Land of the Free, Because of the Brave

It’s Memorial Day.  People in America have spent the past 3 days doing what we do on 3-day weekends…finding a body of water, a bottle of sunscreen and soaking in the first flirty days of summer.  

But that’s just the surface.  That doesn’t tell the stories we carry in our hearts and our minds this weekend.   

Fortunately Facebook, Insta and the rest of the social media sphere interrupts their regularly scheduled programming of warring opinions, photo-ready food, puppies and babies to remind us about the REAL meaning of Memorial Day. And for good reason.    

Today is a day we give thanks to those who paid the ultimate price so we can do what we do, be who we are, and live as Americans.  

This year, I think Memorial Day is hitting all of us at Garman a little deeper.  Because this year we’re building the 16th Hero Home for Operation Coming Home.  And it’s the first home being built to honor a fallen soldier, SGT. Justin B. Onwordi.  

When we got the call asking if we’d be interested in building for Operation Coming Home we were already committed to building two Habitat Blitz Homes this year.  We had planned our work for 2017 and we were working our plan.  And Operation Coming Home wasn’t part of that plan.  It didn’t feel like the right time to add one more thing to our plates.  

And yet, the idea wouldn’t leave my brain.  Wouldn’t leave my heart.  And when I talked to Allison & Jim, they agreed. We got the call.  And wasn’t the call enough?  We realized it didn’t have to feel like the right time to know it absolutely was.  We didn’t just say yes, we actually couldn’t say no.

I remembered asking Jim if he thought we could ever get to build for a woman.  I was half wondering and half wishing. I was anxious to connect with the person we’d be building for…I wanted to meet this person, know this person and find a way to make them feel our gratitude.  

A few weeks after our emphatic yes, I was home with my girls on a Friday night, getting ready to settle into single-mom mode…when Andy Ladner from Operation Coming Home and US Veterans Corps called to run something past me.  He said he had a recipient in mind for us but the situation was a little different.  The soldier who would receive the home was a surviving widow of a fallen soldier.  She served as well.  He told me she was a single mom of three boys and then he asked if we would build her a home.

I remember choking on all the words I tried to form.  And then finally getting out, ‘of course.’ 

And then we met Ebony.  And her boys.  And her mom.  And we all knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be, building a home for the person who was just right for us. 

At this point we only know a little bit about Justin.  We know he was a Nigerian Immigrant when he enlisted in the US Army.  We know he’s been described as a gentle giant who was always smiling.  And we know he and Ebony loved each other very much.    

I’ve been thinking a lot about Justin this weekend.  I’ve been thinking about Ebony too.  I’ve been thinking about what it means to be brave.  Certainly enlisting in the Army is brave.  Deploying is brave.  Being a combat medic like Justin & Ebony is brave.  And raising a son on your own with a broken heart is unimaginably brave.  

Which inspired a Memorial Day resolution for all of us…bravery comes in all shapes, size and increments.  And perhaps the best way to honor the brave is by finding ways to be brave, every single day.  Sometimes being brave is walking into a room full of people you don’t know and wearing the biggest smile you can.  Sometimes being brave is finding a way to connect with someone who is wildly different from yourself.  Sometimes being brave is just deciding to be exactly who you want to be.  

We can’t all serve.  We won’t all serve.  But we all have the capacity to be brave.  

So go do it.  Go be brave.  

And think of Justin.  And Ebony.  And others like them.  And smile because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  



Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop – Weeks Running Together


See Janice work?  Janice likes to work.  Janice is checking her permit box.

This is Janice’s day off.

Janice is good at work.  Janice is bad at taking days off.


This girl.  She don’t stop.  I went out to Briar Chapel last Wednesday – I wanted to walk the Parade House since I was going to be out of town for the rest of the week.

There was Janice reporting for Construction duty.  You see, 5 days a week Janice works two jobs at once:  Sales & Construction.  And the other 2 days a week she comes to the neighborhood to work Construction.  You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure out that’s 7 days a week.  The Ginge is a one woman show that airs every day of the week.

And she’s kicking major construction a$$.

Not only is she rolling with a few changes we made along the way but she handled them like a pro and got that shiz switched out pronto.

AND, she even brought our attention to a change WE (we = the office people who pick stuff out) needed to make.  Turns out we had itty bitty tubs going in some of our houses.  Objects in a house may appear smaller than they did in our heads.  Take two on that tub. We couldn’t save all the small tubs but we’re making a change for the better moving forward.  And raising prices because, #MERICA.  Changes for the better ain’t always free.  Rarely.  Actually, it’s more like never free as far as houses go.

The Ginge is getting the full builder experience complete with trades not showing up when they said they would.  Painters went MIA on her last week causing a total trade pile up on the rest of the crews waiting on the painters to finish so they could complete their jobs.  I’m not trying to throw so much shade at the painters – it happens to every trade and when it does, nobody is happy.  Janice said she was teary that day – she felt like everyone was mad at her.  Unlike baseball there is crying in building.  So much crying.

This week there were less tears of frustration and more tears of joy.  At this stage of construction – trim & cabinet install- when all the pretty stuff starts to arrive, it feels a little like Christmas morning on repeat or Hanukkah for houses.  Notice there are no pics here to prove just how pretty the stuff actually is.  That’s because we’re big reveal kinda peeps and you’re going to have to see this one to believe it.  Spectacular doesn’t come close.  Janice and I agree, the Pretty Committee has outdone themselves.

I called Janice today to squeal about how pretty the house looks and while we were on the phone I heard her run into some people walking through her house.  I asked if she needed to go and she said she’d call me right back.  When she did she said it was a competitor walking through the house…they remarked on some of the pretty stuff and I immediately went into protective overdrive…I may have even threatened Godfather style that if I see any duplication of the pretty in any other model, I will LOSE MY MIND.  Based on my violent and immediate reaction I realize the case can easily be made that my mind is already lost.  Be that as it may…I’m not going to reveal the pretty – no peeking and no reveals until the big one.  And when you finally get to see the pretty surprises in our Parade Home in person, I am confident you will swoon with delight.

And when you see a tribute version in a competitor’s home, I am hopeful that you will say…did you get that idea from Garman?

A girl can dream. Even one who has lost her mind.  #protectoroftheprettycommittee

Castles and Squad Goals- Weeks 5 & 6


You know how Taylor Swift has a squad that every famous person is either in or wants to be in but won’t admit it? Janice has a squad like that.

Every year they all get together for Friends Reunion.  This year’s reunion was in Charleston and given our current labor shortage, and a few of us pretty much demanding that she go for as long as possible, Ginge made it to the reunion.

Those first few weeks of building can be rough when you’re a seasoned pro, even rougher when you’re a total newbie.  We were all happy to see Janice make it to her people and enjoy some very well earned time off to recharge.  She and Taylor run hard everyday – they need the squad to help them keep it real.

Even while she was away, somehow her house continued to make progress.  Basically out laboring the labor shortage.  Plumbers and HVAC both showed up and upon her return the next week she met up with the Pretty Committee and the Electricians to walk the house and get it lit.  Literally and figuratively.

I met with Janice right after her Electrical walk and asked about her schedule for the week.  She rattled off a few comings and goings…the roofers were supposed to make an appearance after waiting nearly a full week, permanent power was going to be set up with Duke, and then she added among her list of to-do’s,  ‘passing frame inspection on Wed, insulation Thursday and hopefully drywall by Fri.’

I’m nearly positive I must have made the ‘whatchu talking bout Willis’ face when she mentioned passing frame inspection as a foregone conclusion.  I mean, I like the confidence behind a statement like that and she’s building like a BOSS so why not?  Well…because it’s pretty rare to pass Frame & Mechanical on the first try.  That’s baller status.  I tried to be gentle when I mentioned passing Frame & Mechanical could be tough…but the Ginge was undeterred.  She said Kevin thought they could do it and they were going for it.

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And they did. And she passed.  First try.  But not before Kevin convinced the inspector to play a trick on Janice and tell her she failed.  Ginge said she got there super early the day of inspection and did anything and everything to keep herself occupied while waiting for the inspector to show.  She picked up trash, reviewed her plans, walked the house again checking hurricane clips, jacks and kings (framer speak for studs under windows and studs that go all the way to the ceiling, respectively).  Finally she decided this watched pot wasn’t going to boil so she switched over to sales mode and delivered a closing gift.  And of course, that’s when he showed.  And Kevin was there too.

Imagine Janice getting the call from Kevin telling her the inspectors had been there awhile and they had a really long list.  Poor thing drove up to her house ready to face her punishment.  The inspector started off with, ‘I can’t let this pass today.’  Janice asked, ‘Not even to insulate?’ He said, ‘No.’  Janice looked at Kevin and asked if this happened often.  Kevin shook his head no, said it was really bad.  About that time, probably sensing an impending Ginge meltdown, the inspector caved and said, ‘I can’t do this to her!’  Poor Janice was so relieved, she said she was picturing a phone call to me telling me we were screwed.  Kevin’s ripe for some payback…he won’t know where, he won’t know when, but trust me…it’s coming.


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After the all good on Framing & Mechanical, Janice had the insulators on deck and in no time the walls were all fuzzy. Oh, and she passed that inspection too.

Next up drywall delivery. Unfortunately when the guys delivered the drywall they scraped the shingles on the roof of the box bay window.  It’s killing Janice to see her house with a busted lip like this.  Not to mention a cracked window in the same spot – building pretty ain’t easy.




This was also Janice’s first experience having to charge one trade to have another trade come back and fix the work they damaged.  Back charges aren’t fun.  Let alone its the roofers who took a loooooong time to get there in the first place.  Now she’s on hold for the fix.  I think if she could she would start charging interest for every day she’s waiting.

Meanwhile the rest of the house just keeps moving on.  Drywall is in and the last coat of mud went on the walls today.  Pretty soon all the fun stuff is going to show up and it will be like Christmas morning, everyday.  Kinda.  You know, if you asked Santa for Cabinets and lots of trim material.

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I asked Janice if she felt like she pushed the boulder up the hill and now she could catch some speed on the downhill.  She said yes, it was feeling really good.  She said she feels like she knows how to talk to the trades and get what she needs.

Recently she ran into Sam from Southern Energy Management during his inspection and when she told him about her role in the project he said, ‘you wanted to build a house and they let you build a castle!’  Which reminded me of my favorite Taylor Swift lyric from New Romantics.  Swifty sings, ‘Cuz baby I can build a castle, out of all the bricks they threw at me.’

Preach, Tay Tay.  So can the Ginge.

Real Deal Building – Week 4 in Review

Framing Emojis

Ginge sent me this picture earlier in the week.  She said the framers had accurately captured her entire range of emotions this week.

Unfortunately, I think the theme of this week was Grumpy Young Builders…it’s more of a drama, less like the wildly entertaining comedy, Grumpy Old Men.  Kube was grumpy.  Janice was grumpy.  No one could find the damn stairs and the framers were grumpy.  It was grumpfest.

It was a few days of cluster upon cluster.  Such is building.  This isn’t reality show building.  This is real deal –I called for my stairs and they aren’t here and framers are pissed because they still have to frame the second floor –  building.

It wasn’t all bad.  There was a surprise superhero visit.

Janice scheduled Tri-City to install insulation behind the tub walls and she wanted to be sure they knew they didn’t have to shimmy up the framed walls to get to the second floor.  She walked in and spoke to the guy on the first floor explaining somewhat apologetically that he didn’t have to go up to the second floor unless he was Spiderman.  As soon as the words left her mouth she heard a voice from the second floor proclaim, ‘I’M SPIDERMAN!!’

Sometimes real deal building also includes heroes coming to our rescue – shimmying up framed walls to install insulation. Thank goodness for the heroes.

So those missing stairs?  Well, good story actually.  It was our fault.  The ‘office’ folks.  See third emoji above.

We were holding on sending out the full job start (which includes all the purchase orders for Ginge’s house) until the selections were 100% complete.  And by 100% we actually meant more like 110%.  Parade houses tend to have a few bells & whistles that take longer to price because they’re just that special.  Which means sometimes complete means more than complete – not just the individual special selection itself but the special pricing too.  It’s i dotting and t crossing down to the very last letter.  And it means the stair purchase order didn’t keep up with Ginge’s framing progress.  #oops  #ourbad

Ever the Rock Star, even without the stairs Janice found a way to make it work.  Proving good attitudes and superheroes are the best way to claw yourself out of a grumpy period.


By Friday this gorgeous house and it’s gorgeous builder were all smiles.

All ready for mechanical trades to begin.  Back to the real deal building part…Janice & her partner, Krista, have sold beyond our wildest projections this year.  Already well exceeding last years total.  By June.  That’s a lot of houses for the trades to build.  Which means her house is in line.  Behind several sold houses with Guaranteed Closing Dates.

Sometimes Models and Parade Homes are moved to the front of the line – due to tight deadlines and even tighter stress levels.  I mentioned the possibility to Janice and told her it was up to Will to determine the order of production, hence his title, Production Manager.

Janice brushed it off – she said she was cool waiting in line for trades like a real deal builder.  She added, our sold homes and our buyers come first.

I think the framers missed a few emojis…the smiley one with the halo and a great big heart.  #LGIC #2LGIC2quit

‘Is it too early to start screaming?’ – Week 3 in Review

IMG_2994This week tried all of Ginge’s patience and then some.

It started off with #MajorFailMonday – Janice forgot to call for inspection on her garage block pins.  Remember how we changed the garage and had to re-permit?  Well, the garage is just a few steps behind the house and Ginge was hoping to make up that time and have them in sync by framing.  

She was particularly peeved at herself for forgetting a step she just did a week ago (on the house).  And by particularly peeved, I mean she was particularly pissed off.  

Here’s something you need to know about our girl…there are people who are hard on themselves…and then there’s the Ginge.  She’s in a class all her own.  When she makes a mistake, she feels it so acutely we usually have to console her.

In the midst of #MajorFailMonday, and in preparation for the framers showing up on Tuesday – Janice was still trying desperately to get power to her site.  And it wasn’t going as well as she hoped.  Everyone at Duke kept telling her there was no work order…even though there was.  We think the disconnect had to be between Duke and their subcontractor, Mastec.  But knowing that wasn’t getting us any closer to having power.  Finally, after trying to pull a few strings with the developer to lean on Duke, they put her in touch with a guy named Derryl who was supposed to be her go-to.  But all he kept saying was, ‘I’m gonna call someone and then I’ll call you back.’    That’s a pretty weak go-to game.   It needed work.   So on the very next ‘call you back’, Janice told Derryl she was ‘beyond frustrated’ and walked out of the sales center – phone in hand, tension in her voice.  Krista and I exchanged big-eyed facial expressions because we could tell Derryl was about to see a whole new side of the Ginge.   

I don’t know what she said but somehow, some way, Ginge had power the next day.  Ginge’s go-to game is a few notches above Derryl’s.   

By the middle of the week she had power & framers…what she didn’t have, was lumber.  She had some of it, just not all of it.  Her 2x4x16’s were missing and she wasn’t happy about it.  That’s when she texted asking me if it was too early to start screaming.  I assured her it is never too early to start screaming.

It must have worked because by Friday, the entire first floor was framed and Ginge was smiling again. Full emotion spectrum week.  Proving the only thing standing between #MajorFailMonday and #EffYeahFriday are a few good screams and a tight go-to game.


Under my (teeny tiny) Umbrella-ella-ella – Week 2 in Review


Janice Parasol


First things first…after last week’s nasty sunburn, we thought it only right to get some proper sun protection for our girl.  Sunscreen only takes you so far…so what do you get the most stylish builder on the block?  A pink parasol of course.

I didn’t mean to buy the worlds smallest pink parasol but that’s just what I did.  It looks more like an oversized drink umbrella than a parasol.  It’s just right to accessorize a cocktail roughly the size of a big gulp.  I don’t think it’s going to provide much sun protection and our big gulp cocktails aren’t going to accessorize themselves so sunscreen will have to stay on the job.

Unless they make big floppy hard hats.

Which kinda defeats the hard part of the hard hat.


Monday was a holiday so Ginge packed 5 working days into 4 and hit all her big milestones for the week. Starting with her first job site crush on Clint from Griffin Masonry.  I can attest to Clint’s charms.  The man has a twang-tastic accent, knowledge for days and speaks fluent ‘acts of service’ like only a true gentleman can.

Clint showed up on Tuesday just as Janice was about to lose it because the rain from Monday washed away all the foundation heights they sprayed on the footings the week prior.  She was worried but Clint was all, ‘I got you’ and he even saved one of her block pins that had fallen out and was causing her all kinds of strife.  Clint’s calm demeanor was like job site prozac.

In non crush jobsite news – Janice also picked up the garage permit on Tuesday …by Wed footing inspections passed and she was ready to pour!

Also on Wednesday, she got her first experience with ‘Trade Time’ – the masons told her they would show up before lunch which apparently meant, 4 o’clock.  I don’t know about y’all but if I waited to eat lunch until 4 o’clock, heads would roll.

Last week Ginge also got her first experience with ‘Trade on Trade Crime’ -Duke Power came out to install her meter but couldn’t establish power because at some point, AT&T cut the line.  It’s hard out there for a utility.  And since the Duke crews have not been back out yet, Ginge put Will on notice for a generator.  We can’t have the framers showing up this week with no juice for their nail guns.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, a teenager without wifi and a framer with no power source.  Ginge is all over Power Plan B.

In between scheduling and stalking her job site for trades, Kevin taught Janice the difference between level and plumb.  Level describes a horizontal plane while plumb refers to a vertical one.   For instance, a yard is described as level, a wall is described as plumb.  Kevin is a one-man construction wikipedia.

Now that she has a better handle on scheduling, I asked Janice a few questions about her experience so far:

What’s been your biggest surprise about building?

Ginge:  It’s crazy how quickly things change.  I’ve erased things on my calendar 7000 times b/c the schedule changes everyday.  Things finish up quicker or take longer – I was supposed to have brick on Friday, then didn’t get it til Tuesday b/c the selections weren’t posted with brick color.  And this is just one house – Kevin doesn’t even know how many houses he has in production right now – he estimates somewhere between 40-50 right now.   I can’t even imagine. 

What’s your favorite part so far?

Ginge:  Learning about foundation heights – it was the most involved I got to be in the building process.  I got to determine the number of stairs and rails or not…I knew I wasn’t going to get a hammer and nails and help build so this was the most interactive.  And collaborative with the trades.

She also added how much she likes hanging out with Kevin everyday.  She feels like she has a better understanding of working together.  She always gives him a hard time about being cranky and now she knows exactly why he’s cranky.  She suspects Kevin might secretly enjoy her tagging along and asking questions.  She also thinks he thoroughly enjoys when she panics.  Like when they covered her footings in dirt.  Her freak out threshold is just a little shorter than Kevin’s.

What are you most afraid of right now?

The next day.  I’m always scared of the next day.


I’m not sure I buy that…here she is on Friday – a girl sitting atop her immaculate foundation.  Janice Jobsite

No rails needed – she got the height just right.

Not a piece of trash in sight.

Smiling like someone who worked really hard outside of her comfort zone all week and has so much to show for it.

She came a long way from the scene below when the masons showed up hours after they said they would.  I don’t think she should be scared of the next day, I think the next day better be scared of the Ginge.

Cuz she’s coming for ya.    And she’s bringing her tiny pink parasol with her.

Ginge at Work – Week 1 in Review


What’s in a name?  Well…if you’re trying to pull permits in Chatham County, apparently a lot.  For this reason and for the sake of plain-old accuracy our Build Like a Ginge house will henceforth be referred to as our Parade Home, not our Model Home.  The Ginge is taking her title stripping quite well.  The actual Model Home will be the one we build next door.  The one Kevin is building.  Models Homes are super fussy – not unlike the alleged reputations of actual models.

Monday – We Got a Permit – Now What?  

Armed with a legit permit in her hot little hands, Janice was ready to go.  We sat down with Kevin and listened while he rattled off the schedule for the next two weeks.  We stuck with him for a while – we held on through the variables of who shows when, who needs to know who shows and who needs to know who doesn’t show – but by the third round of what if scenarios I swear I saw smoke coming out of Janice’s pencil.  I called a time out and asked Kevin to give us a visual, we both had construction scheduling induced vertigo.

Here we are putting our heads together:

Janice, Kevin & Me

We look pretty intense, huh?  I bet you’re guessing we came up with something brilliant.

Guess again.  We came up with this illegible mess of a schedule but you know what?

Ginge was gonna make it happen.  And she did.  By the end of the week, her schedule got a major Ginge upgrade.


I told you, the Ginge is stylish.  Even her old-school schedule has a pop of color.

Tuesday – Selections & Sunscreen

We kicked off the day at Studio g with an overview of the Parade selections from the Queen & Raquel.  Suffice it to say, this house is going to be ridiculous in the most spectacular way.  No reveal on selections until the final reveal – it’s worth the wait.

Meanwhile, at the job site, Janice autographed her permit box and filled it with permit card and plan goodies just in time for digging footings! Janice was so excited about the activity on her job-site she apparently forgot about the unrelenting North Carolina sun and what it can do to her fair fair skin.  That is, until it burned a reminder right onto her.  Poor Ginge – it’s hard out here for a fair skinned builder.

Janice at Jobsite

Wednesday – Passed First & Final

Imagine our surprise when Janice texted us a picture of her permit card showing the date she passed her FINAL inspection.  Nevermind it was also her first inspection.  This thing was over before it started!  Footing, Final…tomato, tomahto…we passed!

Thursday – Pour Footings

First draft of the footings poured!  We’re gonna call this the ‘rough draft’.  See Friday for more.

Friday – Take Two!  

Enter Will to help set the foundation height.  We’re pretty specific about our foundation heights around here – we hate some rails on porches when they can be avoided.  Unfortunately, the first set of foundation piers weren’t deep enough on the porch side of the house to keep the foundation height we wanted so they were dug up and replaced with a new set.

Janice said she had a Pretty Woman moment shortly after they determined which trades needed to come back and what needed to be done.  There she is standing on her job site when she suddenly looks to her right and see’s both the landscaping crew and the footing crew simultaneously headed her back way…the Richard Gere’s to her Julia Roberts.

At the end of a long and productive week – it’s moments like that when it feels really good to be the #LGIC.


New Girl goes by ‘Ginge’

BuildLikeaGINGEA month or so ago I got a call from Janice – our kick-ass, Vanilla Ice rapping, stiletto wearing, Hollywood gossiping, fashionista who, along with her partner, Krista, has broken every sales record we’ve ever had in Briar Chapel and pretty much any record we’ve ever had ever.

Janice wasn’t calling to talk about her sales or who killed it on the latest red carpet (which was kind of a bummer because if you ever want to talk red carpets, you want to talk to Janice.)  Janice was calling to talk about her career – about how she wanted to make sure she was growing, learning, and finding new ways to engage and enrich her experience working at Garman Homes.

If anyone ever doubts that Rock Stars Wanted is a real Garman Difference, I refer you to the sentence preceding this one.  A Rock Star talks about their next challenge, their next adventure, their next opportunity to grow.  Janice is a true Rock Star.

At the end of the conversation we concluded that Janice should build a house.  And just to make it interesting…we decided Janice would build our next Model Home.  I mean, go big or go build a home.  I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes.  We also decided I would sit shotgun and document her adventure here – I’m not about to miss this.   All under the watchful eye of Kevin, our construction manager in Briar Chapel, who is pretty much a construction ninja.  The man can build 3 houses in the time it takes other builders to finish one.  He will probably build 12 or so while Janice and I tag team this one single model.  We’re going to try very hard not to kill him or his patience.  There is so much beer in his future.

So last week we all got together so we could get ready to get ready to build.  Kevin took Janice through all the first steps of starting a house –  by the end of our first Build Like a Ginge sesh we hit more than a few milestones:

  1.  We called in for an account number with Duke Power and were somehow magically transferred back in time to Aunt Bea from Mayberry.  She couldn’t really help us so we hung up and went for Round 2.
  2.  We called back and stayed in the present time-space continuum and made a new friend named Daeqwan who gave us his direct line for the future because Ginge got it like that.
  3.   Janice asked Kevin if he sweats this much when he has to call for power.
  4.   That made them both laugh so hard that Kevin started making this hysterical wheezy sound that made us laugh harder.
  5.   We dubbed Janice the Lead Ginge In Charge – #LGIC and then further dubbed her #2LGICtoquit  #heyheyyyy
  6.   Janice shared her plans for footwear on the job site which will include a customized pair of red bottom #fauxboutins

Clearly so much to look forward to…did I mention we entered this model in the Parade of Homes this fall?  Which means we have a deadline for the Queen and her team to come in and merchandise. {yikes}  And we already made structural changes that will require us to re-permit.

Just trying to keep the #LGIC on her #fauxboutin toes.  Stay tuned for more.  This is Build Like a Ginge, y’all.

What Artists Do

Over the past few days I’ve spent hours on Facebook looking for anything and everything related to Prince.  Old videos, tributes, pictures of bridges turned purple…anything that honors him as the artist he was.  Like nearly everyone, I was so shocked and saddened by his passing, I found myself in a bit of purple mourning.  I couldn’t get the notes of his music out of my head.

I loved Prince’s music like so many others…yet, more than his music, it’s his artistry that truly astounded me.  They may be one in the same for most but to me his artistry is so much louder than his music.  His music was how he communicated his genius and how we experienced his artistry.  His music hit us someplace deep.  Every single time.  From the religious I Would Die 4 U to the haunt of Purple Rain.  He made us feel something when we listened to his songs. {The Beautiful Ones} His music moved us. {When Doves Cry}  Made us smile. {Let’s Go Crazy}  Shocked us. {Darling Nikki}  Overwhelmed us. {Sign O’the Times}  And now it reminds us.  He’s gone but he left us so much.  What a gift!

I learned about Prince’s passing from a text shortly before presenting at the Urban Land Institute in Philly this past week. It was a group text with two other builder friends, Jenn Nowalk from Homes by Dickerson and Michelle Simms from Terramor Homes asking, ‘IS THIS TRUE?!’  Sadly, yes.  We were inconsolably sad cry face emoji over the whole thing.

My favorite tribute so far is by the cast of The Color Purple, led by Jennifer Hudson, eulogizing Prince by singing Purple Rain along with the audience.

What I love most about this tribute is how joyful it is. I actually love more than a few things about it.

I love the woman who starts out singing the first few words of the song sounding a bit like Prince and then abruptly trades that in for a much higher octave…one that is uniquely hers and clearly God given.  The first time I listened, that transition in her voice just shattered me.  The way she took a song we’ve heard 1000 times and made it new again by singing a version all her own. It’s so powerful seeing this tiny woman, hearing her enormous voice and feeling her emotion.  Her artistry is undeniable.

I also love watching her cast members react to her voice.  The woman behind her reaches both hands to her head in disbelief – feeling the full brunt of this woman’s gift and artistry.  Along with everyone around her cheering, encouraging her to keep going, she actually gets better and better…she sings so clearly and her voice is so strong…every note saturated with passion and love.

Then Jennifer Hudson joins in and sings her version.  Totally different.  Completely her own.  Again the cast members rally around her and she sings louder and louder…with joy, with love, with her gift.  At the end she asks the music to be turned down so they can sing with the audience, just their voices.  In tribute.  To maybe one of these most talented musicians ever.  Again, what a gift!

So what does this have to do with a blog about building like a girl?  Pretty much nothing.  Except for the fact that each of us has the potential to be an artist at whatever we do, like Prince.  Each of us holds within us the power to encourage other artists and pay tribute to each other, like the cast of The Color Purple.  Each of us can bear witness to each other’s greatness and respond in a visceral way – hands on our head, waiving the other person on, cheering them to sing louder and louder and louder.  How cool is that?  So maybe not nothing…maybe Prince’s artistry and the tribute to his artistry by other artists has everything to do with what each of us does.  When we do something we love with passion and talent and generosity to other artists, we become artists ourselves.

It’s what, in my opinion, artists do.  They make something or do something wonderful and then they encourage and inspire others to do the same.  Jenn and Michelle and I do that for each other.  Everyone at Garman Homes does that for each other.  The agents at BH&G Go Realty do that for each other.  All the people I had the pleasure to be with and present with at ULI do that for each other.  We are all artists.  Whether you’re a homebuilder, a designer, a lender, an agent, a writer…in all things, let us do them with love, passion, talent and generosity.  We can be a gift to each other.  We can each leave our own legacy.  They may not turn all the bridges and buildings purple in our honor but then again…who knows?  They just might.

Per Square Foot

I was talking to an agent recently who used to work onsite for a building company that’s relatively new to our market in Raleigh-Durham.  Basically, he said this builder’s whole sales pitch was based on price per square foot.  That’s it.  As low as they can get it.  Price per square foot.

Well, it’s a clear metric. I’ll give them that.

And I’ll also give them – there’s certainly a market for it.  Sometimes what people need is as much space as they can get for the least amount of money.  There’s no shame in that.  There’s no shame, ever, in what the buyer wants or needs.

But for the builder?  I think we can all agree on a higher bar.  For ourselves and our buyers.

Garman Homes is not a price per square foot builder.  And neither is our new brand, Fresh Paint by Garman Homes.  Make no mistake, we saturate our homes in value, let there be no doubt about that.  But our value proposition is not about the lowest price per square foot.

Your home is a sacred space…you celebrate your milestones here, you grieve your losses, you welcome family and friends here to feel your love and share your life.  And there ain’t nothing cheap about that.  Nothing.

We want to build homes that allow our buyers to live a really good life.  Truly.  A great life is what we’re after with our homes.  And for that, our bar is higher than just price per square foot.  I mean, we pay attention to it because bankers gonna bank and appraisers gonna appraise.  But when we design a home, we’re thinking about the life per square foot.  And as far as we’re concerned, the higher the better.