architect: Garen Fechter AIA
Don Cushman, Buda Lee, and Taylor Dansby
building a house
Seven Springs, El Cerrito, California
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In the winter of 2005 Don had a restless night where he awoke to find himself searching the web for real estate in the East Bay. Not sure why he was looking as he and his wife had no need for a new home. Providence found him when hitting upon an open house for an undeveloped piece of land in the hills of El Cerrito. He recorded the time in his head and went back to sleep. the next morning he convinced JoAnn to go see it on a lark. Winding their way up the hill they found themselves in a weird mood. Something akin to giddiness, but more serious. Once at the site they found themselves in a place full of tangible energy. A dogleg of a property overgrown with trees and grasses with a small meditation hut and daylighted stream trickling into a pond. Iddylic to be sure, but in no respect a profitable piece of land for any developer. The access was too complex as it was surrounded by five other properties and shared a driveway with one. But something about it struck a chord with the two of them. The brainstormed on reasons to buy the property. They spoke with the owner and made a bond with her. Later that Sunday, they placed a bid and waited it out. Two days later they found out they had the winning bid. Even though it was not the highest, the woman felt that they deserved the land as they were looking to build a home for their daughter's family. This is the story of the epic journey of building a house.