As it did with most families, the pandemic shifted life significantly for the Lobravico family. When the former New Jersey residents decided they wanted to move from the northeast area, they looked south and landed on St. Johns County, Florida.
Peter and Tamara had been considering building a new home since the arrival of their twin boys took them from a party of three to a party of five. “We really needed more space, particularly a home office and a playroom for the kids,” Peter shared.
Tamara and Peter sat down with us and shared highlights from their home building experience.
What floor plan did you choose and what attracted you to this design?
We went with the Palmetto, which we fell in love with the instant we toured the model. We really wanted a one-story (ranch style) home, as one of our three boys is disabled and will likely be wheelchair bound, so we wanted our entire family living together on one floor. We also wanted a home office, which the Palmetto provided via a flex room, and a playroom for the kids, which is offered via the optional sunroom.
We also loved the fact that the kids’ bedrooms are situated in their own section of the home, with a shared bathroom in between. We toured multiple other models in other communities (and from other builders), but we kept finding ourselves gravitating back to the Palmetto, as it was just such a superior layout compared to everything else we looked at. After living in the home, we are absolutely certain that we made the perfect choice for our family.
As you have watched your new home’s design come to life, what have been your favorite spaces and features?
The playroom for our three boys has been a godsend, as it allows them to have their own space for toys, games and TV viewing, but in a spot that’s adjacent to the main living area, which allows us to keep an eye on them. (We love them, but they are three little troublemakers!) Also, the home office is fantastic, as my wife and I both work remotely, and it’s positioned away from the main living area so we have peace and quiet while working.
What did you enjoy most about the building process?
Watching the installation of the design choices that we made at the Drees Design Center was really awesome. Our Drees Design Consultant, Ashley, was beyond fantastic. She really understood our taste, style and budget and put together pieces (tile, flooring, cabinetry, etc.) that we loved on the first go. We were really blown away by her talent. But watching these materials be installed and come together in a room was extremely exciting.
Our Builder, Darin, kept us updated regularly with phone calls and pictures, so even though we were 1,100 miles away during the build, we felt like we were still a part of it. We had never designed and built a new home before, so for us, it was a very exciting process.
What advice would you give others who are interested in building a home?
Make sure you pick a high quality builder. Semi-custom builders are a great option, as you can make a lot of changes to the design, unlike with a production builder, but you don’t incur the extremely long timeframe – and significant expense – of a fully custom build. Drees had so many floor plans to choose from, but we were still able to make a lot of changes that we wanted. We felt like we designed the home from scratch, even though the process was much easier for us.
Lastly, I’d suggest to take a deep breath because building a home is very complex and can be stressful, but in the end, if you choose the right partner as we did, you will wind up with the product that you and your family want and deserve.
Why did you choose to build with Drees?
Since we were moving from another part of the country, we were unfamiliar with most of the builders in this area, so we had to conduct a lot of due diligence. A huge influence for us was our Realtor; she has been selling real estate in this area for decades and specializes in new construction. Right off the bat, she gave us a short list of builders that she recommends, along with a list of builders to avoid. Her recommended list only had three or four names on it, and of course, Drees was one of them.
After touring communities, models and homes under construction, it was clear to us which builders focus on quality, and which ones focus on speed. The level of service we received, as well as the finished product that we purchased, were both top notch. We are very happy with our decision.