Things to Consider Before Building Your Lake Home - featured image

Building a Lake House

Waterfront homes are a dream for many. Living in a lakefront home is an idyllic experience regardless if it’s a summer getaway or a year-round lake house.

Northern Michigan is the premier destination for vacationers, retirees, or anyone wanting to live in the beauty of nature that only life “up north” can offer. It is often said that “You are never farther than five miles from any body of water” and it’s true! Northern Michigan is full of lakes, rivers and ponds. With its natural beauty and huge variety of year-round activities, Northern Michigan is the perfect place to build your lake house.

But without proper planning and guidance, the dream could easily become your worst nightmare. Before you begin construction, you should be aware of all the important details that go into building a custom home on waterfront property, especially in the Traverse City and Northern Michigan region.

Most likely your dream home is firmly planted in your mind’s eye, from the amazing designer chef’s kitchen to a luxurious master bathroom with dual walk in showers and soaking tub with skylight and panoramic sunset views from the private deck off an elegant master bedroom.

You’ve got the perfect Northern Michigan lake house in mind, now it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Consulting a reputable builder with an extensive knowledge of waterfront custom homes should be your first step.  A knowledgeable builder will have the ability to educate and guide you through the myriad of steps involved in building your lakefront home.

Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience building luxury homes on waterfront property in the Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Benzie region of Northern Michigan.  We can offer you unique insight to waterfront building in the region that few builders can.

Lakeshore Custom Homes can offer valuable expertise and guidance on:

  • Site selection. Will the property accommodate your design and house orientation?
  • Zoning height restrictions. Some areas have height restrictions meant to protect the view from other properties.
  • Are you aware of seasonal and historic water levels?
  • Do you need an Elevation Certificate?
  • How deep is the water table? Will it affect having a basement or crawlspace?
  • Does your property contain any wetlands?
  • Are you located in a flood zone? Will you need flood insurance?
  • Does the soil drain easily? Will you need special foundations or septic systems?
  • What type of landscaping will you need to manage erosion?
  • Will you need erosion control for your beach?
  • Special considerations for docks.
  • What are the prevailing wind conditions like? How will they affect your enjoyment of your property?
  • Design consideration for privacy and noise control. Some lakes can be rather busy and noisy. We can assist in choosing the right windows and window treatments, insulation, landscaping, and other design features that less experienced builders might miss.
  • Sand Dunes require special consideration too. Critical Dunes are protected and need special care when building on or near them.
  • Roofing, siding and windows need to be appropriate for the unique challenges that Northern Michigan and lakefront weather presents.

All these items require special care and consideration in order to ensure that the process of building your dream home will be as smooth and painless as possible. Well planned design and construction can reduce your long-term cost of ownership and lower maintenance costs too.

The good news is that Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience building lake houses and we can guide you through the planning and construction process to help you avoid unexpected problems and get home you really want.

Good communication is the key to a great home building experience.

We take great pride in providing excellent communication with our clients.   Building a home requires a great working relationship with your building team. There will likely be a few bumps in the road and effective communication will make traveling the route from start to finish as smooth as possible.

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

Rustic Elegance – New Custom Home in Traverse City - featured image

The homeowners of this new custom home in Traverse City weren’t aware of the term “Parkitecture.” It’s a unique term used to describe homes that have been designed and built patterned after National Parks. “Parkitecture” homes are true to the manner of the environment, using materials that are rustic and natural, with interiors that utilize an abundance of natural timbers. This seems to be the perfect description of this three-story home built two miles west of Traverse City on the highest, most densely tree-covered hilltop, also known as Radio Hill. “From the top floor looking out, the trees are so close you feel as if you are in them,” share the homeowners.

The home, which appears smaller than it actually is, integrates linear elegance, rustic flavor and European flair. The homeowner shares, “Most people come in and are surprised at how the space, totaling 5,000 square feet, is used.”

Builder Chris Mason, of Lakeshore Custom Homes, describes the home as “rustic elegance.” Copper gutters, a custom-domed entry door, and log railings accented with iron detailing, showcase the exterior elegance.

After extensive travels in Europe and developing a fondness for the architectural interest of domed entrance doors, it became a must for this country dream home.

The homeowner and his father built the door which layers top and bottom Douglas fir over ¾-inch plywood. A heavy-duty door jamb was built to match. The rivets were purchased from a hardware store in Austria.

The challenge of this spectacular site, with its five acres of pines and hardwoods, was the driveway and maintaining as many as trees as possible. The drive takes a 90-degree turn at the bottom of the hill. To make the drive safe and user-friendly during the winter months when it is covered with ice and snow, a two track was added as a safety measure at the curve to prevent any slide-offs.

The owners give Mason credit as a master builder and master craftsman. They boast the fact he is on the building site every day, and adapts easily to making the unexpected changes that were required in using unique building materials. For example, there were no specs for the rough sawn cedar timbers and beams. The homeowners described what they wanted and Mason was able to create, to a tee, what they described.

Because the lower level ash timbers didn’t have the manufacturer’s prefabricated stamp required by law to meet building requirements, the building inspector wouldn’t give his approval. An engineer’s approval was needed for them to pass inspection. “He told us the timbers would hold up three houses the same size,” shares the homeowner.

The respect for nature is also displayed in the home’s wood floor, which is constructed of simple-styled maple boards hand nailed with exposed square head nails, along with its pine and cedar walls, and ceilings.

According to Mason, the finished product has an element of surprise and a grand flourish of style. “I have built rustic homes and elegant homes, but this is the first to combine elements of both styles. I have to say, it worked amazingly well.

Lakeshore Custom Homes is proud to be your Traverse City custom home builder.

Contemporary Home on a Lake Michigan Critical Dune - featured image

Featured in the Spring, 2018 issue of Michigan Home and Lifestyle magazine.

Northern Michigan is home to some of the most spectacular coastlines. It’s easy to understand why so many people choose to live here. Sand dunes are one of the natural features that attract many to the area – there’s nothing that quite compares to the view of Lake Michigan from atop a dune.

What is a Critical Dune?

In 1989, the State of Michigan deemed the state’s dunes to be “unique and irreplaceable” and passed a law regulating development activities in a relatively small portion of the dune system regarded to be the most environmentally sensitive. These dunes are designated as “critical dunes”.

Located on a Lake Michigan critical dune near Frankfort, MI, this 1970s era home spoke to the homeowners when they first saw it. Though the home didn’t fit their needs perfectly when they purchased it, they saw potential for all that the home could be.

They contacted Chris Mason of Lakeshore Custom Homes about their overall desire for the home, both short-and long-term and a plan was set in place. Minor renovations were made to the home immediately to make it more comfortable while the long-term renovation and expansion plans were drawn up.

“Our focus with any renovation is making the additions, or our contribution to the home, look like it was part of the home all along,” said Mason. And that is what they did.

The original 2,728 square-foot-home had four bedrooms and three bathrooms, in addition to the living, dining, and kitchen spaces. The plans would make this home larger and more comfortable while ensuring that the design integrity remained intact and the dunes were not disturbed.

Designed to Preserve

While Mason said that the project went smoothly overall, the biggest challenge was working around the critical dune. The state of Michigan has a large number of natural areas and resources, many of which are protected by the government to help preserve the state’s unique natural ecosystems. Critical dunes are an example of one of those natural areas. There are many critical dunes located along Michigan’s lakeshores, and because this home is positioned on top of one, Mason had to go through the government’s regulations to make the changes that he and the homeowners had in mind.

“You can’t tell now from the outside, but between the main house and the addition, there’s a connector piece where a critical dune runs underneath,” Mason said.

Once they had determined the best approach to working with the dunes, the construction of the new portion of the home became the focus. The garage was torn down to the foundation and rebuilt, extending it from the street where it originally sat, all the way to the existing home. This reconstruction included a new two car garage with living area above, taking the overall size of the home to 4,387-square-feet.

Updates and Upgrades

Not only does the new space hold an upgraded master suite and bunkroom, it also contains a kitchenette with library ladder, and additional dining and living space. Every effort was made to insure this portion of the home would be comfortable. In-floor radiant heat and extra close-cell foam insulation in the walls insure the space is extra cozy.

Attention was paid to every detail of this entire project, with custom built-ins throughout the home including features such as the lockers in the mudroom, entry shelving, and the bunkbeds in the bunkroom.

In the main part of the home, the kitchen, dining, and living spaces were opened up to create the homeowners dream kitchen and open living area. The kitchen includes features such as a custom hood vent, quartz countertops, white oak doors and beams, a built-in butler’s pantry replete with barn door, and a Thermadoor range.

The existing stone fireplace was a focal point on its own and when walls were removed, the decision was made to modify it so that one side burns wood and one side contains a gas fireplace. This stunning feature of the home is really a standout now, giving it the attention it deserves.

Tongue and groove cedar siding was added to the exterior and the entrance doors are custom handmade white oak, measuring 2 ½” thick (compared to the normal door width of ¾”). Ironwood was used for the decking with cable railing to finish it.

The home is a beautiful cohesive blending of the old and new portions of the structure. The large glass windows give the homeowners a panoramic, hilltop view of Lake Michigan and the space is bright and airy.

Of the whole project, Mason says “Through this entire process, we became very good friends with these homeowners, and we want them to love their new home. I’m in this business because I enjoy the long-term relationships I build with my clients. Making people happy is what it’s all about.”

Download the Living in Michigan’s Critical Dunes guide from the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts for more information about critical dunes.

 

Lakeshore Custom Homes can help you plan and design your dream home. Contact us to set up a design consultation. If you can dream it, we can build it. Let us turn your dream into reality!

What Does a Custom Home Builder Do? - featured image

Lakeshore Custom Homes is one of the Traverse City and Northern Michigan area’s most experienced custom home builders. But what exactly do we do?

Custom home builders assist and guide the home owner through the numerous details that go into the home building process. From helping you choose an appropriate building lot, answering questions and guiding you through the many options in materials, fixtures, finishes, and the vast number of other possibilities in creating your home. Our goal is help guide you to the right decisions and to build your dream home on time and according to your budget.

A custom home builder manages all aspects of building a new home. Much like a conductor of a symphony, the builder coordinates and guides the efforts of everyone involved in the construction process. This includes the builder’s full-time employees as well as any sub-contractors.

Lakeshore Custom Homes will normally be responsible for obtaining all permits, and working with building inspectors and any other governing authorities, and the designer or architect. We are also responsible for managing inspections and approvals and ultimately obtaining your occupancy permit. As materials are delivered to the work site, they are inspected before they are used.

A builder must be aware of how the Michigan Residential Building Code varies from county to county as well as by township.  Lakeshore Custom Homes is experienced working with officials from Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse Counties to obtain all the necessary permits and inspections.

Another very important task is to manage the finances of the building project. This typically means preparing the contract with the home owner, providing lien waivers, tracking costs, submitting pay requests for completed work to your bank, and making any necessary adjustments for any owner requested change orders to the contract. We are also experienced working with most major lenders and can assist you with obtaining a construction loan.

Throughout the entire process, we emphasize communication and planning. This avoids costly delays and makes certain that we complete your home on time and on budget.

See our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about Lakeshore Custom Homes.

Lakeshore Custom Homes can help you plan and design your dream home. Contact us to set up a design consultation. If you can dream it, we can build it. Let us turn your dream into reality!

8 Northern Michigan Waterfront Home Must Haves - featured image

Northern Michigan is known for its scenic rivers, beautiful lakes and pristine beaches. Places like Glen Arbor and Glen Lake, Empire, Sutton’s Bay, Leland, Frankfort, Traverse City, Crystal Lake, and the Old Mission Peninsula, have become destinations for those looking for the ultimate waterfront home lifestyle.

Some people look to this area for the peace and serenity that water can provide, while others are eager for the recreational opportunities that abound on both water and land.

Here are a few ideas that can enhance your waterfront living experience to your new home or a home remodeling project.

Picture Windows

No better way to bring the outdoors to the indoors and enjoy the scenery.

Decks and Patios

Enjoy the outdoors with the comforts of home close by.

Fire Pits

A campfire on the beach is fun but sometimes relaxing around a fire in your own backyard is more relaxing. Consider a gas firepit as an option for easy cleanup and never having to worry about wet firewood.

Outdoor Kitchens

From a simple grill to a full feature outdoor kitchen, nothing compares to an outdoor cookout or backyard BBQ.

Walkways to the Water

Take your time and make your path to the water’s edge a bit more relaxed. Winding pathways can also help control erosion. Maybe even add a bench along the way to take a break and relax. Don’t forget light-scaping the path for enhancing the mood and for easy navigation at night.

Docks

An essential even if you’re a landlubber. Today there are many options for dock materials and designs. Non-slip surfaces, motorized boat lifts, canopies, hammocks, slides, lighting, the options are endless. You might never come back inside!

Private Garden

Create your own sanctuary. Relax in the tranquility of a space landscaped with your favorite shrubs, bushes, flowers and trees. A fountain or water feature can be a nice touch too! Add a few benches, a pergola or a gazebo and this can become a quiet gathering space.

Sauna

Winter is reason to stay indoors when Northern Michigan has so many places to ski, snowshoe, or hike. A cozy sauna is a great way to warm up after an invigorating day on the trails.

 

Lakeshore Custom Homes can help you plan and design your dream home. Contact us to set up a design consultation. If you can dream it, we can build it. Let us turn your dream into reality!