Tuesday, November 04, 2014

It's All About the View

When Karen and Jeff Coles decided to build their retirement home, on the shore of Bellwood Lake in Southwestern Ontario, there was one aspect of the house that was crucial: the view. There’s little point in living next to a beautiful body of water if you can’t enjoy it in panoramic splendor and from every angle. “It’s all about the view,” Karen says.  The ability to capitalize on that was one of the reasons the Coles chose their home from the Beaver Homes & Cottages Design Book.

After purchasing a lot by the lake in June 2009, the Coles were planning to sell their home and design a new modest cottage for the waterfront property – all that the municipality would allow. A change in legislation made a larger home possible and discussions were held with an architect whose quote was out of reach. Fortunately, a neighbour had picked up a copy of the Beaver Home & Cottage Design Book. Karen looked in it and thought, “Wow, there’s some nice stuff here.” They selected the Beauport II model and the journey towards stunning views began.

After discussing how the Beaver program works with a Home Hardware Building and Design Consultant at a Toronto Home Show, the Coles were given “a fair and reasonable quote.”

Then the work began in earnest. Modifications to the Beauport II design were made over the winter, and the revised plans were ready for construction to begin in the spring. Karen runs down a list of some of the key modifications. “We got the biggest windows we could get and we opened up the walls around the stairwell. We completely changed the second floor loft, making it larger and more open. We even had the position of the main support beam moved, which they did after consulting an engineer. All of it was no problem at all.”

“We didn’t have to pick everything all at once,” Karen points out. “We could change our minds as we went along and it was not a problem.”

“As contractors, we know that if you buy a package it’ll be cheaper than doing it piece by piece,” Karen says. “And Home can supply absolutely everything – kitchens, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing – everything.”

Even that, however, is not the whole story. Flexibility is integral to any project in the Beaver book.

“Building the house through Home was wonderful because there were some parts of the job we wanted to do ourselves, or have our own people do, and that was never a problem.”

Modifications were made at every stage of the process, not only during the planning process.  “We didn’t have to pick everything all at once,” Karen points out. “We could change our minds as we went along and it was not a problem.”

As a result, the colour of the siding was changed three weeks before it was due to go up. Interior door designs were changed along the way as well. The stairs were made wider too “and it didn’t cost us any more money.”

Even with all that versatility and accommodation, “the best part,” Karen says, “was the schedule.”  The Beaver Homes & Cottages consultant at Home worked along with Karen and Jeff so that material was always delivered exactly when it was needed. “I don’t think there was a single day that I had to wait for anything,” Karen says with satisfaction.

Since the drive in to the site is like most cottage country roads, curving and sloping, “it was adventurous at times for the deliveries but the guys did a great job.” Nothing was late or arrived incomplete.

As a result, in addition to being on budget, the job was also completed on time, with construction beginning in early June and finishing by the first week of November.

What’s most remarkable about the Coles’ decision to use Home and their experience with the process is that they run their own contracting business, J. A. Coles & Sons Ltd. So they know how projects ought to go and they recognize when a job is handled in the right way.

“This expertise led to one other unique modification. There are three fireplaces in the house.” Karen says. “As a masonry contractor, Jeff built two of three fireplaces with stone from our own beach.”

In the end, the Coles got the outstanding views they were hoping for. And their views of the Beaver building process are pretty nice, too.