Here is how to build your lottery dream home
Kim Rizzo Thompson and her husband, Tim Thompson, were a month into their house search in August when Tim received a phone call. The Ohio Lottery Commission was calling to announce that Kim had won $2 million in the Top Prize Drawing.
That call prompted a change of plans and a spot on national television for the Upper Arlington couple.
“It’s been crazy since we got that check in September,” Kim said.
The lottery winnings — $710,000 after a first round of taxes was taken from the lump-sum payout — allowed the couple to build their dream home.
Custom homebuilder Compass Homes broke ground on the house last month in Upper Arlington. The five-bedroom, 4 1/2-bath house with a finished basement is almost three times the size of the Thompsons’ 1,100-square-foot, single-bath home.
“It’s a big upgrade for us,” said Tim, who grew up in the couple’s current house and has owned it for 30 years.
The Thompsons’ new house will include a feature the couple had been unable to find in their search of existing ones: a first-floor, handicapped-friendly bedroom suite that the Thompsons plan to use for Kim’s 82-year-old mother, Betty Rizzo.
The Thompsons’ quest for a house was chronicled, in a manner of speaking, by the HGTV show “My Lottery Dream Home.”
Soon after receiving the lottery news, the Thompsons were contacted by a show producer. The boisterous couple thought it would be fun and submitted a video “audition” for the show.
In January, an HGTV crew arrived. The Thompsons were already in contract with Compass Homes, but, in keeping with HGTV’s formula, producers wanted the show to document the couple making a decision with the help of host David Bromstad.
HGTV arranged for the couple to visit homes for sale in Bexley and Upper Arlington (called “Bexley Park” and “Arlington Heights” in the show) and pretend to be considering them, along with the planned Compass house. In the show’s climax, the Thompsons are shown “choosing” a new home over drinks at the Hubbard Grille in the Short North.
The Thompsons happily played along, although it wasn’t always easy.
“At the house in Bexley, I could not get excited,” Kim said. “I said, ‘This is the ugliest house I’ve ever seen.’ They said, ‘You can’t say that.’ … Tim said, ‘You have to smile,’ but I just couldn’t. We must have entered that house 10 times before they got what they wanted.”
The show compensated for the lack of a finished “dream home” by filming the Thompsons discussing home plans with Pamela Cinelli, the director of sales and marketing at Compass.
“I was blown away by how large of a crew they brought in,” Cinelli said. “They filmed me for about three-and-a-half hours.”
The finished episode aired March 4.
Tim, who is a sound engineer for ABC and ESPN sports broadcasts, was impressed with the technical level of the show.
Kim, a house cleaner, doesn’t know what to think of the show. She hasn’t seen it and refuses to.
“I don’t want to see how I look,” she said. “They always say that it puts on 10 pounds, and I didn’t want to see that.”
Meanwhile, work is well underway on the couple’s home.
The lot is 50 feet wide and has a driveway, forcing Compass Homes President Mark Braunsdorf to design a long, narrow home.
Perks such as hand-scraped Amish wood floors, a farmhouse sink, top-flight carpeting and a greenhouse pushed the price to more than $500,000.
“Kim is getting what she always wanted,” Cinelli said.
The Thompsons hope to move in by September. Their daughter, Rosie, lives in Texas, but they will share the home with Kim’s mother and with a golden retriever named Cheyenne, a Pomeranian named Barney and a cat called Milo.
The house is pricier and more luxurious than the couple was considering before winning the lottery, but they don’t expect it to radically change their lives. They took out a loan for the house and banked most of their winnings for a retirement cushion. Both plan to continue working.
“One million doesn’t go as far as you might think,” Tim said.
But it sure helps.
“I’m so excited,” Kim said at the April 6 groundbreaking. “I’m finally getting my home.”
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