Rustic Elegance and Concrete . . . an Unusual Mix
The pale gold stucco, rusty-toned stone, and cedar trim blend perfectly with the wooded Texas setting. You’d never guess the house is made of concrete and steel.
The Tuscany Park subdivision feels very peaceful and rural, but Walmart is just half a mile away, along with other stores and restaurants. The house sits on almost an acre of land with about 125 feet of shoreline on a well-stocked private spring-fed lake. From the home’s dock, you can catch perch, bass, and catfish.
Nancy and Joseph Predaina moved to the East Texas town of Mineola in 2005, after Joseph retired. They bought a “temporary” home to live in while they searched for a lake lot and drew plans for building their own personal lake lodge.
Basements in Texas
Joseph had a lot of building experience. During 30 years of pastoring churches, he built several church buildings. He also had a lot of imagination. He decided to build a home with a basement. “If we had a dollar for every person who said, ‘We don’t build basements in Texas,’ we would be rich,” he would say with a chuckle.
The initial motivation for building the basement was to have a place to set up Joseph’s extensive model train layout. But, as the building plans progressed, the couple decided to build the entire house out of concrete. Concrete homes have several great advantages: strength, safety during bad weather, and energy efficiency.
Steel forms were set up, and concrete was pumped into the forms. The walls are basically a “concrete sandwich,” with a layer of insulation between two layers of concrete. The basement walls are 10” thick, and the upper level walls are 8” thick. The basement ceiling is also concrete, which provides a slab foundation for the upper level of the house.
The Train Room
The upper level includes the master bedroom, master bath, guest bedroom, 1½ guest baths, kitchen, dining room, breakfast nook, laundry room, great room, and Nancy’s office/music room. The walk-out basement offers a bedroom, bath, small kitchen area, train room (which could be used as an exercise room or a very large bedroom), storage room, and Joseph’s office (which could also be used as another bedroom). Almost every room offers a view of the lake. And there are three patios from which you can enjoy the scenery.
Construction in Phases
Due to a downturn in the economy which delayed the sale of their temporary house, building the new house was much slower than anticipated. Construction began in the fall of 2007, and it took about 3 years to complete the project. “We’d do some work, pay for it, save some money, and then do some more work. But the delay was really a good thing because it gave us time to really think about each step. Also we had a very creative cabinet-maker and concrete flooring guy, and they came up with some amazing ideas. The house took on a life of its own,” Nancy said.
Those ideas included using concrete instead of tile for the master bath shower and for the tub surround in one of the guest bathrooms. The kitchen countertops and the bath countertops in 2 of the 4 bathrooms are also made of concrete. Of course, most of the floors are stained concrete. The custom-made cabinets throughout the house are knotty alder with solid maple drawers.
290 Yards of Concrete
It required 290 yards of concrete, not counting driveways and sidewalks, to build the house. Joseph said, “It’s really less expensive than traditional building. And I’m very happy with the utility bills, particularly in the hot Texas summers.” The house’s average electric bill in 2018 was $158.42, amazing for a 4,324-square-foot house!
A concrete house provides great safety
When storms and tornadoes threaten, neighbors like to take shelter in the concrete home. And a large generator provides energy during any electric outages.
The interior of the house has a very warm feel with lots of wood, cedar beams, and soft earthy colors. “People often use the term ‘elegant,’ which surprises me since my intention was to design a rustic lake lodge. My brother refers to the style as ‘rustic elegance.’ I don’t know if that’s a legitimate category for building, but it sounds good to me,” Nancy said.
Cancer took Joseph’s life in 2015. Nancy remarried in 2019 and moved to Oklahoma. So, this beautiful home is now available for some fortunate family to purchase and create new memories.
Nancy’s career includes education, ministry, writing and editing. She is the Special Projects Writer/Editor for Mercy Ships, an international, faith-based medical nonprofit.