Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coming Full Circle

When Terry and Karen Thompson found the perfect property on the north shore of Lake Huron, they planned to erect a one-room bunkhouse - a vision that quickly escalated into a small, three-season cottage, then graduated to a year-round residence supplied by Home Hardware Building Centre.

Here is the fortuitous story of the home the Thompsons never expected to build on a piece of land they never thought of buying. One fall day in 2004, Terry and his siblings set out from Sault Ste. Marie to look up former neighbours who’d move to Blind River, a small town halfway between the Sault and Sudbury. They found their old friends living on Lake Huron, and after admiring their spectacular view, Terry went for a stroll. He came across an empty lot - 130 feet of lakeside frontage, a large rise of granite bedrock and dense forest extending 280 ft. deep - and fell instantly in love.

It turned out the property’s owners were none other than the old friends Terry had tracked down! He talked them into considering selling it, and returned with his wife, Karen, a few days later. “I had already decided that I really wanted it,” he says. “She wasn't as convinced, but it took less than a couple of hours” for her to fall in love with the lot, too.

Their thoughts turned naturally to what they might build on their dream property, and they had no experience in that regard. “We've lived in the same home in Sault Ste Marie for 34 years and we didn't build it,” Terry says. “Everyone in Blind River told that us that Home Hardware building consultant Erik Carlson would be the best person to see about building.” The Thompsons looked through the Beaver Home & Cottage Design Book, picking designs they liked that were in their price range, and brought them to Erik for discussion. “He recommended certain styles and products - he always accommodated us changing our minds - and that happened a lot!” says Terry, laughing.

“Another thing that impressed me about Erik,” he adds, “is that he and the contractor would be honest and tell us, ‘this is the way to go.’” For example, Erik said that a rectangular shape 28 ft. at the widest would be “more efficient, easier to layout, and cheaper to build.” Erik introduced the couple to staff at the Home Hardware Building Centre in Blind River, whom Terry found to be “courteous, professional, well-informed, and very accommodating.” He recalls how “one day, I stopped in to ask a question about windows and Vern said he’d come down to our home to demonstrate. I went off to the grocery store and post office and stopped in at the Building Centre again, and learned that Vern was already down at my place!”

Another time, the couple had doubts about 1,500 square feet of hardware flooring that was delivered to the house. “Erik said, ‘we want you to be happy, it’s absolutely no problem if you want to exchange it,’” Terry says, “and he brought down a package of a different hardwood to compare.” (The Thompsons stayed with their original choice which, Terry adds, “Erik had recommended to us because of its attractiveness and affordability.”)

Terry also appreciated that the owners of the Home Hardware Building Centre in Blind River “were kind enough to let us visit their home so we could get design ideas.” Erik arranged for that visit and to other local homes with similar layouts to what the Thompsons had in mind.

The couple ended up going with a modified Trillium model from the Beaver Home & Cottage Design Book, customized to a large extent by Erik. He’s helped homeowners build almost 400 homes over the past dozen years in his territory of three Home Hardware Building Centres (in Blind River, Espanola, and Providence Bay). Erik also acted as the couple’s contact for local tradespeople, who were in short supply in the region and, as a result, very busy. The Thompsons let building proceed around the contractors’ schedules, since they weren't in a hurry to reside there. “They were very patient and good natured, they didn't get too excited about anything,” Erik says. The couple wanted a low-maintenance house, and the materials recommended by Erik met that need. The house is covered in vinyl siding, the white windows are PVC, the wraparound deck is composite, the deck’s railings are aluminum, and the roof shingles are fiberglass.

Their home is as beautiful as it is practical. Its simple, straight lines contrast with the twisty pines and curveous rise of granite. The rock is complemented by the house’s dark-grey exterior. The natural, clean feel of the home continues inside, with pre-finished pine on the Great Room’s cathedral ceiling, pre-finished birch flooring throughout, all posts made from the area’s white pine, and the stairway railing built on-site, also with local white pine.

When the Thompsons decided against a crawlspace, some bedrock had to be dynamited to put in a full-height basement, complete with a walkout facing the lake. The guest bedroom and bath in the lower level brings the home’s total square footage to 1,500 square feet. The addition meant “we could make the main floor smaller,” with a master bedroom, one bath and small computer room, says Erik.

The Thompsons are selling their Sault Ste. Marie home - leaving behind their daughter and friends accrued over three decades - and moving into their dream home full time when Karen retires shortly. “We don’t know many folks in Blind River,” notes Terry, “we’re just that happy with the new house and its view!” And happy with its cost - Terry estimates that their customized home was 25 percent cheaper than going with another company’s package.

Erik admits he liked the Thompsons financial limits. “I take a lot of pride in working with stricter budgets. It’s not as hard to design a beautiful home for half a million as it is for under $200,000,”* says Erik, who gets almost all his new business from referrals.

Certainly, the Thompsons will refer friends and family to the Beaver Home & Cottage Package program. In fact, they’re hiring Erik again to build a garage with a loft alongside their new house.

The irony doesn't escape them that the garage design resembles the unadorned “bunkie” the Thompsons first planned to build - the whole process of creating their dream home having come full circle!

*[Editors Note: This article refers to a project built in 2006 in Blind River, Ontario. For current pricing information, please visit BeaverHomesandCottages.ca to find a Beaver Homes & Cottages dealer in your area.]

16 comments:

  1. I would love to see inside pictures of this home as I have been considering building the Trillium, but get stuck everytime I go back to it as there are no rendering pics of the inside to get a sense of what it would really look and feel like.

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response. We've now added interior photos of this home to the article.

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  2. I would love to see the plan of the modified Trillium as we are trying to decide which home to build.

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    1. Sorry for the delayed response. You can see the floor plan of this home here: http://beaverhomesandcottages.ca/Model/Thompson

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  3. Hi we are building this in Muskoka in September would love to talk to you about your experience thanks Ellen

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  4. My wife and I are currently building a modified Dorset 2 on Fairbanks lake with Erik. He has far exceeded my expectations and is wonderful to work with. I can see why much of his work comes through refferals. I highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in building a new home.

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  5. We are considering building one of the Beaver homes on our currently vacant lakeside lot. Can you give me an idea of the all-in cost per square foot to build - including foundation, septic and basic finishings inside?

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    1. Hi Dave. There are a lot of variables to take into account when pricing a new home project. I would suggest you contact your local Beaver Homes dealer to get an idea on pricing based on your area and requirements. You can find your nearest dealer at http://beaverhomesandcottages.ca/StoreFinder

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  6. I would like to know if the $200,000 budget to build this was for materials and labour, or just materials. As we were in discussions with Beaver Homes in Huntsville for several months and had given them a budget of around $500,000, and they offered no help on which designs would fit that budget, instead they kept pressuring us to come up with a design, and then would quote on that. Two times over we chose a design, which they then took several weeks to cost for us. One would assume that they would have the experience to advise that the cottages we were considering would not fit into our budget, but this was not the case. Both times the estimate exceeded our budget by $200-300 thousand dollars. It was a very frustrating experience, as we had put our faith in them and thought we had found our builder. We feel mislead and have subsequently looked for alternatives. Based on this experience, I find it hard to believe that the cottage depicted was built for under $200,000. I would gladly build the same cottage if I thought that was possible. Perhaps I was speaking to the wrong Beaver representative.

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    1. The $200,000 figure Erik referred to in this article was a hypothetical number, not the budget for this particular project. Any of our consultants should be able to show you standard designs that would be able to fit within a specific budget. Once you move into custom design it becomes more difficult.

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  7. I am shocked at you response! This article is not only misleading but it is actually false advertising. No where does it state that the UNDER $200,000 budget is hypothetical. On the contrary it actually states that it is far easier to build a cottage for "half a million" than for this stricter budget, leading the reader to believe that that was accomplished in this particular build. Beaver Homes should be ashamed of themselves for leading people to believe that building a home for under $200,000 is even possible. The average person wishing to build a new home is rarely aware of what it costs to do so, and where they think that $200,000 - $300,000 is a realistic budget to build a modest home, they will quickly find out that this budget will not get you very far. And to your point that your consultants should be able to show us standard designs to fit within our budget; your consultant was given months to do just that, as we patiently waited for estimates, and were advised that the designs we were looking at would definitely fit within our budget, but then when the actual estimates came in, they blew our budget out of the water. All the more reason that the above article, that you so proudly display front and centre on the Beaver Homes web site is completely MISLEADING!!!!!!! Buyer's BEWARE.

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    1. I spoke with Erik, the consultant quoted in the article, and he confirmed that they were in fact working to a $200,000 budget and the final price with upgraded ended up in the $200,000-$300,000 range. As stated in the article, this home was built several years ago in Blind River, Ontario. The cost to build the same house today in a different part of the country could vary greatly. In the interest of clarity we will add an editors note to make the time and location associated with these numbers more explicit.

      The current 2015 material package price for this particular model based on our standard specifications is $85,095.

      If you have further questions or comments regarding this article, or your experience with a specific consultant, please contact us directly at homesandcottages@homehardware.ca

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  8. Hello! Absolutely gorgeous homes and designs!! We have looked for years and are so excited to find these. I have to even ask this question, because I am worried of the answer, but would you deliver and build a home near St-Jerome Quebec? We are close to retirement and have found property there. Thank you for these magnificent homes!!

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    1. Hello. Delivering to St-Jerome shouldn't be a problem. I would suggest contacting your nearest Beaver Homes & Cottages dealer to discuss. You can find your nearest dealer at http://beaverhomesandcottages.ca/StoreFinder

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  9. The current 2015 material package price for this particular model based on our standard specifications is $85,095....MY QUESTION IS HOW MANY SQARE FEET IS THIS COTTAGE?

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    1. This model is 1402 square feet. You can view the design in more detail here: http://beaverhomesandcottages.ca/Model/Thompson

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