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Cottage Home News

Cottage Home News

Sit back, relax and browse through our latest news. Read about Cottage Home’s current and past West Michigan beach homes and Lake Michigan developments. Learn more about our lakeshore activities, LEED certifications, building awards and other West Michigan lakeshore happenings.

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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