NORTHERN MICHIGAN SMART HOMES - featured image

When planning a custom home in Northern Michigan, regardless if it is your primary residence, seasonal, or a weekend “up North” getaway retreat, Smart Homes or Home Automation can make your life a bit easier, more secure, comfortable, and give you peace of mind.

Weather, distance, busy lifestyles, and managing family schedules are all part of living in Northern Michigan. These can sometimes present unique challenges that a Smart Home system can help you manage. Being able to monitor your home’s temperature and environment, controlling lighting, and monitoring the security of your home from anywhere in the world can be convenient and a time saver.

A home automation system can even save help reduce energy costs and may even earn you a discount on your homeowner’s insurance.

Smart Home technology has become affordable and is much more sophisticated, all while being much easier to use!

When planning your new custom home you may wish to consider many of the new Smart Home features. Many of the features mentioned below can be installed individually but a system wide approach can yield more benefits.

Security

Basic home security systems monitor your home against burglars or intruders. Door and window sensors along with motion detectors are typical of most systems but with new technology, your home can be even more secure.

Fire, Smoke, Water, and More.
Protecting your home is more than just deterring thieves. Keeping your home and your family safe also includes monitoring for smoke and fire, carbon monoxide, water and flood detection, and radon gas too.

New smart style detectors can text or email you alerts when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected. Similarly some water sensors can also detect water leaks and automatically shut of the main water supply.  Temperature and humidity can also be monitored as well.

Doors, Deadbolts, and Locks
Have you ever wondered if you closed all the windows and locked every door when you were driving away from your home? Andersen Window and Door VeriLock® security sensors are an optional feature for windows and doors. These discreet sensors allow for remote monitoring with a smartphone app so you can be assured that everything is secure. The VeriLock® sensors work with many different security systems so you won’t have to have a multitude of apps to sort though.

If you shop online and dread having UPS leave your package on the porch, you can add a programable garage door keypad to allow the drive access to your garage. Even better is that you can assign a temporary passcode for each order so that you maintain security. No more sharing a code and having to deal with complex reprograming.  This is also helpful if you need to permit access for anyone else. You can even receive text alerts when the keycode has been used so you know when and who is at your home.

Entry doors can also have keyless PIN pad locks that allow you to set individual codes for each person and send a text message when it is used. This makes it easy to monitor who is coming and going, if your children have arrived home, etc. Individual doors can also have sensors that can track movement through your home.

Lighting
A home automation system can give you extra security and peace of mind by creating the illusion that your home is occupied while you are away from home. If you are at work, away on vacation, of if your house is a seasonal or getaway home, it will appear to be occupied thereby reducing the chance of intruders.

Being able to control lighting is convenient both while at home as well as remotely.  Outdoor lighting can enhance your security and deter burglars.

Lights can be programmed to turn on and off in a manner that looks natural. Window blinds and shades can be raised or lowered to enhance the “at home” appearance.

Of course being able to turn on lights before you arrive home after dark is both comforting and convenient.

Cameras
Many home security systems include cameras that allow you to see in live time what is happening at home. With monitoring from inside your home or remotely, they can give you peace of mind knowing who is at your door before opening it. Most cameras have motion detection and night vision and can record activity as well. Some can even alert share video with the police if an intrusion is detected.

Beyond basic home security, cameras can be great for monitoring pets, children, and babysitters. With an intercom or two-way speaker system, you can communicate with them while away from home. This can be especially calming to a nervous pet allowing you to remain in contact during your absence.

Comfort and Convenience

Thermostats
Beyond basic programable thermostat features, newer thermostats can monitor the health of your furnace including diagnostics. Some thermostat displays even have weather radar and forecasts.

Virtual Assistants or Smart Speakers like Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home, allow you to control many of your home’s devices either while away or from the comfort of your favorite recliner. Adjust the lighting, temperature, music, or brew a cup of coffee with a voice command

Home Audio
It used to be when you set up a home audio system, you had wires connecting your audio components to your speakers. The wires often dictated where you could place your speakers. Today you can build a high-quality home audio system without wires. This allows much more freedom in speaker placement and you are not confined to just one room either. New audio systems also allow you to play different music in each room if you wish.

Irrigation for Lawn and Garden
With traditional lawn irrigation systems, they run on a set schedule. With a smart system, you can have a lush lawn and beautiful landscaping and garden by watering as need and not necessarily on a set schedule. Your lawn, flowers, and plants get the precise amount of water when they need it. No more watering your lawn while it is raining.

Home Appliances

Most home appliances are now available with Smart Home Technology. Washers and dryers, refrigerators, stoves, and vacuum cleaners are all available with convenience and time saving features.

Why waste time waiting on laundry? Get text alerts when your wash is done. Same when your laundry is ready to come out of the dryer. How about an oven that can let you know how much longer until your roast is ready while you’re relaxing on the patio or dock?

Some refrigerators can send you suggested shopping lists. You can remotely control the temperature and get alerts if the temperature rises too warm.

Robotic vacuum cleaners like Roomba or Neato can keep your floors tidy while you’re away.

Are you ready to make your custom dream home  a reality?

Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Choosing Siding For Your Custom Home - featured image

Siding also is one of the first things you notice about a home and it can and should be beautiful! Choosing siding for your new home offers you many choices in materials, textures, and colors. The options are nearly limitless. With today’s materials, there are few limitations, what style do you have in mind: board and batten, shake shingles, clapboard, stucco, or perhaps a rustic log home look?

Beyond appearance, siding also serves a functional purpose being the outermost part of your home. It’s the first line of defense against rain, snow, and wind. This is especially important considering Northern Michigan’s harsh winters!  Think of siding as armor for your house. It protects your insulation and the underlying structure of your walls from the elements, helps reduce noise, and can add to the structural integrity of your home. Siding also plays a role in retaining warmth in the winter and keeping the heat out in the summer.

Types of Siding For Your Home

Most homes will use a combination of materials to achieve the look you desire. When deciding on siding options, you should consider aesthetics along with energy efficiency, durability, and maintenance.

Brick

Brick is a classic choice. It is durable, low-maintenance and holds up to extreme conditions. Often it is used as an accent material. Brick veneer is another option that gives the appearance of brick but with a lower cost.

Stone

Stone siding gives a stunning appearance. Like brick, it is typically used as an accent. Available in either genuine or cultured, the styles and color options are vast. Weather and insect resistance are very good and insulation values vary.

Wood Siding

Real Cedar is a beautiful and smart choice for siding.  Cedar is a durable wood, naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects, and has good insulation properties. These natural properties mean whatever you build with it will last longer and require less maintenance. Real cedar is beautiful, versatile, and is a sustainable building product.

Engineered Wood Siding

Engineered wood siding, like LP Smart Siding, is a composite like material that is made from real wood and enhanced to make it stronger, more durable, and more versatile than traditional wood. Like traditional wood, LP Smart Siding also has an insulation R-value greater than traditional vinyl siding. Additional advantages include fire, water, and impact resistance and is safe from insect damage.

Fiber-Cement Siding

Fiber-cement siding offers the look of wood at a lower cost. It however does not have the insulation value that other materials can offer. It also requires more maintenance (painting and caulking) and can absorb moisture. Chipping and cracking are another long-term concern.

Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is the least expensive option but also the least durable. It is more prone to wind damage than other materials. It is available in a wide range of styles, colors and textures.

When choosing siding, you will want to consider the overall appearance of your home.  What color roofing as well as trim? What about landscaping or lightscaping?  All of these influence the overall look of your home and small changes can have a dramatic effect.

Let our experience guide you through the process of selecting the right siding style and materials.
Call us today or use the Contact form to start planning your new home!

Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home - featured image

One of the most important decisions when designing your custom home is choosing windows. Windows play a critical role since they have such a large impact on your home. Windows provide both aesthetic beauty and serve functional purposes. Attention to details in the planning and design phases can reap substantial rewards in both cost savings and the long-term enjoyment of your new home.

Beautiful Views

Chances are that the location of your home has a beautiful view. Windows are much like a picture frame in that they accentuate the view and emphasize architectural lines. From inside, windows and trim compliments your view. From the outside, windows provide character and beauty to the overall look of your home.

Planning for Sunlight

Of course windows allow natural light into your home. The way light falls into a room can bring out other design details as well as provide a comfortable setting for your daily activities. Consider how you will use each room, the time of day (or night), where the sun is at through the day as well as how it varies according to seasons. These considerations also play into what additional artificial lighting you will need. All of these considerations can help select the appropriate style and size windows as well as locations within each room.

Another concern is UV light filtering. Constant exposure to sunlight can age and damage carpets, furniture and most anything else that is exposed for long periods of time. Many windows are available with UV filtering that can reduce exposure and potential damage.

Durability and Weather

Northern Michigan has harsh winters, so durability is an important consideration. If your home is located on the water, especially larger lakes like Crystal Lake, Glen Lake, and especially Lake Michigan, then additional protection from high winds and storms is an additional concern.

High winds, rain and snowstorms can challenge ordinary windows. Andersen, Marvin and Simonton brands offer coastal grade windows that address these concerns. Impact resistant glass, additional structural reinforcements, enhanced cladding and weather sealing are used to create a window that protects your home in the harshest of conditions and remains beautiful.

Winter weather also brings low temperatures. Double paned windows (now commonplace) and triple pane windows offer even more energy savings. ENERGY STAR® rated windows help reduce heating and cooling costs.

A well-designed window also helps reduce noise too. This can be especially nice during storms or if you have an active waterfront or family.

 Convenience

You’ll also want to consider convenience when selecting windows. How easy can you open and close the window? Is one style easier than another? What about cleaning? Will you want screens? You may wish to consider how a window style may work or appear with an awning.

Security

A unique optional feature from Andersen is their VeriLock® Sensors. Integrated with a home security system, you can detect whether a window is open or closed and if it is locked. This is especially a nice feature for those with summer or part-time homes. You can easily see the status from a smart-phone app either when leaving home or to check up remotely.

Recommended Window Brands

Lakeshore recommends Andersen, Marvin, Simonton, and Windsor windows. Each company offers a wide variety of styles and finishes and have warranties that back up their quality for your peace of mind.

We have experience working with each of these brands and we would welcome an opportunity to discuss your custom home plans with you. Call us today or use the Contact form to start planning your new home!

 

Helpful Resources

Andersen YouTube Channel

Shoreline Erosion Control - featured image

Rising water levels in Michigan and the Great Lakes has been in the news as record high levels have caused beaches to erode and, in some cases, damaged homes and businesses.  In Leland, Michigan, historic Fishtown has experienced flooding due to seiches and high-water levels. Throughout Benzie and Leelanau counties, Lake Michigan beaches have eroded to a fraction of what they were just a few years ago.

The rising water levels are due to record snowpack and rainfall over the last few years. In contrast, not long ago we were experiencing record low water levels. Historically, the Great Lakes go through natural cycle of changes in water levels. This means that waterfront homeowners need to plan for both high and low water levels.

Wind, waves, and ice all play a role in erosion.  The shoreline itself also contributes to how well it can resist these forces. Native vegetation helps to buffer the impact of wave and wind erosion and the composition of the soil and underlying rock all contribute to how the shoreline is affected.

What can a homeowner do to protect their shoreline and property?

Adding a seawall may seem like a logical solution but alternatives should be considered whenever possible. Seawalls can actually create more erosion by redirecting wave forces downward and undercutting the wall, or by flanking and eroding the areas directly adjacent to the wall.  Of course, a property on Lake Michigan versus an inland lake will have different conditions to consider.

Often rock (rock armor or “rip rap”) can be used as an alternative to seawalls. A rock revetment absorbs wave energy better than seawalls and reduces the chance of undercutting and flanking. They also provide better access for wildlife to and from the water as compared to a seawall. Rock revetments are also long lasting and can last for years. It should be noted that seawalls and revetments require approval by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership recommends the following strategies for preventing shoreline erosion.

  • Site your house a minimum of 100 feet from the lake.
  • Limit turf grass especially at the lake edge. Keep as many trees, shrubs and native plants as possible.
  • Minimize impervious surfaces to help prevent storm water from running directly into the lake. This helps minimize washing away of sand.
  • Keep the native plants in the lake or only remove a limited amount for boating access or swimming. Plants in the water along the shore help protect the shoreline by absorbing wave energy.

 

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality? Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.

Lakehouse Foundations and Septic Systems - featured image

It is said that in Michigan, you are never more than six miles from a body of water. Michigan also has the longest freshwater coastline in the world. We are very fortunate to have such an abundance of water!  No wonder so many people dream of owning a waterfront home.

When you envision your perfect home on the water, you probably think of the beautiful views, the sunsets, boating and swimming, or the calming effect that water has on so many of us. But with all the idyllic charm comes the reality that building a custom waterfront home can be challenging due to the very nature of a waterfront property.

When building a waterfront home, two unique challenges are foundations and septic systems. Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Water Tables, Foundations, and Basements

Having a home near water usually means a high water table. Many things determine your actual water table such as soil type, drainage, and of course distance from the body of water.

The water table will influence your foundation design and a full basement might not be an option. State and local building codes also play a role in determining the requirements for your homes’ foundation.

During the planning stage, a survey of the property can help determine the elevation of your basement and other key points in relationship to the water table and the base flood elevation for the surrounding properties. This will help determine whether a full basement is practical or if a crawls space is more appropriate. An Elevation Certificate can be issued by the surveyor and is an essential for obtaining flood insurance.

Water drainage also needs to be considered when planning your new home. Managing water away from the foundation can be facilitated in many ways including French drains, gutters and even landscaping and vegetation.

Based on your individual situation and house design, we will design and build a foundation that is appropriate for your conditions and will endure the unique natural forces that waterfront properties face. While this may sound daunting, rest assured that Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience building custom waterfront homes in unique settings.

Septic Systems for Waterfront Homes

A well designed and properly functioning septic system safeguards ground water and nearby lakes and streams from contamination. Obviously if you are investing in a waterfront home, you want to be assured that you will have safe drinking water and be able to enjoy your lake to its fullest while protecting your investment.

Factors that affect the design of a home septic system include:

  • Household size
  • Soil type
  • Site slope
  • Proximity to bodies of water

In most cases, a traditional septic system will be approved by your local health department, however in special circumstances, there are many other alternative design options. We are experienced working with the county health departments, and local building inspectors, and will advise you on design and placement of septic systems and wells.

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality? Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.