Lake House Zoning Considerations - featured image

Before you can begin construction of your new lake house, you must apply for a building permit. The requirements for the building permit include submitting a site plan and having a land use permit. Both of which require complying with local zoning ordinances.

It should be noted that zoning ordinances vary by each township and their interpretation can be difficult. This is why it is important to fully research the ordinances and anticipate how they may apply to your situation. Also note that zoning may apply differently to existing structures versus new construction.

Building a waterfront or lakeshore home means paying special attention to specific zoning rules that govern bodies of water, streams and wetlands. This is important to understand before applying for site plan and building permits. Lakeshore Custom Homes has years of experience and we can guide you through this process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Why Zoning?

Zoning ordinances are intended to regulate land use for the greater good of the community.

Local zoning ordinances define what use is allowable. Zoning laws also help assure that homes will be built in compliance with the Michigan State Construction Code and the Department of Public Health.

Zoning defines what are approved uses as well as describing non-buildable areas and non-conforming uses.

Understanding the zoning for a parcel of land is important especially before purchasing the land so that your intended use doesn’t conflict with the ordinance. You can petition for a variance but that can be challenging.

Examples of zoning that affects building a Lakehouse

  • Setbacks are common requirements to all new home construction, but bodies of water create special rules that need to be factored into your site design.
  • Townships, such as Frankfort, Empire, Leland, or Suttons Bay for example, with Lake Michigan frontage will also define the Waterfront Setback Datum.
  • Boat houses are usually regulated by zoning ordinances. For example, Glen Arbor township restricts the number of stories and height of boathouses but makes no setback restrictions regarding shoreline.
  • Docks, shoreline retaining walls, and dredging all fall under zoning ordinances as well.
  • Lake Access easement is another consideration when planning to build a lakefront home. Flood insurance requirements are outlined by most townships.
  • Lot coverage, or the amount of area that your home will occupy, is another definition that you need to be mindful of when planning your new home and any other structures. Sometimes lots, especially smaller ones, may not accommodate the floorplan that you have in mind.
  • Of special note to building in Northern Michigan are the Michigan Wetlands Protection Act, the Shorelands Protection and Management Act, and the Michigan Sand Dunes Protection and Management Act. We are well versed in complying with each of these and can advise you if your property is affected by these laws.

Lakeshore Custom Homes pays attention to all the details that make for an extraordinary home. Our attention to these details helps make your home building experience less stressful and more enjoyable.

Call us today to begin your home building journey. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Lake Home Site Selection Tips - featured image

A home on the lake is dream for many. In your mind you envision the perfect spot, the perfect lake or stream, summer days filled with rest, relaxation, beautiful sunrises or sunsets. A place to retreat from the stresses of daily life. The last thing that you want is a poorly chosen or planned home site.

Lakeshore Custom Homes specializes in waterfront custom homes and we have plenty of experience to help assist you in building the perfect waterfront home that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Let our experience guide you to the perfect new home in Northern Michigan.

When looking for the perfect waterfront property, consider the following major factors:

View
A big part of owning a waterfront home is the satisfaction of an amazing view of the water! Does the property have an adequate view of the water?

Sun
Where will the sun rise and set?  Consider how the sun will fall throughout the day. This can help you determine the orientation of your home. You will want to consider how this will affect the ideal location of decks, awnings, the size and placement of windows, landscaping, etc.

Water
How will you access your lake or other body of water? How accessible is it? Will you need stairs? Is your lake an “All Access” lake or are motorboats prohibited? Will you need retention walls or other erosion control? What is the historic high-water mark and how might that affect things in the future? How do the seasons affect the water levels? Are there any dams that control the water level? (Lake Leelanau and Lower Herring lake are both managed by dams.)

What’s the water table like? Will you need a sump pump or special septic system? Is a public sewer service available?

Is your beach area swimmable? Is the bottom sandy or rocky?

Wind
What’s the prevailing wind like? Will breezes affect your enjoyment of your property? Will you want a wind break or landscaping to manage it?

Trees and Landscaping
Do any trees affect the view of the lake? Will this change over time? Will tree roots pose a threat to septic systems or the house foundation in the future? What landscaping might you wish to add? Do you want additional privacy, wind protection, possibly add trees or shrubs to manage snow drifts in the winter?

Lake or Homeowner Associations
Associations may sometime add additional restriction beyond local zoning ordinances. Will the association rules conflict with your personal enjoyment of the water and your home? Associations, while sometimes restrictive, are often useful in maintaining lakes and implementing improvements by allowing members to combine resources.

Privacy and Noise
A busy lake with lot of boat traffic may not offer the privacy you desire. Noise may be a problem as well. Lake Michigan’s beaches are public property (up to the high-water mark) and you’ll likely have people strolling the beaches. Private lakes offer more control over the beaches, but you still may have boaters to deal with.

Are you ready to make your lake house dream a reality?

Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home building plans.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material For Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

When building a custom home in Northern Michigan, you’re faced with selecting from many roofing options. Style matters but so does selecting the right roofing materials that will protect your investment.

Beyond materials alone, the proper usage of the material along with appropriate design is critical. We always discuss with our clients the different options in both design and materials so that you can rest easy knowing you made the right choice.

Our climate presents challenges and selecting materials that can hold up to and protect your home from harsh winters, heat, direct sunlight, and moisture is an important decision. Luckily there are many options for a roof that is both attractive and protective.

Roofing Materials for Northern Michigan

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice due to lower initial cost and are available in a wide array of colors. Asphalt shingles are versatile and work well with complicated rooflines. In the extreme weather conditions that Northern Michigan poses, the average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 15-20 years.  Some manufacturers offer premium grades that can extend the lifespan.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs not only come in a variety of colors, but also a variety of appearances. Metal roofs often look like other materials. While standing ridge roofs are common, you can also choose from shake, shingles, slate, or even classic Mediterranean tile.

Metal roofs are a popular choice in Northern Michigan. They tend to be better at shedding snow, leaves, and pine needles than traditional asphalt or fiberglass shingles.

Metal roofs are actually lighter in weight than many other materials. This means there is less total weight on your roofing trusses. This is beneficial considering Northern Michigan’s snowfall. Of course, all of our homes are built to withstand heavy snow loads. Snow shields help prevent large sections of snow from falling like an avalanche and are strategically placed to protect walkways and doorways.

Metal roofs are also energy efficient and can help reduce heating and cooling costs. Another big plus in Northern Michigan!

Metal roofs do have a few downsides. They can be noisier in rainstorms although insulation helps make this less noticeable. While their initial cost is higher, the long-term or total cost of ownership is often lower than other roofing choices.

Slate or Concrete Tile Roofing

Slate and concrete tile makes for a gorgeous roof but, is considerably heavier than metal or asphalt shingle roofing. This means that the extra reinforcement is necessary to accommodate the added weight of our Northern Michigan snowfalls. Durability is excellent but costs tend to run higher than other choices.

Roof Care and Maintenance

No matter what material you choose, all roofs need care and maintenance. Cleaning gutters, removing any tree branches or debris, and inspecting flashing should be done annually to prevent problems.

Factors that affect roofing material choices and longevity include:

  • Roof pitch; steeper pitches tend to shed rain, snow and debris better prolonging the lifespan of the roofing material. Complicated pitches and gables can add to material and labor costs as well.
  • Surrounding environmental factors like the amount of direct sunlight or shade, nearby trees that can shed leaves or pine needles or other debris. Mold, moss, and algae can affect the integrity of your roof as well.
  • A well-designed roof includes proper insulation and ventilation so that icicles and ice dams are mitigated.

Lakeshore Custom Homes will consult with you and help you make an educated decision. We can guide you through the multitude of choices and help you choose the best options based on your home design, site selection, budget, as well as local factors.  We are committed to providing the best quality construction so you can enjoy your custom home.

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 restrictions. Waterfront zoning restrictions vary widely and can be confusing.
  • 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.