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01/22/2008

Trade Dollars Play Major Role In House Construction

Growing up and working in Banks County (GA), Faythe Willis learned how to negotiate a deal that didn�t necessarily involve money. �For years, we had a catering business where we were always bartering,� she said.

And for the past 20 years, Willis has put her horse-trading sense to work as an employee of Tradebank, a company that connects business owners with clients who want their services and have something to trade. In August 2006, Willis became the owner of Tradebank of North Georgia, based in Lawrenceville. Through the years with the company, she stockpiled trade credits as part of her compensation.

Tradebank members can swap their credits for goods and services they need. In Willis� case, the need was for a new home.

After several months of negotiating deals on just about every aspect of the project, Willis and her husband Jerry recently moved into their three-bedroom, 2,600-square-foot, Mediterranean-style dream home on 3.5 acres of family-owned land in Gillsville.

�This was the first house I ever built,� said Willis. �I got the idea for it during a visit to Jekyll Island. We were sitting in a courtyard surrounded by these arched openings, and I just loved the idea. So I traded with an architect to come up with a similar plan.�

Willis built a large portion of the house using the talents of roofers, electricians and other construction experts who are part of the Tradebank network. No money changed hands; instead, she used her Tradebank credits for their services.

In the end, the house was completed with Tradebank credits worth $116,000 as well as $250,000 in traditional loans. Using the Tradebank network, Willis estimates that she saved about $60,000 over what she would have paid retail for the goods and services she acquired through trade.

Here's a look at the features she acquired in trade:

Around the one-story tan stucco exterior is a wide wraparound verandah, floored with stamped concrete pavers (traded). The double front doors open directly into the living room, with a raised, glass-fronted fireplace (traded), cream-colored vaulted ceiling and pale orange walls. The concrete flooring, acid-stained to different colors, runs throughout the main living areas.

�I raised three boys and was a slave to my home,� said Willis. �Here, I want everyone to come and enjoy themselves and not worry about making a mess.�

By the arched entry into the kitchen stands an antique hall table with mirror (traded). The spacious kitchen has a long, wood breakfast bar with tall chairs overlooking a double sink and pine work counters. The area also includes a warming drawer, convection oven, double ovens (all traded), a cooktop and hood vent and a second double sink under the window. A wall-mounted gas fireplace (traded) has blowers that send enough hot air into the room to keep it comfy.

From the living area, double doors open to the courtyard between the wings of the house. A water feature with a clay urn (traded) and pond anchor one wall; an outdoor fireplace (traded) and gas grill sit under a covered area at the back. Doors from the courtyard open into a garden shed on one side and the master bedroom on the other. The space is cooled by ceiling fans with palm frond blades.

�The design lets us shut down entire parts of the house when we�re not using them,� said Willis.

One wing of the house holds Willis� home office, with French doors leading to the side porch and a diamond pattern in the concrete floor. The room and an adjacent bedroom also has a built-in Murphy bed hidden behind double wood doors, giving the space plenty of flexibility for guests and grandkids. The guest baths have stucco surrounds in the showers and ornate cabinetry below the sinks.

At the end of the hall is the carpeted master, with a dramatic vaulted ceiling and three arched windows looking out to the backyard. The glamorous bath boasts a large spa tub, a tiled walk-in shower with a bench, granite counter tops and mirrors over the double sinks decorated with iron floral patterns. A pass-through from the master closet allows dirty clothes to drop directly into the adjoining laundry room.

Willis also traded with contractors who did the roof and gutters, electrical wiring, security system, and a sound system.

�We were very creative about how we spent our money,� said Willis. �By being careful, we were able to get a lot of upgrades that we wouldn�t have been able to afford otherwise � such as onyx tile around the living room fireplace, the stamped concrete, architectural roof shingles, the double ovens, the warming drawer and convection oven. And all along, I had a lot of fun doing it.�

Tradebank is a cashless commerce system that connects business owners and professionals with buyers and sellers.

For more information see www.tradebank.com.

(This story was reprinted from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 17, 2008, �The Home That Bartering Built.�)


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