Saturday, May 01, 2010
One Home, Two Generations
Planning and perseverance pay off for the Croom Family
For seven years, Ed and Gerry Croom and their son Tracy enjoyed weekends at Smith Mountain Lake in a 600-square foot house they built themselves. The family members relished their time at SML, but longed for something more.
"We really love the lake, and the three of us wanted to live here full time," Tracy Croom, 47, said.
But the tight accommodations ruled out such a move.
So, in 2002, the Crooms devised a plan. They sold the little lake house, Ed and Gerry's Roanoke home and one in Florida where they had spent 17 winters, as well as Tracy's Roanoke home. They set off to find the perfect waterfront lot where the two generations could live, enjoying the lake and each other.
"Every day I drove here from Roanoke to go for a run and to look for property," said Tracy, a former college baseball player and life-long runner. "I really liked the area of the Blackwater near our first house in Twin Chimneys, and I found the perfect lot. The only trouble was it was not for sale."
After searching courthouse records, Tracy phoned the lot's owner and learned he was one of many who had inquired about buying the lot, which was made more attractive because it featured vacant buffer lots on either side.
The owner insisted the lot was not for sale, but Tracy persisted. And with some combination of his down-home personality and perhaps some good luck, he persuaded the owner to sell the lot to the Crooms in 2003.
"We became nice friends. I just talked to her on the phone last week," said Tracy a 23-year employee of U.S. Airways Express who met and dated his future wife Dana, a flight attendant, during the home-planning stage.
"The timing was perfect," Tracy said. "Dana helped with many of the interior space and decorating decisions."
Construction on the Croom's two-generation home began in 2003. Ed, a Korean War veteran who had worked as a district manager for a car manufacturer, was a stickler for detail. Retired, with plenty of time to oversee the project, Ed took on the job of general contractor.
"I was there seven days a week," he said.
The hard work paid off with a lovely 5,100-square-foot home nestled among the trees. The two-family house was built with duplicate levels, each with a great room, dining room, kitchen with stone-fronted bar, two bedrooms, walk-in closet, bathrooms, laundry room, utility room and large covered porch. Tracy and Dana live upstairs while Ed and Gerry occupy the lower level.
The 24-foot vaulted ceiling of the main-floor great room soars above Canadian maple flooring. The open design of the kitchen and living area creates an airy feeling, and fluted columns (10 all together), add architectural interest. Nautical-themed furniture and wall decorations contribute to the casual ambiance. The lake view is seen through abundant windows whose decorative treatments were sewn by Gerry.
Long before the house took shape, Tracy and his mother started working on the landscaping, creating garden beds and planting bushes and bulbs.
"We both love the outdoors, and we get along really well," said Gerry, noting that the landscaping looked finished well before the house was occupant-ready.
The construction was completed in 18 months and was followed by interior painting, which the family tackled on its own.
"This family is no stranger to hard work," said Tracy, who worked three jobs for six years to save enough money to buy his first house in Roanoke.
Once the house and landscaping were completed, the next project was finishing the dock. A dock builder had installed the posts, roof, flooring and lift. The Crooms then built the dock house and framed in the poles with siding and trim, which they painted to match the house. The dock houses Tracy's 32-foot Rinker 296 Liberty Edition Bowrider, two personal watercraft, a kayak and a paddleboat.
"I love getting out on the lake," Tracy said. "But I also enjoy sitting on the dock or the back porch together [with the family]. I get a lot of satisfaction sitting back and looking at the work we've done. When you do something yourself, you appreciate it a whole lot more."
Tracy said living together allows family members to remain close and be available for each other if needed.
"Dana thinks it's great for families to continue on and be as close as they can," he said. "It's rare to find that today. It's a good thing. It's worked out really well."
Tracy said there's one other significant benefit of the family living together: "Everybody cooks. No one goes hungry at our house."