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Zero lot line homes, lots of options

By on April 25, 2021 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments
The open plan living area in this model home (staged by Harlee Cooper) shows value-adding details: the fireplace surround, abundant lighting, easy-care flooring and just enough outdoor space for relaxing in sun and shade, with no yardwork required. 

East Haven subdivision offers a new choice in a crowded marketplace

By Susan Lagsdin

Downsizing? Snowbirding? Investing? First-timing? Want a garden/tired of gardening? Got a dog? Heaps of sports gear? Single? Kids? 

Buyers in this year’s hot and hotter Wenatchee Valley real estate market come with a wide range of needs, causing a record-breaking number of building permits for apartments, townhomes, condos, tiny homes, duplexes and accessory dwelling units as well as single-family housing.

A new and still-growing “shared wall” subdivision in East Wenatchee, built by Chase Cooper of C&C Investment Properties, provides floor plans and yard configurations that vary — or can easily be amended — to suit all kinds of buyers.

Chase and Harlee Cooper, here in the kitchen of an East Haven home, are actively continuing the family tradition of developing residential properties in the area — he’s been in the building business since boyhood; she’s a designer and real estate agent. Photos by Mike Irwin

Chase has been working some phase of home construction with his dad, Randy, since he was a small boy, and he always knew he’d become part of the family enterprise. After picking up his business degree at Western Washington University, he’s made a career of developing residential properties.

One family project with his dad and brother Josh was Tanglewood Townhomes, built in 2014 near the Wenatchee Golf and Country Club. 

Chase’s first big solo venture was West Haven, a group of single-family homes at Maiden Lane and Western in Wenatchee; his most recent is these patio homes in East Haven, on Columbia Avenue. 

Chase’s wife Harlee, with a keen eye for home decor and a real estate license, is his working partner, and together they’re designing, building and selling homes at a pace that keeps them both moving fast. 

Both 34, they’re committed to the family business and to their own family, which includes a trio of sons from an infant to a five-year-old. And they stand by the quality in this subdivision: his parents and grandmother live in the two adjoining homes that were built first.

Sometimes the terms are confusing. This may help: each of the two-story homes in the East Haven development is on its own platted lot on a zero lot-line, which means it shares a wall with one neighbor. (Chase explained, “I needed a building permit for each side.”) The homeowner owns the structure and the land beneath their house. Each discrete two-residence unit is called a townhome or patio home but is not a one half of duplex.

A current monthly fee covers East Haven’s routine snow removal and irrigation water, and a maintained green space and fence will buffer the west side of the property. However, although there will be a homeowners’ association with an elected board to adopt bylaws and CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) once 70 percent of the homes are purchased, East Haven is not by definition a condominium complex.

And, not every unit is the same. Because the entire operation from land purchase to excavation to turn-key finishes is under one C&C umbrella, the Coopers can make change orders without penalty and with clear communication. Their full-time building crew is only 8-10 people, with HVAC, plumbing and electric contracted out.

A few construction modifications Chase made over time are a more efficient use of space, like previously unused attic space-turned bedroom and creative hardscaping on the small yards. 

Later units have three-car garages; some have decks, some patios. 

Three different floorplans with features like a bonus room, dining nook and office offer potential for re-thinking daily use. 

Harlee’s proud of her choice of interior features like vinyl plank flooring, propane fireplace, Kitchen Aid appliances, and the slick “no visible wire” media connections positioned on one wall in every living room, bonus room and bedrooms.

Two of the big questions that come up are privacy in a shared wall unit and individual outdoor space, and both were important considerations for the builder. 

“We use ICF’s — insulated concrete forms,” said Chase, pointing across the street to a wall in mid-construction. Those 10-inch thick sound and fire barriers make a big difference. “My dad agrees that his is the quietest house he’s ever lived in.”

Rolling lawns and soaring decks have never been part of the plan, but that doesn’t mean drinks at sunset, a vegetable garden, a barbecue party (with a dedicated propane line for grilling), a swing set or a dog run are out of the question. Though the actual amenities vary, the Coopers have tried hard to carve usable living space out of the small lot on which each house stands.

Fencing protects privacy between wall-neighbors and back-yard neighbors, and sunken patio or deck space is a unique feature in some units. The extensive excavation for foundations yielded all the attractive and well-employed river rock, so Harlee can tell people, “Each one of these boulders is home-grown, from right here on the place.”

This spring, prices are $385,000 for the already-built 1,800 square-foot houses, and new ones will top out at $400,000. A few larger units (2,000 square feet and over) will be priced closer to $500,000. 

“Housing demand is high, and prices are going to rise for a while,” said Harlee, who’s watched the market close-up for five years. “That’s partly because of new regulations and partly because this year it seems like materials cost more with every order — flooring, framing lumber. It all adds up.”

Affordable is a relative term, of course, but the Coopers believe they have created homes with a wide range of potential buyers, both local and newly arrived. 

Chase thinks investing here with an eye toward long-term renting is not a feasible move for most buyers. “We’ve mostly sold to owners who live here full time.”

Harlee agreed and added, “It’s pretty surprising what a wide range of people are moving in here.” She knows them all and pointed out a few homes on Solomon Loop Road (named for one of their sons) owned by a single retired woman with a roommate, a young couple with a child, an active part-timer couple who RV to elsewhere.

The Coopers know that much of the appeal of the homes is their location. 

East Haven, with some yards abutting the meadow and trees at the perimeter of the Loop Trail, offers access to miles of biking and walking and is an easy drive three ways: to East Wenatchee’s center and to both Columbia River bridges. 

In a welter of increasingly interesting housing choices, Chase and Harlee are hoping that their spacious and sensible hitched-together homes offer this year’s buyers an appealing option.

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