Custom Home Designed from 1984 through 1987 and Built in 1987 By Erick
Growing up on a ranch with an energetic dad who built barns,
remodeled houses, and even did some cabinet-making in his spare time, I
learned quite a bit about construction. I greatly value the early and varied
experiences I had working with my dad, Frank W. Conard, a practical
man with unlimited energy and an uncanny ability to make things work.
I bought my first house on the corner of 49 1/2th Street
and Bull Creek Road in Austin, Texas in the summer of 1973. It was a real
fixer-upper! I spent the next few years upgrading the kitchen and bathroom,
landscaping the yard, and scraping and painting the house inside and out.
I never enjoyed living away from my horses, so in late spring of 1978
I sold the Austin house and moved into an apartment while I looked for
property in the country.
Three months later I found and bought a house and three acres
three miles east of Elgin, Texas on FM 3000. This house was even more
of a fixer-upper than my first one had been, as it was covered in felt with
no exterior finish, the living room and a bedroom had raw sheet rock and
no flooring, and there were only a few small outbuildings and no barn.
I began work on this house and property immediately.
In 1979 I found and purchased 40 acres between Elgin and
Taylor approximately five (8) miles north of Elgin. I planned on building
a house on the 40 acres. But first I had to complete and sell the three
acres. On the FM 3000 three acres property, I built a barn, added a bedroom,
and added a large front porch. I sold the three acres when Austin property
was almost at it's highest in the 80's and moved to an apartment. I
found a builder who had built some underground houses and began building
a house set into the side of a slope on the 40 acres near Elgin. This
builder made a serious mistake setting up the concrete forms and when the
builder began pouring the 10 foot retaining wall in the foundation the
forms collapsed. After some negotiation, the builder cleaned up the
concrete mess, leaving a big empty hole in the side of the slope.
Rather than give up the unusual design, I decided to expand
on his original plan. I bought a trailer house, moved it onto the Elgin
property, and spent the next three years further educating myself about
home construction. Besides reading various construction books, on weekends
I climbed through a wide variety of upper end houses being built in the
Austin area and took notes and pictures of ideas I liked. I filed and
organized these ideas so I'd be able to use them in the design and construction
phases of house building.
After a couple of years and a number of interviews, I found
a young and relatively inexpensive (then) but very talented architect
named Mark Carlson. Mark was able to take my ideas and make them work
beautifully in Mark's architectural drawings. In this creative collaboration,
we created the plans for my new and expanded three story house.
While Mark worked on the architectural drawnings, I researched
construction materials and methods and wrote a thorough and detailed
description of materials to be used in the bidding process. I also
hired an engineer to prepare detailed structural drawings and specifications
and to oversee all structural installations. I then chose a builder
from a list of fifteen recommended area builders. The house was built
with even more hassle than building a custom home generally entails, but
that is another story. However, the house was built and I moved in early
in 1988. I enjoyed living in this home for almost ten years. I sold the
house in 1997 to a wonderful couple.