Project Details:

Location Estill Springs, Tenn.
Builder DeVille Construction, Manchester, Tenn.
Architect Donald A. Gardner Architects Inc., Greenville, S.C.
Plan Jasper Hill, design HWBDO75744,

While there are thousands of different stock designs when it comes to house plans, some clients have unique needs or lot requirements. That was the case for builder Donald Parker of Manchester, Tenn.–based DeVille Construction as he worked on a project for clients Steve and Kim Yarbrough in Estill Springs, Tenn.

The lot sloped sharply to the rear; so sharply, in fact, that if built as designed, the basement level would have hovered high above the ground. Making it a true walkout would have placed it 23 feet below the main level, with a staircase that went on and on. Parker quickly realized that this problem could be turned into an opportunity by adding a mezzanine level between the ground floor and the basement. He sketched it out for the Yarbroughs, taking out the powder bath on the first floor and putting in a 5-foot-by-5-foot elevator shaft to make it easier to get around.

The new level holds a variety of recreational spaces that will be perfect for the clients' three grandchildren: a game room with a billiards table, seating space, and even storage cubbies for board games. There also are lots of windows to capture the breathtaking view. Since the back of the home is so tall, it would be difficult to reach rain gutters for cleaning, so they were left off. All told, the extra level added a little over 1,200 square feet. Other personalized touches included finishing the bonus room with nautical-themed bunk beds, reversing the whole layout (a necessary change to accommodate the garage on the lot), and choosing low-maintenance exterior materials.

This project serves as a great example of how a challenging lot situation can be handled by modifying a pre-drawn plan, rather than breaking the bank on custom design fees. Interestingly, the plan used here originally started out as a custom project that was then turned into a stock plan, so it's fitting that it was modified again to fit a completely different site.

Pre-drawn plans are commonly changed to accommodate various needs of the client or the site, such as rotating a garage to make room for a tree that can't be removed or adding a second level to a single-story plan.