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BIG but comfortable

By on March 23, 2020 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
Comfortably livable inside, and with its dock all ready for summer boating, this riverfront home’s decks, pool, fencing and landscaping are still under construction.  

When a builder builds a home he is going 

to stay in, where are the limits?

Story by Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Mike Irwin

Here’s a puzzler: How much house could a builder build if a builder could build his house?

Andrew Lange might say the sky’s the limit. 

He has incorporated unique, high-quality features in the many homes he’s built in the last seven years, and he’s currently busying Lange Construction on a dream project — a really big house of his own on a riverbank site between Chelan and Entiat.

He purchased the lot in 2016 and started building two-and-a-half years ago while he and his partner Vicki Smith and her young son lived in a renovated garage/guest suite abutting the construction site. They moved into the house late last October.

Well, they’d actually been in it for a while longer. “But it was all sawdust and paint and ‘this isn’t working yet’ for a while,” said Vicki, who saw last Thanksgiving’s big family celebration in the rigorously vacuumed and spiffy-clean house as a landmark occasion.

Despite the wide and high expanses, the scale is right. A thoughtful use of light, line, color and texture gives this great room a cozy feel.

The day of this interview, a crew with their big rigs was pouring concrete for an extensive retaining wall to allow buildup of the street side driveway and yard. The scene appeared to an outsider loud, massive, laborious and hazardous but was just one of the tasks that must happen in rigid order, on time, for a successful building project.

As Andrew walked around chatting with the foreman, glancing at his ever-beeping phone, he demonstrated a trait that employees appreciate in a contractor: keeping an eye out without sticking his nose in. Vicki explained, “He’s always checking on projects, he’s got so many at a time — usually six or seven. Andrew doesn’t have to lift a hammer anymore, but he needs to know what’s going on everywhere.”

One reason for choosing this site five miles north of Entiat was the unobstructed view down the Columbia River, seen here from the upstairs family room.

Andrew got his start in the family business installing fencing and moved quickly on to houses, and he’s become not just a multi-tasking master but fastidious about detail from the ground up.

 “I admit I am a perfectionist. Whenever I show in the Tour, I want to be sure it’s my house people see,” he said, “so sometimes we live in them ’til they’re ready and I sell them afterward.” 

“The Tour” is Building North Central Washington’s Home and Remodeling Expo. The September event is a valuable showcase for builders, and Lange Construction won the People’s Choice award in 2017, but Andrew’s adamant about holding back this particular house.

Andrew will show no house before its time. “Oh, no… it’s not going to be anywhere near ready for this year. I’m aiming at 2021,” he said.

The hardscaping (the driveway, retaining wall, fencing, balcony, patio, pool and surround) as well as the landscaping should be pitch perfect in 18 months. 

Longtime partners at home and in the construction business, Vicki Smith and Andrew Lange have coordinated their separate skills on many houses, but this one’s the keeper.

Vicki is very close to the construction as both a real estate agent and a partner on the desk side of the business. She pointed out a few interior items that need to be fine-tuned. As to final decor, her home-building specialty, she said she’ll be judicious about adding artwork and accessories to the space.

Building a 6,000-square-feet house (which includes garage storage for his restored 1960’s cars) wasn’t daunting for Andrew, but Vicki was at first skeptical. “I always said I didn’t want a big house,” she said, “But once we got settled in, this place started to feel really comfortable.” 

And, after seven moves in three years, Vicki is fully prepared to make it their long-term residence.

Their master suite is on the main floor, while their son has a bedroom and bath upstairs. That upper floor has three bedrooms, two with en suite baths, and a living/dining/kitchen area in the center. An adjustment to the original plan (Andrew’s never met a blueprint he hasn’t varied) is the second-floor wine room and an enlarged balcony, which will eventually have spiral stair to the lower patio.

Vicki had worried about scale in the main living area but agreed that the sectioned windows, built-in cabinets and rock work at the fireplace, the tongue and groove ceiling and dark beams visually broke up the expanse. 

She prepares meals in a chef’s kitchen with a gas range and double-capacity refrigerator. The dramatic vertical cabinetry posed a question: the very top space houses an indirect lighting source, but how about storage? “Easy,” Vicki said. “I just put the everyday things on the lower shelves.”

Even this side hallway past laundry room, half-bath and storage area shows the workmanship and coordinated choices of material that are found throughout the house.

 The white quartz on wide expanses of countertop was field tested by her personally “I took a sample and tried to make it stain. Beet juice, red wine, tomato paste — not a trace.”

One of the distinctive features of the interior is the consistency in tone and style throughout. The rustic engineered wood plank flooring (everywhere except in carpeted bedrooms), soft gray walls, white quartz, the 11-foot ceiling height, dark alder trim and metal window casings all unify the look.

The two-level guesthouse is connected to the boat and RV garage near the entrance to the property. It was their former digs during building and uses all the same good materials and design choices as the main house.

Built on a .82-acre lot, with neighbors on both sides, the house keeps its orientation to the waterfront, the long dock and views up and down the Columbia. Andrew and Vicki both appreciate that it’s strategically situated in the center of their working lives.

He’s building an eight-home development in Entiat and has started to build more houses in Chelan, and she works throughout the region concurrently for the company and a nationwide realtor (on Facebook she’s The Lange Group, powered by Windermere.)

On any weekday, after their son’s been driven to school five minutes away, they both might work on the couch or in office online, head off on different enterprises, or perhaps travel together to job sites. Vicki knows this pace is much calmer than when they were first starting the business.

 “After five years, Andrew just needed to pump the brakes a little,” she said, “and it’s been good for all of us.” 

Taking a breather is a relative term, of course; with major construction happening in his own backyard, Andrew’s not inclined to be a couch-sitter even on an off day.

Nothing the couple needs to do for work is very far away, and though the schedule might be hectic when they’re both juggling multiple projects, they’ll always have a good house — and plenty of it — to come home to. 

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