Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD - Fairfield resident Judd Connor builds houses for a living but also as a hobby.
In addition to building them for other people, Connor has built five houses for himself and his family. It's not necessarily that he enjoys moving so much. In fact, oftentimes his houses aren't even on the market, but acquaintances like the home he's living in so much they make an offer he can't refuse. That's what happened with Connor's previous home, which he lived in until 2018 when he built his fifth home on South 32nd Street just outside Fairfield's city limits.
Jeremy Pohren called Judd asking to buy the house he was living in at the time, so Connor and wife, Tarah, agreed on the price and got to work on another project.
The Connor's new house is on a lot that Judd had bought a few years ago at a time when he was buying lots, thinking he might one day put a house there either for himself or a customer. Once it became clear that the house would be for their own family, Judd and Tarah began making a list of all the attributes and amenities they wanted in their new abode.
Tarah wanted a nice wide-open kitchen and dining room area. The couple used Anderson windows throughout and installed granite countertops in the kitchen with a Turkish marble backsplash. For Judd, having a big garage was a must. The garage he built measures 28 by 42 feet and has a second floor to it.
Overall, the home has four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. It has two living rooms, one upstairs and one in the basement. The basement has a billiards room to accommodate Tarah's interest in the sport.
The basement is also their three older kids have bedrooms and tend to spend much of their time playing in the large play area downstairs. The couple's fourth child is just now turning 1 year old, and that youngster sleeps in the nursery on the main floor that was once the couple's office.
Tarah said other key aspects of the house were having a big closet in the master bedroom, and ensuring the closet was near the master bathroom. She wanted to take advantage of the home's rural setting with nice southern views overlooking a grove of walnut trees that are 25 years old.
The house is on top of the hill looking down on the grove of trees, which Judd said are still pretty young to produce fruit. Some day they will be productive and maybe even a cash crop, but for now their purpose is cosmetic.
Since the house is near a grove of walnut trees, the family decided to carry that theme into their home. They used black walnut hardwood floors throughout the upstairs, and a walnut ridge beam and mantle on the fireplace.
The home is isolated from the neighbors, whom Tarah said they can't see from their property. However, they're not fully removed from the public, since they do have a view of the trail head on South 32nd Street.
Judd said the property feels more country than city. The home is on Fairfield water but not sewer since the city's sewer line doesn't go that far.
Tarah said the couple loved throwing parties at their home before the pandemic hit. She said they loved to invite people over for a home-cooked meal, and to throw parties, which was convenient with their open floor plan. The couple mentioned that there's plenty of parking space available outside their home, making it ideal for large gatherings.
Judd said the family moved into the house about six to eight months after he started building it. It wasn't completely finished, but it was mostly done, and Judd was able to do the rest while he and the family lived in it. He said the whole project took close to a year, and involved building 'around the clock.” During the day, Judd was busy building homes for other people, and in the evenings, instead of getting a break he had his hands full building his own home.
'It was a lot of long days and weekends,” he said.
But Judd was quick to add that working weekends was nothing new for him. He said that's a common practice especially in the warm weather months, when builders have to seize every day of good weather they can because they might get rained out tomorrow.
'And after daylight saving time in the fall, it's hard to work outside,” Judd added.
Judd said the home construction industry is doing well now and that he's busy now and has houses lined up to build next year. He uses his current house as a showroom to demonstrate his skills to potential customers. He said he's particularly proud of the work he's done on the master shower, since he does a lot of walk-in showers, and of the stone in the fireplace. It's a wood-burning fireplace that gets a lot of use. In fact, Judd said he puts logs on it every day in the winter.
'It's nice to have a fire going,” he said.