Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Second Generation Beaver Home Builder

With their daughter and son off to university and college, Shelley and Dan Blackburn were soon to become empty nesters. "We were ready to downsize," explains Shelley on their decision to move from their 2-1/2-story home in Owen Sound, Ontario.

“We decided to build new this time. We have bought four homes previously and have done a lot of renovating,” states Shelley. “This time we decided to have all brand new.”

With the decision to build made, Shelley and Dan now had the difficult task of finding a lot. “There aren’t very many in the city limits that are available,” Shelley explains.

They did have their eyes on a large corner lot across town in an older established neighbourhood that happened to be owned by a friend. “We always loved this lot because we both grew up in this area,” Shelley states. “It is a very nice residential spot.” But the lot was not up for sale. Then one day, while talking to his friend, Dan jokingly asked when he was going to sell him the lot. Coincidentally, his friend said that he was soon going to be listing it. Dan made an offer that day.
With lot in hand, Shelley and Dan now had to decide on a house plan. They knew they wanted a bungalow with a garage. “And we also needed room for the kids when they do come home,” states Shelley. For this reason, they knew they wanted a finished basement to add additional bedrooms.

Shelley’s dad had Home Hardware’s Beaver Homes & Cottages Design Book and suggested they look through it since he had first-hand experience having purchased two Beaver package homes himself. They took the book of plans home and found the Braemore model.

Home’s Braemore plan included what Shelley had wanted: “one floor living including laundry.” The porch was also an added bonus. “We spend a lot of time outside on the porch,” she adds.

“My mom and dad built two Beaver homes in the past 35 years. We knew Beaver’s reputation,” explains Shelley on their decision to build a package home. “Price-wise, my dad said you couldn’t go wrong.”

But just to do their homework, Shelley and Dan did get two quotes from two local builders. “We just couldn’t get to second base. It just came down to cost,” Dan states on their decision against going ahead with a turnkey home.

They then ran into their friend Russ Miller, owner of Miller’s Home Building Centre in Sauble Beach, Ontario and explained their plans to build a home. He put them in touch with Bruce Parsons, the Home and Cottage Package Consultant at the store.

“When we sat down to talk to Bruce everything was laid out exactly - right down to financing,” states Shelley. “We knew where money was going and when. It all just seemed to register.”

“We never looked back after our first meeting with Bruce,” Shelley says.

Bruce remembers his first meeting with the Blackburns well: “They knew what they wanted. It was just a matter of interpreting exactly what they wanted and taking it from there.”

Shelley knew the 1283 square foot Braemore had the open concept layout they wanted but did have some modifications in mind. They discussed most of the changes they had wanted to make in one of their first meetings with Bruce.

The plan had a large master bedroom with an en suite and a second bedroom they planned to use as a computer room. They did not need two full bathrooms on the main floor so they made the main bathroom into a smaller powder room with an entrance off of the foyer. They changed the original entrance to the bathroom in the hallway into a linen closet. The smaller powder room allowed them to widen the master en suite adding a soaker tub. They also added another closet to the main foyer.

When modifications were being made to the layout, Dan had one request, “I just wanted a bigger garage.” With that it mind, they added six feet to the garage itself making it a 1 car garage. They bumped the kitchen and laundry room out three feet and also widened the opposite side of the house by three feet making a larger master bedroom and office. The additional square footage allowed for a large walk-in closet in the master bedroom and a five-foot island in the kitchen.

The dark stained oak cabinets, railings, and hardwood flooring give the home a sense of warmth. “It’s a cozy style,” Shelley adds.

In the basement, Shelley designed two bedrooms and a full bathroom, a large family room and a playroom. As a home daycare provider, she wanted a spacious room with windows for the children to play.

For the exterior, they upgraded the garage door to a taller eight-foot door and added pewter grills to the windows. They also upgraded the original siding to stone. “I wanted a farmhouse look,” explains Shelley. Bruce suggested adding 6”x 6” posts to the front porch to gain the country appearance Shelley had in mind.

Bruce then sent their desired changes to Home Hardware’s Architectural Solutions Department in St. Jacobs, Ontario where a revised layout was made. “It was simple,” Shelley states. “We made most of the changes the first time.”

Once they had the final blueprints, they could begin to build. Dan decided to do the contracting himself: “I work for the City. I know all of the contractors.”

Overall, Dan feels that building a package home “was a $40,000 savings”. With building a package home, Dan says, “There was nothing hidden. When we signed the contract we knew exactly what we were getting.”

In March 2007 Shelley and Dan moved into their new home, six weeks ahead of schedule. They are very happy that they followed her parent’s advice of building a Beaver home. “The overall customer service and products are second to none,” Dan says. “We are very pleased with our choice,” Shelley concludes.