Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Home, New Baby, New Beginning



The Hartland plan was perfect, not only for their growing family but for their future. As a farming family they wanted this to be where they would raise their family and they knew they would be here for years to come.

From Andrew and Heather Towns’ kitchen window, the neighboring dairy farm is in view while the land they farm and nearby fields spread as far as the eye can see. They’ve just said good-bye to family and friends who gathered here for the holidays and Christmas dinner. This is their dream home where they love holding family gatherings... but it was only two years ago that the family farmhouse standing on this very spot and everything they owned was lost in a fire.

It’s been a whirlwind of changes for this young family who have come full circle in 24 months from the fire, to the birth of their son Landon, to the rebuilding of their home and their lives.

Heather and Andrew lived in the family farmhouse in Norwood when fire struck taking almost everything they owned. Everything, except the support of family and friends and a whole community.

Norwood is a small rural farming town just northeast of Peterborough, where everyone knows each other by name. In the spirit of a barn-raising from decades past, the community banded together to help this family in need bringing everything from food and blankets to toothbrushes. “One neighbor even offered their farmhouse to us to live in... we received unbelievable support. It was such a humbling experience”, explains Heather.

When the smoke settled they knew it was time to rebuild. Andrew, a long-time fan of Beaver Homes & Cottages, knew where to find the plans for their home. Almost instantly, their hearts settled on the Hartland. It was so similar to their lost farmhouse that there was no question this would be their new home. Even the artist’s rendering setting it in farmland, surrounded by pastures, reflected their own property in the countryside of east-central Ontario in Peterborough County.

Their first and only call was to Chemong Home Hardware Building Centre in Peterborough where the Beaver Homes & Cottages Program is offered. Consultant Wayne Sellars was there to answer their questions and walk them through the home building process.

They developed an immediate rapport and a bond of trust with Wayne. He put together the package with one price, which was especially helpful with budgeting and when dealing with insurance issues. Standard features were impressive and considerably upgraded from what was expected, making them perfect for their needs. They customized their home by adding pine trim for a rustic look and Chemong Home Hardware Building Centre designed the kitchen as well. By May, construction had begun.

With decades of experience building homes and working with families under many different circumstances, Wayne remembers the Towns’ very well. “They’d lost everything right before Christmas and yet they had such a positive attitude and just wanted to move forward. They were a breath of fresh air.”

The Towns’ hired all their construction trades from the local area. “We wanted to give back to the community for being so supportive of us.” The entire process was seamless. Supplies were delivered by Chemong Home Hardware Building Centre as needed. The Beaver Homes & Cottages’ capability to send product in stages was key so there was no downtime and no storage issues, ensuring construction remained on schedule.

“We work with the same suppliers and know their lead times so we’ve got our finger on the pulse when it comes to ordering supplies. That keeps everything right on time,” explains Wayne.

Heather and Andrew agree that building their home themselves through Beaver Homes & Cottages and Home Hardware Building Centre was one of the best experiences of their lives. Another past customer of Wayne’s passionately agrees that building with Beaver Homes and Cottages is as stress-free as it comes.

The Hartland plan was perfect, not only for their growing family but for their future. As a farming family, they wanted this to be where they would raise their family and they knew they would be here for years to come. With this in mind, the main floor master suite and laundry were ideal. “We can age in the house so it can accommodate our needs years down the road,” says Heather.

Tough decisions along the way? Not a one. “Wayne, Beaver Homes & Cottages and Home Hardware Building Centre made it so easy for us.” Andrew’s parents live and farm from the neighboring property where they stayed during construction, making it convenient for Heather to take on the role of general contractor. She had a great vantage point and was always accessible for instant decision-making.

“We loved the plan as it was so we didn’t have too many changes,” says Heather. One request was for a walkout basement. “Wayne said it was ‘not a problem’ and drew in the change within five minutes.” Since it changed the elevation of the back of the house, he suggested adding a porch to the master bedroom and a new balance was achieved. Other minor changes were also made, something that is frequently done and is included as part of a Beaver Homes & Cottages Package.

The Towns’ now enjoy this modern re-creation of the home they lost but without the creaks and squeaks of their previous farmhouse. This is where the Towns family have farmed the land for decades past and will continue on for years to come. Giving her stamp of approval is Andrew’s grandmother, matriarch of the family and of the home that was lost. “She loves it, and that says a lot,” says Andrew.

By the end of the year, every special occasion had been hosted by Andrew and Heather, with plenty of space for overnight guests. “It gives us a great feeling to be able to host all these family dinners in this wonderful home,” says Heather. “Most family members talk about moving in or building their own Beaver Home. In fact, Andrew’s parents are looking through plans right now, with talk of moving in with the ‘neighbors’ while it’s being built.”

Cottage Country Couple Make Their Retirement Dream a Reality



Retiring to a custom-built cottage country home is a beautiful dream and an incredibly smooth experience when you work with Beaver Homes & Cottages

Retiring to a custom-built cottage country home is a beautiful dream and an incredibly smooth experience when you work with Beaver Homes & Cottages, according to Mary Ann and Randy. The couple began retirement planning back in 2015 and always knew they wanted to spend their golden years in Ontario’s Cottage Country. “We had options to renovate, demolish and rebuild on an existing family cottage near Washago or look for suitable real estate.”

A sentimental connection to the pie-shaped family property and a friendship with local builder Charles Chartrand of Chartrand Carpentry, made the decision easy. By spring 2017, plans were set in place to build from scratch. “Charles had worked with a few Home Building Centre clients before and spoke highly of their customer service, along with their one-stop design and quality materials package approach,” says Randy. The couple interviewed two other home builder/materials package suppliers but ultimately they chose Beaver Homes & Cottages after their first in-store meeting.

“Our Beaver Design Consultant at the Gravenhurst Home Building Centre, Jim McMillan, was clearly well-informed,” says Randy, adding that they left the store with a thorough understanding of the process and the latest Beaver Homes & Cottages Design Book. Just two days later they’d already chosen two designs and had accompanied Jim on tours of a couple of construction projects underway in the Gravenhurst area. “It’s not always easy to visualize plans. Visiting the homes under construction was invaluable and helped to add scale, perspective, and realism compared to just looking at photos and drawings. The on-site visits were the determining factor in our design selection.”

Randy and Mary Ann wanted a design that ultimately made the most of their waterfront view. They chose the Rideau Model (pg 46) and Jim helped them to modify it by adding a lower level to the bungalow, along with wings on both sides that showcase the view of the nearby river while offering expanded space for a sitting room and the master bedroom. “He also gave us a great idea about building out the deck between the wings so that it had a covered portion.”

“While we made extensive design modifications,” adds Randy, “Jim was always very positive, enthusiastic and confident Home Hardware’s Architectural Solutions Group (ASG) would be able to meet our requirements.” Despite the unique lot shape and side-yard set-back restrictions, McMillan says that ASG was indeed able to make the plan work and maximize the footprint. They were also able to position the home in such a manner that beloved trees didn’t have to come down.

“Since we’re novices in home building design, Jim’s building experience and personal knowledge was extremely helpful in setting design parameters and keeping our expectations realistic,” adds Randy, who also valued, in addition to Beaver’s price guarantee, the strong communication throughout design iterations with their builder, Chartrand. “On several occasions, Charles would speak directly to Jim on our behalf to clarify items on our wish list. It was reassuring to have consensus from both the design and construction side of the process.”

The design was finalized on time by August 30 and picking the finishing products were simple and straightforward with Jim’s help. This included meeting specific requests from Mary Ann for areas such as the cathedral ceiling, trim and interior doors. The only real challenge proved to be with nature, as the builders encountered unexpected rocks that required a lot of blasting work. Combined with delays in the permitting and surveying process, the start day was pushed out a month to November 1st. “But in the end, Jim worked with Charles to adjust the delivery schedule and it worked out seamlessly. In fact, they still finished on the original schedule,” says Randy.

The couple felt comfortable taking a winter vacation and they appreciated the regular updates that came from both Jim and Charles. “When we returned in April, it was remarkable to see how far the home had come along,” says Randy. The couple was wowed by the nearly finished home and loved how it suited their needs and style. “We love how the front is very subtle and blends into our treed lot, but when you see the back with the gorgeous windows and deck, it’s really breathtaking.”

Randy adds that Charles spoke highly of the quality of the materials supplied in a Beaver Homes & Cottages Package. “He told me how he was impressed with the consistently high-quality supplies, specifically lumber. He was also impressed with how positive and pleasant the Home Building Centre team was during the winter months. Their coordination of materials allowed him to focus on other important work such as coordinating sub trades and the execution of the building process,” says Randy.

Beyond the final project, Randy and Mary Ann are most pleased with the personal relationship they developed with Jim as he guided them through the design-build experience. “That trust, combined with The Beaver Homes & Cottages Material Package Guarantee - that the materials package price does not change over the construction period, there are no shortages and that design and engineering meet or exceed building codes - really allowed Mary Ann and I to focus on many other activities in such a major project,” says Randy. “I would recommend Home Hardware’s Beaver Homes & Cottages Program to anyone who wants a truly positive, secure and smooth home-build experience.”