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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 newest opportunities, fun design and build process, and other West Michigan lakeshore happenings.

Todd Sanford and Brian Bosgraaf Join SWMLC Board

Two west Michigan business leaders have joined the board of directors of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy (SWMLC) – Todd Sanford, CEO and owner, Sanford Financial Services, in Portage, and Brian Bosgraaf, president and designer, Cottage Home, Inc. in Holland.

“We are extremely pleased that Brian and Todd have joined our board of directors,” said C. Larry Edris, SWMLC board president. “Their varied expertise and commitment to land protection is a good fit with our organization. They will both be invaluable in helping us as we move forward with our partnerships and aggressive conservation plans in 2009 and beyond.”

Todd Sanford, whose business is a division of Raymond James, has been a certified financial planner since 1991. He was named to the Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008. Among his myriad of skills, he brings leadership and fund-raising experience. Sanford currently serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement and was president of Kalamazoo In Bloom in 2007 and 2008. Previous board experience includes the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He is a former Rotarian and served as past president of the Kalamazoo Sunrise Club. Sanford’s environmental activities have included clean-up of Portage Creek and working with the native Belize population on crop sustainability.

Said Sanford, “My love for the outdoors and natural undisturbed land led me to join the board of directors of SWMLC, and I am very pleased to have been elected. I am passionate about the future viability of our planet for my children and future grandchildren.”

Brian Bosgraaf – a Certified Green Professional through the National Association of Home Builders – is involved in Green Built Michigan and the U.S. Green Building Council. Concurrently, Cottage Home has been involved in green building since its inception in 2000, and its homes and developments are designed to reflect Bosgraaf’s environmental concerns. Each home is designed and constructed to be energy efficient and sustainable. Bosgraaf received the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society Heritage Preservation Award for New Construction in 2008 and is a past recipient of the Pacesetter Award. Bosgraaf is well-versed in state environmental issues such as dunes and high-risk erosion, and in land issues such as zoning. Previous board experience includes Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity where he served as president, both the National and Michigan Association of Home Builders, as well as many education and Christian community organizations. Bosgraaf is a native and lifelong resident of west Michigan.

Said Bosgraaf, “I am delighted to be able to serve on the SWMLC board of directors. My passion about the lakeshore land and the environment inspires me to help preserve this fantastic natural resource that Michigan has been blessed with.”

To learn more about SWMLC, call the SWMLC office at (269) 324-1600 or visit their web site at www.SWMLC.org.

SWMLC serves the nine counties of southwest Michigan, and has protected over 7,500 acres since its inception as an all-volunteer organization in 1991. The Conservancy currently has six staff and 170 active volunteers and is supported by 1,200 household memberships.

SWMLC’s partnerships include collaborative work with other land conservancies along the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline as part of the Michigan Dune Alliance, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect federally endangered species, working with local governments to protect publicly accessible open space, and working with the Michigan Stewardship Network to promote stewardship activities. SWMLC is also working to protect area watersheds, including the Paw Paw River Watershed, Black River Watershed, Rocky River Watershed, and Prairieville Creek Watershed.

Cottage Home Receives Quality of Excellence Awards

Holland, Michigan… Cottage Home, designers and builders of well-appointed beach houses and cottages, has added 3 more awards to the company’s growing portfolio of achievements.

The Home & Builder’s Association of Greater Grand Rapids, Sales & Marketing Council presented Awards of Excellence to Cottage Home for Best Exterior Design $500,001 – $650-000, Best Exterior Design $1,000,001 +, Best Green Built Home $1,000,001 + and Best Owner’s Suite $500,001 – $650,000.

The awards were presented for recently competed lakefront homes in Holland and South Haven, Michigan.

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.”