Designer Katie Rice is part of the Bellwether Builders’ team and has been dreaming of her current business and lifestyle for fifteen years now. Katie has a degree in Building Science and is focused on creating healthy buildings. Whether it is creating energy efficient envelopes for lower energy costs or efficient layouts for ease of use she enjoys creating buildings that give life and freedom to their inhabitants. Katie provides the creative and design direction for their work.
Katie’s husband, Brad Rice, is the general contractor with an “unlimited” license. Before spending a few years working with a master trim carpenter in Portland, Oregon, Brad had extensive experience as a framer. For the past eight years he has been building custom homes in the Asheville area along with spec homes while the economy allowed it. Together, Brad and Katie are a full service design and build team along with Jeannie Kuhlman, Director of Operations.
One of the benefits of being a design build company is that they know what things cost during the design phase. From early on Katie likes to sit with the client and discuss their wants and needs along with completing a costing sheet. She helps clients understand right away the dollar outcome of their decisions and offers guidance on how to meet their budget goals. “We work so there are no surprises down the road for the clients and help give them control over the budget,” says Katie. Taking that even further, they are offering an established monthly fee for their service and letting the homeowner pay all the construction invoices directly with no mark up. It is a novel approach, but clients seem to like it. In today’s environment you have to be both resourceful, creative and give something up to move forward with projects. However, what you are gaining is the client’s trust. They are working with you through all steps of the process.
Katie and Brad’s work reflects in their Montford neighborhood home. Their home provides a creative backdrop to their lifestyle and work. The outside has two entrances for separating the office and home. The space is defined by very functional and distinct spaces for working and living, but is open to adapt to different needs for work and play. Their work office is separate, but open to allow for interaction with their kids. The living space has distinct areas for cooking or an intimate conversation, but it can all be cleared away to serve as a meeting or small community space. Overall, their home is a reflection of their creativity and ingenuity, their understanding of space in relationship to today’s lifestyle needs and building quality. What they have achieved for themselves is what they hope to achieve for their clients; a way to afford a smart home of any style that works by stepping back and giving the occupants long-term flexibility and freedom. This is one of the important principles in modern space design.
You can find out more about Bellwether Builders and their flexible approaches to projects by going to their website through the link on the right of this page.
(text by Troy Winterrowd, photos by John Fletcher)