Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Are these Suncadia workbenches, or WHAT?!

We bought two of them at Costco (only $299 each!). It pretty much marked a final commitment to actually do this thing!


They’re boxed and covered at the side of our current house, not to be seen again for about another 18 months. It’ll be like Christmas when Tom unpacks them in the man cave/workshop/office that we’re asking the architect to include in his house design!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hiring an architect

We closed on our Suncadia lot on Friday. On Monday, we hired an architect. Never let it be said that we “sat on our lot”!

Actually, I was living in two distinct worlds when the email came through on Wednesday, prompting us to wire money and sign documents for a Friday closing. I was in Ashland, Oregon dealing with the aftermath of my father’s death which shook our world last February (something I will write about soon… many posts have been started, but none completed). I had to quickly switch gears to manage an on-time closing, with Tom and I in different locations and no available printer or scanner, an endeavor which rivaled the craziness of my years as a Senior Project Manager at Microsoft!

But we did close, and now we own TWO properties at Suncadia! (Want one?)

Working back from our goal of celebrating Thanksgiving, 2018 with family in our new home, we knew that we’d have to hire an architect very soon after closing, so we interviewed three of them while we were in escrow.

If you drive around Suncadia or Tumble Creek, you’ll see these signs in front of any home being built.


On these signs, you’ll see the selected builder, architect, and landscape architect. We noticed the names of three architects over and over: Nash and Associates, Page and Beard Architects, and Rick Jones and Associates. (There are others, but these three seemed to be the most prominent.) We interviewed all three. And we really liked all three! Of course they were all completely familiar with the building process at Suncadia, and all of them showed us beautiful homes and floor plans of Suncadia homes they had designed. While there are no restrictions on which architect or builder owners use to build at Suncadia, we certainly didn’t want to hire someone who had not built there before. Why re-invent the wheel? So we confined our consideration to what seemed to be the three most prominent architects at Suncadia.

In the end, our decision came down to three factors: 1.) the architects enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for working in consort with Tom (a frustrated and creative architect wannabe) and his ideas, 2.) price and pricing structure, and 3.) sheer gut feeling.

All three were quite willing to work with Tom and were open to his creative ideas and input. But one was enthusiastic about it and in the interview seemed to mesh really well, taking each others ideas and building on them together. In terms of pricing structure, two architects charge per square foot and complexity of plan, while one has a flat fee. And in terms of gut feeling – well, after each interview (we did one per week), we left feeling really good about the architect himself, liked everything he presented to us, and concluded that we could very easily and happily work with him.

In the end, we hired Rick Jones. In the interview, Rick and Tom exchanged creative ideas easily and at one point, after Tom shared his idea of a two-tired rear patio with a water structure flowing from the fire pit down to a lower patio, Rick put down his pen, and said to Tom, “I want to work with you!” Then, as Rick presented his idea of a small bunk room off the upstairs hall, with individual closets and a barn door, Tom and I both individually thought, “I want to work with him!’ Rick’s pricing structure is a flat fee, which appeals to me since I hate nickel and diming a process like this or holding back for fear of a new charge.

I am very sure that we would be very happy with any of the three main Suncadia architects. Our decision was a subjective one that felt right for us, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any architect who regularly designs Suncadia homes and who is highly regarded by the real estate team and preferred Suncadia builders – which is a very good place to begin!

Next: the property survey!  That should take place within the next three weeks. Stay tuned…

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Building our retirement dream home at Suncadia: the back story

A little more than two years ago, I wrote this post called “A Suncadia Future.” In that post, I swooned about Suncadia, our new discovery in the Cascades, predicting that we’d finally found a place where both Tom and I could be happy in retirement – Tom, because he could find the land, privacy, and the beautiful environment that he craved and me, because I could find all that plus the strong community that I craved.

Tom and Carol needs

We’d spent months before that – and even off and on in the two years since then – exploring places where we might both be happy in retirement, but ten private acres in the middle of nowhere (Tom’s extreme) would have made me miserable and a condo on Capitol Hill (my extreme) would have made Tom miserable.

Just as I predicted in this post, we did go on to buy property at Tumble Creek, Suncadia’s private, behind-the-gate, across-the-river community, where lots are bigger, everything is more private and quieter, and where membership includes not only Tumble Creek amenities, but also Suncadia amenities – and community.

Caretaker cabinbeauty3IMG_5346TC fire and bocceIMG_5095TC golfTC bridge

It seemed perfect for both of us. And we loved the 1.17 acre parcel of beautifully forested, gently sloping land we bought.


Our favorite thing about our Tumble Creek property was Reflection Path, directly across the street, a short trail that leads to the most gorgeous look-out point, on a cliff overlooking the Cle Elum River. Tom and I loved it, but the dogs adored it!



Almost exactly two years ago, in mid-June 2015, we closed on our property at Tumble Creek and were thrilled!


We told ourselves that we could consider our new property to be a simple investment, and we committed to still being open to other options, but every time we looked at another option, such as retirement on Bainbridge Island or staying in our Woodinville home (which Tom had spent the past 20 years remodeling!), we’d always come back to Tumble Creek, figuratively and literally.

At the end of April this year, almost two years after buying the Tumble Creek property, we attended Suncadia’s “Builder’s Expo, finally committed and ready to get serious about building our dream home on our dream property.

Builders Expo

As we met with builder after builder, we came upon the realization that building the home we had envisioned at Tumble Creek would be cost-prohibitive for us because the CC&Rs require that specific, more expensive, materials be used. We knew we’d be cutting it close to build at Tumble Creek at all, but now we were realizing that we simply couldn’t build the home we had envisioned. While we’d known all along that, whereas owners in Suncadia can rent their homes out (resulting in the vibrant resort atmosphere at Suncadia), renting in Tumble Creek is strictly prohibited. We knew this all along and it was never an issue for us, since we planned to live in our home, but it did present a few issues when we considered the “legacy aspect” of owning at Tumble Creek: what would our kids do with the property once Tom and I were gone? They couldn’t rent it out so most likely, they’d sell it. That was OK with us but sad, as we’d hoped that this home might become a place where the (future) cousins could gather for holidays and where the whole family might find refuge and community for years to come.

So when yet another builder told us that we’d need to build a really small house at Tumble Creek and asked whether we’d considered buying property and building at Suncadia instead, we found ourselves on the phone with our beloved agent, Nanci, asking whether she might by any chance have time (right then!) to show us some Suncadia properties that might be a good fit for us. (We had come to adore Nanci over the two years since we’d bought the Tumble Creek property from her, so she knew exactly what “a good fit for us” meant!)  We’d looked at property at Suncadia in 2105, but had decided then that Tumble Creek was a better fit. Now we were re-thinking that. Nanci didn’t seem surprised; maybe she knew us better than we knew ourselves!

So that afternoon we re-visited the idea of buying and building at Suncadia!

Signlodge insidehousemountains with lodgeGolfSuncadia sunset over firepitPool

One of the reasons that we didn’t buy at Suncadia initially was that properties at Suncadia are generally smaller and less private than lots at Tumble Creek. On this day, though, Nanci told us about a large, private one-acre view lot along the periphery of the resort, far from the hub-bub of the lodge and activity center. The price had just been lowered; did we want to take a look?

We did!


Imagine a bunch of those trees thinned out to give us a lovely filtered mountain view, maybe something like this?

back patio view


Tom quietly walked the property. Then he walked it again. And again. I could sense the gears turning. ‘This will work… I like this,’ he seemed to be thinking. Really? I had been leaning toward a Suncadia lot from the beginning, because it offered a greater sense of community for me. Tumble Creek was quiet, yes… but secretly I wondered whether it was, perhaps too quiet for us as full-time residents. Turns out, Tom had begin to wonder the same thing!

We visited a house under construction just two properties away. This was the view from the great room of that house:


…and from an upstairs bedroom:


Hmmmm… could this be a better place for us to build our dream home? We expressed our interest to Nanci and went home to sleep on it.

The next day, we made an offer on the Suncadia property. After a very short negotiation, we were in escrow!

Uh-oh! We now owned TWO Suncadia properties, one at Tumble Creek and one at Suncadia! Of course we immediately listed our Tumble Creek property with Nanci.


Just one day after we closed escrow on our property, we hired an architect and a surveyor. Our goal is to celebrate Thanksgiving, 2018 in our new home with lots and lots of family members!

(In the meantime, we’ll need to sell our beloved Woodinville home sometime in the next year. Interested?)

I’ve been quiet on this blog for almost a year, but this is a good opportunity to resurrect NorthwestLadybug, as I chronicle the process of building our dreamhome at Suncadia. Those posts can all be found under the label “Buying and Building at Suncadia.”

So, here we go…!

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