• The Gap

The Gap

Homeowners frequently consider the issue of cost versus quality when choosing cabinetry, countertops, and interior finishes. Also consider that skilled installers can make moderate selections look good, and high end selections look wow. The Gap might be a success as a clothing store, but we prefer it not be associated with your interior moldings. Skilled craftsmen hate gaps.

  • Drywall and Paint

Drywall and Paint

Drywall hanging and finishing are tough jobs. Tradesmen come and go, so the builder has to apply his own standards to both the installation and the finishing, and make sure it gets done that way. It can be difficult with the low level of lighting available on a construction site at the drywall stage to see every surface that may need additional sanding or another coat of mud, so we use a spot light to review the wall finish before releasing it for paint. The number and type of fasteners used are also important to help prevent seams from opening up in the future. Painting is a trade in which the costs can vary markedly depending on the level of craftsmanship desired. A top notch job involves more sanding than you might think in order to prepare surfaces in a manner that yields a superior outcome. A really great paint job, or a poor one, has a huge effect on how clients feel about the quality of their home. Poor quality paints can mean extra coats to achieve good coverage, which does not save money. Good painters are picky, picky, picky about their work.

Rough In Stage of Construction

At the “rough-ins” stage, the systems installed by the heating and air, electrical, and plumbing trades, are all competing for space, sometimes the same space!  Even with well designed systems, it sometimes happens that lines running concurrently or crossing one another can require more room than is available.  Experienced and cooperative trade partners will happily work out solutions.  When the rough-ins are complete, the lines should look like a modern planned network of highways and neighborhoods, not a medieval village where whatever sprung up is what sprung up.  Messy might function too, but order anticipates the future, where a repair or expansion can be made easier if the original work is logical and neatly done.  To a skilled tradesman, it is a shame that all their work gets covered over. Your selections of appliances, lighting fixtures, and plumbing fixtures must be complete by the rough in stage.  Size and style of components affect placement of wiring and circuits needed, piping locations, and height of installation.  Changes to selections after the rough in stage may increase costs!

Outdoor Retreat on the Intracoastal

This beautiful outdoor recreation area, designed by Wilmington architect Virginia C. Woodruff, faces the Intracoastal Waterway.  The cabinetry along the side features a concrete counter top and a custom made drop-in grill from Wilmington Grill.  The picnic table at the back of the pergola also has a concrete top.  The pergola and surrounding plantings provide afternoon shade.

Systems and Standards

Before anything takes place at the site, well developed systems and standards are needed to govern all aspects of the building process. A builder should be able to list several methods of quality control in place at the firm. There are key elements indicating the standards in place at the building site during each stage of construction, including clearing of the lot and installing the foundation, but it is during the framing stage that a builder can really begin to point out quality features in a walk-through with the client. Good materials and tight tolerances are the rule. Bracing and fasteners abound. Experience tells us that stronger materials and bracing in particular spots in the structure are desirable to reduce movement. Wood is a natural material and is subject to movement by taking on and giving up moisture. Good builders and their staffs welcome the opportunity to point out their systems and the little extras that yield quality results. If you are interested in building your first home, spend some time gaining an understanding of what quality looks like. It is knowledge that will serve you well over the course of owning what will probably be several homes in your lifetime.

Keep It Clean

At The Farlow Group, we expect our crews and trade partners to maintain a clean site. Frequently disposing of trash and scrap materials makes for a productive work environment. Workers can readily find materials they need and deliveries won’t be misplaced. Cleanliness also increases safety, because tripping hazards are reduced. An orderly site also looks more professional to code officials when they come to inspect work. Order establishes an environment that facilitates quality workmanship.

Coastal Codes Affect Cost

The hurricanes that the East coast has experienced over the last few years have had a profound impact on building practices for our state. In the aftermath of these events, learning takes place that enables individuals and authorities to make decisions about how to lessen the severity of damages from future such occurrences. In North Carolina, the residential building code specifies minimum requirements for components and installation techniques utilized in high wind zones, such as along the coast. These requirements cover doors and windows, footings, wall and foundation anchorage, wall construction, structural bracing, masonry wall construction, and roof tie downs. For instance, doors and windows used along the coast must carry at least the minimum DP (design pressure) rating specified by the code. The window unit or door must have been tested by the manufacturer and certified to be capable of withstanding at least the wind velocity noted in the code to qualify for the DP rating. These requirements increase construction costs, but are intended to reduce the occurrences of damage, and the severity of damage, from tropical storms and hurricanes.  Inspection departments, engineering and design firms, and insurance companies all contribute data that goes into the research behind wind code requirements and the locales in which they are applied. As a custom home specialist, The Farlow Group is thoroughly versed in code requirements for our coastal area, and best practices for installation of materials and components. Sometimes a client will have an architect from outside the coastal area to design their home or addition, and we are happy to work with those professionals to assist them with any specific information they may need to be certain the plans meet code requirements for permitting.

Cabinet trend: more drawers

The past few years have seen a trend toward using more drawers in kitchen base cabinet designs, in place of doors. Drawers can be quite large when intended for sizeable items such as cookware. Interiors may be designed to hold items such as plates or other tableware, supplies, or groceries in various containers. Drawers make reaching items toward the back easier than bending down to access cabinet shelves. Contents can be viewed more easily as well. Costs for drawers are higher than open space with doors because of the extra labor, materials and hardware needed, but many cooks and their helpers consider the convenience to be worthwhile. The photo is of a kitchen at Figure Eight Island designed by Wilmington architect Virginia C. Woodruff.

A Story of Home

Making a home is part of creating the story of our lives.  We hope to include joy and love, rest and fellowship, growth and inspiration. When we work on the design, we address the aspects of shelter and protection, size and maintenance–the physical attributes of the structure.  But designers spend most of their time asking questions about our hopes for how we will live in our space. When we are at a point of needing more from our home than just a base of operation, we want to own, design, and thrive in the creation.  We want to bring energy to our space, and draw energy from it.  We want to have a place of quiet, and a place or sharing.  We want to tell our story–the story of a life lived well–a story of home.


Home is a refuge for enjoying the gifts already given us by our heavenly Father.  Jesus, I can feel you anywhere, but especially at home.  Caron