Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Taylor-Made Dream

When Bette and Steve Domotor were looking to buy a cottage they went on an extensive three-year search. The hunt for the ideal spot took them from Georgian Bay to Bancroft and back. For all the distance covered, they did not see much that they liked.

"We saw a lot of brick ranch-style homes set down in these beautiful settings," Steve says, "and we kept asking ourselves, "Why would anyone do a thing like that?"

The Domotor's dream was not to have a second house, but to have a real, honest-to-goodness cottage.

"We were looking in cottage country, after all," Steve points out. "We wanted something where we could sit back, look out and be in awe of the country that surrounds us." From just about any point at Bette and Steve Domotor's cottage, that's exactly what you can do. Whether you're on the wide, elevated deck or anywhere inside gazing through the windows that run wall-to-wall and stretch from the floor to the height of the vaulted pine ceiling. In every direction, the vista is stunning. Which is only appropriate, since the cottage itself is stunning too. The Domotor cottage is a modified version of the Taylor Creek model. Its owners couldn't be happier.

"We'd been looking for something just like this for a long time. This is our dream," Bette and Steve agree. Looking around the warm, relaxing, beautifully appointed space it's easy to understand why. It seems that the cottage isn't just a dream come true for the Domotors. Guests frequently express their approval and then ask who designed the cottage. "When we tell them," Steve says, "they're always surprised."

Choosing the Right Plan

After three years of looking to buy a cottage, the Domotor's decided to build their own and that way get exactly what they wanted. This was not a daunting challenge to Steve and Bette, who had previously built another cottage and three houses. Through a classified ad in a Toronto newspaper, they found a property they loved near Owen Sound. Perhaps not surprisingly the lot was just across the Sound from their previous cottage, which they'd built fifteen years before. Then the search was on for a cottage design to build on the new parcel of land.

Numerous road trips to different cottage builders helped Bette and Steve define what they did and didn't want. Then, at a local Cottage Show, they picked up a copy of the Home Building Centre Home and Cottage Design Book. Flipping through the pages, they found just the thing.

Ted Costen is the Home Design Consultant for J&K Home Building Centre in Brantford, Ontario. He recalls it this way. Mr. and Mrs. Domotor came in with the Design Book and she said to me, "We like the Taylor Creek, but..." and they had a list of modifications they wanted to make."

They went through the floor plan together and then Ted sketched out the revisions and Home's Architectural Solutions Department redrew the preliminary plans. The existing flat front of the cottage became a prow front, for more light and an even better view. The bedroom ceilings became vaulted. The deck was extended across the entire width of the cottage and the decking made of composite material instead of wood.

"We didn't just want the cottage to be perfect," Steve points out. "We also wanted to reduce maintenance."

Choosing the Right Package

Ted Costen has been helping people build with home and cottage packages for twenty-six years. First in the Owen Sound area and more recently at J&K in Brantford, Ontario - where the Domotors live. Not only did he have all the necessary contacts nearby when the Domotors wanted to build, he'd also worked with Bette and Steve before.

"Ted helped us build our first cottage and so, when we wanted to build this one, it was natural that we call him," Steve says. Ted's experience wasn't the only good reason for the Domotors - or anyone else for that matter - to choose to build with a package.

"Material packages make sense for customers for several reasons," Ted Costen explains. "There's a safety factor of knowing that somebody with experience is handling the job. In this case, the Domotors knew me from Owen Sound and also from Brantford. They'd seen a lot of the jobs that I'd been involved with.

"Another important factor is commitment to price. That doesn't mean that our quote will necessarily be the lowest price. But, if there are no big changes in what the customer wants, then the price we quote on the first day will be the price on the last day. It's certainly not like that with most jobs out there that aren't packages."

There's also the benefit of scheduling. All too often with non-package construction jobs, there are delays, disappointments and frustrations. But when you book a package, every aspect of the schedule can be worked out in advance - so that the material that's needed on Tuesday will be on the site by Monday.

"When we started to build, it was a very busy time up here. But Ted helped us find people right away. Once we were ready to get underway, Ted just kept coming up with these good crews who could do the work now," Steve says.

"We would have been lost without Ted," Bette adds. "It was the easiest home we've ever built. And he has good taste, too."

"Ted kept us on budget all the way," Steve says emphatically.

"He was very fair with us. He explained all the options every step of the way. He dealt with the whole building process as if it was his money that was being spent."

"It's up to me to make sure that customers have made the right decision," he points out.

"I want to make sure that everything gets there when it's supposed to get there, and gets done when it's supposed to get done. Our package system is designed to make things hassle free for the customer."

And is that the way it was for the Domotors?

"Absolutely," they agree. "It was a great experience. Ted was a great partner. And we love our cottage."