Friday, June 12, 2020

There's no place like Home

Every summer the town of Otter Lake increases in size eight-fold as it comes to life with cottagers and recreation enthusiasts. Visitors come for the abundance of lakes and outdoor activities.  It’s where the swimming is fabulous and the view is simply breathtaking. 

Butch and Sandra Lepack are not strangers to the area and have longstanding ties to Otter Lake. It’s Butch’s hometown and Sandra has been a regular visitor to the area since her teens. Their busy lives over the past years have involved living out of a suitcase. That’s what happens when you’re an IT consultant from Canada, like Butch, but working for a California company and travelling throughout North America. Fortunately, Sandra is retired and can travel with him during his California sojourns. Still, with adult children living in Texas and Toronto, much of their free time is still spent in transit as they visit during Butch’s time off. 

With all the travelling, looking ahead to retirement and having a dream home to come home to was a goal of theirs, one that was to become realty sooner rather than later. 

A peninsula of property caught their eye where it reached out into Farm Lake, surrounded by the Otter Lake community. They waited patiently until the opportune moment arrived – and the land was theirs.  Just northeast of Ottawa, it’s within an hour and a half of the Ottawa airport which is integral to their lifestyle. They’d found their dream location and now needed a dream home to match. 

Their first and only stop was to see Brad Dale at Dale’s Home Building Centre where the Beaver Homes & Cottages desk was a busy spot for those wanting a choice of designs and with the ability to adapt a plan to their needs. Brad has been part of the Home Hardware family his entire life.  Parents Bob and Grace have had their Home store since 1979.  Brad used to work there after school. Now he co-ordinates the Beaver Homes & Cottages Program.

As Butch and Sandra explained: “From the outset, we wanted to do something different, to build a home for all seasons, with a design that encapsulates the best elements of the past with an eye to the future. The Beaver Homes & Cottages program gave us the design, flexibility and price we wanted.”  

Brad speaks of a clear vision for this overlooked property, the quality of life it presented, a design concept that has resurrected the area. He began putting together a partnership between Beaver Homes & Cottages, Denis Paquette Construction, highly recommended and already in the throes of other Beaver home builds, and the homeowners that resulted in a seamless process. “Denis made it happen,” says Brad. “I knew he would be perfect for this and he was. It was a great three-way team. There were so many components to this project that made it a perfect showpiece for our program.”

Construction began in May 2018 with completion and final touches taking place in August/September following what Brad describes as “an aggressive time frame.” Key to the process was Home Hardware’s ongoing relationship with suppliers that enabled them to deliver supplies as needed without stockpiling them onsite. The property also had some tight access constraints, but due to Dale’s Home Building Centre’s versatility and specialized equipment for store-level and drop shipment requirements, deliveries were on time from beginning to end.  Due to their frequent absences, the Lepacks confidently relied on the Beaver team onsite to manage and execute the project and keep them informed.

With the keen insight and skills of Paquette and his team, the plan was revised to fit the footprint of the land while meeting all the setback requirements of a waterfront property. There were aesthetic revisions – such as the sizes of entry doors and windows to maximize lakeside views, and insulation upgrades as well. Inside, Paquette’s skills are also on display to incorporate cathedral ceilings throughout, even in the bedrooms. One bedroom was eliminated to expand the kitchen and living area creating a light-filled space for the family gatherings that are to come. It’s a perfect blend of rustic chic and refined elegance.

Different is what they wanted and different is what the Lepacks achieved. From its linear exterior with oversized windows facing the lake and wood-grained accents, it elevates the home from attractive to spectacular. It’s on view from its point on the peninusla where a flat roof rises up to reveal a raised basement level with walkout to the waterfront, a lower level that is a suite unto itself with bedrooms, bath and living area. Above, a wrap-around deck, modern in every sense of the word offers unobstructed views and a double pergola over patio doors at both sides of the deck. 

“It showcases a great blend of stock elements and the customization elements that are a hallmark of the Beaver Homes and Cottages program, as well as our ability to outfit a home from beginning to end,” says Brad.

The Lepacks say they’d build a Beaver home again in an instant because of the ease of the process. “There were no unknowns,” says Butch. “The package included the materials, contractor and labour costs and all turn-key elements.” It was so easy that when Butch was at the Home Hardware counter talking to Brad, he turned to another customer and highly recommended the Beaver Homes & Cottages  program.

“We’re very proud of the house,” says Sandra. “We wanted to build something modern to suit us and we’ve achieved that with their existing plan.” They were able to keep the trees surrounding the home and even added new ones.

While they aren’t able to be there as much as they’d like, whenever they are, they call it home. With two separate living spaces they can offer comfortable quarters to guests or visiting kids.

Still to come, the Lepacks plan on adding beach sand and volleyball nets and a firepit to create a summer paradise. They’ve even included a 1970s fireplace and wine bar. In the winter, they will be steps to the lake for ice fishing, skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Butch and Sandra also have access to one of the largest networks of snowmobile and ATV trails in the country. Autumn brings with it radiant fall colours that can be enjoyed from the deck. When winter subsides, the loons on the lake announce the arrival of spring, and vacation season will begin again. But for Butch and Sandra, it will never end.