Nantahala / Amicalola / Tranquility / Garrell and Associates hous

March 20, 2013

My husband and I have been planning our new house for the past year. First we chose the Amicalola house plan by Garrell and Associates. After contacting Garrell we have since decided on the Nantahala Cottage with the much simpliar gable roof plan # 07330. We made a couple of tweaks to the plan. Made the garage larger to fit my suburban thus making the two spare bedrooms by the garage bigger. We also added walk in closets for both of those bedrooms. We are planning to break ground in the next couple of weeks. I am looking for anyone who has built any of the Garrell and Associates house plans from the tranquility line. The most important decision I currently have to make is the windows. It is between Kolbe and Marvin. And with the windows I am undecided on whether or not to do the decorative grid? Any suggestions or even better yet photos would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (581)

  • reb214


    The main thing I'd consider from your plan may sound strange, but your mechanical room isn't going to be big enough. Ours is essentially the same size as most of your theater, laundry and mechanical rooms put together. We have 2 hot water heaters, our geothermal furnace, and buffer tank, our cable and ethernet networking area, and our electrical box in there, along with our well tank and VFD (for the irrigation system). Lots of stuff to cram in a small area, even if you don't have as much to fit in there.

    Other than that, my plan is more similar to the Lakeview plan, so the rooms to the side of the garage on yours makes ours different. You will definitely have lots of room! I would highly recommend doing at least 10' walls for your basement, to allow adequate room for HVAC runs. the ducting can be a bit of a challenge, and if you still want at least 9' ceilings down there you will need a minimum of 10' basement walls to allow for this. Other than that, it looks like you made the lodge room bigger, so that's advisable. We removed the wall between the kitchen and the lodge room to open up that space. Something to consider.

    The other thing to consider is something not shown on any plans. That's putting money into improving the envelope of the building. We used spray foam for the ceilings, the envelope of the 2nd floor, the rim joists, and the basement concrete walls that were in living spaces. The exterior walls we just did fiberglass batt insulation, but put 1" foam boards (seams taped) under the siding on the exterior. Best money that you can spend is making the house better insulated. Can maybe even save sizes on your HVAC equipment. We have a 5 ton geothermal system for the main floor and basement (about 4000 sq ft), and a separate ducted minisplit system for above garage (600 sq ft). For the summer, we honestly could have got by with a 2 ton for main areas. The geothermal system ran in low capacity mode even when it was in the 90's there in July. I haven't turned the heat on yet, but even the nights that got down in the 40's recently, the house never went below 70 F in any of my 5 zones. I'll be really curious to see how the winter heating load is going to fare. So far my utility bills for this house has been the same, or less, than my old house half it's size (2500 sq ft), and that was built in the 2000's, so not like it wasn't at least decently insulated and sealed. I've been very pleased.

    I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. You can write back on here, or message me through my profile on here. Thanks, and good luck!

  • redcandy247

    @Reb214 you gave some really good information. We're in the planning stages of our Tranquility/Amicalola variant and will be doing geothermal HVAC and WarmBoard radiant heat. There will be a walkout basement, and an upstairs with a bedroom, office and climate controlled storage. Similar plans for the basement layout and ceiling height. I like the idea of the mini-split system for that. We're building on a mountain in TN and the builder does 12" thick concrete walls. If you did a basement/terrace what did you do for its HVAC? What is the ceiling height in the Lodge Room? I'm thinking maybe 14'? 12' ceilings in rest of main level & at least 10' upstairs and basement. (Overall, it seems like it's going to be a good 5000 sq. ft.) Thanks in advance!

  • Donald Hess

    I was wondering about the basement height and floor joist.

    Choices are:
    1) Solid beam (wood and steel)
    2) Engineered beam (Wood glued together into an I-Beam shape) (Length can be adjusted on site)

    3) Wood Web Truss (Most flexible for utility runs but can't be length adjusted on site)
    4) Hybrid beam (2 & 3) The ends are engineered beam and the middle a web truss. It is the most costly.

    Did you run your duct work through the beams or under them? That would determine if you need a ceiling drop or utility chases (Soffits) for the basement.

    It's one of the things I'm trying to decide on. I could really use the full 10 foot ceiling height if I'm putting in a theater. But a full 10 foot height is a bit much for a basement common area, or office area and harder to heat.

    Shorter heights 8' and 9' tend to make a room more cozy. Anything taller makes the room feel more spacious and grand, but empty. (Greeting areas, communal areas etc.)

    I guess the only way to be sure is visit one of these houses and compare the room proportions.

    For the basement I was considering radiant heat with natural flat field stone. Then covering that with lots of large rugs to give it a natural look. (Stone->concrete ->insulated panel->radiant barrier (geo thermal)->field stone.)

    I'm hesitant about radiating heat for carpet and wood. The former isn't nearly as effective. And the later runs the risk of shrinking the wood and creating gaps in flooring if you overheat it. This is true even with the proper edge cut.

    I would still have to have a split air system for summer and vents in the ceiling to let cool air float down. From what I was told, air based geo thermal systems have to blow air out at a higher CFM because the geo thermal supply air doesn't get as cold as normal DX air (traditional) systems. So they compensate by blowing more air. That means more ducts.

  • Vicky Shirey

    Hi Donald Hess, We used Wood Web Trusses in our basement, with 10' ceilings. The duct work ran through the beams. We used spray foam insulation for our exterior and gas heat. It is very comfortable. We like the 10' ceilings because it gives the rooms that open feel. Plus, my guys are big (6'10"), so they don't feel so cramped. We used luxury vinyl planks for our basement flooring. It is beautiful and easy to maintain. Geothermal was not cost effective, and natural gas was easily available here. -Vicky

  • Donald Hess

    Does anybody know the height of the Lodge Room ceiling? I saw this online and thought it might be an alternative to the current lodge room design.

    It uses a variation of Hammer-Beam truss and a fireplace that sets out into the room. I estimate the beams start about 10' up.

    By rough estimate I would guess it's about a 22' roof which would make the room 22' wide with a 1:1 roof pitch.

  • Vicky Shirey

    Donald, Our lodge room ceiling is roughly 19'. That is a beautiful photo.

  • barbaraandcarlton

    Hello all!

    My husband and I plan to build a version of the amicalola/nantahala in the mountains of Colorado. We live in St. Louis right now. You have all been a wealth of information, and the pictures help so much! We are still in the floor plan customization stage. Is there anyone out there who has built a version of this within 300 miles or so of St. Louis? We would so love to be able to walk through one. Thank you so much! My email is blsteets@hotmail.com

  • redcandy247

    Has anyone built this without cutting corners? Anyone make it bigger instead of smaller? Some of the builds I'm seeing on here don't look anything like the original design. That makes me nervous ours won't come out like we want. We're having our own architect draw ours up and we want it to look just like the original. It's our dream house, and we don't want to scale it down like many of the examples on here. Any advice, other than the obvious - going with the original designer? Our builder recommended the architect and the first rendition he drew we didn't like. Is there anything you would have done different if you had to start over?

  • barbaraandcarlton

    Where are you building, redcandy? There are people here who have made the house bigger. It seems like many people enlarge the lodge room

  • Vicky Shirey

    Redcandy247 We took out the wall that the original plan has between the lodge room and kitchen, which makes that a great family space. We use the keeping room as our office. We changed the design to add an elevator and moved the stairs to the back hall. We omitted the exterior door in the master bedroom (that goes to the deck) and added that 3 feet to the size of the lodge room. The biggest thing you can do to keep cost down is shop the elements yourself. Get 3 bids for everything. Many builders have people who can do the cedar work for you for much less than the guy Garrell recommends. The more legwork you are willing to put in, the more you can save. As to cutting costs, if you have the knowledge and can be your own contractor, that will help a lot. Best of luck to you.

  • cartod

    247, We didn’t cut many corners but we did make some minor changes. We did all of the ceilings up pretty fancy. Barrel vaulted the bathroom, coffer in the keep. Used the big 8x8 mortise & tenon trusses in the lodge room. Tongue and groove ceilings on front and back porch. All cedar and stone on the outside. I was not going to have any regrets. I put the whole house underground with a walkout/driveout basement on the far end. My basement house a couple of Porsche’s, my mowing Eqt. and a whole lot of other stuff. I put in gas fireplaces and didn’t put chimneys on the roof.

  • Vicky Shirey

    Hi. We have been in our house for a while, and I'm sorry to say that I haven't shared photos like I should have. Those who have shared with me, were such a great help, that I feel like I need to pay it forward. Our house is a custom design in the Tranquility family.

  • Arlene Geis

    Has anyone built a Garrell Amicalola or similar near Charlotte, NC? We are wanting to do #06244 with several changes. Our builder said he we do not need to make the changes on the plans, he can do that but I am shocked by the cost of buying these plans. Any suggestions out threre? I would love to see pictures of this plan if anyone has built this. Thanks!

  • Jenny Hester

    I started with this plan because I loved the exterior look of it but the inside didn't work for us. I modified it on paper to fit our wants/needs. I changed quite a few of the curved lines and made them straight lines. Then I contacted someone locally who draws up blueprints and had them made the changes. Saved us thousands of dollars!

  • Vicky Shirey

    @Arlene Geis, I agree with Jenny Hester. Garrell charges custom prices for changes, so that you are starting over on the square footage, even though the majority of the plan is his stock design. It gets really pricey fast, and takes a long time. We waited more than 6 months for our plans from him and they still weren't right. My builder suggested that we purchase the plan that is closest to what you want, and take it to a local draftsman to make the changes. I wish we had listened to him.

  • Arlene Geis

    Thanks! So you would still purchase the original plan from him and just take it somewhere else for the changes? I think his stock standard price of $2,780 is very expensive compared to other designers.

  • Vicky Shirey

    @Arlene, you need to remember that these plans are copyrighted. I also think it is in your best interest, to start out with the real plans. I have heard of people who have tried to "draw them themselves" and it ended up costing them considerably more money in the long run.

  • Donald Hess

    The plans cannot be duplicated directly. But any architect has a right to redraw his version of them from scratch.

  • Donald Hess

    Arlene, if you have a plan you like, but don't want to pay Garrell the full price, get the autocad files. While this is a very pricey option it will more than pay for itself in time saved by your architect.

  • redcandy247

    @barbaraandcarlton @vickeyshirley @cartod We are building in Tennessee on a mountain just north of Chattanooga. Thanks for all the advice!

  • Annie Akers

    We have just started a Nantahala home with a few modifications in North Carolina. Loved all of the photos and ideas on here. They have all been most helpful. Is there anyone that would allow my husband and I a quick tour of your home? We currently live just north of Charlotte NC. Email is loisakers@gmail.com.

  • dlaneyrn

    @arlene we live in Tn near Gatlinburg and built the Amicalola.

  • Jill Rufus

    Link to pics of our house from start until completion below. We used the same builder who had originally built this house for himself and the designer who had rented the house from him when he moved out. We believed we could merge the best of both worlds into a new, and improved version of this design. We are very pleased with the outcome. We are part owners of a custom kitchen cabinet company and laughed at the 40K budget the builder gave us for the built-ins in a 6800 square foot house. Even with our super duper discounts we still spent 120K in built ins and granite. Don't cut corners. We have been into these floor plans where corners have been cut and it is pretty obvious. The Rufus House- Garrell Tranquility

  • Annie Akers

    @Jill Fufus.....your home is beautiful! I love seeing these completed homes. Are the panels in your keeping room made out of wood? We have just started building Garrell's Nantahala home in North Caroina. Finally getting the foundation in this week before rain again this weekend.

  • reedre

    Hi all, we are building this home (the tranquility plan ) and will be breaking ground in a few short weeks. We have our plans finalized, most of the interior colors, windows, etc. are picked. My request is; if anyone knows what the brick color and stone color, the builder, etc. of the home photo attached. By the photo I think it may be old georgian tudor brick. This home was built at Lake Lanier in Gainesville GA. in 2008 so it's been very difficult to find any information on. We want the same identical look of the home. Thank you for any help as I am sure with your new homes you have probably seen this photo. I did reach out to Garrell and Associates but no luck. My e-mail contact is reedre58@yahoo.com

  • asimpson53

    Completed 1/2018. Spartanburg,SC. Tranquility plan

  • Dan Chambers

    Beautiful, thanks to everyone for sharing your pictures and experiences. They have been very valuable as we build our version of the Amicalola/Tranquilty on Smith Lake in northwest Alabama.

  • Cindy

    We‘re getting ready to build a version of the AMICALOLA in Georgia. This will be our forever home so I’m a bit nervous about getting everything just the way we want it. We also have a son with special needs that will require us to make a few adjustments. It would help us tremendously to do a walk through before deciding which changes will meet his needs. We’d love to tour a few homes before okaying our final plans. A big thank you to everyone who has posted their experience and pictures! Very helpful! Please contact me at cinsalmon@aol.com. Thank you! You can also text me at 706-252-6028

  • rjinga

    Cindy, where in GA will you be building?

  • Cindy


  • Cindy

    We’re willing to drive or fly to get an opportunity to tour a few homes! Thanks for your reply!

  • reedre

    We have started the build of our Tranquility modified plan. One level with bonus room above three car garage and a detached garage. So excited!

  • Cindy


    That‘s so exciting! Everything looks good so far. And the area is beautiful. Thanks for the pictures! Where are you building?

    What modifications are you making to your plan?

    So far we’ve made the Lodge room bigger and gotten rid of the wall between the Lodge room/kitchen. We‘ll also be facing the island toward the Lodge room. Instead of a keeping room that side of the house will be 2 bedrooms and a playroom/therapy room for our son. We’re making several changes which makes me super nervous!

  • reedre
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Cindy, we are empty nesters so we made our living spaces bigger and we only have a master suite and one guest bedroom downstairs. Added a bedroom and bonus/media room upstairs and additional bathroom. We kept the wall between the lodge room and the kitchen. I really like the layout as we currently have an open floor plan and for this house I wanted semi open
  • reedre

    Cindy, We are building in the Northwest Arkansas area. Only eight miles from Oklahoma state line....the reason for the safe room in the pic.

  • Cindy


    Help! I can’t pull up your picture.

  • ljbatey

    Cindy, we just finished a version of the Amicalola this last year. We are in the Memphis, TN area. We absolutely love it. You are welcome to come tour it. My email is : ljbatey@att.net if you are interested. Linda Batey

  • reedre
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><md>Starting to look like a house
  • reedre


  • Cindy

    Very exciting!! It’s coming along nicely. Just curious as to why your going from an open floor plan to a semi open plan. Do you have the keeping room in your plan??

    Thanks for the update and picture!

  • Sarah Strawn

    Our entire house is on video if you want to see all the modifications we made - ours is a walkout basement- you can email me if you want our address sarahstrawn@att.net - we let builder put it in the parade of homes (ours was a total custom).

  • Cindy


    Thank you so much! I’d love to see the video of your home. I’ll email you!

  • redcandy247

    Thanks for all the helpful information everyone! We have resumed working on our floor plan. We are keeping the wall between the kitchen and the lodge room. We're in FL now with an open floor plan and I'm tired of it. I find it hard to decorate...it's like an aircraft hangar, lol. I like the areas broken up more. To us, it'll feel more cozy. Semi open sounds like a good way of putting it. It'll have a walkout basement just like the Tthat'll mostly be our gym for working out, a flight simulator/home theater, storage and safe room. I'm trying to persuade my husband to do a drive under for the cars. It's just me and my husband now and probably won't have much company as the kids are scattered around the country so we're gearing it to our needs. It'll have at least one guest suite/in-law suite and another bedroom or two besides the master. There's so many choices I have analysis-paralysis... One thing we want it to look like the Tranquility on the outside, with the same footprint. We have a great builder and he actually built a house several years ago that looks just like the Tranquility exterior. Once we get our floorplan close to finished our designer can make a virtual reality plan of it and we can use our VR headset to do a walk through. That's extra$ but I think it'll be a big help.

  • Cindy


    Thank you for the video link. You did make a lot of changes and everything turned out beautiful. We’re also planning to use the brick and rock on the outside. I haven’t seen a lot done that way. Since you opened the kitchen to the lodge room are you satisfied with your amount of cabinet and counter space? We’re also removing that wall. Also do you have a hard time with echoing since everything is so open?

    Thanks for time!

  • Cindy

    Also could someone tell about how tall the lodge room ceiling is? Since we will not have a keeping room we enlarged the width of the lodge room making it 24 feet wide. The great room in our previous house was 24x25 with a 2 story ceiling and it never felt cozy! Just big with a lot of echoing.

  • Sarah Strawn


    If you look at the video you’ll notice a large room with orange Formica - that’s our pantry & its behind the kitchen. If I didn’t have that I wouldn't have enough storage space in the kitchen. We have no problem with noise or echoing in our house. It’s open but cozy & we love it. One my favorite things is the very open bookshelf's (wall) in our entry. It gives visual interest and defines the area that in the plans shows it as dining room. We use it as a sitting area instead. We defined spaces with rugs & furniture, laid the wood floors in different directions & placed reclaimed wood beams In the ceiling. For me personally it didn't work to have the wall between the kitchen & the lodge room.

    I took the plans whited out the kitchen area and drew the thing myself - then gave it to a drafter. Good luck!

  • ljbatey

    Cindy, our lodge room vaulted ceiling is 19’ and it isn’t drafty and feels cozy.

  • Terri Walent

    Could someone that has or is building this style home please tell me the color of the cedar shake. We are using Hardi board and I want to get as close to the original color of the shake. I love all the pictures posted. our basement and garage have been poured. We are really getting excite.

    you can email me at: walentt@bellsouth.net

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