Michele Dombo is a homemaker in the truest sense of the word. She makes homes, like this one in the Chevy Chase View neighborhood of Kensington.
You don’t often find women building houses. “Women remain underrepresented in the construction industry,” Na Zhao wrote for the National Association of Home Builders’ blog “Eye on Housing” in September. The latest labor force statistics show the share of women employed in construction has stayed fairly constant at 9 percent since 2002.
Dombo, who runs her own construction company and has been in the business since 2006, doesn’t need statistics to know how few women are out there building houses. She sees it daily.
“It’s so limited,” she said. “I’m a huge advocate of women in the trade. When I do get an opportunity, I do try to hire women.”
It wasn’t only women who worked on this house, but women were involved in all aspects of the project, from architect Margaret Upton, who designed it; Tyler Whitmore, who staged it; and real estate agent Helen Trybus, who is marketing it.
Dombo, who grew up in Chevy Chase View, was approached by the family who owned the home. This house was at least her third project on Glendridge Street.
“I liked the Tudor style,” Dombo said. “Technically, in the architectural sense, it’s not a true Tudor. But I liked that, and I wanted to maintain that. That’s why I decided not to tear down the whole house.”
Dombo significantly expanded the house but didn’t sacrifice the front yard. Because she knew it was a neighborhood where families spend time in their front yards, the house remains set back from the street. The distance also provides a bit more privacy.
The main floor functions well for families and for entertaining. The entrance off the garage opens to a mudroom with storage and a bathroom with a dog shower. The kitchen has an enormous island where kids can do homework while dinner is being made. The main living area has a fireplace that is flanked by built-in cabinetry, which offers loads of storage.
“I think the rhythm of the house works,” Dombo said. “If you have a big family, you can dump your stuff and hide your stuff.”
The formal entrance opens to a foyer with an office on the left that could easily be turned into a bedroom, and a formal dining room on the right. A butler’s pantry with an extra dishwasher separates the dining room from the kitchen. A three-season screened porch with a fireplace extends the living space.
The upstairs has a spacious master suite, with his-and-her closets and a separate shower and soaking tub in the master bath. There’s also a laundry room on this level.
The basement has a bedroom, bathroom, rec room with a wet bar and separate outside entrance.
“I’m a mother of five,” Dombo said. “I get the way people function. That always has a lot to do with it. I build a lot like if I were to live in it.”
The seven-bedroom, six-bathroom, 6,390-square-foot house is listed at just under $2.1 million.