Custom-made: It's all in the details


What did the Shaduks get when Paulette, a real estate agent of 29 years, and her husband, John, a 6-foot-5-inch engineer, intervened in the building of their Sable Woods home in Harford County?

They got the sun rising over the kitchen and extra-tall shower heads, as well as the resale value of a full first-floor bath next to a den/bedroom.

They got dining room windows spaced so that their china cabinet would fit perfectly in between, and faux marble columns that match the real thing in the foyer floor.

Ultimately, they got a spacious but efficient three-bedroom home with interesting but uncomplicated architecture where each and every tiny detail -- down to the strategic placement of an electrical outlet on the kitchen island -- has been carefully attended to by owners who not only looked over the builder's shoulder but worked along with him.

"That's what makes it a dream house," says Mrs. Shaduk, 48, an office manager with O'Conor, Piper and Flynn. "Every little thing, from the receptacle on the light post out front for Christmas lights to the laundry tub in the garage. A lot of them were little things I picked up from being in other houses."

Many of the couple's touches are subtle, such as the character-adding curvature of the sidewalk that approaches the front entrance.

Other touches are nothing less than dazzling: the custom-made leaded glass hanging between the eat-in kitchen and a family room, a 17-foot-high brick fireplace.

Certain specifications were meant to insure peace and harmony. Daily traffic patterns were ana lyzed and planned for; a mud room/laundry room off the garage results in less dirt being brought into the house. And the wall between bedrooms Nos. 2 and 3 was moved so that both ended up the same size; as a result, there was no squabbling when it was time for sons Mark and John to choose their spaces.

Clearly, the Shaduks were in the director's seats before, during and after building. "I can't tell you how many times we looked at these plans over and over and over," says Mr. Shaduk, 55, a technology supervisor at Bethlehem Steel. Rather than resent the couple's active role in the construction process, the craftsmen seemed to enjoy doing something different, Mrs. Shaduk says. Everybody from the kitchen cabinetmaker to the stairway banister installer came back and took pictures of their contributions, she says. "They told us, 'We build a lot of houses, but we really like your house.' "

So are the Shaduks thrilled with the home that cost $230,000? Even three years after construction, they find very little they would have done differently.

"Our initial plan was to relocate to an established home," says Mr. Shaduk, "something that was unique and interesting and caught our eye. We couldn't find it." And so they built it.

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