from Benjamin Moore in shades of brown, taupe, blues, and greens pair with bright white trim to bring the Colleton River home, designed and built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes, to life.

The home’s main hue is a color named Sea Salt. The taupey neutral is a perfect complement to the gray-brown cabinetry throughout the living spaces. Coats of the color in an oil-based satin give the vertical butt board an attractive sheen and a silky smooth finish.

The color of the second-floor bedroom and bathroom walls is Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore.

Elsewhere, colors with names like Quite Moments, Mountain Mist, Perspective, and Ashley Gray in matte finishes round out a beach glass-esque color palette that evokes a relaxing feel of a Lowcountry vacation retreat.

Here are the names, color codes, and a brief description of the Benjamin Moore colors being used at the Idea Home. We know painting can sometimes be contagious. So go ahead, buy a sample can (or three) and start creating a relaxing retreat of your own.


1. SEA SALT (CSP-95): Taupey neutral that feels like a relaxing spa massage that leaves your skin and senses completely renewed.

2. QUIET MOMENTS (1563): Tranquility seems to ooze from this light, blue-gray that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity.

3. ASHLEY GRAY (HC-87): Elegant and rich, this muted shade of gray has a slight olive tint that pairs well with satiny hardwood floors.

4. BONE WHITE (OC-143/PM-30): Pairing flawlessly with deeper hues, elegant bone white is a versatile neutral with a touch of yellow.

5. MOUNTAIN MIST (868): Part of the Benjamin Moore Classic Color Collection, this hue is crisp, cool, timeless and elegant.

6. PERSPECTIVE (CSP-5A): Some know how to please everyone. Is it a light gray? A faint blue? A silver-white? It's all in how you look at it.


Bernardo Lopez of Professional Countertops in Hardeeville, takes measurements for countertop templates at the Idea Home in Colleton River. Lopez said it will take about four slabs of Carrara marble to outfit the space.

Countertop process takes precision

Accuracy is important when it comes to countertops, maybe even more so when you're dealing with a 1,600-pound slab of marble.

Bernardo Lopez of Professional Countertops in Hardeeville is the fabricator and installer working on the 2016 Charter One Realty Idea Home designed and built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes. He was on-site recently templating the kitchen, bathrooms, and kitchenette areas with only a tape measure, pad of paper and a pencil. He even sketched detailed diagrams by hand.

What, no lasers?

“No lasers,” Lopez said with a laugh. “The layout of this kitchen is very linear, everything is a straight line for the most part, so it's easier to take the measurements by hand. Lasers are helpful if there are a lot of curves and angles.”

Bernardo Lopez of Professional Countertops in Hardeeville sketches the layout and measurements of the Idea Home kitchen.

There are certain limitations when designing with stone. Natural stone is quarried into manageable sizes, typically about 9 feet by 6 feet, Lopez said. With larger projects, sometimes it requires multiple slabs and, in turn, extra planning to match the stone's pattern. When a large job requires joining two pieces of rock, Lopez said they look for what's called a book match, a piece of stone with similar detailing.

“And then we polish, polish, polish until you can't see or feel the seam,” he said.

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A preliminary sketch of the Idea Home Kitchen.

The Idea Home kitchen will take about four slabs “just to be safe,” Lopez said, with the surfaces being cut from the same piece. The countertop for one island weighs about 1,600 pounds and will require upwards of eight workers to get it from the truck and into place, he said. The edges of the counters will be mitered and made to give the illusion of being very thick.

"And because marble is heavy and unforgiving, it's important that we make sure we can get the countertop off the truck and installed in one piece," he said. "There's no bending it to fit around a corner."


The kitchen in the Idea Home is coming together.

'All the bells and whistles'

Something beautiful is cooking at the Idea Home in Colleton River, designed and built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

Workers were busy tiling bathrooms, installing cabinets, and measuring for countertops. And there’s even the making of a driveway.

The homeowners worked with Peacock Cabinetry in Bluffton to select cabinetry with clean lines in a mix of whites and gray-browns that evoke a relaxing coastal cottage feel.  And the kitchen is the belle of the ball.

“This kitchen has all the bells and whistles,” said Priscilla Gadomski of Mainly Cabinets, who is installing the kitchen cabinets along with her husband, Douglas.

A stainless steel farmhouse sink will be flanked on each side with dishwasher drawers. A third dishwasher will be installed on one of the two kitchen islands.

The appliances are enough to make any host jealous. The kitchen features a wine cooler, ice maker, cooktop, trough sink, three dishwasher drawers, wall-mounted ovens (standard and microwave), warming drawer, stainless farmhouse sink, and a separate refrigerator and freezer by Liebherr.

Interior designer Gregory Vaughan of Kelley Designs on Hilton Head Island, left, discusses the placement of a decorative leg on the kitchen island with countertop installer Bernardo Lopez, right, and the Idea Home's site superintendent.


The kitchen showcases maple cabinets from Omega, and pairs white perimeter cabinets in a pearl finish with island cabinets in a gray-brown pumice finish for a striking combination. Accents include cove molding to match the rest of the downstairs detail, a valance over the sink, chunky -- and quite heavy -- decorative legs on the island, and glass cabinets at the top along the perimeter for added interest.

Cabinet installers Douglas and Priscilla Gadomski of Mainly Cabinets in Savannah display the side panel and accent legs for the kitchen's main island.

The cabinet doors feature a traditional look with a twist. Along the outside, the Renner door styles are like Shaker doors with attitude, with wide stiles and rails. The cabinet style switches gears on the main kitchen island. These Perin door styles feature mitered corners and reversed raised panels. Combined with stainless steel appliances, the colors will complement the white and gray Carrara marble countertops that are being installed in about two weeks.


In the master suite, the three bathroom vanities and the breakfast kitchen feature the same Omega walnut cabinetry in the gray-brown pumice finish. The color complements the white and gray tile on the bathroom floor and on the walls of the walk-in shower.

A worker installs tile in master bathroom shower.

The laundry room and four guest bathrooms are outfitted with maple cabinets from Ultracraft in an arctic white finish. The Shaker door styles in the laundry room, with square edges and recessed center panels, create a clean and orderly look. The Crystal Lake door styles of the guest bathroom cabinets feature a similar recessed center panel but have eased edges and a molded door profile for slightly more impact.


The details are coming together inside and outside at the Idea Home in Colleton River.

Details coming together

The details are coming together at the 2016 Charter One Realty Idea Home Designed and Built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

Workers are installing interior paneling, closet shelving, and adding a picture frame border as an edge on the ceiling.

The 5,600-square-foot home sits on two-thirds of an acre and overlooks the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course in Colleton River Plantation. The home was listed last month for $1,195,000 and recently sold.

Crews work on interior paneling.

 View more photos from the job site in the Idea Home photo gallery

Crews add spray foam insulation to exterior walls on the Idea Home.


Energy savings is one spray away

Dressed in what looked like white space suits, workers with EnviroFOAM spent two days insulating the 2016 Idea Home with the latest in high-performance spray foam technology and fiberglass insulation.

The Icynene Insulation System is applied as a liquid and expands to 100 times its volume in seconds to fill every crack and crevice.

The Icynene Insulation System is applied as a liquid and expands to 100 times its volume in seconds to fill every crack and crevice. The spray formula acts as a complete insulation and air barrier to minimize air leakage and seal the home.

Fiberglass insulation is installed on the interior walls of the Idea Home.

Benefits of the spray foam insulation include better home energy conservation, less stress on the home's HVAC unit, lower energy bills, better moisture control, and increased resale value.

View more photos of the spray foam insulation in the photo gallery.


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The Idea Home is located on Magnolia Blossom Drive in Colleton River and on the market for $1,195,000.


Officially on the market

The 2016 Charter One Realty Idea Home Designed and Built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes went on the market Thursday, as Realtors gathered for a tour of the home and to get a glimpse into the future of home technology and design.

“The market is heating up and people want new homes. We’ve received a lot of inquiries about the Idea Home so we decided it was time to put it on the market,” said Kevin Kenyon of Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

The Idea Home is the first of its kind that allows audiences to follow along with the entire build. The 5,600-square-foot home sits on two-thirds of an acre and overlooks the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course in Colleton River Plantation. The home is offered by Charter One Realty. It has four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, and is listed for $1,195,000. It is expected to be completed in May.

The property is located on Magnolia Blossom Drive. For more information, contact Charter One Realty at 843-689-3131.



Cedar siding is being installed on "pop out" areas of the Idea Home.

Shaking up the build

Progress is coming along at the site of the 2016 Idea Home. Now in its seventh month, architectural details are starting to paint a classic picture. Crews are installing cedar shakes as well as Hardie board & batten siding from the James Hardie Company. The home’s grand entrance — 10-foot mahogany doors — are in place and the oyster shell outdoor fireplace is standing tall on the back patio.



Building a garage with great potential

A garage can be much more than the place where you park your car. The garage tends to be one of the largest rooms in most homes, so why not give it some love?

At the Idea Home, the garage is shaping up to be a space of great potential. Windows in the doors and along the front of the garage will flood the 23-by-34 space with plenty of natural light. With 10-foot ceilings and generous space for two cars, plans also include a separate golf cart building that can comfortably fit two carts. The soft white Hardi board & batten will continue over the space and metal roofing will extend over the car and cart opening.

“Around the Lowcountry we’re definitely seeing more new construction include separate golf cart spaces,” said Annie Andrews, sales manager at Club Car of Hilton Head. The business, located near the Hilton Head Island bridges, is an authorized Club Car dealer of new, used, and factory manufactured carts.

Golf carts are a staple in the Lowcountry, and they’re not just for the golf course.

This week, Andrews shares pointers on how prospective buyers can prepare for golf cart ownership. Spoiler alert: It’s easier than you think.

I'm thinking about buying a golf cart. What are some of the first things I need to do to prepare for ownership?

Annie: We get asked this a lot. It's important to make sure you know where you can drive. While we have a lot of golf communities, there are some where golf carts aren't allowed. It's important to check with your neighborhood to make sure they're allowed. Then you can apply for a golf cart permit with the South Carolina DMV. The permit is $5 and is good for five years. The permit allows a licensed driver to operate a golf cart during daylight hours on secondary roads or streets within four miles of his/her home.

Do I need to golf to enjoy a golf cart?

Annie: No, you definitely don't need to golf to enjoy a golf cart. A lot of people in communities will take them to the fitness center or to the pool – which is especially great for people who have grand kids. And around Old Town Bluffton, people will take them to go out to eat.

There's definitely a golf cart for every budget. We have ones that cost as little as $1900 up to $15,000 and everything in between. We're the Ford dealer of golf carts. We have something for everyone.

Do I have to keep the cart indoors?

Annie: No, you can store the golf cart outside and we have storage covers to keep the cart protected. But ideally it'll live in a garage. A lot of times, especially around here, you'll see homeowners build separate sheds or, in new construction, build a two-and-a-half car garage with separate space for the golf cart. Most carts are about 47 inches wide and about 90 to 100 inches long.

If I do keep it in the garage, is there anything it needs, such as special flooring or outlets?

Annie: Electric golf carts plug into standard three-prong outlets. If people are building new spaces or an addition for the golf cart, many times folks will install an outlet and put it on a dedicated circuit. It's a good thing to have the outlet on a surge protector if you plan to keep the golf cart plugged in all day, especially during the summer when there's a lot of storms.

As far as flooring, golf carts have batteries in them that are filled with acid. Sometimes the batteries will drip acid on the floor, which can cause damage. We recommend folks put a mat underneath the cart to protect the floor.

I understand there are both gas and electric golf carts. Is there a benefit to choosing one type over the other?

Annie: In this area, with a lot of communities pushing to be more environmentally friendly, they want electric carts. But there are still gas-powered ones running around out there. Gas carts can definitely go farther on a tank of gas. An electric cart can go about 35 miles on one charge compared to 300 miles on one tank of gas. Both types get up to about the same speed which, according to federal regulation, is 19.5 MPH.

What's required as far as maintenance?

Annie: Upkeep is relatively easy. We ask that the owner water the battery and check the tires once a month, and then we have service techs who can come to your home and do an annual tune-up. They'll rotate the tires, do an alignment, clean and adjust the breaks, grease the battery and grease all the fittings.


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Ideas behind the design

It can help to see ideas in person. Recently we walked through a home that included many design elements that will be used in the Idea Home.

"You can describe the sliding glass doors and give folks the dimensions, but it's something else to see them in person," said Kevin Kenyon of Arkitekic Custom Homes, who said often with clients see the difference between an 8-foot and 10-foot door in person, they tend to choose the larger.

Architect John Pittman III offered insight behind a few of the design concepts in the Idea Home:

- The Idea Home kitchen will be deconstructed. It will have your typical kitchen elements -- oven, cooktop, microwave -- but they will be in different places. "We'll break up the traditional kitchen components," Pittman said. There will be a double wall oven and a cooktop, and the two islands will hold sinks, dishwashers, and an icemaker. Having items in different locations opens the space and connects it with the living area. "There's also an illusion that the kitchen blends into the background," Pittman said.

- Connectedness to the outdoors is very important, especially with a expansive golf course view. "This is where 10-foot high sliders really make a difference," Kenyon said. Interacting with the outdoors will be encouraged with sliders off the living room, bedroom, and dining area -- which will lead to a screened porch with outdoor kitchen. "It's important for homeowners to interact with the outdoors," Pittman said.

-Connectedness inside the house is equally important. Rooms will flow together with minimal hallways because, as Pittman points out, "that's square footage you don't live in, so why not return it into usable space?"

-As lifestyles become more digital, homeowners seek ways to control their home at the touch of a button. The Idea Home will be wired with audio and video components that can be controlled on a smartphone or iPad. "And the best part is, there won't be any wires. All the control boxes will be housed in an attic space and out of sight," Pittman said.

-A large master bedroom is made manageable when it's segmented into zones. "It's important to ask yourself how you plan to interact with the space," Pittman said. The Idea Home master bedroom will have a sleeping area and a designated sitting area. The homeowner will also have the connectedness with the outdoors with 10-foot glass sliders.


Board & batten fiber cement panels from the James Hardie Company cover the two-story home.

There’s more to siding than what meets the eye

Siding is exposed to Mother Nature all day, every day, for years. Weather, water, time, fire and pests all can lead to trouble.

The team behind the 2016 Idea Home didn’t want trouble. They wanted a stylish siding with an authentic design that was durable and wouldn’t require a lot of upkeep.

On the outside, crews are installing Hardie board & batten siding from the James Hardie Company. This style of siding includes 16-inch vertical panels topped with thin boards (batten) to cover the seams. The fiber-cement siding offers high durability and the vertical design — much like in fashion — gives the home the perception of height, said architect John Pittman III.

“The siding allows the house to have more verticality, which makes it look larger without changing the dimensions. It’s all about perspective,” he said. “We also get to showcase a siding that typically isn’t used in many builds.”

The siding also offers a very traditional style for Lowcountry homes, said Brian said Brian Edwards, regional sales representative for the James Hardie Company.

“It’s a style you might see in a lot of older homes in Old Town Bluffton but with higher durability and lower maintenance.”

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a custom build, or considering an upgrade to your current home, there is a Hardie product for every project. Edwards talked recently about what sets the Hardie product apart from the rest.

For folks not familiar with your product, what are some of the benefits of using fiber cement siding and how is the Hardie brand different from other fiber cement products?

Brian: Fiber cement products combine beautiful design with high performance. Time and time again we beat competitors on curb appeal and durability. JamesHardie is a pioneer and an innovator in the industry. We have invented a different formula and we've been leading the industry for many years. There are generic fiber cement boards in the industry, but no one has a formula like ours. We have a balance of high-quality cement, sand and cellulose fiber that delivers the best combination of strength and workability.

The Hardie name has become synonymous with a certain type of siding, almost to the point where people often refer to any fiber cement product as“Hardie board.” What does that do for a company?

Brian: Because JamesHardie is a long runner in the fiber cement board community, the Hardie name has become an interchangeable and generic term for hard, fiber cement board and siding. The good is that people are getting to know the Hardie name, but it can be bad for the uneducated consumer. When people bundle it into a generic term (meaning any fiber cement board) and the generic board fails, it’s bad all around.

James Hardie Company's gold primer is engineered to enhance the performance of whatever paint is added later.

The siding on the Idea Home is a yellow gold color. Why is that?

Brian: The color that you’re seeing is primer. Our distinctive gold primer is engineered to enhance the performance of whatever paint is added later. It helps to provide consistent, long-lasting paint adhesion. For customers who don’t want to paint, all of our siding can also be ordered in any of our durable, fade-resistant colors. Multiple coats of color are baked onto the boards at the factory, creating a vibrant, consistent finish that performs better, lasts longer and has superior UV resistance.

What makes fiber cement board a top choice for homes in the Lowcountry?

Brian: The Lowcountry has a semi-arid climate with mild winters, hot summers and extreme UV exposure. The products are formulated with the highest quality of raw materials to help resist cracking, splitting, rotting and swelling. In the hot, humid and wet climate this siding will be very stable, meaning it won’t expand and contract like vinyl.

Are planks the only style option?

Brian: No, but the horizontal lap siding is very popular. The Hardie product offers many textures, widths and colors to complement any style. Our product also comes in shingle siding and rustic vertical panels and boards to create board & batten look, as seen on the Idea Home. The vertical panels come smooth as well as with a natural cedar or stucco texture.


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Crews install columns on the front porch of the 2016 Idea Home.
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Ideas take shape in the new year

Nail by nail, board by board the 2016 Idea Home is taking shape.

The turning of the calendar brings much progress to the home in Colleton River Plantation being designed and built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

The new year also brings a new name to the build. Formerly the Gateway Realty Idea Home, the project now bears the Charter One Realty name following a merger of the two companies.

Now more than four months into the custom build, the 4,800-square-foot home has windows and doors, and the start of board & batten siding. Crews are installing columns and putting the finishing touches on plumbing and electrical lines, HVAC duct work, and audio/
visual cables.

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The 2016 Idea Home is expected to be finished by early to mid spring.
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According to Arkiteknic owner and master builder Antoine Iskandar, work is moving along at a good pace following the holidays.

“Right now we are finishing up the rough in on the inside and we anticipate having those inspections this week. This stage includes the nuts and bolts of a house so it’s important we take our time and make sure nothing is left out,” he said. “After the inspection, we’ll begin insulating and things will really move fast from there.”

If ever changes were going to be made, now’s the time to do it, said architect John Pittman III, design consultant on the project.

“There’s really two times changes can happen: during the framing and the rough in stages. If we wanted to move toilets, adjust sinks, flip the bathroom layout, all of that has to happen now,” he said.

The Idea Home broke ground in August and is the first of its kind that will allow audiences to follow along throughout the build as well as allow folks to offer an input on how the home is styled. The two story, four bedroom, five and a half bathroom home sits on two-thirds of an acre that overlooks the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course.

Here is an update on a few things happening now at the job site:

The exterior of the home will feature Hardie board & batten siding from the James Hardie Company and cedar shakes in select areas. The house will be painted a soft white.
Staff photo


On the outside, crews are installing Hardie board & batten siding from the James Hardie Company. This style of siding includes 16-inch vertical panels topped with thin boards (batten) to cover the seams. The fiber-cement siding offers high durability and the vertical design — much like in fashion — gives the home the perception of height, Pittman said.

“The siding allows the house to have more verticality, which makes it look larger without changing the dimensions. It’s all about perspective,” he said. “We also get to showcase a siding that typically isn’t used in many builds.”

Cedar shakes will be added to select “pop out” areas — such as where the master bathroom extends out from the house — to add flair, Pittman said.

While the house looks yellow now (the factory color), it will be painted a soft white and the cedar shingles will be whitewashed so not to cover up too much of the raw, natural wood, Pittman said.

The 10-foot tall, 18-foot wide slider off of the living room offers an unobstructed view of the golf course.


Making a grand entrance are two, 10-foot mahogany doors which add cohesion with the equally tall interior.

“Because of the size of the foyer, how open and airy it is, we chose 10-foot doors to emphasize the height of the space and to match the rest of the house,” Iskandar said.

Some of the other doors in place include 10-foot glass sliders on the living room and master bedroom that offer wide angle, picturesque views of the golf course.

Two, 10-foot mahogany doors make a grand entrance.
Staff photo

For the windows, the team selected high efficient, “low-e” vinyl windows with argon gas. The vinyl won’t change color, fade or warp and the gas increases energy efficiency, Iskandar said. The low-e glass minimizes ultraviolet and infrared light.

“Between the energy and financial concerns, these windows are a good buy,” he said.

Iskandar and Pittman said they appear to be on schedule with the anticipated early to mid-spring deadline. They are looking to have an open house in May.


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Windows are being installed on the back of the Idea Home.

Windows on the world

Everyone knows the importance of floor plans when designing a home, but architects have long been aware of the enticing effect of well-placed windows as well. Windows are being installed now at the Idea Home and it's easy to imagine each space flooded with natural light. The walls of windows and 10-foot sliding glass doors along the back of the house unify the home with the immediate surroundings. Crews are also hard at work installing ductwork for the homes HVAC. Check out the

2016 Idea Home photo gallery

for the latest photos of the build.

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE LIGHTING: There's still time to tell the builders what light fixture you'd like to see in the Idea Home's dining room and foyer. Scroll down to read the architect's comments about each option and to cast your vote.


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Vote on your favorite light

Starting today, readers can cast a vote for the dining room and foyer light fixture they want to see in the 2016 Idea Home.

"The Idea Home is all about learning and experiencing what it's like to build a custom home and we really want people to be involved in the process," said Kevin Kenyon of Arkiteknic Custom Homes. "Making selections is an interesting process and having people vote is a great way to get them to experience it."

Arkiteknic Custom Homes is partnering with The Light Post and Lowcountry Originals, both of Bluffton, to create handmade light fixtures for the home. The design team chose two options for each space and they're asking readers to weigh in on their favorites in the survey below.



Sneak peek: Lighting selections

A big part of a custom home build — and arguably one of the most fun — is making selections. Marble or quartz? Brushed nickel or aged bronze? The designers and builders of the 2016 Idea Home want readers to get in on the fun.

Starting next week, Arkiteknic Custom Homes will open voting on selections for two areas of the home: the lighting in the dining room and foyer.

"The 2016 Idea Home is all about learning and experiencing what it's like to build a custom home and we really want people to be involved in the process," said Kevin Kenyon of Arkiteknic Custom Homes. "Making selections is an interesting process and having people vote is a great way to get them to experience it."

The Arkiteknic design team has selected two chandelier options for each space and readers will have the opportunity to weigh in on their favorite beginning Dec. 6. The team is working with The Light Post and Lowcountry Originals in Bluffton for the elegant, handcrafted lighting. And, according to Kenyon, there's no wrong choice.

"We have chosen a couple options for each space and we really like them both. All the lighting options will work together because they're kind of different versions of the same style," he said.

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In the foyer, lighting choices include a "Box Hart" lantern with eight lights (left) or a large sphere chandelier accented with a six-light cluster and an oyster shell pendant. Voting will begin Dec. 6.

In the foyer, the options are ideal for making a grand entrance. Choices include a large sphere chandelier accented with a six-light cluster and an oyster shell pendant, or a "Box Hart" lantern with eight lights.

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In the dining room, the chandelier choices are a rectangular chandelier with seeded glass (left) or an elongated geometric "U" chandelier with eight lights. Voting will begin Dec. 6.

For the dining room, the chandelier choices are simple and elegant. Options include an elongated geometric "U" chandelier (48 inches wide) with eight lights or a rectangular chandelier with seeded glass. Each fixture is handmade in Hardeeville using recycled metals and includes real wax candle covers.

Down the road, other selections that will be open for voting include flooring and counter tops, as well as other lighting options, Kenyon said.

Arkiteknic's in-house design team is working with architect John Pittman III and an interior designer on the selections to ensure the options are the most up-to-date and on-point with the latest design trends, Kenyon said.

"The style of this house is reminiscent of a New England cottage with a Southern flare, and the style choices we're making are what's being seen in the latest design magazines," he said. "The selections are what you'll find in high-end homes in our area as well as in Beverly Hills and Palm Beach."


Sketches on the concrete outline the kitchen's components.

The heart of the home: The kitchen

As dusk began to roll over the golf course and the workers were packing up for the day Antoine Iskandar's mind was hard at work. Armed with a tape measure, construction pencil and blue prints, the builder of Arkiteknic Custom Homes took his time walking around the 14x14-foot blank slate of the Idea Home kitchen.


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Iskandar started on the back wall of the kitchen. On the concrete he drew a refrigerator on the left, cook top in the center, and a double oven on the right. On the right wall he marked counters and cabinets. In the middle, two islands instead of one curved counter.

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Builder Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, right, measures space for the kitchen's two islands.

"We're shifting the focus of the kitchen by adding two islands," Iskandar said, noting that the plan is for each island to serve a different purpose. He sketched in a dishwasher on one, stools and a sink on another then examined the room. Content with the footprint, the builder called for a chalkline and counted off measurements. Standing back and watching patiently were architect John Pittman III and electrician Gary Thomas of Island Electric.

After what felt like 20 minutes of silently watching a kitchen come to life, Iskandar was finished.

"So John, what do you think?" he asked the architect.

Pittman surveyed the room from every angle, hands crossed in deep thought, creative wheels turning. He was silent as he examined the kitchen from the living room then from the breakfast nook, then back to the living room.

"Are you ready? Because it's going to be way different," Pittman said, taking the cap off his jumbo black marker. What followed was an entirely new kitchen.

Starting along the back wall, Pittman outlined on the concrete a separate refrigerator and freezer (anchoring each end of the wall). In the middle a farmhouse sink. Above that, exposed shelves to artfully display pots and pans. And stacked along the left wall, an oven, microwave and warming drawer.

The first island morphed into a "prep island," as Pittman drew in a dishwasher, gourmet gas cooktop, and a trough sink with a garbage disposal and a faucet arm to fill pots.

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The view of the living room from the kitchen.

"This way you don't have your back to the living room as you cook and family members can pull up a stool and peel vegetables right into the sink," he said. And when you're entertaining, the sink can be filled with ice and drinks.

With entertaining in mind, Pittman added everything a homeowner might need to keep guests happy to the second island. He outlined plenty of counter tops to display appetizers, a smaller third sink, an ice maker, and a second dishwasher. And along the left wall -- but within easy reach -- a glass-front beverage cooler.

"I think we got it," Pittman said, putting the cap on his marker. "So when is the housewarming party?"


Builder Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, left, and architect John Pittman III discuss lighting placement in the master bedroom of the 2016 Idea Home.

Big ideas and design decisions

When you're building an idea home, there's bound to be a lot of bright ideas, especially when it comes to how a 4,804-square-foot home will be wired. As imperative as it is that the builder, architect and electrician are all on the same page (to avoid mishaps down the road), it's equally as essential to take into how a person will move through and use a space, as well as furniture placement -- albeit nonexistent at this stage.

"It's just as important to take into account everything that's not in a room" when it comes to determining the locations of light switches and outlets, said architect John Pittman III.

And that makes sense. You can't be sure of the best location for the USB outlet if you don't have an idea where the beds or the desk are going. And with more than 3,000 square feet of living space devoted to the first floor, the details need to be perfect. Recently we caught up with the builder Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, electrician Gary Thomas of Island Electric, and Pittman as they walked through the first floor of the 2016 Gateway Realty Idea Home Designed and Built By Arkiteknic Custom Homes as they talked though a few big ideas and design decisions.

From left, architect John Pittman III, builder Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, and electrician Gary Thomas of Island Electric, discuss efficient LED recessed lighting in the living room of the 2016 Idea Home.

BETTER BULBS: To boost efficiency, the canned will be fitted with LED light bulbs that promise 35,000 hours of light. "These bulbs are designed to last and they draw about 80 percent less electricity than an incandescent bulb," Thomas said. And can you imagine if you never had to change another light bulb? "That's close to 20 years of lighting per bulb," Pittman said. "Depending on the age of the homeowner, they may never need to change a light bulb as long as they live in the house."

STUDY HALL: In the study, Iskandar, Pittman and Thomas speak another language as they discuss half switches and wet leg outlets. Pittman dances around the 12x12 space as he and Iskandar discuss the placement of the desk, which is more in depth than one might ever have thought. To a novice, the first instinct might be to position the desk so it faces the window, because who wouldn't want to look outside as they work? "But then your back would be to the rest of the house," Iskandar said. "Positioning the desk slightly right of center, facing the left wall allows for a view straight out into the living room and out to the golf course." And he's right. This layout also allows for a wall-mounted television with seating underneath. The room will also include USB outlets for easy electronics charging.

The foyer will make a statement, with a large chandelier, pathway lighting on the stairs, and backlit windows.

GRAND ENTRANCE: The entryway is a home's greeting card. The centerpiece of the foyer will be a chandelier that seems to have been plucked from the coast. The vision for the statement lighting includes a large piece made with oyster shells and driftwood, "it will be natural and rustic, something that looks like it was collected from the nearby waters," Pittman said. The open stairwell will be lit with pathway lights mounted low on the walls (instead of sconces), and the large windows above the doorway will become works of art with back lighting that will wash the light up and out.

MASTER SPACE: Standing in the oculus in the master suite (the area that serves as the connecting space between the master bedroom and master bathroom), Iskandar, Pittman and Thomas explain the little ways this side of the house will sit on the lap of luxury -- motion-activated lights in the closets, near-silent vent fans in the bathroom, pendant lighting above the nightstands, and "something a little special" lighting-wise as the bathroom centerpiece. Then there's the electric and heated toilet with separate urinal, 13-foot long walk-in shower with bench, his and her vanities, and newly created coffee nook. Once a linen closet, the builder and architect seemingly waved their magic marker and sketched in a glass-front beverage fridge, counTer for a coffeemaker, and microwave -- perfect for heating up a croissant for breakfast. With a master suite like this, the question remains: why would anyone want to leave?


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Framing is complete on the 2016 Idea Home.

Can you see yourself here?

Workers began clearing the golf course lot at the end of August and started pouring the foundation the beginning of September. Crews closed out the month of October on schedule, as they stapled the last of the house wrap to the 4,804-square-foot-home this week. With siding, a roof and framed-out walls the home is ready for its guts: Electrical, plumbing and mechanical rough-ins, some of which will begin this week.

The hallway that connects the bonus room to the upstairs living room will include built-in shelving and skylights.
Staff photo

Bigger and better

The majority of homeowners make changes to their floor plan while building their home. The same goes when the client is both the builder and the owner.

"We can draw plans, but we have to be in the space, walk through it to feel the design," said Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes. Here are some of the latest additions and updates to the 2016 Gateway Realty Idea Home Designed and Built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

-A second indoor fireplace was added, this time to the upstairs family room (the home already has a fireplace in the downstairs living room and one outside on the screened porch). Iskandar said that something was missing from the room when he and architect John Pittman III took another walk-through of the space. The addition of a fireplace will give the room a focal point and make the space feel cozy and complete, Iskandar said.

-The connecting space between the bonus room above the garage and the upstairs living room also got some attention. To boost storage, the hallway will feature a wall of built-in bookcases and skylights will flood the space with natural light. Originally designed as two separate areas, the bonus room was only accessible from a second staircase downstairs. After a walk-through earlier this month, Iskandar and Pittman mapped out a connecting hallway to join both upstairs areas.

-Before placing the order for doors and windows (and there are a lot), Iskandar and Pittman made a few more changes. The grand entrance will come from 10-foot mahogany doors. Transom windows will be added to the porch, and a stairway window will be lowered to optimize the view when coming downstairs. In the master bedroom, one very large window takes the place of two small ones and opens the view to the golf course.

-Exposed cypress beams will be repeated throughout the house to add a rustic element to the home's high cathedral ceilings.

Work continues on the cupola on the screened porch. The space will also include a fireplace and outdoor kitchen.
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-Work has started on the cupola (small dome on the roof used for decoration and ventilation) on the screen porch. The space will include an outdoor kitchen and fireplace, and be accessible through a 14-foot sliding wall of glass doors, each 10 feet high.

-In the kitchen, a large rectangle island will replace what was originally supposed to be a curved bar with seating. "This new island will really open the kitchen up," Iskandar said.


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With plywood in place, the 2016 Idea Home is quickly taking shape.
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Back on track

Even the 2016 Idea Home wasn't immune to this month's heavy rainfall. The job site experienced flooding and the house was soaked to the bone (an unfortunate side effect to not having a weather barrier on the roof yet).

"Everything was flooded. The rain rushed straight through the house," said Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, with a sweeping gesture to show the path the water took from the golf course side of the house, out the front door. "The water was washing everything into the street."

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For roofing underlayment, the builders chose a high-temperature Wind & Water Seal from MFM Building Products. The synthetic product self-seals around fasteners to provide better protection.
Staff photo

But sooner or later every storm runs out of rain. The Idea Home has dried out and workers installed a high-temperature, Wind and Water Seal roofing underlayment from MFM Building Products. Iskandar said this synthetic product, compared to other paper underlayments, is more expensive but worth every penny.

"When this underlayment is installed, it actually closes around the nail to create a better seal. Where as with other products, when you drive a nail through it, the hole stays," Iskandar said.

Now that the roof is protected, crews are charging ahead to make up for lost time. "With any build, weather always plays a role. We had a delay but we're back on track," Iskandar said.


Antoine Iskandar of Arkiteknic Custom Homes, center, talks with architect John Pittman III and workers about changes to the 2016 Idea Home.
Staff photo


As with any custom build, more often than not there's going to be changes along the way. Sure that large closet seemed like a good idea on paper, but after seeing the framework in person, maybe scaling it back would look better.

"We always do walk-throughs with clients so they can see things in real life. You really get a sense of the house and customers can still make changes at this stage, before things get too far along," said Antoine Iskandar designer and builder of Arkiteknic Custom Homes.

Builder Antoine Iskandar and architect John Pittman, III discuss changes to the Idea Home

Even though the 2016 Idea Home has no owner just yet, this stage of the process is no different.

Iskandar and architect John Pittman III walked through the home recently, tape measures and pencils in hand, examining the layout, sketching new ideas, and talking through suggested changes.

"We're always tweaking the plan," Pittman said. In addition to altering walls and enlarging windows, here are some changes made to the Idea Home floor plan:

Sketches depict the change from French doors to a large slider in the master bedroom. "The previous doors were too restricting of the view," said architect John Pittman III.
Staff photo

IN THE MASTER SUITE: Off of the back porch, there is access to the master bedroom. The original idea called for double French doors. But for consistency (all the doors to the porch are large glass sliders) and to open up the space more, the guys ditched the 5-foot, two leaf French door and opted instead for a large glass slider. The door space also was enlarged, bumping up to 7 feet. "(The slider) is a much more consistent look on the back of the house," Iskandar said. In the master bathroom, walls on the shower and the water closet were taken in, to make room for larger vanities.

One feature that also changed shape was the rotunda off the hallway that connected the master bedroom and bathroom. "The shape of the space didn't go with the feel of the house," Pittman said. The Idea Home, while substantial at more than 4,000 square feet, feels very cozy and connected and the curved hallway feature felt out of place, something possibly reserved for larger estates.

Antoine and John discuss changes to the upstairs landing.
Staff photo

UPSTAIRS LANDING: The landing at the top of the stairs was an area of much deliberation. Under construction as a squared-off landing, Pittman and Iskandar went back and forth about changing its shape. They went back and forth about whether it would look better longer or shorter, arched or rectangle. They took into account railing features and materials, and the views from that location. What took shape was a rounded landing that mirrored the curves of the golf course dunes.

With floor plans in hand, the group works out a way to connect the bonus room and upstairs living space.
Staff photo

CONNECTING SPACES UPSTAIRS: In the original floor plans, the bonus room over the garage was only accessible by a staircase from the first floor. Working with crews the builders found a way to add a connecting hallway between the bonus room and the upstairs living spacee. "If children are in the bonus room asleep or playing, it's important to have a way to check on them," Iskandar said.

FOUND SPACE: Square footage is added to the upstairs living room area with the creation of a separate space for kids who want to watch TV and play video games, thanks to "found space" originally marked for the attic.

Framing of the 2016 Idea House is expected to take four to six weeks.
Staff photo

OUTSIDE: The large column in the middle of the downstairs and upstairs porches on the back of the house was removed, creating completely open and unobstructed golf course views from both levels. The exterior materials also have evolved, moving more toward board and batten vertical elements and shake siding. "Because we're building this home for 10 to 20 years in the future, we want a style that stays," Pittman said.


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Framing on the 2016 Idea Home is expected to take four to six weeks.
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From the ground up: Framing

Nail by nail, board by board, the 2016 Gateway Realty Idea Home Designed and Built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes is taking shape.

Stepping on to what's soon to be a three-pillared covered porch, and walking through the famed-out doorway into the foyer, it takes a minute to get orientated among the forest of wood beams.

To the left, that's the study. To the right, an open stairwell that, presumably, will flood with natural light from four, 5-foot windows that will align with the second floor landing. Beyond that, a maze of wood outlining a laundry room, powder room, and coat closet. And straight ahead, across the living room, an unobstructed view of Colleton River's Jack Nicklaus Golf Course and sweeping dunes. Sure, the back of the house is a giant hole so a great view is a given. But the panoramic picture will remain when the gap is closed off by a wall of 10-foot glass sliders.

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Plans for the first floor include more than 3,000 square feet of living space and a master suite that runs the length of the house.

Elsewhere upstairs, workers confidently step from beam to beam paying no mind to the holes in the floor while others balance on skinny beams, hoisting heavy pieces of wood for what will become the second floor balcony.

I've you've never built a custom home, this stage of the process can look a bit confusing, and it's natural to have a lot of questions, mainly how will this all come together?

"Not everyone is visual and (at the framing stage) it can be difficult for some people to picture how things will look in the end. That's where we come in," said architect John Pittman III, who was brought in by Arkiteknic Custom Homes (ACH) as a design consultant on the Idea Home project. "We see the finished product, down to the paint color, and can talk clients through any layout changes."

A frame is the skeleton of a house. Therefore, proper care must be taken during this stage to make sure the home has "good bones" so problems don't pop up down the road.

"Everything in the house literally and figuratively hangs on the framing. Any rushing during this phase will eventually express itself in another part of the building process," which will make the work more difficult for crews coming in later, and more difficulty usually means higher costs, said Antoine Iskandar, owner of ACH.

To guarantee a strong frame, it's important to follow the structural engineering drawings and specifications, Iskandar said. These drawing will include the materials and how to put the pieces together, including what's required to meet residential code for hurricane resistance, he said.

"Having a skilled and experienced crew is very beneficial because they will more accurately follow the requirements outlined in the structural engineer's drawings," Iskandar said.

In the Lowcountry, special attention is given to preventing the uplift forces on roofs and eaves to prevent damage during a storm. This resistance is often put in place during the framing phase, Iskandar said.

Framing the Idea Home is expected to take between four to six weeks, which includes boarding up the outside and covering the roof with black fabric. Then it's on to running wires, electrical and HVAC work.


Common framing terms from

Backing: Frame lumber installed between the wall studs to give additional support for drywall or an interior trim related item such as handrail brackets, cabinets, and towel bars. In this way, items are screwed and mounted into solid wood rather than drywall that may allow the item to break loose from the wall.

Beam: A structural piece transversely supporting a load or carrying building loads (weight) from one support to another. Sometimes called a "girder."

Brace: An inclined piece of framing lumber applied to wall or floor to strengthen the structure. Often used on walls as temporary bracing until framing has been completed.

Dormer: An opening in a sloping roof, the framing of which projects out to form a vertical wall suitable for windows or other openings. Eaves: The horizontal exterior roof overhang.

Floating wall: A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor. It is constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down. Normally built on basements and garage slabs.

Header: A beam clused for framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. Also the horizontal structural board over a door or window.

Joist: Wood 2x8s, 2x10s or 2x12s that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and are supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.

Load bearing wall: All exterior walls and any interior wall that is aligned above a support beam or girder. Normally, any wall that has a double horizontal top plate.

Manufactured wood: A wood product such as a truss, beam, or joist which is manufactured out of smaller wood pieces and glued or mechanically fastened to form a larger piece. Often used to create a stronger product which may use less wood.

Nonbearing wall: A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.

Plumb: Exactly vertical and perpendicular.

Post: A vertical framing piece usually designed to carry a beam.

Soffit: The area below the eaves and overhangs. The underside where the roof overhangs the walls. Span: The distance a framing board carries a load without support between structural supports. The horizontal distance from eaves to eaves.

Stud: One of a series of vertical structural boards placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions, normally 2x4s, 2x6 or 2x8s

Subfloor: The framing components of a floor to include the sill plate, floor joists, and deck sheeting over which a finish floor is to be laid.

Truss: An engineered and manufactured roof support with "zig-zag" framing pieces. Does the same job as a rafter but is designed to have a longer span than a rafter.


Before concrete is poured, plumbing lines must be in place.
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Lot cleared, foundation poured

The 2016 Gateway Realty Idea Home Designed and Built by Arkiteknic Custom Homes is officially underway and crews are working hard to lay the groundwork for this first-of-its-kind custom home in Colleton River Plantation Club in Bluffton.

Workers began clearing the golf course lot at the end of August and started pouring the foundation the beginning of September. And while design details such as flooring choices and paint colors can evolve over the upcoming months, the home's footprint must be finalized before concrete comes into play.

"Before we pour the slab, we need to know the location of all plumbing. We don't need to know little details like the exact style of the tub, we do need to know where it's going," said Antoine Iskandar, owner of Arkiteknic Custom Homes (ACH) in Bluffton.

For a 4,804-square-foot home with four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms and an outdoor kitchen, that's a lot of plumbing. We're talking about nine sinks, six toilets, five showers, washing machine, dish washer, and stand-alone soaking tub.

For a house this size it takes about a week for the slab to set, Iskandar said.

As with any custom build, designing a home starts with the lot. So before any dirt was moved, ACH conducted a detailed site analysis of the land where the idea home was going to live. Architects examined the lot, charted the sun, breezes, and the view of the Jack Nicklaus course to determine the most ideal placement and design of the house.

"In order to have a successful project we need to examine the home from every angle," Iskandar said.

Work on the 2016 Idea Home is expected to be completed by April 2016.