By Keysha Drexel
“A house like this would normally take at least nine months to build, so we’ve definitely had to speed things up on this build,” Murphy said.
Adding to Murphy’s challenge is the fact that the house he is building will be visited by thousands during the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders 2014 Parade of Homes this month.
The house in Hoover’s Ross Bridge community is this year’s Ideal Home and is meant to showcase the latest trends in smart-home technology and construction trends.
And to that end, the house doesn’t disappoint, Murphy said.
“The Ideal Home will offer everything a family could long to have in their dream home,” he said. “From the commercial-grade kitchen to the inviting outdoor living space, the house will offer plenty of ideas and inspiration.”
This is the third year the Parade of Homes has included an Ideal Home. The 2012 Ideal Home attracted more than 5,000 visitors during the two-weekend event and was under contract the first day of the Parade of Homes. Last year’s Ideal Home, built in The Preserve by Byrom Building Corp., went under contract weeks before the 2013 Parade of Homes, even before it was completely finished.
The Murphy home even beat that impressive record.
“The house sold even before construction started,” said Jim O’Hanlon, operations manager for Murphy Home Builders and Kyle Murphy’s uncle.
But before the new owners move in, visitors will be able to take a tour of the 4,700-square-foot house at 4245 Glasscott Crossings.
The five bedroom, five and half bath house was getting its finishing touches when Murphy and O’Hanlon gave the Over the Mountain Journal a sneak peek at what Parade-goers will see on the weekends of April 5-6 and April 12-13.
At first glance, the house looks like a traditional, Craftsman-style design with a wood-moulded brick exterior accented by cedar shakes. Visitors enter through an elegant foyer that opens into a vast great room featuring exposed cedar rafter beams which continue the Craftsman-style touches to the home’s interior.
The great room has a large fireplace with a cedar mantle that was built on site. Built-in bookcases on one side of the fireplace offer the perfect place for displaying family photos and treasured mementoes.
The fireplace is made of limestone from an Alabama quarry, Murphy said.
“We tried to use as many local resources as possible, like the Alabama limestone for the fireplace and the moss rock outside from Alabama. The brick for the house was also made in Alabama,” he said.
French doors in the great room lead to an outdoor living space that features a patio with a brick enclosure, detailed arches, a coffered ceiling, a stamped concrete floor and for those crisp fall evenings outdoors, a wood-burning Isokern fireplace. The outdoor space also includes a grilling area on the side of the patio that is covered by an arbor.
The stamped concrete design on the patio is echoed in the walkway leading to the driveway.
Back inside, the great room opens to an airy kitchen that is perfect for entertaining a crowd or for an intimate family dinner. The spacious area features Sub-Zero and Wolf commercial-grade appliances, Silestone quartz countertops and a cast iron farmhouse sink.
The kitchen has two islands, one of which includes a built-in wine refrigerator. A walk-in pantry is disguised behind what looks like large cabinet doors that match the rest of the kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinets by Wellborn Forest.
The second island has a prep sink and plenty of room for all the cooks in the family to lend a hand.
Each island also has extra outlets for today’s plugged-in families, Murphy said.
“People always need a place to plug in their cellphones or their tablets and we all tend to gather in the kitchen, so I wanted to make sure we paid attention to little details like that,” he said.
Those details for how modern families live in their homes also led Murphy to incorporate other tech-savvy features in the house.
Everything from the blinds for the kitchen windows to the air conditioner to the entertainment center can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet.
The home even has its own “command center”–a small closet-like room just off the great room that hides all the wireless servers, routers and other gizmos needed to let the homeowners change the lighting, temperature or even music with just the touch of a button.
“You won’t see a DVD player or a stereo system or a bunch of wires out in the great room or anywhere in the house,” Murphy said. “This tech area lets you keep all that out of way.”
But don’t think all that technology means the house isn’t energy efficient, Murphy said.
The home features energy-efficient windows, a tankless water heater, energy-efficient light bulbs throughout and a radiant barrier on the roof that blocks up to 85 percent of the radiant heat coming into the house, Murphy said.
“We have proven that you can do an energy-efficient design on a budget. I like to figure out ways to get the best out of every dollar,” he said.
Murphy teamed up with Oak Mountain Building Supply, a locally-owned supply company, to provide much of the building materials. Alagasco and Alabama Power also donated equipment for the Ideal Home project, he said.
A full butler’s pantry separates the great room and kitchen areas from a formal dining room.
Also on the first level is the master bedroom suite, which features an interesting architectural detail on the ceiling that Murphy came up with himself.
“I call it a Murphy ceiling. It’s kind of a combination of a vaulted ceiling with a small coffer at the top of it,” he said. “The wood has a distressed, whitewashed look, and we put it in going in different directions just to mix things up a little bit.”
The master bedroom’s drama doesn’t end with the Murphy ceiling. The bedroom includes expansive his and hers walk-in closets with built-in wooden shelves and cabinets.
The master bathroom offers an elegant, spa-like retreat with a glass-enclosed shower with multiple shower heads, a freestanding tub, white marble floors, polished porcelain tiles and Silestone quartz on the double vanities.
And the home’s tech-savvy style isn’t shut out of the master bathroom.
“The mirror above the sinks is actually a two-way mirror that doubles as a television, so you can soak in the tub and watch television and then when you turn it off, it just looks like a mirror,” O’Hanlon said.
Upstairs is a 24-foot by 16-foot media room.
“It’s a very versatile space and doesn’t have to be used as a media room. It could be a kids’ playroom, but it’s already completely wired with hidden speakers in the ceiling, a projection TV and everything you would need for the ultimate movie night at home,” Murphy said.
There’s also plenty of space on the home’s basement level for a media room or movie area, Murphy said. The 1,100-square-foot basement includes a kitchen with a full bar area and even a place to discreetly tuck away a beer keg. There’s also a living area in the basement with an LED fireplace.
Off the garage is a feature of the Ideal Home Murphy said he put in place to make sure the homeowners always feel safe in their new home.
“We know how important it is to have a safe place to go during bad weather, so we included a tornado room, a kind of safe room just off of the garage on the basement level,” he said. “It has concrete floors, concrete ceilings and steel doors. It can really give you peace of mind to know that this room is down here if you need it.”
Murphy said the home’s location was a major selling point for the family who bought it even before it was built.
Ross Bridge was voted the Best Community in America in 2011 by the National Association of Home Builders.
“Ross Bridge has so many perks. There are great schools, great neighborhood parks, easy access to shopping and entertainment, and if you have guests coming in from out of town, they can stay nearby at a world-class golf resort,” he said. “They might like it so much that they move here. That’s what my uncle Jim (O’Hanlon) did.”
O’Hanlon joined his nephew’s business shortly after moving from his native Canada in 2006 with his wife and three children.
“I was tired of being cold, so I decided to move down here,” O’Hanlon said.
Murphy, too, got his start in the home construction business through a family connection.
“About 15 years ago, I started working for my brother-in-law, who is also a homebuilder. I started out as low as you can get, just cleaning up home construction sites, and then I taught myself the business and then founded my own company,” he said.
Murphy said he enjoys the creative challenge of coming up with different home designs and said his favorite part of his job is working with his clients.
“I’m always open to suggestions. I’ve gotten a lot of ideas from homeowners. It’s very satisfying to see people get excited about a new home,” the 38-year-old said.
Murphy said his company has participated in the Parade of Homes for the last five years.
“I always wanted to do the Ideal Home, so I was very excited to do it this year for the Parade of Homes,” he said. “It’s been a challenge, but it’s the kind of challenge that I enjoy.”
O’Hanlon said that the company is accepting only a small fee for the sale of the Ideal Home and that the rest of the proceeds will go back to the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
“Kyle really wants to support the association, and this was his way to give back,” O’Hanlon said.
Murphy said there are several reasons why he thinks it’s important to support the efforts of the Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders.
“It’s not just about helping the homebuilders, it’s also about supporting what the association tries to do to protect customers, too,” he said.
Murphy said he’s excited to welcome Parade-goers to the Ideal Home this month.
“This has been a fun project, and I hope people like what we’ve done here and it gives them ideas for their own homes,” he said.
For more information on Murphy Home Builders, visit www.murphyhomebuilders.com.