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.

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.

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!

Must Have Design Features for Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

Planning and designing your new home should include features and details that will make your home more livable as well as an extension of your personal style. The planning stage is the perfect time to make sure that your new home has all the features that you truly desire. Here are a few ideas to ponder as you draw up your wish list.

Entryways

Living in Northern Michigan means four season weather conditions. You’ll want your dream home to be accommodating regardless of the season. If you plan to live year-round in Northern Michigan, you may wish to consider an attached garage with a breezeway or an entrance that leads into a mud room This is convenient for hanging damp clothes, and to shed wet or muddy shoes before tracking in a mess to the rest of the home.

Storm doors with a screen option allows for summer breezes to flow through your home while offering protection in harsher weather. And of course, having a closet or coat room nearby is very convenient to accommodate your seasonal wardrobe changes.

Open Floor Plans

Nothing beats an open floor plan for adding the feel of spaciousness no matter the size of the home. Popular designs include large windows to let in light and to appreciate the beauty of your setting. Often this area becomes the central feature of the home and sets the stage for the rest of your design ideas.

Lighting

Lighting is often overlooked and adding the required wiring and fixtures later can be a nuisance. Home owners in Northern Michigan need to consider how seasonal changes in natural and ambient lighting will affect each room and plan accordingly. Be sure to consider how trees and landscaping can change the amount of available light with the change of seasons. Sometimes flipping the blueprint or changing the orientation of the house on the land can make a significant impact.

Laundry Rooms

No one ever complained about having too big of a laundry room. With all the outdoor recreation opportunities that our area has, you’ll likely find need to accommodate extra laundry as well as storage for the extra gear and clothing.

Closets

Like laundry, extra space for storing your wardrobe is super desirable. Walk-in closets are great as they can be designed to arrange easier access and provide better lighting making for a much more functional space. Consider finishing the interior with genuine cedar. Cedar naturally repels moths and other insects, it is low maintenance, and provides a natural fresh scent!

Pantries

Sometimes living in Northern Michigan means that your closest grocery store might not be so convenient. Having extra room to store staples can make country living more enjoyable. Walk-in pantries also give you more space to store kitchen gadgets that might otherwise take up up counter space.

Wine Rooms and Wine Closets

Whether you prefer one of the Grand Traverse region’s wineries of perhaps something from another part of the world, climate controlled wine storage is highly desirable. Besides protecting your investment, a well-designed wine room can be a beautiful accent to your home.

Bars

There’s something special about a home bar. Perhaps you entertain frequently, and a bar makes a great place to congregate or maybe you’ve always wanted a place where everybody knows your name. With Northern Michigan being home to so many great breweries, a built-in tap system is a perfect way to enjoy the local flavor.

Home Theater or Audio Room

Are you a film buff or an audiophile? If so, then a dedicated home theater or audio room should be in your plans. Special design considerations such as dimensions, wall construction, insulation, floor and ceiling materials, wiring, lighting, seating, and other details make for an environment that is ideal to relax and enjoy your favorite film or musical recording.

Luxury Garages

Why build a dream home and then have an ordinary garage? Luxury garages are one of the hottest trends these days. Well-lit with fully finished walls and ceilings, epoxy floors, plenty of storage, extra electrical outlets, and extra room for all your toys and maybe even a convertible for cruising down M22. With creature comforts like this, your garage becomes a natural extension of your home. Heating and cooling, televisions, sound systems, wet bars, and bathrooms round out often asked for features when designing your perfect garage.

Secret Rooms

Maybe you want to have a private space for a home office, a humidor, or perhaps a safe room? Either way, a secret room can be a unique addition to your home.

 

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!