Before settling on their Cockeysville home, Bonnie and Scott Tarantino looked at more than 35 different properties.
“I would walk into the foyer and walk out,” recalls Bonnie. “I’d look at Scott and say, ‘That’s not it.’” But when they pulled up to a 1940s rancher set on a beautiful three-acre property, they felt certain they’d found a place to call home. “I loved the way the property was tucked back,” says Bonnie, “and there were peonies in bloom. Before we went inside, we just knew.”
But eight years and three growing children later, the house no longer felt like “the one.”
“The flow was bad,” says Bonnie, director of the Healing Pathways Program at the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Medicine. “None of it made any sense.”
The Tarantinos set out to do an extensive renovation, but felt that wouldn’t quite suffice.
“Even with renovations, we wouldn’t have the high ceilings we wanted, and we’d still be working with old electricity and heating,” points out Bonnie.
They were in love with the property, but the cost of building a brand new home was high. What to do? “I was talking to contractors, and they suggested modulars,” says Scott, an orthopedist at Towson Orthopaedic Associates. “They said for $125 to $150 a square foot you can build a modular versus a ‘stick’-built house. I looked into it and the fact that there would be no weather delays, and that these homes are built to withstand being driven 70 miles an hour down a highway, convinced me it was the way to go.”
Bonnie wasn’t so sure. “I just didn’t see the appeal,” she says.
But once Bonnie realized she could actually customize the pre-fab home, she was on board. “I opened up the walls,” she says. “I moved the staircase, changed the kitchen, and expanded the footprint. My goal was to have rooms that were really usable and had a good flow.”
Sweetening the deal were the tax breaks and the lower utility bills from the home’s green features (geothermal heating, triple insulation, energy-efficient windows). Another incentive: a substantial tax break for donating the ranch to Second Chance, which salvaged everything from floorboards to hardware.
On March 15, 2010, the house arrived for installation. “This huge crane came and pieces of the house were dangling in the air,” says Bonnie. “They laid all the modulars down, and we watched each part click into its spot like Legos. By the end of the first day, we were walking around the house, and by day two, we had shingles on the roof.”
In the ensuing months, the second floor was built on site, and drywall work, as well as painting, plumbing, and finishes were all completed. By mid-September, and 35 feet from where their old home once stood, the Tarantinos moved into their new, five-bedroom, and four-bath home. “We doubled our square footage to 4,800 square feet,” says Scott, “and cut our fuel costs substantially.”
And the best part? Even for these choosy homeowners, it’s exactly what they envisioned.
“It’s just nice to come home to a house that we really want to be in,” sums up Scott.