Member spotlight Start-Living Homes: Discovering every home’s uniqueness
By Tess Wittler hether it’s racing his Formula Vee car, zinging around country roads in his 1976 MG, or building a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home, Larry Mellott isn’t one to stand idly by. Mellott started out like many other builders. In 1977, he was working as a draftsman for a custom homebuilder and was compelled to learn more about the building trade. “Once my design work was completed for the day, I’d head out to the job site to give the guys a hand – and learn the trade myself,” said Mellott. A few months later he broke ground and began building his own home. By 1984 he launched Start-Living Homes and has been constructing unique homes ever since. In fact, no two homes he’s built in 30 years have been identical, something he takes great pride in. As he explains it, “I find lots – those that others may not see the beauty in – and design a home to fit the landscape. A home should look like it grew there.” Designing a home to fit the terrain and needs of the homeowners is one of his biggest challenges and rewards. “For me, each house is meant to be different, and that’s what gets me pumped up about each home I build.” Mellott builds one or two homes a year and does all of the work himself from pouring the footers and laying the roofing to running the electrical and installing the cabinetry. Sometimes he gets help, but most days, he’s on the job site doing the work himself. “My homes are a series of smaller projects,” he explains. “That’s what I enjoy about being a builder. Every day I
work on a different piece of the house, and just like a puzzle, they all come together in the end.” Mellott said that he’s had many memorable projects over the years, but one design-build project stands out. The lot was sloped, so he created a home around a central stairway that was segmented into half-flights leading to each of the five levels – two levels were for the basement and the remaining three were living quarters. “That one was inspired by Wright’s Fallingwater,” he chuckled. Mellott is also a certified building code inspector, and over time he’s evolved into “the codes guy.” “There are builders still struggling to interpret the code, and I help them gain a better understanding,” he said, adding that his years experience, along with attaining his certification, means that “Most guys are comfortable having a builder as their inspector. They trust me to know what I am talking about.” As for the future, he said, “I think we’re going to see home designs evolving. Because of the aging population, I expect to see smaller, manageable homes being built, while still including the first-rate amenities people enjoy.” And change is what energizes Mellott. “After a while, things get stale and need freshened up. That’s what the building industry is going through right now, and I am excited to discover what new ideas are awaiting us when we zip around this bend.” s
Business quick facts: Start-Living Homes • Years in business: 24 years • County of operation: York • Local association: York County Builders Association • Association involvement: 2008 president, York County BA ; PBA and NAHB board of directors member; voting member at final 2009 IRC Code hearings • Recent awards: Spike Club: 100 Level November/December 2008 • Keystone Builder
10/21/08 4:37:47 PM
Spotlighting creative custom builder, Larry Mellott, and his York County Pennsylvania business.