"The Techbuilt house is because people like you are tired of living in little Mount Vernons and cave dwellings that ignore the fact we can now bring the outdoors into our way of living without freezing or baking us," the builder's promotional materials read. "It is as flexible as your wildest dreams and greatest needs."

The fact that no interior wall in a Techbuilt house is weight-bearing does indeed make it easy to divide the space as needed -- something that Linda Odum took advantage of when she bought her house in 2000. Her 1971 two-level, tom ranch house with its brown and beige vertical siding had no carport or garage. The siding and windows were in bad shape. When Odum brought her elderly mother from Tennessee to Columbia to live with her, she quickly realized that a garage with wheelchair access to the house was critical for everyone's comfort.

Odum hired architect Bob Moon, who owns a contemporary house in Hobbit's Glen, and the results yielded not only more space but a completely different look to her house. A garage and hallway were added as well as a master bedroom suite behind the garage. The slope of the roof was changed, and gray insulated siding with white trim brightened up the exterior.

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"If you can increase the pitch of the roofline, you can get cathedral ceilings," says Odum. "That can be a major difference for the older Columbia houses."

A reconfigured interior now has three separate master suites to allow for comfortable and private quarters. "Then if I wanted to age in place I could have someone living with me," she says, then laughs. "Not that I plan to age."

Cornshock Court

A little goes a long way on this house in Owen Brown.

Built in 1977, this split-level rancher started out as the Revere model by Ryland Homes. It was a plain box with untrimmed windows and the typical T-111 vertical siding used in most early Columbia homes. When Rob Touse bought it in 1988, the house had little curb appeal. Luckily, he owns a home remodeling company and got to work.

"We replaced the windows and siding. They were in bad shape," says Touse. He also added a covered portico at the front entrance and replaced a rotting wood retaining wall with stone.

"A lot of it was for cosmetic reasons," he says of the changes, which give the structure more depth and texture.

An addition on the back of the house gives extra space and alters the roofline.

The changes are so subtle, passersby would be hard pressed to guess the home’s original design unless they looked at other houses on the court.