Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
A stand-out home on the HBA’s Fall Parade of Homes, this Epic Homes masterpiece, located in The Wilds subdivision, is a must-see if you’re in the market for a new home. Epic Homes may be newer to the area, but they’ve quickly made a name for themselves with top-notch craftsmanship and a unique spin on finishes. Mix in a partnership with architect Jan Mevold of Mevold Studios and they’ve got themselves a recipe for success. After originally building custom homes in Western North Dakota, see how this young team is now spreading their wings on the other side of the state.
Located in The Wilds subdivision of West Fargo, this transitional, craftsman-style home resides on a massive, 16,600 square-foot lot with oversized front porch and extensive, covered patio in the back.
Epic Homes started as Venture Building Company with the owner, Parker Pladson, just over seven years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that all four of the team members began their Fargo partnership and rebranding to Epic Homes. Pladson is the owner and one of the project managers but wears many hats in running all aspects of the business. Taylor Belk is another project manager who was one of the first to join Pladson and help integrate the expansion to Fargo. Tom Seifert joined the team this Spring and manages the sales and marketing for Epic Homes. Another team member they consider pivotal to their building process is architect Jan Mevold, of Mevold Studios. Mevold and Belk are NDSU graduates, while Seifert graduated from University of Mary and Pladson from Dickinson State.
Design: Exterior Vs. Interior
“One thing we try to do is bring the outside look of the house inside,” said Belk. “So, whether it’s modern, farmhouse, contemporary or craftsmen, we try to carry that style through to the inside. That’s a major reason why we work with Jan Mevold, he can help if we have an idea of what we want the inside to look like, he can help carry that to the outside.”
Expanding the Front Porch
At first arrival of this home, one important feature proves a pivotal detail in the design and enjoyment of their homes. “We believe in putting larger front porches on our homes,” said Belk. “It brings the attention back to the front of the house. If you look at older homes that are still around, one big thing that you’ll notice is a lot of large front porches. In some of the newer neighborhoods, we feel they really lack that. Every house we do, we have at least a 200 square-foot front porch.”
“The first reason we do bigger front porches is because of the weather, and mainly snow in this part of the country, ” said architect Jan Mevold. “We also never want a garage to overpower the house. In neighborhoods today, garages are huge. Also, if you have a big, covered front porch, people are going to sit out there and you’ll share it with your friends and see your neighbors as they pass by. It’s much more welcoming.”
“Even with the exterior and our LP Smart Siding, we don’t believe in skimping or cutting corners ever, which gives us a better quality product with fewer issues dealing with our climate,” said Seifert. “The nice thing about LP is that it does give you that wood grain and plank look, it allows us to do more architectural features on the outside of the house with a lot of color options,” explained Belk. “There’s also whole-house audio that includes the front porch and back covered porch that can be run through your phone.”
Epic Interior Design
Architectural Elements + Mevold Studio
“I’ve known Taylor and Parker for a long time, so when I decided to come to Fargo they wanted to do a spec home,” said Mevold. “So, we worked together on the design of this house and had a lot of conversations about how to make a home different. For a spec home, you don’t have a client, so we wanted to create something that was different than other homes. The architectural bones were important to us because that’s something the homeowner can’t easily change. We needed to create something that would be timeless. We also wanted to take advantage of the location, this is a nice size lot with a really nice backyard, so we wanted to do great window placement and high ceilings.”
“As far as the architectural elements, this stone on the mantel is the same stone we used on the outside. So, you have a lot of big pieces, which I think is kind of missing sometimes in a space where the outside is very masculine but the inside is very feminine,” said Mevold. “We try to balance the two together.”
“It’s hard to explain until you see it, but what Jan does for our clients is being able to show a King size bed to-scale in the master bedroom or if they drive a certain vehicle, we can put that to scale in the garage. This way they can see how much room they’re actually getting. The average person isn’t going to know until they’re living in the house that they should have made that one room bigger. We just don’t run into those issues as often as some builders. We can really show them from the beginning what it looks like.” The team can even offer 3-D renderings so homeowners can see the space before it’s built.
Inside the home, the Epic Homes team, along with Mevold Studio, designed a stunning space with 2,100 square-feet on the main level. In the primary living area, vaulted ceilings reach an impressive 20-feet with beautiful Alder ceiling beams. A stone hearth is at the center of the space, accented by floating shelves and custom-painted built-ins. For Epic Homes, everything from the stain color to the painted built-ins is completely custom.
In this space, Alder beams are stained to match the floating shelves, mantel and stair railing. Don’t bother trying to search for the paint color on the lower built-ins, this is a custom color created specifically for Epic Homes. They’ve also carried this paint color through to the kitchen island. “Even with stain, we don’t just find a stain color that works, everything’s custom made for the home,” said Pladson. Even the stair railing leading to the lower-level, is specially fabricated in a unique, thatched design.
Grey is the New White
An uncommon design choice, the team steered away from the typical white trim, instead opting for a tone called Mindful Grey. “That’s just one of the design details we really enjoyed. It’s something different that carries through all of the design and architectural elements,” explained Seifert. “We go through an extensive finishing process to ensure that the color looks good and you can’t see any nail holes. It’s actually painted in place.”
This gorgeous kitchen starts with varying ceiling heights creating a double-vault at 13.5 feet. A custom painted island in the same hue as the mantel built-ins create a stylish presence with Quartz countertops and a farmhouse sink. Sleek, white cabinetry with top, crown moldings pair perfectly with the grey glass, subway tile backsplash.
The kitchen amenities include high-end appliances with double oven, an island dishwasher and lower microwave. “The island is 10 feet wide. One thing that we do when we put the sink in the countertop, we make the width of the island larger so you can actually use the area behind the sink,” explained Mevold.
If you haven’t yet spotted the pantry, that’s exactly what the Epic Homes’ team wanted. “This idea just came from wanting to incorporate a pantry but design it in a way that no one else does, so we came up with this idea. We found some pictures of things that were similar and then just figured out how to make it work,” explained Pladson. “But, we wanted to incorporate it in a way that made it look like it’s part of the cabinetry. “With it being closed, you’d never even notice that it was there.”
To complete the hidden pantry door, Epic Homes started with an interior door and worked closely with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to place actual cabinetry on the face of it. To give it a seamless look, they wrapped the whole area with cabinetry so that it looks like another cabinet door with drawers. It easily pushes open with a chalk ledge underneath the built-in chalkboard. Inside, the team made sure to create a space that’s ready for a full-size, standing freezer and even an additional fridge.
“We do sub everything out when we build a home, and the reason we do that is that we find the people that are the best at what they do,” said Belk. “To build this hidden pantry door, it took a few meetings with Clearwater Custom Cabinets to figure out the best way to open and close the door, and how are we going to make the door match the cabinets. It was just a collaboration of us installing the door during framing, pulling it out, bringing it to the cabinet shop and going through a couple of different options on how to lay out the doors and chalkboard, then re-install it. We like to be able to take images that clients bring us and figure out a way to do it.”
Made for Life
The main level includes a separate laundry room with custom cabinetry and quartz countertops. For the walls, the team took a different approach with grey shiplap, creating looser lines for a more interesting, rustic look.
In the Mudroom, Epic Homes designed a drop zone for coats, shoes and a separate space for mail and media storage. Custom five-panel doors give the home a unique transitional look between craftsman and contemporary.
Epic Homes doesn’t skimp on their guest bedrooms. Larger than average windows and closets bigger than most master closets, make this a guest bedroom everyone will want to stay in. To gain valuable, natural light, Epic Homes often includes windows in the closets as well.
The Master Suite features a raised, box ceiling with crown molding around the perimeter and optional accent lighting that can change hues. For this room, they chose a cleaner shiplap in white and their signature, grey trim. A sliding barn door in Alder leads to the impressive master closet and master bath.
Another custom color created by Epic Homes is featured on the master bath’s painted vanities with furniture-style legs and double sinks. The bath also features audio, a wood-look ceramic tile floor, custom-designed, tile shower and separate toilet room.
Crafting Backyard Bliss
Epic Homes doesn’t just believe in large front porches, their excitement for enjoying the outdoors is just as impressive in the backyard. Creating a beautiful, covered patio with custom beams and stonework is all just part of the foundation. “Our raised porch areas are actually incorporated into the foundation of the home,” said Pladson. “It’s a unique feature and we love doing it because you truly get a maintenance-free porch. Whereas even a deck, relative costs are close in price. With this, you can shovel it, you can set a hot tub on it and there are no weight restrictions. It’s never going to move.”
In the Details
If the Epic Homes’ team sees something they like, they figure out how to do it and incorporate it into their homes in a unique way. “With all of us so young, none of us are really set in our ways,” said Pladson. “We actually always looking for something different and better ways to do things versus thinking we know every way that something needs to be done, which I think gives us a huge competitive advantage. As a team, we do the lighting choice and finishes ourselves. I love the design part of it, interior-wise so I work with the designer on everything in here.”
One thing the team does is poll their Facebook followers, giving them design choices and asking which they prefer. This gives them insight into current trends and what homeowners are looking for. “People vote on it and they really take that info and incorporate it into the interior space,” said Mevold. “A lot of the images people seemed to like, had more of that masculine feel, it wasn’t just feminine styling.”
At Epic Homes, their minimum standards are far from the minimum. “Cabinets are always soft close and we even will have special knives made so we can get a truly custom design on the door panels,” said Belk. “For the garage, we automatically start at 26 to 27 feet in depth. So, even if you have a full-size truck with a crew cab or a suburban, you’re still going to have ample walking space around your vehicle. We really think about what you actually need in a house and not just build it according to someone’s minimum expectations. There are certain measurements that we rely on Jan for, like the distance between the island and the outer cabinets to make sure the walkways are big enough and the space fits what’s in it.”
Anything but Cookie-Cutter
Epic Homes is anything but cookie-cutter. “We don’t have a set number of floorplans to choose from, clients come in with some ideas and we take it from there creating their dream home,” said Seifert. “We work with Jan exclusively and won’t build a home without him. We also won’t build the same house twice. Every home is start to finish working with our clients.”
“When I started working for these guys, it worked out well because, from my point-of-view, I never want to design the same house twice,” said Mevold. “It’s not fun for me. It doesn’t matter how big or small a house is. The proportion is smaller in a smaller home and we just take that challenge to design a house that’s somebody’s dream. If there are a husband and wife you have to come up with a design that makes them both happy, usually the wife wins,” laughed Mevold.
Building a Partnership
For Epic Homes, building their team was a story in full circle. Pladson began building in 2011 in Dickinson, then in 2013 started building custom homes in Bismarck. He met Belk in between, while he was employed at Roers in the same area.
“We’ve all known each other for a long time and I think what makes us special is how we all came together. Taylor and I became fast friends, he was actually dating my cousin, who’s now his wife,” laughed Pladson. “I met Tom around the same time period through a mutual friend.” Belk started off in commercial builds in Dickinson and ended up building his own house on the side, propelling him into the world of homebuilding.
“While I was in commercial, I met Jan and going from commercial to residential, I ended up moving from Dickinson back to Fargo,” said Belk. “I worked for another homebuilder for a couple of years. Meanwhile, I was still working with Jan, and still keeping in touch with Parker. Parker always gave me the guidance and the support while I was learning about homebuilding. Eventually, I had contacted Parker and he came down to Fargo and we immediately discussed what it would be like to take Epic Homes and branch out to Fargo. We spent about a week together discussing it and we knew each other well, our strengths and weaknesses. This was our best opportunity to team up and see what we could do together.”
Pladson met Jan through Belk about two years ago when he designed the exterior of his personal home in Bismarck. “I thought he did a great job. I didn’t have a lot of experience working with an architect in the past, I worked with him and had a really good experience,” said Pladson. “As soon as we started to first work together it was just an experience that I enjoyed and knew our clients would also appreciate. We all knew it was something that we had to stick with.”
Pladson met Seifert and over the course of five years, had many conversations about working together, but not ever knowing if it would happen. “I don’t know how or why, but from day one, we always ended up talking business, bettering ourselves, just life really,” said Seifert. “There were opportunities that we felt at some point we should take advantage of. It’s funny how life works out and brought us all together.”
“Fast Forward a few years, and we decided to reinvent ourselves a bit,” said Pladson. “We were building custom homes already, but we wanted to expand on that experience and make it even better for clients. This would allow us to be more creative from start to finish. I started talking to Tom more seriously, I knew he was one of the pieces of the puzzle. I knew he was a really smart person and would be an incredible salesperson and great marketer for the new company.”
“I came to NDSU for college and fell in love with Fargo,” said Belk. “I knew that would be the place I wanted to call home. Now that we’re all working together, we all just enjoy the state of North Dakota in general. We’re going back and forth between friends and family all the time, it’s really not as difficult as people may think to build in different cities.” Right now, the Epic Homes team has built just about everywhere in the state and has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
Find the Finishes
Stonework – Swenson Masonry
Cabinets – Clearwater Custom Cabinets
Countertops – Northern Stone
Painting – Weyer-For-Hire
Interior Design & staging – Mary Richholt and Amber Flick, Interiors by France
Siding – Allied (supplier), ICP (installer)
Whole-house Audio – Pacific Sound and Video
Electrical – Axis Electric
Interior Millwork – D&M Industries and NT Woodworks
Appliances – Karl’s Appliance
Architect – Jan Mevold