Local builders construct moderate-size subdivision with larger lots

A columned front porch marks this house from Tom Rooke Homes at Brightwood Plantation in the Cainhoy-Huger area. Tom Rooke Homes of James Island and Johns Island-based Wando Builders are the neighborhood designers and contractors.

There's no sense fooling anybody: Brightwood Plantation is in the country.

Even the people marketing the new Berkeley County neighborhood note that the community is nine miles from Clements Ferry Road, hardly in the center of Charleston, and a full 15-minute drive to Interstate 526.

But the rural life does have advantages, most notably lower home prices and a paucity of roadway tie-ups.

"You cannot find anything in (nearby) Mount Pleasant in this price point," says George A.Z. Johnson III. Johnson, who heads up Wando Builders Inc., and Thomas Rooke Jr. of Tom Rooke Homes have split construction of 114 homes.

Rooke says the neighborhood is geared to the "move-up" market, such as individuals and families living in East Cooper condos who want more outdoor space.

Ranging from 1,700 to 1,838 square feet, the houses are priced from $215,900 to $240,000. Wando Builders is primarily focusing on smaller, lower-priced houses and Tom Rooke on the bigger, higher end houses.

Most trips to and from Brightwood Plantation are hardly around the corner. But it might not be as time-consuming because of the lack of traffic. "I'd rather drive 50 miles per hour for 15 minutes than 2 miles per hour for 50 minutes," Johnson says. Also, the community is within a few miles of two major employers, Nucor Steel and

BP's Cooper River plant.

The landowner-developer, Marilynne Bright, gave the neighborhood its name. Bordering the Francis Marion National Forest, the property is surrounded by woods. In addition, the builders planted a Washington plum tree and an oak on each lot. All lots have fully sodded yards.

There's a small clubhouse, and plans call for a gazebo and swimming pool. Lots, priced at $70,000 to $100,000, are 1/4 acre.

All plans have two-car garages, screened porches, architectural shingles and top-of-the-line vinyl siding. Home Telephone provides telecommunications service, including Internet hookup. Available upgrades include stainless steel kitchen appliances, maple cabinets and granite countertops.

Each builder customized its floor plans to some extent. Rooke says he added touches such as eat-in kitchens, bay windows, and high-efficiency heat pumps and ceramic tile in the bathrooms. Detail work is popular. "We are using a lot of crown molding," he says.

The contractors are experienced builders in the Charleston area. Rooke built Ocean Neighbors, Seaside Plantation and The Bend at River Road neighborhoods. Wando Builders has constructed homes at Parrott Bluff of James Island and Brickyard and Hamlin plantations in Mount Pleasant.

Their collaboration on Brightwood Plantation has produced a community with suburban attractions at rural prices. "It's an affordable subdivision with amenities," Johnson says.

To reach Brightwood Plantation from downtown Charleston, take the Ravenel Bridge east to Mount Pleasant, staying in the left-hand lanes onto U.S. Highway 17 (Johnnie Dodds Boulevard). Continue north on Highway 17 to S.C. Highway 41. Turn left onto Highway 41 and follow it across the Wando Bridge. Bear left onto Clements Ferry Road. Travel for about a mile to Cainhoy Road and turn right. Follow Cainhoy Road for nine miles. Brightwood Plantation is on the right. An alternate route is Interstate 26 west to I-526 toward Mount Pleasant, exiting north on Clements Ferry Road and staying on Clements Ferry to a left on Cainhoy Road.