Northwest Observer Fall 2020

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fall 2020

IN THIS ISSUE Demand for home offices soars ................6 Family rebuilds after fire destroys home ...8 Outdoor projects surge during COVID ... 10 Before you select that paint color ........... 11 How kids played “Back in the day�........ 12 Perks, perils of working remotely ............. 14 Appliances, lumber on backorder ......... 18 Index of Advertisers................................... 31

published communica tions publishedbybyps ps communications


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Back to School! 4

Fall 2020


You dream it ...let us build it

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The home

office, from luxury to necessity

Photo courtesy of Ray Bullins Construction Co.

BUILT CUSTOM-

by ANNETTE JOYCE

“We cannot say enough about their pride in workmanship and attention to detail. They were very involved in every aspect of our build and we always felt they treated our project as if it were their own. We commend Johnson & Lee for their work ethic and quality of service. We would definitely work with them again.” - Brandon & Paula Payne, Oak Ridge

Johnson & Lee completed this custom-built home in Oak Ridge at the end of 2019.

Mike Lee (336) 362.4462 Rick Lee (336) 362.4461

Casey Johnson (336) 706.1887 Commie Johnson (336) 706.2658

www.JohnsonandLeeLLC.com

6

Ray Bullins, owner of Ray Bullins Construction Co., likes to break up the space in his home offices by adding built-ins and areas that can be used for conversation and reading.

Fall 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions have changed nearly every aspect of our lives, including the function of our homes. When corporate offices shut down and stay-at-home orders went into effect, growing numbers of people found themselves bringing their work – all of it – home. While an estimated 55 percent of homes are equipped with home offices, that still leaves a huge number of people lacking dedicated space for working at home. Consequently, they’ve sought refuge in extra bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchen tables or on the living room sofa – places that aren’t exactly conducive to conducting business. As businesses and employees consider making this shift to working from home permanent, real estate professionals quoted in Realtor Magazine say the trend will likely lead to home offices becoming “…a hot amenity for the long term.”

To find out how our local market is affected by this trend, we reached out to several builders and Realtors based in northwestern Guilford County and here’s what they had to say …

Wanted: dedicated home work space

When we caught up with Ray Bullins, owner of Ray Bullins Construction Co., ironically, he was leaving a meeting with a couple who wanted to add a home office to some unfinished attic space in their home.

“In the last 10 years, a home office has typically been a place to pay the bills or keep up with the family budget,” said Bullins. “Now, most families have at least one person working from home. Once a luxury item, a home office has become a necessity.”

Moving forward, Bullins said all the company’s spec homes will have at least one dedicated home office. In fact, as a participant in Greensboro Builders

continued on page 28


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Serving the Triad for over 23 years!


‘We’re going to get out of this house’

Photo courtesy of Kelly Tysinger

“We’re ready to get back,” said Shane Tysinger, sitting with his wife, Kelly, their children Carter and Addison, and the family’s new dog, Rosie, on the deck of their rebuilt home on Strawberry Road in Summerfield.

Showcasing New Residential Construction

Open Houses

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GreensboroBuilders.org 8

Fall 2020

After escaping from their burning house, a Summerfield family grappled with losses, nightmares and insurance claims by CHRIS BURRITT SUMMERFIELD – Shane and Kelly Tysinger are preparing to return to their rebuilt home on Strawberry Road, almost 10 months after a fire and smoke destroyed their original home and most of their belongings. Shortly after midnight last Dec. 12, the couple awoke to the loud beeping of a smoke detector. They quickly roused their children, Addison and Carter, and exited the smoke-filled house into the freezing darkness. The family shivered as sirens and flashing lights of fire trucks approached. It was the start of an ordeal that, like the scent of smoke lingering in Shane’s guitar case, isn’t over, even though the restoration of

the Tysingers’ brick house is nearly complete.

“I’m anticipating, but I just don’t want to get too excited,” Kelly said one Saturday morning in September while sitting with Shane in the backyard of their home overlooking Lake Brandt. They hope to move back in within the next few weeks. Summerfield Fire Chief Chris Johnson, whose team was the first to arrive on the scene of the fire, said the smoke detector in the Tysingers’ house may have saved the family’s lives. Kelly said they also had discussed a fire escape plan, another critical precaution recommended by Johnson and his northwest Guilford

continued on page 25


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COVID-19 ‘cocooning’ sparks demand for outdoor projects Homeowners spend on outdoor improvements versus planned getaways by CHRIS BURRITT NW GUILFORD – The COVID-19 outbreak pushed Jennifer LovedayDonovan and her husband, Jason Donovan, over the edge. The Oak Ridge couple was planning to build a patio and firepit in the backyard of their Oak Ridge home several months down the road. The COVID-19 outbreak in March accelerated their plans, as it has done for other northwest Guilford families who have been spending their extra money on outdoor improvements instead of on vacations. “With both of us at home, it made more sense for us to move forward with the project,” said Jennifer,

a Northwest Guilford High School teacher and cheerleading coach. She and her husband, an executive with Herbalife Nutrition, got their project done six months earlier than initially planned, she said.

With the arrival of fall, the couple has spent more time on their new patio and sitting by the fire in their new firepit. Jennifer said she likes drinking coffee while looking across their yard at a big oak tree on an adjoining property. After COVID-19 forced them to cancel their summer vacation plans, retirees Ron and Lynn Black of Oak Ridge hired New Garden Landscaping to remake their backyard pool area, adding a firepit, a terrace and new plants, among other improvements. “The timing seemed right in that we were home and here to make decisions,” Lynn said.

Whether you’re looking for fresh seasonal plants to renew your garden or want to transform your landscape with a refreshing redesign, New Garden is the place to let your imagination take root. Come in or contact us today.

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Fall 2020

Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications

Jennifer Loveday-Donovan and her husband, Jason Donovan, accelerated plans for building a patio and firepit after COVID-19 forced them to work from home. Triad Leisure Scapes, the Greensborobased contractor the Donovans hired, has seen a definite increase in home projects related to the impact of the coronavirus, said Chuck Barbour, who owns the company with his wife, Cheryl. “Since COVID-19 hit, people have been staying at home instead of traveling to Europe or Disney or out West,” observed Matt Hunter, president of New Garden Landscaping & Nursery. “We’re seeing more cocooning in our society as people are investing a lot more in patios, firepits and fireplaces.” Hunter confirmed New Garden sales have increased significantly over the last several months, and said homeowners are not only spending on permanent improvements but also on flowers and other plants to dress up their property. “They want it to look nice,” he said. Terry Burns, owner of Colonial Masonry, agrees. “Now that people are at home, they’ve got time to look around and see what they need to do,” Burns said.

In recent months, he’s built patios and firepits, replaced sinking steps and other “projects that homeowners planned to take care of eventually but are now staring them in the face.” The owners of several other landscaping and outdoor home improvement companies with clients in northwestern Guilford County said they’re also experiencing an uptick in sales since the COVID-19 outbreak last spring. “When it first hit, we were really scared,” said Tim Welborn, owner of Southern Style Concrete & Landscapes. Just when the Kernersville-based company was preparing for the busy spring season, the phone stopped ringing as the virus basically shut down the economy, leading employers to lay off workers and cut hours. “I was thinking, ‘this isn’t going to be good,’” Welborn said. “Nobody has to do concrete work or landscaping.” As summer got underway, however, Welborn said he began fielding more calls from homeowners wanting patios,

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Selecting paint colors – easy, right? Not necessarily. Paint colors may look quite different when applied to your walls at home than they did in the showroom, so it’s a good idea to test a sample at home before making your final selection by PATTI STOKES Ever picked out a paint color that seemed the perfect choice when you were looking at a small sample beneath the bright fluorescent lights in the paint store, only to find that soft gray looked dismal after being applied to your kitchen walls, or the navy blue seems more black – or one of the zillion “white” colors you chose appears yellow

after the sun goes down each day? As a decorative specialist and color consultant with 38 years of experience, Jean Rigsbee has helped countless people choose paint and says the same colors which may be appealing in the store can look quite different when combined with the natural light that enters a home from the outside and the various kinds of lighting found on the inside. “It can make all the difference,” Rigsbee said. “I once went into a lady’s home and she had these yellow fluorescent light bulbs. That can really affect how the paint color looks, so the first thing I told her was, ‘Let’s get those bulbs changed.’ I advise people not to make any decisions on paint until they change their light bulbs.” Rigsbee also notes that light coming from the outdoors is affected by the

continued on page 20

Adobe Stock photo

Before selecting a paint color for your walls, lighting and artwork are just some of the things you may want to take into consideration.

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11


Let’s play!

e c n e l l Exce m s a i s u h t n E e c n e i r Expe

Adobe Stock photo

“Back in the day,” before cable television, video games and the internet, kids in rural areas such as northwestern Guilford County spent most of their time playing outdoors while relying on their imaginations for entertainment.

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Fall 2020

by ANNETTE JOYCE Northwest Guilford County was once marked by tobacco farms and dirt roads, with houses few and far between. Kids spent a lot of their time working on the family farm. When it came time to play, they played hard but there weren’t any video games or vast collections of store-bought toys to entertain them, so they relied on their imaginations to fill their playtime. We asked a few people who grew up in our readership area how they entertained themselves as youngsters, and we think you’ll find their answers quite interesting. Oak Ridge resident Phyllis Anders, 77, has many fond memories of building playhouses underneath trees. “My grandpa had this big magnolia tree with lots of roots growing above the ground,” Anders said. “We used to section them off into ‘bedrooms, a kitchen and other rooms.’” Anders said she and her friends spent

hours sweeping under that tree – then suddenly realized they may have actually been working without knowing it. “Now everyone spreads mulch under the trees to keep them clean,” she said matter-of-factly. Anders also talked about her first tricycle, which she still has. “I got it when I was 6 years old and it was the biggest toy I ever got,” she said. “I rode miles up and down the driveway.” Dawn Stone, 56, grew up on a farm in Stokesdale and cherishes memories of playful activities she engaged in – at the same time, though, she said she cringes at the thought of her young grandchildren being involved with the same activities. One of Stone’s favorite pastimes as a child was playing King of the Mountain with her brother, Mark Morphies, and their friends. The goal of the game was to climb on top of

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Perks,

pitfalls

of working

from home

Employees embrace pluses and adjust to minuses of not traveling to an office to do their jobs by ANNETTE JOYCE Before COVID-19, working from home had already been rapidly gaining in popularity. Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace report from 2016 cited that 43% of U.S. employees were working from home at least some of the time. Social distancing restrictions related to COVID-19 have not only increased that number, but have given workers the opportunity to experience a new lifestyle. “The demand for flexibility in where and how people work has been building for decades,” said

Photo by Annette Joyce/PS Communications

Kelly Joyce has found many benefits to working from home since the end of March when COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, which tracks work-at-home, telecommuting, mobile work and remote work statistics.

“Before the crisis, surveys repeatedly showed 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time,” Lister noted.

Nicole E. Gillespie SPS, REALTOR®/Broker

RE/MAX Realty Consultants

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Fall 2020


INGLE LAW, PLLC We are engaged in the general practice of law, including personal injuries, business formation, misdemeanor criminal defense, family law, estate work, and residential and commercial real estate closings. Photo courtesy of David Bailey

David Bailey (shown) and his wife, Lisa, share their home office space in Stokesdale.

“Over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option,” Lister continued. “While the experience of working at home during the crisis may not have been ideal as whole families sheltered in place, it will give people a taste of what could be. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s not likely to go back in.” For many people, grabbing a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and heading down the hall to a comfortable, organized office with a great view of the backyard wildlife seems like a dream come true. Build in some flexible time to fit in some household chores and maybe even an invigorating run, and the dream gets even better. Over the last several months of the pandemic, many people have had the opportunity to see just how closely their work-at-home fantasy resembles reality. The following is a glimpse of what working from home looks like for some

of the people we spoke with who live in our readership area, and the advice they shared.

Establish boundaries

Bill Royal, an engineering manager at Volvo Group in Greensboro, began working from his Oak Ridge home when the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect late last March and has found it to be a mix of pluses and minuses. He especially likes it that getting ready to go to work is less of a task. He saves time by not having to pull together his work paraphernalia, or prepare lunch or commute to a corporate office. “I can be at my desk and working in minutes,” he said. Those things also appeal to Kelly Joyce, director of IT at Greensboro’s Pace Communications. Even before the stayat-home order, Pace began allowing employees with children to work from home once schools shut down. The majority of other employees set up home operations when the governor’s order went into effect soon afterward. As with Royal, Joyce likes being able to start work without a lot of preparation

To all our clients, neighbors, friends, and community members affected by COVID-19:

“For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7 – KJV Ronald D. Ingle, Jr. Ronnie@inglelawoffice.com

Stephen Coe

Steve@inglelawoffice.com

Stokesdale office located at: 8512 US Highway 158 Kernersville office: P.O. Box 2474, Kernersville, NC 27284

www.IngleLawOffice.com

continued on page 30

Fall 2020

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Appliances, lumber in short due to COVID-19 outbreak

supply

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Fall 2020

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sets for sale, beating out a long line of people that had formed behind them. The coronavirus outbreak in March created a collision of appliance factory shutdowns globally and soaring demand by consumers forced to stay at home. “Demand is through the roof because everyone is stuck at home so they’re remodeling and buying new appliances,” said DJ Halstead, a salesman for Hart Appliance Center in Greensboro. “At the same time, supply has pretty much diminished because of the pandemic.” Shortly after the virus outbreak, demand for freezers outran supply as homeowners uncertain about the duration of the virus stocked up on meats and other foods, Halstead said. “We always tell our customers it will be produced, but you just have to wait,” he noted. “At least 90 percent of our customers are very understanding.” The temporary shutdown last spring of lumber mills in North America crimped supply as historically low interest rates have spurred housing demand. An increase in doit-yourself projects by people stuck at home has added to the building materials shortfall. “Lumber producers both in the U.S. and Canada...curtailed operations to a great extent in March and early April, both because there were lockdown orders and they forecasted that plunge in demand,” David Logan, the director of tax, trade and policy analysis for National Association of Home Builders, told Newsweek in an article published in August. Lumber producers didn’t anticipate the strength of the housing resurgence, leading to shortages, according to Logan. Northwest Guilford homebuilder Matt Walraven is dealing with the lack of cooktops and dishwashers as well as building supplies. “We’ve had some delays for appliances, typically four to six weeks,” he said. As a result, his company, Walraven Signature Homes, recently ordered dishwashers, cooktops and other appliances for the 20 houses he’s got under contract to build, since delivery is sometimes taking several months. He also bought and put in storage PVC pipes to mitigate price increases in plumbing supplies. “We try to get ahead of possible delays,” said Walraven, adding he’s encouraging his homeowners to order plumbing fixtures and tile as early as possible. Rising lumber prices prompted Walraven

to start writing contracts for custombuilt homes that provide financial wiggle room for the builder and customers to share additional costs if prices rise during construction, he said. “Not only is lumber hard to find, but heavy demand is allowing producers to command a higher price for it,” according to an August post on Millionacres.com, a website for real estate investors. “In fact, the cost of all untreated framing lumber has risen 50% since earlier in the year while the cost of treated lumber has increased just as much, if not more.” As an example, as of last month the price for lumber that Walraven used in an Oak Ridge house he built in June 2019 had nearly doubled, to $84,200 from $48,000, according to the builder. “It’s been hard to forecast,” said Walraven. He’s hopeful industry projections for lumber prices to moderate or decline in the coming months may prove accurate. Walraven plans to build more than 30 houses this year, a record high for the company that reflects low interest rates and decisions by some homeowners to buy bigger houses now that they’re working and spending more time at home with their families. “We’re seeing the need for more private space” by homeowners wanting to create an office or a second workplace on the chance they may continue working from home after the virus wanes, he said. The shortage has also caused frustrations for real estate agents and their clients. The delivery of windows is taking as long as 24 weeks, twice as long as normal, according to Betty Smith, president of Smith Marketing in Summerfield. Slow shipments of appliances are even delaying the closing of some home sales, Smith said, explaining the installation of built-in ovens and stove tops is required before the buyer can obtain a certificate of occupancy. Some homebuyers who left appliances in their old houses aren’t able to find the new models they want in their new homes; they’re buying smaller models of refrigerators, figuring they’ll eventually put them in the garage after the models they’ve ordered actually arrive, Smith noted. Homebuyers “may not be happy, but they understand,” she said. “None of us have any choice but to accept it in this COVID world.”

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Fall 2020

19


CHOOSING PAINT COLORS continued from page 11

direction it’s coming from. “For example, the west side of your house will inject more warmth … so I think you need to look at the color a full 12 hours,” she said. “Get a white sample or poster board and two coats of the paint you like from a sample quart, hold it up in the room and move it around from wall to wall, because it won’t look the same on one wall as it does on another because of the direction of the light, the window placement, etc.” And when working in a room with little or no natural light, be careful not to pick a color that’s too dark (unless it’s a gaming room, home theater or bedroom, for example), because it can feel like a cave. As the owner of a mobile framing service, The Bare Wall, and one who is passionate about art, Rigsbee also encourages people to consider what wall colors will complement any artwork they have. “I believe in considering any artwork you have first, and choosing your paint colors afterward,” she says. Furniture or accessories that are likely to be around for a while should also be considered, so be sure to take in your surroundings and consider how they will affect the wall colors you choose.

OUTDOOR PROJECTS

continued from page 10 retaining walls and other improvements. “It exploded from there” and hasn’t slowed down since, he said. “It is wild,” Welborn said. “We’ve been busier than ever in September.” He said he looked at 17 jobs in the third week of the month alone. His company already had about 25 jobs on the books. Welborn said he’s on track for his biggest sales year in the 25 years he’s been a landscape contractor. “Some people are watching what they spend, but others are investing all the vacation money they didn’t spend on outdoor projects,” he said. On the downside for customers, many are having to wait longer than they’d like, he noted. “I’ve got four or five crews going out every day, but we can’t get caught

As for what colors are “in” this year, Rigsbee said, “Last year it was grays and this year it’s whites. Naval or navy blue accent walls are also popular … but we’re also seeing more bold statements with black – a black accent wall, or black trim.” Even within the white category, Rigsbee notes there are hundreds of different shades. “And since white is the highest reflective color, it can reflect anything from your furniture to your wall furnishings,” she noted. “So, for example, if your couch is green, it can make your white walls look more green… I’ve had people take a color home and couldn’t believe how different it looked, because the morning light comes in and is very yellow and bright, and the afternoon light is more warm.” Bottom line, to avoid being disappointed in the paint color you choose, first get a liquid sample, paint it on a sample board (not on the wall), and move it around the room with some tape, then leave it there for at least 12 hours. And when choosing exterior paint, remember your outdoor color will pull in the colors of your shrubbery, the amount and cast of the light from the sky, etc., so just as with the inside of your home, always take the reflection from your surroundings into consideration. up,” Welborn said. “Some people are aggravated, but we’re doing everything we can to make them happy.” Taylor Fay, owner of Fay’s Lawncare & Landscaping, confirmed that people who are spending more time at home “are paying more attention to their property… Once they start doing that, they call guys like us.” Some homeowners spot dead trees and limbs they hadn’t noticed before, while others decide to improve the appearance of their lawns or spend on patios and other improvements so they can enjoy spending more time outdoors, Fay said. “It’s been nonstop for us with a little bit of everything,” he added, noting homeowners are typically spending $5,000 to $6,000 for hardscaping jobs. Contractors we spoke with said the price tag for major outdoor projects such as swimming pools with decks, lighting and landscaping exceeds $50,000.

Let us

introduce you to these

local Realtors

I am different from most real estate professionals. I have built my business on results, and I am confident I can deliver for you! I live in Summerfield and have been in the local real estate industry for over 30 years. Familiarity of the market is key! I’m also active in the local community, a member of the Greensboro Builders Association, Greensboro Realtors Association, Northwest Business Partners and Summerfield Merchants Association. We can help you buy, sell, or build today!

Jan Cox

Each office is independently owned and operated

REALTOR®

(336) 382-1849 gcoxj11@gmail.com

Experience... Integrity... Compassion... these are just a few words that describe the cornerstones of business for KERBAPPEALS REAL ESTATE. As a Realtor® in the Triad since 2005, customer service is my #1 priority. If buying and/or selling a home is your priority, please give me a call. I promise to work with you – and for you – every step of the way!

Gail Kerber, CDPE, ABR, SPS, SLS REALTOR®/Broker/Owner

KERBAPPEALS REAL ESTATE (336) 327-1165 cell kerbappeals@gmail.com

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Fall 2020


The one constant throughout my career has been my passion for serving others. Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or both, I will work relentlessly to provide you with nothing but the absolute best service and guidance, tailored to the needs and wishes of you and your family. As part of the BOBBIE MAYNARD TEAM, I will use my extensive real estate knowledge and unwavering loyalty to provide you with the specialized service that you need and deserve!

Kelli Young, Bobbie Maynard Team (336) 337-4850 cell kelli.young@allentate.com • allentate.com/kelliyoung

www.bobbiemaynard.com

It’s a seller’s market so homeowners, there’s no better time to find out what your home is worth and how we can market to maximize results. If you’re a home buyer, you need an agent who will vigorously help you find the right property and do what it takes to win the bid and smoothly close the deal. With my 22 years of experience and dedication to the NW communities, I’m the wise choice either way. I love what I do, and have many happy clients, some of whom are your neighbors. You’ll find my professional expertise and friendly personalized approach the right antidote for these challenging times. Since it’s a great time to invest in your real estate future, I’m “just a home call away.” Let’s turn someday into NOW!

Kathy King

I cannot express enough gratitude to Phillip for his help with the purchase of my new home. Not only does he have a fantastic understanding of the housing market, but he goes above and beyond to make sure that I am ‘in the know.’ He explains every step of the process in detail and makes sure to communicate with all parties. Everyone at A New Dawn Realty has been supportive and encouraging throughout the process as well. An organization is only as good as those who represent it, and I think that is what makes A New Dawn Realty such an ideal company for those looking to purchase or sell a home.

Phillip Stone REALTOR®

(336) 908-6528 phillipstone84@gmail.com

I’ve been a Guilford County resident for over 40 years and have learned a lot about things that impact the real estate market in our area. To me, giving clients my full and personal attention is critical. Over the years, many clients have become friends, and I am deeply grateful that their referrals have helped fuel my real estate career over the last 22 years. It’s always an honor when someone allows me to help them buy or sell their biggest investment, and contributing to their success and transition in life is one of the many things I enjoy about being a Realtor. I’d love to help with your real estate needs, or to answer any questions about the process of buying or selling your home.

Eddiana Fondry

REALTOR®/Broker

NC Broker/REALTOR®

(336) 516-1237 kathyking@carolinahomebase.com

eddianainc@gmail.com

Nicole helped us sell our house and buy a new one. Nicole offers a high level of service and delivers on everything she promises. She worked tirelessly from the first day we signed until the day we sold our home and bought a new one. We’ve been in our home a month and she still checks in! She draws on a large font of knowledge about real estate, finance and construction, gained only from many years of dedicated service in the industry. Her network of contacts and resources is second to none, and this very much benefits her clients. We never felt alone in this process. Nicole is the epitome of a professional.

Nicole E. Gillespie REALTOR®/Broker, SPS

RE/MAX Realty Consultants (336) 210.3895 mobile 1.800.965.1893 efax

www.NicoleGillespieRealty.com

(336) 402.4071

Great job, Stephanie! Time and time again, you deliver on the Red Penguin promise of superior client service, care and skill! Our out-of-state relocation couldn’t have been easier. Stephanie arranged a full weekend of houses to view, was easy to contact, a pleasure to work with and successfully negotiated our purchase. She honed in on what was really important to us in our next home and found us the home of our dreams! Stephanie went above and beyond her role as broker by arranging for things to be done before our arrival, recommending a host of service professionals and welcoming us to the community. Stephanie gets our highest recommendation! - Jim and Lisa Decker

Stephanie Lomax REALTOR®/Broker

(336) 209-1406 • stephanie.lomax@allentate.com

www.allentate.com/StephanieLomax

Fall 2020

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HOUSE REBUILT AFTER FIRE ...continued from page 8

Photo by Chris Burritt/PS Communications

Destroyed by fire last December, the Tysingers’ home on Strawberry Road has been rebuilt and the family is preparing to move back in this month. counterparts, Oak Ridge Fire Chief Ken Gibson and Stokesdale Fire Chief Todd Gauldin.

“No two fires are alike,” Gauldin said, explaining that advance planning increases the likelihood of families escaping from fires and, ideally, gathering safely in a predetermined place. Such preparation allows firefighters to quickly determine whether everybody is safe and then focus on extinguishing the fire, he noted. “Young people may be more likely to panic in the event of a fire,” Gibson said, “but if you give them a plan and practice it routinely, it can help them make calm, rational decisions.”

Gibson recommended that families prepare two escape routes out of every room, which may mean exiting through an upstairs window.

“When planning and practicing, make sure your kids know where and how to use the escape ladder,” he added. The Tysingers had an escape plan to meet in their driveway. Although they hadn’t practiced it, Kelly said they did play a hide-and-seek game called Bear, in which they turned off the lights in the house and Shane playfully hunted the children. “They wanted to play the game like crazy leading up to the fire,” Kelly said. On the night of the fire when smoke filled the house and fire in the basement

and attic knocked out the electricity, she told her children, “We’re going to play Bear. I want you to close your eyes and hold your breath, and we’re getting out.” Although fire fatalities have been uncommon in northwestern Guilford County, Johnson noted residents and firefighters are at greater risk of death or injury because of the rise in use of synthetics in building materials and home furnishings such as upholstery and carpet. Not only do the materials burn fast, they also emit toxic, potentially deadly gases. Kelly said she thought about that danger as her family escaped through the smoke. “We told the kids to take a big breath and hold it,” she said. Talking over the banging of hammers in late September, the couple described how they’ve grappled with the helplessness of losing their home and the destruction of the children’s Christmas gifts hidden in the attic.

“You think you have control in life,” Kelly said. “When everything is taken away, you realize how little you control.” Fortunately, none of the Tysingers were injured in the fire; even so, Kelly said the children have suffered nightmares about their house catching fire.

“It has been rough,” she said, adding that her family has been blessed by an outpouring of generosity from friends and strangers, the Summerfield Elementary School community, Daystar Church, Summerfield First Baptist Church and fire and emergency responders. The children “have been doing a countdown, asking how many more days before we can move back,” Kelly said, as Addison and Carter played inside their renovated house with the family’s new dog, Rosie. “I want to be back in my room,” 9-yearold Addison said. Carter, who is two years younger, is getting a bigger bedroom and he said he’s looking forward to playing in the new bonus room upstairs. The Tysingers estimate rebuilding their home will cost $200,000 to $250,000, a mix of insurance payout and out-of-pocket spending for improvements such as the bonus room and a master bathroom. They still need to replace mattresses, a sofa and other furnishings, guaranteeing that they’re going to deal with insurance reimbursements for months or possibly more than a year longer. “To say the least, it has been mentally exhausting jumping through all of the hoops – even if insurance is working out well, and it is working out well,” Kelly said. She’s compiled a list of about 1,200 items and how much insurance has paid for the replacement of some of them and how much it would pay if the Tysingers decide to replace other possessions later. Fire-related tasks such as submitting receipts for reimbursement to the insurance company have fallen on Kelly, who has been a stay-at-home mom since 2018 after working as a dental hygienist for 17 years. Shane works as a physician’s assistant in Greensboro. After the fire, the family stayed with friends from Daystar Church for three weeks until they rented a house near their home. Kelly met with insurance adjustors and crews assigned to catalog their losses and remove items left behind after the family had salvaged what they could. Some keepsakes, such as love

Fall 2020

letters from Shane to his wife, were unsalvageable. “It was like vandals had broken in and dumped out our drawers,” said Kelly, who cried when workers in HAZMAT suits scooped up family items with big shovels and put them in a dumpster. The couple has watched the rebuilding of their house by Summerfield’s Homes Built by Design Inc. The firm’s owner, Tammy Roberts, started with essentially a skeleton consisting of floor joists, wall studs and white brick walls. Interior walls were removed and the ceiling in the family room was raised, giving the boxy structure built in 1954 more open space. The fire last December originated in the fireplace, which has been rebuilt with stones to create the feel of a rustic lodge; gas logs were installed to replace the burning of firewood. To reduce expenses, Kelly painted the house inside and out while staining woodwork, and Shane put down planks on their new deck. The couple also installed tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. “We’re ready to get back,’ Shane said.

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LET’S PLAY!

Small Grants Make a Difference • Since 2016, the Historic Preservation Commission has awarded 16 Historic Heritage Grants totaling $24,000. • Because each grant requires matching funds, these grants leveraged an additional $68,000 in private donations, for a total of $92,000 in exterior improvements to our historic heritage! • The math is simple…our small grants make a difference!

At the Charles Benbow House (c. 1823), a grant helped repair the historic brick, added chimney caps and restored historic windows.

At Saint James AME Church (1895), Oak Ridge’s oldest African-American church, two grants supported wood repairs and repainting.

The Old Mill of Guilford (c. 1767) received two grants to restore its picturesque water wheel and its hand-laid stone walls.

Oak Ridge Historic Preservation Commission Preserving the Past for the Future

For more information about these projects or the application process, visit oakridgenc.com or call (336) 644-7009.

26

Fall 2020

continued from page 12 something tall and then push everyone else down the incline. The last kid standing was crowned king. That “something tall” could be a hill, a dirt pile, a giant rock or the stacks of hay bales in the barn. Stone enjoyed playing on the hay bales, but said there was a bit of danger involved because someone could have taken a significant tumble by being pushed out of the barn. “It’s a miracle we didn’t get killed,” she said, chuckling. Stone admitted she sometimes snuck around and did things she knew she shouldn’t do, especially when her parents were away. She also usually managed to convince her younger brother to go along with her plans. “He was the ‘good kid.’ I was the ‘wild child,’” she said. Being raised on a farm, Stone and Morphies were driving cars and trucks around their family’s property at an early age. They weren’t allowed to drive when their parents were at work – but hey, they figured what Mom and Dad didn’t know couldn’t hurt them. “We’d take the vehicles and drive all over the farm while they were gone,” Stone said. “But then we got one stuck one day and tried everything to get it out, but nothing worked. We ended up getting in trouble and didn’t drive anymore while they were at work.” Roger Howerton, 88, grew up in Oak Ridge and said, “The main thing we did was work. We had to create our own excitement and entertainment.” He remembers hiding in cornfields with his friends at dusk and making wild animal noises to scare the neighborhood girls… and climbing up into a big black cherry tree that had limbs overhanging the highway. He and his friends, about 7 or 8 years old at the time, would settle on one of the large limbs and bombard the passing cars with black cherries. “We got caught one time when a guy

stopped, but he couldn’t climb the tree,” Howerton said. He joked that he and his friends did a lot of mischievous things, but they never went so far as to overturn outhouses. Hanging out in the woods by the creeks was another of Howerton’s favorite pastimes. There, he and his friends would find grapevines and build dams to make a “swimming hole” and swing out into the water. One time they found a cable someone had left behind and strung it up across a lake that was being built in Oak Ridge. By attaching it to trees on the separate sides of the lake, they were able to grab hold and zipline across. Unfortunately, these adventures usually ended when someone got hurt. Parents cut the cable down after a friend forgot to let go and hit a tree. When Howerton and his friends got older and were lucky enough to have an extra quarter, they would walk from Oak Ridge to the middle of downtown Kernersville to the movie theater.

“Twenty-five cents would buy you a hot dog, a drink and admission to the matinee,” he said. Afterwards, the group would head back home, usually catching a ride with someone going in their direction. Since there wasn’t enough room inside the cars, the boys would stand on the running boards and climb on the fenders. “We didn’t have any organized activities, but it’s amazing what you can do (on your own),” Howerton concluded. Baseball and horseback riding – that’s what Summerfield resident Mark Brown, 69, remembered about growing up in the early ‘60s. “We had a family living close by who had a lot of sons close to our age,” Brown said. “They were as crazy about baseball as we were. Each spare moment we would find an open field, put some


pieces of wood or whatever down for bases and have a ball game.” Brown remembered “playing in a stumpy cow pasture on Hamburg Mill Road and once on a flat field off Bunch Road, back then called Dunbar Road.” Along with baseball, horses have always been a part of Brown’s life and as a kid he rode all over the area.

“There was no traffic then, so I ranged far and wide on horseback,” he said. “One summer day (when I was 12 years old), I went on my most audacious ride of 40 miles.” His jaunt took him from Summerfield down N.C. 150 to Church Street, where he finally wound up going through Greensboro’s Battleground Park. That was back when New Garden Road ran all the way through the park. “The park ranger chased me down and chewed me out. I didn’t see a sign that said ‘No horses,’” Brown said. “Mother had no idea of any of my rides, it was just a different world and a different culture back then.” Like many of her friends, Sandra Smith, 60, of Oak Ridge grew up working on her family’s tobacco farm. As a youngster, she spent most of her playtime with her two older brothers. “We spent a lot of time riding our bikes on Linville Road, which was still dirt back then,” she said. She laughed when recalling one of the things they did for fun. The family used trailers, which only had two wheels and a heavy iron hitch at the front, to haul tobacco. Like most kids who grew up on a farm, she and her brothers knew these trailers made perfect seesaws. Everyone would gather in the middle and run to one end of the trailer and the other end would fly up in the air, causing the weighted end to hit the ground with a teeth-jarring thud. Just

as that end settled, the group would race to the other end to experience it all again. Looking back, Smith wondered how they all didn’t get killed, or at least injured. April Fogleman grew up in Oak Ridge in a boy’s world. Her playmates were most often her older brother, the neighbor boy who lived behind her house and her male cousins. “I was 10 years old before there was another girl cousin,” she said. As a result, Fogleman was a bit of a tomboy and spent the majority of her time riding bikes or playing in the dirt with Matchbox cars. Even so, she still managed to get in some girl time playing with her Barbies and other dolls. She said she usually got a new doll every Christmas. She was also quite involved with youth activities at church, including AWANA. As a boy growing up in Oak Ridge, Kelly Young spent a lot of his time in the tobacco fields, either working on his family farm or helping neighbors bring in the crops. When he had time to play, he made the most of it. Young, who now lives in Summerfield, recalled playing loads of baseball, going fishing and riding ponies. He said he also liked to hang out with all the old men at the Farmer’s Corner, a little country store that was located on N.C. 150 between Pepper and Beeson roads. “I learned to play Rook and checkers at that old store,” he said. Young said he and his friends had a blast playing hide and seek – his brother even came up with a twist to the game, in which kids were allowed to hide farther away, within a half-mile radius of the house. “For some reason they never could find me,” Young said. “I thought I was a really good hider. Years later I figured out no one bothered to come look for me. It was all a trick.”

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Fall 2020

27


serve as a place for the kids to play or do homework, a guest room when friends and family are in town or a craft area. Either way, the office area often becomes chaotic and doesn’t function as well when the homeowner needs a consistent, private space to work in.

HOME OFFICE TRENDS continued from page 6

Association’s Parade of Homes last June, Bullins’ company showcased a house that had two potential home offices. Bobbie Gardner, a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Greensboro, confirms that home offices have become much more of a necessity. “Most of my clients prefer to have a designated room or area in their homes for an office or business space,” she said. “It has been a growing trend and I think it’s an essential element most builders and sellers are providing.” Builders MD, an established builder of premier homes, has also experienced an uptick in homeowners’ requests for dedicated office space. “We are definitely seeing this new trend play out,” said Drew Stokes, the company’s office manager. “Three different homes we have started or will be starting soon will all have a dedicated office space. “In the past, we’ve built plenty of

Homeowners who have the luxury of an unused bedroom or bonus room are better able to manage a conversion or carve out space in the room for working, while some are transforming rarely used areas of their home into work space.

Photo courtesy of Builders MD

A recent home built by Builders MD features a spacious office with plenty of built-ins and shelves to accommodate most any business. homes that might use the guest bedroom as an office space, but not as much of a dedicated office space,” Stokes noted. “In fact, a home we just closed on has a dedicated office and the homeowners

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Fall 2020

want to build additional office space sometime soon so both the husband and wife will have their own dedicated office.” Gil Vaughan, another Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Greensboro, is seeing more buyers who want home office space as well – “especially the buyers whose jobs do not limit them to having to go into a place of business to work.” Vaughan believes the trend is fueled by the pandemic, as it has given both companies and employees insights into the benefits of working from home. “As companies realize their employees can be productive from home, I believe this trend will continue into the future,” he said. “It also cuts down on companies’ overheads by not having to own or lease brick-and-mortar buildings. This will be the new ‘normal’ for many types of businesses.”

Multi-purpose and repurposing

The recent attention to dedicated home office space contrasts with what homeowners have done in the past, which is to turn an extra bedroom or bonus room into a multi-purpose space for the entire family. Besides hosting office space, the room might

A trend that Commie Johnson, one of four owners of Johnson & Lee, has seen is homeowners’ inclination to replace formal dining rooms with a more functional and dramatic looking home office. “More and more people don’t want or need a formal dining room and we’re converting them to office space,” said Johnson. “It makes sense, because the dining space is often only used a few times a year.”

The transformation is often an easy one, Johnson said, noting, “The room can be closed off from the kitchen and a couple of doors added to the entrance to make a great office space.”

The fact that dining rooms are often close to the exterior entry of a home is a bonus – rather than walking through the family’s home, clients can come directly into the office, providing a more professional atmosphere for all involved.

While people are often reluctant to give up their garages, Gardner said she’s seeing that being done as well. “I’ve got many customers who convert their garage to an office because they need a more sizable room,” she confirmed.

Home office features

Many homeowners are looking for unique features in their home work space that offer a professional, yet comfortable, homey look and feel. Recognizing that home offices don’t have to be sterile and boxy, Bullins tries to break up work space in the homes he builds by incorporating built-ins and


nooks. As an example, in his recent Parade home, he added a built-in desk and upholstered armchairs to create a lounge-type area for reading or conversation. At Builders MD, Stokes said owner/ builder David Flanders always likes to add something unique to anything he builds. His home offices often feature fancy trim, custom-built metal shelves topped with ambrosia maple wood, custom feature walls with “some cool design” and built-ins. Vaughan said at the top of most of his homebuyers’ work space checklist is adequate space to enable them “to carry out their business from home.” The ability to separate their work space from their living space is also important. “(They want) doors that close/lock to keep their office space private from other household functions, noise and the kids,” he added. In their quest for the perfect office space, Gardner said homebuyers also want ample electrical outlets.

Location, location, location

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Working from home can have many benefits, but not having dedicated work space can also present challenges. “They want the ability to have plenty of outlets for equipment, multiple monitors and high-speed internet boosters,” she said. “For example, my son is an engineer and has four monitors.”

Gardner is currently working with some builders who have “hired technicians to install the various wiring, etc. that is the basis for adding personalized technology systems.”

For many homeowners, where an office is situated in the home is extremely important. Most want to establish a professional setting, which means they need to be away from the noise of active children, barking dogs and the general activity associated with home life. On that note, Vaughan said some builders are creating office spaces off of the primary bedroom for easy access and privacy away from the home’s other occupants. Other builders are adding work spaces with exterior entrances to allow even greater separation. Out of the two offices in Bullins’ spring Parade home, one is located at the far end of the house near the garage and has an exterior entrance. Regardless of the homeowners’ personal needs and preferences, one thing’s for certain: the popularity of home offices seems destined to continue to grow and local builders are set to meet the increased demand.

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PERKS, PITFALLS OF WORKING FROM HOME continued from page 15

time. Rather than endure the 23-mile commute to downtown Greensboro, he walks upstairs to his office, closes the door and he’s good to go. The close physical connection between work and home also has its downfall, however. For example, Royal and Joyce said they have a tendency to work longer hours.

“It’s really easy to blend work time and family time,” Royal noted. Employed as a lead practicum developer for Classical Conversations Multi Media, Lisa Bailey, who was working from her Stokesdale home before the pandemic, agrees the “lack of separation” can be a challenge. “When you work from home, you live with your work unless you establish

boundaries,” she said. “It helps to have my desk, files, and many of my books contained downstairs. But I like what I do, so if a stray work thought or task seeps into my off time, I am not really bothered!”

Distractions, distractions

When it comes to distractions, working from home can go two ways – while some employees are better able to focus on their work and be more productive, others get caught up in all the home-related tasks and activities. With less frequent interruptions, Joyce has found he can accomplish much more without the distractions of an office full of people. Having a dedicated and secluded office is another factor that affects productivity. Ann McKinney of Stokesdale worked as a consultant providing customer

service for a website company in Greensboro when she began working from home. Her job involved working online and on the phone for hours without a break, and required privacy. Since she lived with other people who were also working at home and there was limited space, McKinney found herself floating. Sometimes she worked at a small table in her bedroom, while other times she stretched out on the bed or moved to the back porch. Both she and her co-workers, who were all working from their respective homes, realized they were actually busier and more productive than when they were working from the company office. But for McKinney, working from home was also stressful, and even though she was more productive, she said, “I certainly didn’t feel that way.” Since the state moved into Phase II of social distancing restrictions, McKinney has a new job and is happy to be back in a more traditional office environment.

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Fall 2020

Most people working from home agree that having a designated and permanent work space plays a significant role in contentment and productivity. Joyce said when his company office closed, many of his co-workers had limited options at home to set up their work space. One of his co-workers works from his kitchen table. “He has to put up his work every night and pull it out in the morning,” Joyce said. Lisa Bailey’s husband, David, is pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Stokesdale and has spent his entire career working from home; the couple share an office space in their finished basement. “Our desks are 6 feet apart in the large, open den downstairs,” Lisa said. “We are not often at our desks at the same time; David often works outdoors, and I am sometimes gone to onsite meetings.”

David has found that sharing an office with his wife has its benefits. “We often share insights and ask for editing help from each other,” he said. “Occasionally we have calls at the same time and one of us has to move to another room, but we have been working from home for so long that we have learned how to share our space.”

‘Around the water cooler’

Some people who work from home especially miss in-person interaction with others. That was definitely an issue for McKinney. “The social aspect of being in an office environment was one of the things I missed the most,” she said. “I discovered that working at home is not something I really want to do.” Royal also misses those daily faceto-face encounters. At Volvo’s corporate office, space is set up so that team members can see each other and bounce around ideas. When working from home, Royal interacts with them by phone or Skype meetings.

“I really miss the live contact with my co-workers and being able to collaborate with everyone,” he said. Joyce said he does miss impromptu “hallway conversations,” but the lack of social interactions is not as big of an issue for him as it is for many of his co-workers. To help with this, three mornings a week Joyce holds 15-minute video conferences with his team members. He dubbed these meetings the “morning wave,” and said these few minutes are a great way to catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s lives. Working from home has given both employers and employees the opportunity to see the good, the bad and the ugly of doing their jobs from a distance, and there’s little doubt the corporate workplace is about to endure some monumental changes. As Lister said, “The genie is out of the bottle.”


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