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Waiting For The Weekend

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On Site
Waiting For The Weekend
A South Carolina Getaway Perfects The Low Country Cottage.

One of this house's greatest charms is the openness of its interior rooms to its expansive screened porch. But every foot of door opening means 1 foot of door swinging around, and all those doors take up space. Toss in an additional set of louvered doors (which allow privacy without cutting off air flow) and things could get out of hand. Pocket doors slide out of sight, but are cumbersome for frequent use and require their width in free wall space to hide in. To solve the problem, the bedroom-to-porch openings of this house follow a clever middle path: the bifold pocket door. Each jamb hides a hinged pair of 15-inch louvered panels. When pulled out, the center panels operate like a narrow set of French doors, easier to negotiate than a pure pocket door. A narrow strip of wood fixed to the trailing edge of the fixed panel, painted to match the jamb, neatly closes off the double-width slot. When the doors are not needed, recessed hardware allows them to fold tightly and nest neatly in their pockets.

When you're good at a lot of things, it can take some time to find the one you're best at. That seems to have been the case with Monty Jones. “I didn't get into this business until I was in my 30s,” he says. That was after two Navy tours in the Tonkin Gulf during the Vietnam War, some graduate school, and a number of independent business ventures. Then he bought a couple of older houses to fix up, and before long the hook was set. The late-blooming builder soon made up for lost time, “apprenticing” himself to the long-gone artisans who built the houses he was remodeling. “I appreciated a lot of the work in the old houses,” says Jones, who was keen enough to know fine workmanship when he saw it and not too proud to copy it. “When you see it and you know it works and you know it's right,” he says, “don't try to fix it.”

Most businesspeople who become builders leave the field work to others, but Jones has always had a passion for the way things go together. “I build backwards,” he says. “I take the plans and I really look at them. You see that mistake ahead of time.” In the early days, he says, “I'd do something and couldn't wait to show my wife.” Twenty years later he runs only a couple of jobs at a time, so he can devote personal attention to construction details and craftsmanship. Even the way he prices jobs is designed to keep his head clear for building. “I usually work cost-plus, but I do cost plus a fixed fee.” That way, he says, owners know he has no incentive to run the cost up. “My carrot is to get the house done soon.” Once the job starts, he says, “I like to keep the money part out of it.”
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