Building an Energy Efficient Custom Home - featured image

When planning your Northern Michigan custom home, energy efficiency is a special consideration especially with the harsh winters that we often experience.

One of the best things about building a new custom home is that it allows you to get things right from the very start. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure all the things that you wish were different in your current home are done right when planning and building your new home.

Home Layout and the Sun

When designing your home, keep in mind how the sun will track across the property through the course of the day and each season. Will windows receive adequate light or too much? How will this affect your heating and cooling? Will you need additional daytime interior lighting to be comfortable? Will you be using solar panels, and will they have adequate direct sunshine?

Trees and landscaping can help or hinder. Shade is typically welcome but sometimes trees can also block out sunlight where you would otherwise want it. Will you need to plant, trim, or remove trees?


Insulation serves two purposes; It retains heat during the winter and keeps heat out during the summer. Insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s energy performance. And of course, it is always easier and less expensive to add insulation during the construction process rather than later.

While there are many brands and types of insulation available, the most important factor is their proper use and installation based on your actual blueprint and design. We discuss this with each prospective customer so that we can offer the absolute best outcome.

Regardless of the insulation type, Lakeshore Custom Homes always follows the manufacturers guidelines and instructions to assure best performance and longevity.

Sealing and Caulking

We pay special attention to sealing places that can allow air to enter or exit the home. These places can also allow moisture in as well. Typically, these locations are windows and doors, and where exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities penetrate through exterior walls or roofing.

We apply the appropriate caulk or sealant depending on the location and materials to be sealed along with any additional flashings or fittings.

We are especially attentive to seal and insulate where the sill plate, band board, and floor joists meet as these can lead to energy losses if not tended to properly.

Windows and Doors

Energy efficient windows along with proper installation, sealing and insulation can make a huge impact on your energy efficiency.

We recommend ENERGY STAR® rated windows from Andersen, Marvin, Simonton, and Windsor. Each company offers a wide variety of styles and finishes and have warranties that back up their quality.

Window treatments, curtains and blinds also influence the overall energy efficiency of your windows too.

Also see our in-depth article Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home.

Heating and Cooling

Now that your future home is going to be well insulated and properly sealed, an energy efficient heating and cooling system will perform even better. Properly sizing the heating and cooling system to match the size of your home is important. This allows the system to operate efficiently and to be most cost effective.


One area that is frequently overlooked is the ductwork. Part of doing it right from the very start includes sealing ducts. In the hundreds of feet of ductwork in a typical home, there are countless places that air can leak. Air losses here only makes your heating and cooling system work that much harder and drives up utility bills.

Sealing the seams of your ductwork prevents air from escaping and improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This reduces energy losses, helps control moisture, and creates a more temperature stable environment.

Insulating ductwork where it passes through crawl spaces will also increase your heating and cooling efficiency and help control condensation and moisture.

Solar Electric

Solar panels are gaining popularity in Northern Michigan. This is due to more efficient panels, favorable tax incentives for homeowners, and cooperation with electric utility companies to buy excess power produced by individual homeowners. If you are considering a solar system, we can work with you and our electricians to make certain that your needs are met.

Water Heaters

Selecting the right size water heater that meets your needs is an important decision. Overly large heaters can waste energy and money. Too small can do the same (not to mention being annoying and inconvenient). On-demand heaters might be the right choice and can be used in conjunction with traditional water heaters to provide adequate and timely hot water when and where you need it.

Household Appliances

Besides heating and cooling, your major appliances such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, washers, and dryers account for most of your utility costs. Look for ENERGY STAR® ratings when selecting these. Don’t forget lightbulbs, home entertainment, and computers either.

Smart Home Features

Technology can help automatically manage your heating, cooling, and lighting costs. For additional information, see our article that discusses Smart Homes in detail.

Backup Generators

While not necessarily related to energy efficiency, it is worth considering during the planning stages. If a backup generator is desired, we can make sure that the electric system is designed to accommodate a generator. Even if you don’t install one right away, this can save you time and money should you decide to install one later.

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

Moisture Control for Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

Moisture control is one of the most important concerns when building a quality custom home. Northern Michigan’s climate has abundant rain and snow that must be managed to maintain a dry and healthy home.

Excess or unwanted moisture inside your home can lead to mold and mildew, wood rot, it can damage insulation, and it can even attract termites and other pests.

From the foundation to the roof and everything in between, Lakeshore Custom Homes takes special care and consideration when planning and building your new home.

Keeping Moisture Out of The Home Is the First Line of Defense

Site Prep and Foundation

Preparing your building site is the very first step. We examine the site and determine the proper grading to help move water away from the home.

Then the foundation is designed with drainage to move water away from the house. Waterproof coatings are added to the exterior of the foundation to keep moisture out. Depending on the water table, a sump pump system may be required and if so, designed so that it can evacuate the water efficiently.

Vapor barriers are used in crawl spaces to prevent moisture that can rise from the soil.


Before exterior siding is applied, we wrap the home with a water-resistant membrane. This protects the wood from any moisture that might find its way past the siding and protects the home during construction. We use treated wood in appropriate locations to ensure longevity.

This wrap is carefully overlapped into window and door openings so that when the window or door is installed, a waterproof barrier is present to help avoid moisture from finding its way inside. Windows and doors receive flashings to create an overlapping physical barrier and help move moisture away from their framework.

Any holes to accommodate exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities also receive similar treatment to keep moisture out.  Additionally, caulking is used where necessary to create a pliable seal that can accommodate changes in temperature and avoid cracking over time.


Modern roofs work as a system that are designed to move water, ice, and snow away from the home, and to protect the underlying insulation and air gap within the attic space.

Shingles and a water-resistant underlayment protect the underlying roofing materials and allow the water to drain away. Gutters and downspouts provide a means to direct the water further away from the home and foundation.

Regardless of which roofing material you choose; we always follow the manufacturer’s installation guidelines to achieve the best results and protect your investment.

Special attention is given to roof valleys, dormers, gables, chimneys, skylights, and vents since these all need appropriate flashings.

Ventilation of the attic area is important so that this space remains dry and allows the insulation to create an effective thermal barrier. Ventilation helps eliminate condensation than can occur as outside temperatures fluctuate. Soffit and ridge vents are the most common method of achieving this. Other methods might be used depending on your individual home design.

Special Considerations for Ice and Snow

During the freezes-thaw cycle of winter and as winter ends and spring arrives, melting snow and ice needs proper drainage.

Step flashings are of critical concern in northern Michigan due to our large snow falls. We are mindful of how snow may drift and accumulate on your roof. When the snow melts, it could seep behind the siding. To prevent this, we install appropriate flashing that creates an additional barrier and directs the moisture away.

Ice barriers prevent water from collecting between the edge of the shingles and the underlying wooden roof structure. A special membrane underlayment is used to protect the wooden roof decking. Heated eaves are a potential option that can help prevent ice dams. Contact us so we can discuss the pros and cons of this based on your roof and home design.

Controlling Moisture Inside Your Home

While Northern Michigan isn’t terribly humid, our change of seasons and variable weather means that all homes will have a certain degree of moisture inside.

One of the ironies of creating a tightly sealed home is that while it can keep moisture out, it can also trap moisture inside. This means that extra attention to ventilation is important.

Cooking and bathing are two major sources of moisture that can be controlled with ventilation. Range hoods and bathroom ventilation fans are the norm in modern homes.

Condensation from central air systems can be controlled by insulating ductwork. Whole house dehumidifiers and moisture extraction systems can help manage the interior air humidity making your home healthier and more comfortable.

Winter will usually mean a drop in humidity. While this is welcome to an extent, too dry of air can make it feel cold, damage wooden furniture, lead to dry, itchy skin and eyes, and can even impair ones’ immune system.  A well-planned heating and cooling system can address both summer humidity as well as winter dryness.


Landscaping can play an important role in managing moisture too. In addition to grading, what you plant can assist in helping to absorb water and minimize erosion. Certain plants absorb more moisture from the soil than others. Also be leave enough space between the house and shrubs and plants to promote airflow.

Avoid planting trees that have wide spreading root systems as these can crack or damage the foundation or drainage system. Keep this in mind if your home has a leech field and septic system.

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

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.


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.

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.

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

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.

Increasingly popular is furniture with USB ports, and charging for your phone, but have you considered a cooler coffee table? No more running to the kitchen for a beverage. They do however require some planning to accommodate electrical outlets.

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

Virtual Home Gym
Virtual home gyms have taken off due to the pandemic. The Peloton stationary bicycle along with Echelon and Zwift have led the way. You aren’t limited to cycling however, there are virtual coaching systems for weightlifting, yoga, and other workouts. Tempo Studio and Mirror are two popular options.

Smart mattresses that can monitor your quality of sleep, automatically adjust your room temperature while you are asleep, and even waken you with a gentle vibration are now available. Lighting options for automatic dimming and filtering of blue light are popular.

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.

Keeping it Clean – New Construction House Cleaning - featured image

COVID-19 Update
We are taking precautions to keep our employees and homeowners safe. We are following the guide lines set forth by the CDC, MIOSHA, during this global pandemic. We are continuing on our journey to build you custom homes that will last you generations. Give us a call and we will make your custom home dream come to life.

The following article was originally published in November 2014.

Lakeshore Custom Homes takes pride in the fact that we will always keep our jobsites clean. We insist on creating a professional atmosphere at all of our job locations. This should be a standard among all builders but unfortunately it isn’t. Keeping a jobsite clean throughout the entire building process not only impacts everyone’s safety but also helps to increase productivity.

New construction house cleaning is different than what many people consider “residential cleaning”. It really consists of three phases: A Rough Clean, Maintenance Clean, and Final Clean.

  1. Rough Clean

    The “rough” clean-up, is performed once the exterior walls and framing of the project are complete. Large debris is removed from the interior as well as the exterior of the building. It generally, involves a rough sweep/shop vac of the floors as well. The goal to remove and haul away as much debris as possible, removing materials no longer being used, and eliminate as much dust as possible from the work area (including heating vents).

  2. Maintenance Clean

    The “rough” clean-up, is performed once the exterior walls and framing of the project are complete. Large debris is removed from the interior as well as the exterior of the building. It generally, involves a rough sweep/shop vac of the floors as well. The goal to remove and haul away as much debris as possible, removing materials no longer being used, and eliminate as much dust as possible from the work area (including heating vents).

  3. Final Clean

    The “final” clean-up, is performed once all the construction has ended and the building is complete. This phase is quite detailed. It requires stickers and decals being removed from all surfaces including interior and exterior windows. Putty, paste and adhesive is removed from floors, tubs, sinks and showers, All cabinets and drawers must be vacuumed to remove the dust then wiped clean. Floors and carpets are cleaned. Light fixtures, mirrors, appliances, counters, ceiling fans, vents, hardware, and cabinetry are cleaned. A touch-up is sometimes required at the end if a contractor needs to address something on a punch list.

The end result is a turn-key, walk in ready home. If you are looking for a reputable builder, please contact me at Lakeshore Custom Homes (231) 642-0724.


Chris Mason, Owner

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 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 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.


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.


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

If you own a lake house, you are most likely well aware of  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.

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:

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?

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.

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?

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.