But even as the development known as Rocking Horse Farm is built up with 136 residential lots and a 70,000-square-foot office park in the center of it all, the couple and their three daughters aren't worried about their home losing its unique look on the block.
Developer Ken Promersberger and his partners are taking an unusual step to ensure the homes in this rural-themed development all stand out. Buyers and builders will get help from an architect to differentiate the outside look through the use of materials, paint colors and window placement, even if many of the structures will boast identical floor plans.
"As a homebuyer, you want the inside to work," he said. "They sometimes aren't as concerned about the outside, and as a developer based on what we're doing, we're more concerned about the exterior."
If all goes according to plan, Promersberger said the extra effort could add more value and prevent the rise of identical houses that have popped up in some other new neighborhoods.
The Schulz family was drawn to Rocking Horse Farm, which was bought by Promersberger 20 years ago when 52nd Avenue South was just a gravel road outside of town, because of its potential to become a small community inside the city.
They bought a residential lot, chose a builder and picked out a floor plan they liked, but they weren't quite ready to build yet.
The couple submitted their plans and got feedback from Chris Hawley of Chris Hawley Architects, who will provide the design services for builders and buyers there.
They were asked to include a maximum budget and submit photos of "inspiration homes" to give Hawley an idea of what was most important to the couple.
Hawley made several suggestions to tweak the exterior, including a revamped roof line, a more pronounced front entrance and the addition of round windows, and the couple and builder responded with what they wanted to do.
"It just worked out that they designed it better than what we had even envisioned," Nicole Schulz said.
Dan Schulz said it was a "cool perk" to get to work with an architect to spruce up the exterior—a rarity for most homebuyers in all but the most expensive price ranges—and it could be especially valuable once they have neighbors.
"It's almost a danger being the first house in a development that you don't know exactly what you're getting into," he said. "You don't know what the development is going to be 10, 15, 20 years down the road, where here, it was helpful because you had an idea what it was going to be."
'Raise the bar'
The Schulz family was the first to go through the process, but that extra design work will come up for all builders and buyers in Rocking Horse Farm.
It all starts with submitting a floor plan, budget and photos of inspiration homes. After Hawley makes recommended changes to the plan and the builder comes back with what they're willing to do, developers give their final approval, and the house can be built.
Still, Promersberger said the requirements are intentionally flexible because the goal is to keep the housing unique. The design work is like "putting the frosting on the cake," he said, and the extra effort can take things to the next level.
"What most homebuyers are interested in obviously is buying a good cake, so that's what they're submitting to us," Hawley said. "We're adding to that."
The approval process will become more complicated as more houses are built, Promersberger said. For example, a buyer might be urged to choose a different paint color if the neighboring home is already that color.
But he said the 18 builders planning to work in the new development haven't stressed out over the extra steps so far, and he sees the design work as a "win-win-win" for the builder, buyer and developer.
The houses will look better as a result, he said, while the builder gets a more interesting house and the developer can achieve the goal of building a well-designed community.
"You want to make sure that the value holds up on your house and there's not something goofy going in next door," Promersberger said. "We have an obligation as a developer to do things, in my mind, a little better than average."
The master plan for Rocking Horse Farm includes the construction of several more farmstead-themed buildings that, when combined with the two barn structures already in the central loop of the development, will offer 70,000 square feet of leased office space.
A new park and pond are in the plan, as is a future commercial site that could house retail or mixed-use buildings on the corner of Veterans Boulevard and 52nd Avenue.
Bright Futures Learning Center has already bought a lot in the southwest area of Rocking Horse Farm and is expected to open a child care center there next year.
Overall, Promersberger said his goal is to demonstrate that a little extra design effort can make a big difference.
"I think what we're doing here is nudging everybody to kind of raise the bar a little bit and play the game," he said.
Source : http://www.inforum.com/business/4046359-new-fargo-development-will-make-each-home-stand-out-help-architect