How to build your dream house: From greenstone to building site
As a young house builder, Brandon Greene had to find a spot in the hills above his hometown of Baywood, California.
He knew that there wasn’t much to be done in the area aside from golf courses and big-box stores.
The area had been around for a few years, but in the years since it had become one of the country’s most densely populated cities, and that meant that even though it was in the middle of nowhere, there was plenty of space for everyone to park and play.
So Greene decided to build a house on the property.
“I remember thinking, ‘Man, that’s a lot of money.
But it’s not as if it’s going to be worth anything,’ ” Greene says.
“But I think I made the wrong decision.
I went with it.”
After more than a decade of planning and design work, Greene’s first house was finished in 2003, and it was the first of its kind in the country.
Today, the building at the center of the Greene story is a five-bedroom, three-bathroom home, the perfect place for a house of its size.
The project was financed through a series of public-private partnerships, and the house was built in partnership with a local real estate firm and private builders.
Today Greene lives on the estate with his wife, their three children, and his son.
But the Greenes still had a lot to do before they could build their dream home, and they needed to start by building a foundation.
They needed to find some money to buy the land.
But what they didn’t know was that there was a $2 million grant that had been earmarked for the project.
“The fact that we had this land was the gift that kept on giving,” Greene tells Recode.
“It made it possible to do what we did and make it happen.”
So Greenes wife, Lauren, and son, Tanner, were on the hunt for money to purchase the property, and Greene and his wife were excited to find out what they would need to pay for the land purchase.
But when they went to the National Register of Historic Places in June 2016, they were shocked to discover that the land was not for sale.
The National Register was a nonprofit organization that had come together in 2013 to help people find places to preserve historic structures and sites across the country, and in that year the organization awarded the Greenedes a $1 million grant for the site at Baywood.
The Greenes had already spent years searching for the right place to put their dream house, and now they found themselves in a quandary.
“You have to be very careful not to put this whole thing in jeopardy,” Greenes says.
The fact that they had this house was the seed that kept the seed from germinating.
“We had a very specific request from the National Trust for the Green House,” he explains.
“And I think the people that we have to worry about that are people that are interested in the preservation of this place, so we have some very good people on that list.
But we have a lot more work to do.”
The National Trust’s request was to designate the land for the National Historic Landmark, and as part of that they wanted to ensure that the property would be open to the public for one year after the grant is awarded.
In other words, they wanted the entire site to be open for the public to explore.
So, Greenes and his team set out to work with the National Park Service to determine what the National National Register would like to see and why.
Greene estimates that the entire project took five years.
After all that work, the Greens had to figure out how to get the land on which their home would be built, because it was a national park, and because of the fact that the National Forest had been in charge of the land from before the National Registry was formed.
And so, the National Parks Service sent Greenes a document outlining the property’s needs, and a letter from the Forest Service explaining that the agency had no jurisdiction over the property since it was not on a national landmass.
The Forest Service also wanted to see if the Green house could be used for educational purposes, so the Green family asked the agency for permission to use the site for outdoor classroom and recreational use.
“That’s what we were hoping for,” Green says.
But in February 2017, the Forest and Forest Preserve Services wrote a letter stating that the site could not be used as a classroom because it had not been properly managed.
“In this case, there are no existing classroom buildings and no educational facility for children or families that use this land for outdoor educational purposes,” the letter read.
The letter went on to state that the Green estate “is a National Historic Site and therefore does not