Ever since he was a kid, Jeremy Miller fantasized about building his dream home. Admittedly, his vision back then had a few more bells and whistles.
“The older I get, the more I value simplicity and smaller structures,” he said.
However, even though his minimalist vision came to fruition after four laboring months, he did concede that he always wanted to build a treehouse extending above a dense forest, with windows that offer a panoramic view. “Then I could have friends over to play music while watching the sun set on a sea of trees.”
Who says we need to grow up, anyways?
Other than the occasional fantastical daydream, Miller (estimator for Compton Construction by day, drummer for the Cordial Sins by night) says his new Franklinton home is just how he wants it: simple, open, spacious, and minimal, with high windows with higher ceiling, offering up tons of natural light. Standing atop the modish hardwood floors in the upstairs loft, you have ample view of the whole house—a kitchen dominated floor plan complete with stylized cement floors, all wrapped neatly inside a durable yet cost effective fiber cement siding.
A lot can happen in a year when you have a little bit of cash, a well-defined vision, and the work ethic of a touring drummer.
Welcome to the Jam House.
I presume you will be using the house as a jam space for The Cordial Sins—do you think this type of structure is able to keep sound safely inside?
Yea! Right now the doors still need some treatment but the back room of my house is constructed with a sound-isolating wall. When playing music in the back room you can hear almost nothing at the street.
Do songwriting and architecture have any surprising similarities?
As a drummer, I’m not the one bringing an initial song idea to the table when playing with bands. I try to be a good listener and craft simple parts that complement the song. I admire drummers that create great space for a song to build on rather than play lots of notes. The goal was the similar with the house, try and create a space for creative ideas to develop.
What are the benefits of building from the ground up versus, renovating?
From an aesthetic/spatial perspective you have a blank slate and can explore different spatial relationships with greater freedom. From a practical perspective, you have a well-insulated new structure with new mechanical systems that will ideally be low maintenance for many years.
Why did you choose minimalism as the design aesthetic for the JAM house?
Minimalism is more than an aesthetic for me, it’s part of my overall lifestyle. I’m aware of the vast expanse of life and culture of which I’m completely ignorant, trying to keep things simple is a fulfilling way for me to explore the unknown. I’ve experienced the value of “less is more” in many areas of my life, and I appreciate it in design as well.
How much does this entire project cost? Break it down for me in layman’s terms.
I did all the design and drafting myself, so I had no cost there. Including land the entire project came in just under $150K, but I work in construction and got just about every deal in the book. It easily could have cost another $20-40K.
How long did this entire process take from start to finish?
I applied to purchase the lot and started working on the design in October 2015. It took about six months to close on the lot, but as soon as I did I started working with a bank on financing. It took another six months to work through the bank process, but as soon as I closed on a loan we started building in October 2016. I moved in about 4.5 months after we broke ground.
What is the City of Columbus Land Bank Program? Do potential buyers secure the land before or after they come to you? How does that process work?
For various reasons, certain properties end up in the hands of the city. The Land Bank offers some of these vacant properties for sale if you propose a plan to rehab or build on them. When applying for a lot that you aim to build on you have to show your design intent, a basic floor plan and elevations of what you are proposing to build, as well as proof of financing to show you have the resources to complete to project.
How much freedom do potential buyers have when it comes to designing their own home?
It depends on where you choose to build. Some neighborhoods have area commissions and architectural review boards with design restrictions. Franklinton has an area commission that I presented my plans to prior to being approved to purchase a lot from the Land Bank. The Franklinton area commission was very supportive of my efforts though; I was able to build my home just like I designed it.
So, I am ready to build a home. What types of questions should I be asking?
So many questions. Does the Land Bank have any lots you’d be interested in? Does the property you’re looking at have existing utilities (water/sewer)? Are there any design restrictions you need to take into account? When looking at a lot that once had a building that’s been torn down, how will this affect your foundation? What’s your priority: time, budget, or quality?
What advice do you have for those who wish to build their own home?
Get hands on with the process, there’s something to learn every step of the way.