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Blue Green Gala Raises Funds for Michigan Maritime Museum While Showcasing Upscale Sustainable Living

Holland, Michigan… The sun broke through and the band began playing. On Sunday, August 23, the Cottage Home Blue Green Gala welcomed 200 friends and neighbors to view the contemporary LEED certified Monroe Beach House, raise money for the Maritime Museum and enjoy a perfect summer’s evening with friends, food and music. The event focused on “Keeping It Blue By Making It Green”: a sustainable event showcasing two new homes to raise money for the Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven.

“The event was a success, beyond our imagination,” said Brian Bosgraaf, President, Cottage Home. “Our turnout was tremendous, the weather was wonderful, and we were able to spend time with many people in
the community.”

The event drew nearly 200 persons from Chicago to Grand Haven, with ticket sales totaling more than $10,000. Cottage Home matched the ticket proceeds; so the total donation to the Michigan Maritime Museum exceeded $20,000.

The South Haven Yacht Club catered food, while everyone enjoyed live music by Michael Anne Erlewine & The Younce Guitar Duo. Promptly at 4:30, the Maritime’s replica schooner, Friends Good Will, sailed past the Monroe Beach House. The home, situated on the bluff, with 109 feet of lake frontage was the ideal landscape for the big event. This was the first gala event hosted by Cottage Home, and almost certainly will not be
the last.

Blue Green Gala To Benefit Michigan Maritime Museum

West Michigan residents and visitors to the lakeshore area will have a unique opportunity to view sustainable design at its best when Cottage Home opens the doors Sunday, August 23rd to the new Monroe Beach House, 850 Monroe Boulevard, South Haven.

The ‘Blue Green Gala’ is being underwritten by Cottage Home as a way of demonstrating how sustainable lakefront living helps “Keep It Blue By Making It Green.” The event, which is open to the public, includes tours of two homes, sustainable design discussions, live music, with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres catered by the South Haven Yacht Club.

Doors will open at 4:00pm to 7:00pm Sunday. The Friends Good Will, the Maritime Museum’s replica schooner, will sail past the home around 4:30pm.

Designed and built by Cottage Home, the fully furnished 4,396 sq. ft. Monroe Beach House will join a select group of homes in Michigan that have achieved LEED Certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Maritime Museum, a non-profit organization.

“We’re very grateful and excited,” said Patti Montgomery, Administrator of the Maritime Museum. “The Blue Green Gala will be a fun and educational event, and it’s a wonderful tie in with our organization.”

In addition to the Monroe Beach House, Cottage Home has designed and built three other LEED Certified lakefront homes in West Michigan.

 

The Michigan Maritime Museum is home to the tall ship Friends Good Will, substantial exhibit galleries, a boat building shop, a collection of small craft and marine motors, a large collection of maritime artifacts, a Great Lakes Research Library, and the Lightkeeper’s House. Its mission is to promote and interpret the history and culture of Michigan’s Great Lakes. For more information on the Michigan Maritime Museum, please click here.

Cottage Home Receives Community Partnership Award For Deerlick Creek Park

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home, designers and builders of well-appointed beach houses and cottages, was one of several recipients of the 2008 Business Excellence Award for Community Partnership by the South Haven Chamber of Commerce at a special awards ceremony held June 6. The company was cited for its efforts in partnering to preserve and improve a unique public beach at the end of 13th Avenue in South Haven Township.

Cottage Home was involved in a partnership between the South Haven Township, Friends of Deerlick Creek, Midwest Civil Engineers, deBest, Inc., the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, and the Van Buren County Road Commission. In addition, financial contributions from many local businesses and supporters, as well as a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, helped make the dream of a public park a reality.

Site improvements include a restroom, new parking lot pavement, bike rack, beach path and waste receptacle.

“We appreciate the recognition,” said Brian Bosgraaf, company president and designer. “The credit certainly goes to the many area citizens whose steadfast commitment and vision made the new park possible.”

Deerlick Creek is unique in that it empties naturally into Lake Michigan, where the beach is known for ‘lightening stones.’

A Special Tribute was also presented to Brian from the office of U.S. Representative Fred Upton in “appreciation of making Southwest Michigan a better place to live and work.”

Off The Beaten Path – Detroit Free Press

Builder Blends Secluded Custom Cottages Into Lake Michigan Dunes

In a housing market begging for buyers, builder Brian Bosgraaf has found a niche immune to the downturn.

It’s nestled along the Lake Michigan shoreline, in places like Holland, Glenn, Douglas, South Haven and Benton Harbor, tucked among secluded and state-protected dunes.

Building permits are hard to come by and vacationers who value the privacy and the western Michigan lake culture are willing to pay a premium to claim a slice.

Bosgraaf — a design buff with a penchant for living naturally in natural settings — created Cottage Home in 1999. The eight-person company based in Holland, custom builds seven to nine lake cottages a year on sites that most builders would consider difficult, such as dunes or isolated spots with no access roads.

The homes are true to what he calls the local Lake Michigan vernacular — steep gabled roofs, clapboard siding, open decks and shake-style shingles. The one-of-a-kind, all-season cottages cost between $1.2 million and $2 million.

“We don’t have boom-and-bust cycles,” Bosgraaf said. “They are not making any more lakeshore. You can’t sprawl into cornfields and make more supply.”

Cottage Home has three current developments and the projects are booked a year in advance.

“We have seen revenue growth without having the number of starts increasing,” he said. “I believe we can sustain our growth, without having more starts.”

About a third of his business comes from his developments, a third from existing cottages that owners want torn down and replaced, and the other third from people who buy lots and want a cottage built from scratch.

Bosgraaf adheres to green building practices. His homes have Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications and he uses Energy Star-rated products and appliances.

He takes his green practice a step further by avoiding any disturbance of the environment during the building process and landscaping only with plants native to the area.

“The reason people want to be there is because of that beauty and lakefront environment,” he said.

Building on sand

Clients Paulette and Harvey Grotrian of Ann Arbor bought a lot they fell in love with on a private beach in Holland and held on to it for more than a year while looking for a builder who could work with the challenges of the site.

“As we looked unsuccessfully for a builder, it started to become more and more of a concern,” said Paulette Grotrian, humanities department chair at Washtenaw Community College. Eventually, someone referred her to Bosgraaf.

“He had to build on sand and preserve a critical dune,” she said. “The lot was past two other houses, out on the beach without road access.”

Bosgraaf bought an all-terrain vehicle and rigged it so that lumber and other supplies could be hauled in.

“When the concrete was poured for the foundation, he pumped it in hoses through the woods,” she said. “He fit the house in beautifully. It looks like it’s always been there.”

The cottage is a three-story 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom and three full-bath home that Paulette Grotrian describes as “kind of nautical and kind of Victorian.”

It is oriented toward Lake Michigan with a view of the Big Red Lighthouse at Holland State Park. It has a 40-foot screened porch, a deck and an entertainment center with built-in bookshelves on one side and a fireplace on other. It has an outdoor shower and covered porch on the dune side with a porch swing facing the back woods.

The home has sliding doors on the lake side, a dining room, living room, master bedroom, a three-sided gas fireplace, a walk-in pantry, an eating bar in the kitchen and a first-floor laundry. A staircase to upper bedrooms has beadboard paneling, cherry newel posts and step lighting. The home also has Canadian beech hardwood floors throughout.

Bosgraaf is proud of the service his company provided during and after construction.

Updates by e-mail

During building, customers are sent photographs and updates regularly via e-mail, an asset for those building from far away. Customers include owners from Chicago, Detroit, Massachusetts and as far away as Switzerland.

Construction manager Jeremy vanEyk goes to sites with his laptop and sends clients images of each major phase of the construction.

After construction, Bosgraaf offers a for-fee concierge service that lasts as long as customers want it.

Grotrian, whose cottage is finished, continues to pay for it. Bosgraaf’s staff puts up and removes storm windows protecting her screened-in porch.

Clients from afar alert him of their summer arrival dates and Bosgraaf’s staff gets the house ready, the heat turned on and windows open.

A client from Massachusetts building a house that’s now in the paint stages and will be done June 15 has visited once.

“We are receiving furnishings and blinds,” Bosgraaf said. “Our staff is setting it for them. Each year, we have clients who ask us to furnish the whole place for them.”

Head start in housing

The 41-year-old Bosgraaf’s initiation into building began as a child.

His father was a land developer and his mother was a real estate agent. The two started a family business while Bosgraaf was still in college. He has a degree from Calvin College in economics.

In 1998, his dad passed the business on to his children. Bosgraaf sold his part to his siblings and went to work for a nonprofit, running the Inner City Christian Federation in Grand Rapids. The federation builds affordable housing for low-income families.

The experience helped him become an expert at working through bureaucracy and taught him the virtue of patience, he said.

“I didn’t have a lot of patience, but with community block grants, there is lot of paperwork, regulation and oversight,” he said. “We worked with sites in the inner city that were purchased for a dollar and had so many issues with cloudy title claims, and at any given time 40 home sites were in the process of getting cleared.”

The patience is paying off now, he said.

“After the experience at the nonprofit, I was ready,” he said, to tackle the challenges of Cottage Home. “There’s critical dune legislation and it’s a high-risk erosion area. There are health department regulations because these are rural sites that don’t have water and sewer. There are old associations, and township restrictions. Then there’s logistics. Some areas don’t have streets.”

Paulette Grotrian said she initially was afraid of the building process.

“A lot of people say how horrendous it was to build a house, that it’s divorce material,” she said.

“But Brian is an easy guy to work with. The house really reflects our personalities. People who come here immediately say “Wow, this looks like you.” ”

“That takes talent on the part of the builder,” she said. “To get to know you well enough to know what would reflect who we are.”

Still a Dream Come True

Custom Built Cottages Offer Upscale Summer Living Along Southwest Michigan’s Shoreline

Brian Bosgraaf tells the story of a couple that walked the entire shoreline, from the Indiana border to Grand Haven, in search of the perfect lakefront property. They drove two cars, parking one up the road and then walking off their research on foot, getting a first hand sense of the land, the lake and the opportunities. After many weekends and a hundred plus miles, they knew where they wanted their summer home – the Cottage Home LakeBridge community, just outside South Haven, Michigan.

“Our clients tend to be particular,” said Brian with a smile, “they’ve done their research and they know what they want.” As president and designer of Cottage Home, builder of beach homes and lakefront cottages, Brian and his staff have helped clients from as far away Switzerland make their dream cottage come true.

Cottage Home has developed a number of small, low-density communities between Holland, Michigan, where the company has its offices, and St. Joseph. Two developments, Summer’s Gate and the Preserve, are now closed to new sales. LakeBridge has 1 of 7 sites still available. Suequehanna, in Glenn, is the company’s newest community, offering 4 sites, 1 of which is currently being developed with a model Green Cottage.

Brian is well known as a leader in the home building industry, having been involved with the Home Building Association on a local, state and national levels. Still in his 30’s, Brian learned his trade in the family business, where he oversaw design and construction of many successful West Michigan home developments. In 2000, Brian sold his interest in the family business, and after a brief hiatus in charity work, launched Cottage Home, combining his love of the beach with his passion for home design. Today the firm has a staff of 8 and builds only a select number of homes each year. The staff includes a client concierge, whose job it is to build and maintain personal relationships with each client, while carefully overseeing the many details in communications, material selection and design, leading to assistance with summer move in.

“The idea behind Cottage Home is to build only a few homes a year and make the process as enjoyable as possible. We pride ourselves on our ability to learn our client’s lifestyle and dreams, and translate those into a summer home they will truly enjoy for generations,” explains Bosgraaf.

Brian spends much of his time in the car, shuttling back and forth between his Holland, Michigan office, the shoreline and the offices of clients. “Many of clients are from the greater Chicago area, Indiana and Ohio, even St. Louis. Our goal is to make the design/build process as enjoyable as possible, and that often means meeting at the client’s home or office. Once the project is underway, communication is usually done on the phone or email. The client’s welcome to visit the site, but many keep a schedule that doesn’t allow it.”

Cottage Home’s unique design, construction quality and customer service have not gone unrewarded. The company’s work has been recognized on both local and national levels, and recently was named 2007 Custom Builder of the Year by the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids.

The dedication Cottage Home staff places on each home parallels to their dedication to the environment. As active members of Green Built Michigan, Cottage Home has always emphasized stewardship, creating each community with green concepts in mind. The company’s Green Cottage, for example, is designed to be a model of green technology, with geothermal heating and cooling, energy-efficient appliances and lighting, insulation, siding and low-e windows. The construction process includes recycling job site materials. When completed in late summer, the Green Cottage is expected to be LEED certified. “We are committed to maintaining the natural beauty of West Michigan, while affording families the opportunity to live in harmony with the lakeshore,” explains Bosgraaf.

Despite the fact that Cottage Home has been busy since its inception, the firm has never built on virgin land; Brian searches for existing residential properties that lend themselves to low density clustering, retaining the natural beauty of the land without significant earth moving or site modifications. Lakeshore property carries a premium value, but Cottage Home chooses not to leverage the maximum allowable density, and instead aims toward lower density with ample lot size and community open space devoted to natural habitat and buffer zones. Nature trails and wooded respite area are common, as are green spaces for community recreation and gatherings.

Homes typically price out between $1.2 and $2 million for the home site and new home, although Cottage Home has built on a client’s own property.

“Needs to be on the lakeshore, though,” says Brian, a policy that has led to the firm declining construction opportunities inland. “Our crew likes the view.”

Cottage Home Receives Two Awards, Breaks Ground on ‘Green Home’

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home, designers and builders of well-appointed beach houses and cottages, recently added two awards to the company’s growing portfolio of achievements.

Brian Bosgraaf, company president and designer, received the Custom Builder of The Year award from the Home & Builder’s Association of Greater Grand Rapids. Brian was cited for setting professional standards for others in the industry, achieving excellence in new construction and maintaining active roles in educational and advisory councils.

The company also received the Heritage Preservation Award from the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society for New Construction in the West Shore Woods development. The New Construction Award is presented to owners, designers and builders who introduce new buildings into the landscape which respect the architectural integrity of existing structures and the area’s historic character in terms of style, scale, material and which are compatible with their surroundings.

In separate news, Cottage Home has begun construction of a unique green home in Suequehanna, the firm’s lakefront community near Glenn, Michigan. This exclusive Cottage Home sanctuary comprises four carefully planned home sites in a pristine natural setting. The new 3,400 sq. ft. home will be a showcase of sustainable design and will be built according to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System. The home is scheduled for completion late summer 2008.

Cottage Home specializes in lakefront homes, choosing to focus on the shoreline from St. Joseph to Grand Haven. Offices are located at 184 S. River Avenue, Ste. 204, Holland, MI 49423. Phone: 616-393-9460.

Lake Michigan Shore

Eco-Built – A Geothermal Family Home in Holland

Martha and Urs Waldvogel have just moved from Switzerland, Urs’ native country. Into the nearly 5,800-square-foot home they built on the northern edge of Lake Macatawa, in Holland, Michigan. Urs had long yearned to live on a lake. “That was always my dream,” he says. They considered building on Lake Tahoe, in California, but chose, finally, to settle closer to Martha’s family in the Midwest. They looked long and hard before choosing the Holland property. The next step was to find a builder.

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Cottage Home Development Transforms Area Near South Haven

LakeBridge isn’t the first Lake Michigan shoreline development for Brian Bosgraaf and his Holland-based residential development company, Cottage Home. But this development, just south of South Haven in an area known as Deerlick, was a commitment to both the environment and to the local community.

It’s hard to believe while standing on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, just feet away from one of the five homes already built on the seven lots that make up the development, that just a couple of years ago you couldn’t even see the lake from the spot. The 750 feet of beachfront were intertwined with bramble and 34 earth-mover tires.

The previous owner of the 10.5-acre property was concerned about erosion and put the tires along the beach. “He thought he was doing the right thing and with the high water table (in previous years), who could blame him?” Bosgraaf said. “There was tons of rubble and garbage.”

Bosgraaf had to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the tires. After some research on recycling the large tires, he found a company that could use them to make pig-manure scoops. The tires were removed from the beach, loaded on semitrailers and hauled away for their new use.

The cleanup was a long arduous process that took nine months. “You’d think the state would help you when you want to clean it up,” Bosgraaf said.

Today the dune grass, which Bosgraaf planted in the dunes once they were restored to their natural state, waves in the breeze on a hot summer afternoon. And the water is so clear you can see the wreckage of a schooner that sank in Lake Michigan in the mid-1800s. It rests on the lake floor in water that’s about waist-deep.

“It’s really rewarding to see the beauty of these houses and that they enhance the shoreline,” Bosgraaf said.

Deerlick park planned

The setting is private for the owners of the homes, but nearby, just beyond the jetty that Bosgraaf helped to restore, Deerlick Creek flows and beachgoers enjoy a small area of beachfront. A local group, Friends of Deerlick Creek, raised money to buy some of the site from Bosgraaf and the rest from another property owner. It will soon be Deerlick Creek Park, a township park with public access.

“This little treasure (Deerlick) will be preserved forever,” Bosgraaf said. He said preserving the area and the beach, which had been used by local residents for years, was important to him.

Before emptying in Lake Michigan, the creek meanders along the backside or eastern border of LakeBridge. A hiking trail leads to a gazebo, which is set along the 1,000 feet of frontage on the creek. A wetland area is also part of the property.

Vegetative swales along the driveways help control the runoff water from storms. “It’s very important that we don’t have any storm water or erosion that gets into Lake Michigan,” Bosgraaf said.

Although all of the homes are less than 2 years old, they seem much more established. Bosgraaf retained both the natural slope of the property and many of the old-growth oak trees.

The homes, built in a cottage style, feature western red-cedar-shake siding and round-fieldstone and manufactured-stone chimneys.

“We’ve tried to keep the architectural style with the local vernacular,” he said. “We’re in Michigan, and we want to keep (the home design) like it would have looked like.”

In addition to their exterior melding with the environment, the interior structure and mechanics follow Green Built practices, including low-E windows and high-R insulation.

“These homes were all Green Built; they’re energy-efficient,” Bosgraaf said. In addition, the most recent construction will be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).

The LakeBridge homes, which range in price from $1.6 million to $4 million, are mostly vacation homes. Most are owned by Illinois residents; one is owned by a family from Missouri, and another homeowner is from Michigan.

Dream come true

Buying one of the homes in LakeBridge was more than a dream come true for Michigan native Michelle Bower. Having grown up in Bangor (her parents are Bernard and Genevieve Bournay, who formerly owned Swanstra Rexall Drug), she spent a lot of time on Lake Michigan.

However, Bower now lives in Boston with husband, Bill (who’s from Mattawan), and their four children. Before purchasing the home in LakeBridge they spent summers in South Haven.

“We’ve been coming here (to Lake Michigan) for 12 years and had been renting a condo,” Bower said. “We’d been looking for years; we just found this spot and watched it develop.”

Bosgraaf also is working on a development in Glenn, which is north of South Haven. He named the development Suequehanna (a Native American name for “pure water”). It has four sites; two are on Lake Michigan and two are not. At the development, Bosgraaf has designed a Green Idea home, which will be open to the public. The model home will feature geothermal heat, sustainable forest products and many other Green Built features.

Bosgraaf worked with his father, Ted Bosgraaf, in real estate and home development in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000 he started Cottage Homes, and so far Bosgraaf has designed and built 30 homes along the lakeshore.

Among the numerous awards Bosgraaf has received for design is the 2007 Custom Builder of the Year from the Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids.

Reason To Retreat – Cosmopolitan Home

On the shores of Lake Michigan, LakeBridge offers residents luxury homes in a natural setting.

A new South Haven beachside development will offer cottage owners much more than a room with a view.

Brian Bosgraaf, award-winning builder and designer at Holland- based Cottage Home, is the mastermind behind LakeBridge, which covers 10 1/2 acres and offers homeowners 750 feet of private beach frontage and 1,000 feet of back frontage on Deerlick Creek.

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