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.”