During a question and answer session at a recent industry conference, a home builder asked Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi for his thoughts about the labor
Builder Bill Maroon dug deep to make this one-of-a-kind Tuscan-inspired spec home a standout in his high-end residential construction market in Winter Park, Fla. Not only does this 8,650-square-foot beauty feature lavishly-appointed living spaces on its first and second floors, but the home also features a walk-out basement — an uncommon amenity in the sunshine state.
Builder Bill Maroon dug deep to make this one-of-a-kind Tuscan-inspired spec home a standout in his high-end residential construction market in Winter Park, Fla. Not only does this 8,650-square-foot beauty feature lavishly-appointed living spaces on its first and second floors, but the home also features a walk-out basement — an uncommon amenity in the sunshine state — which boosted the home's entertaining potential by 3,000 square feet.
With 9 1/2-foot ceilings, travertine floors, plaster walls and cherry cabinetry, the $2 million home's lower level features the same custom finishes as upstairs.
"When people toured the house after it was completed, they were very impressed with the level of detail that they saw," says the home's designer, architect Mark Nasrallah. "But when we took them downstairs into the basement, it just blew them away. In Florida, nobody thinks of having a basement because of the state's naturally high water table. But building a basement is possible to do here as long as you pay attention to how you waterproof it."
Maroon encased the home's entire foundation in a high-tech barrier, preventing the possibility of ground water intrusion into the basement's finished spaces.
Similar to a number of high-end communities in Florida, new residential construction projects in Winter Park are limited by floor area ratios (FAR). The ratios were established to discourage overbuilding on a single lot in an effort to maximize square footage. "In some cases in the past," says Nasrallah, "these 'super' homes would get so large that they would virtually encompass the entire lot."
By building this home with a basement, Nasrallah says, it was possible to increase its overall square footage dramatically without violating FAR zoning restrictions. "Basement space is not included in the calculation. And it does not have to be fully under ground to be considered as one," he says. "It only has to be 51 percent below grade."
"One of the most challenging elements of this project was how to build a basement without having it feel like one," says Nasrallah. "I wanted this level to have an open and bright atmosphere."
Nasrallah's design includes a wide stairway connecting the main foyer and the lower level that provides natural illumination through a large, ground-level window. "The game room functions as the main connection point between the other spaces. By eliminating hallways between the rooms, you don't get that catacomb effect."
The home's subterranean sanctuary also features rooms which are not light dependent including the game room, which is oriented around a "sports bar"-style wet bar complete with three plasma television sets mounted into the cabinetry, a "hidden" home theater, a temperature and humidity controlled wine cellar, a café-style tasting area and a separate fitness center. Two guest suites each feature 8-foot sliding glass doors that open directly onto a sunken outdoor courtyard.
Located in historic downtown Winter Park, Fla., the 8,650-square-foot home was designed and built to launch Maroon's joint venture into the turnkey residential market. "These are homes that are designed to be an 'impulse buy.' They are targeted to the type of client who doesn't want to bother with dealing with the effort that it takes to build a house like this from start to finish. Sometimes that process can be a three-year commitment."
This home, not for sale until it was completed in March 2004, was sold within 90 days of completion.