"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Getting new home just right doesn’t end with driving of the last nail

By on November 24, 2019 in Featured Homes with 1 Comment
Comfy furniture and plenty of gathering space in a serious cook’s kitchen are important to the Burchetts. Outdoor seating can change to face the lake or the patio’s big screen TV.

Story by Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Mike Irwin

As a loan officer for North Cascades Bank, Randi Burchett is familiar not only with the financial intricacies of home ownership but also with home construction. 

She’s come away from her and her husband Shelby’s first foray into the latter with some sage advice: “Know your ‘must haves’ and decide what you can let go if you need to, and be sure you do that thinking early on.”

She and Shelby love their new house high on a hillside in Clos Chevalle, a gated subdivision above Chelan’s south shore. It’s quiet, with only 29 homes built on an available 69 lots (half of them owned by part-timers), and five miles of dedicated walking trails are interspersed with working vineyard plots. 

All set for the holidays, the living room looks out on late-season vineyards. The Burchetts love having family and friends packed into the big open living area for TV watching and casual meals; the festivities can extend right out the sliding doors to the patio.

“There are three great wineries within a few minutes of here, too,” Randi said.

The house is a great getaway spot they can enjoy every day. But a year and a half after settling in, she’s reconsidering a few of their simple choices, some made inadvertently, some made as cost-cutting measures, and she’s enjoying the prospect of getting it just right over the next few years. 

The home was a dream deferred for a decade. With young children, the couple moved from Spokane, first to Orondo and then Chelan, with solid employment (she in banking, Shelby works for the PUD, where he’s now a power system operator) and they bought the .69-acre view lot in 2007. 

That was a bad year for new-builds, so instead, they moved into a two-story spec home in Grandview, a subdivision down the hill, while their son and daughter finished high school and then headed off to their own lives.

This dining table just off the home’s front foyer extends from both ends to accommodate a dozen guests. Easily cleaned flooring throughout was a natural choice for frequent entertaining.

By 2016, Randi and Shelby were ready to move on up to their beloved property. 

Then started the balancing act between square footage and building costs, which Randi explained are surprisingly high here because of new demand and a good but limited skilled labor pool. “People want to move here from Seattle, which we always think of as expensive, and go “Hey, what gives?!’” she said.

Enter Gold Construction, which took on the project in 2016 after the Burchetts became discouraged with three out-of-range bids. “I brought in plan after plan I’d found on the internet,” Randi said, “and finally we landed on one that worked on the lot and had the square footage that fit our budget.”

Randy Gold was aided on the blueprints by Moonlight Drafting and started building, offering not just construction expertise but good ideas and assurances. “It was wonderful working with him; he’s a problem-solver and has such a calming personality,” Randi said of the veteran Wenatchee builder.

A long view of the Burchett home, on the right, from across Highway 97 shows the engineering that softened this hillside lot: a terraced 10-foot high retaining wall and broad, contoured entrance drive and parking pads.

 “We got just what we wanted — a one-level French Country style rambler with views of the lake. And he and the subs were able to build the actual house really fast — seven months from start to finish. Sometimes there were 10 trucks parked up here all at once.” 

Leveling and paving the easy-access driveway was a priority, but a later and unexpected necessity was the reconstruction of much of the back of the property with 120 linear feet of terraced retaining wall, 10 feet tall at the outer rim, built by Antonio’s Landscaping of hand placed rocks in concrete.

The flat space became an extended patio with concrete decking and a frequently used hot tub, the rest is in lawn. Randi remembers, “I used to tell people about our great ‘level’ lot on the hillside. I guess it wasn’t actually all that level…”

Another matching bedroom like this share a luxurious guest bath in the hall; the Burchetts like to keep king beds available for their two young adult kids, their friends and other family visitors. 

They augmented the hardscaping with 300 new plantings this past spring, including 15 aspen saplings at the drive, and Randi is hoping to add a few more rows of rock roses and a few ornamental cypress trees. Her big kitchen window may be partially shaded by a pergola with vines.

Some major outdoor changes are coming up: faux shutters may go, fencing for their golden retriever will be added, perhaps a swimming pool where the swath of back lawn is now, and soon another structure fitting into the wide side lawn. 

“We’d like to build another full  garage with a guest suite above it,” Randi said. “We gave up one car bay in the original design, went from three down to two, and now we wish we hadn’t.” 

The Burchetts enjoy some high-end features they consider a tradeoff for the smaller footprint. The kitchen features a wide, double door freezer-refrigerator and a dual-power stove, gas where it matters on the burners and griddle, electric in the ovens. A custom-designed iron front door with a glass panel, which already replaced a wood one, adds character. 

Randi Burchett and her alert dog, aptly named Bear, enjoy some November sunshine at the entrance to their home at Clos Chevalle, on the lakeward side of Chelan’s Bear Mountain. 

A big rock-faced fireplace, omitted from the streamlined original plan, was added after Randi’s walk through in-progress construction one cold winter day.

It’s a “smart house,” so a phone app runs lights and HVAC, and power blinds ease down for privacy and shade. Myriad outlets and fixtures went beyond the builder’s specs. (“I just kept saying ‘yes’ when I walked around the rooms with the electrician,” Randi admits.) The extra-long tiled master shower with its steam bath feature came in after she first saw the more commonplace fiberglass shower/tub surround unloaded.

The home has three bedrooms and two baths in just over 2,500 square feet. The flow is what they expected, with the owners’ quarters (two closets, spacious bathroom, bedroom with patio access) interconnected at the kitchen end of the house with garage, utilities, mudroom, home office wall, laundry and pantry. 

The guest hallway is at the other end of the living room. The floors are super-easy to keep clean, the storage space plentiful.

What’s not to love? Well, just a few things, which Randi realizes are inconsequential in a larger context (but still they bother her). She’s adamant that neither the design nor the construction was flawed, but…

The guest wing hallway feels cramped to her. “Just one more foot!” she said, and so do the bedrooms with their king beds. 

Should they have a barn door instead of a swinging door into the smaller bathroom, put some built-ins at the side of the fireplace, a bench and hooks at the entry, replace the master suite TV hookup to site the bed differently?

Randi liked the idea of a space-defining closet at the corner of the dining area — now she realizes the bulky column blocks the view on entry. And the paint, all pale throughout and shifting in the light, seems a little more yellow than “Crisp Linen,” the sample name, would indicate.

Randi and Shelby will take some time to prioritize their upcoming improvements, investing where it seems wise, adapting where it doesn’t. 

But on any given day, the existing creature comforts of their high-up house are most important: the fun ease of feeding company, the comfort of a soft couch and TV, light and space galore, soft breezes and views from the patio and gazing at a sky full of midnight stars from the hot tub. 

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  1. Randy Gold says:

    Nice article Susan! Randi and Shelby were such a pleasure to work with! We were so pleased that we were able to help them finally get the home of their dreams built on their gorgeous view lot! It really is an awesome location, quiet, private and with a view to die for!!

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