While building a new home — and bringing all of your design dreams to life — may sound like an exciting venture, there’s a lot more to it than some might imagine. Popular design shows and magazines tend to make the process look fairly simple, however significant preparation and a few extra steps can make all the difference for a new project’s success.
For Todd Thesing, a founding principal of the Bozeman, Montana-based custom home building company Highline Partners, the Greater Yellowstone area presents unique building opportunities that, like those in any location, should be considered in the construction plan. Before building, he and his team consider things like annual snowfall and geology, as well as the availability of building resources in more remote mountain towns. And Thesing — whose company specializes in sustainable building practices — typically capitalizes on the use of local materials and the skills of local artisans and tradespeople, often including these specialists in a project’s construction team.
With 30-plus years of experience in the building industry, Thesing also helps educate his clients on the overall home-building process to ensure that they know what to expect along the way. Here, Thesing outlines his top recommendations for success:
CHOOSING THE DESIGN AND BUILD TEAM
Thesing suggests an integrated approach to building custom homes, beginning with the selection of your team. Ask around for the names of quality builders and designers, and during the vetting process, he recommends looking at their past projects and the typical building styles of each firm to make sure they align with your taste. Meeting prospective team members in person can also ensure that your personalities and goals match with theirs. Thesing says it’s important to select an architect and contractor simultaneously and right out of the gate, so they can collaborate from the get-go. This also gives homeowners a better understanding of costs and functionality.
UNDERSTANDING THE LANDSCAPE
Thesing recommends working with a build team that’s prepared to assess the geologic features of an area. For instance, in the region he works in, close to Yellowstone National Park’s geothermal features, small earthquakes are common and are taken into account. “Local knowledge, or an understanding of what’s going on locally, is really important,” he says. Thesing suggests requesting a report to assess your lot’s soil stability and type, also taking into account whether it’s located in a wetland or low-lying area. Understanding the land, he says, means that future homeowners can also understand how nature might affect the design of the structure and the building process.
SITING THE HOME
For those building a home in this area, views are a priority, but Thesing says it’s also imperative to consider the home’s orientation and aspect in relation to the sun, both in the summer and winter. “This allows you to maximize passive solar heat in the winter, minimize sun exposure in the summer, and ensure views of dramatic sunrises and sunsets,” he says. In addition, Thesing recommends thinking about the placement of the driveway and how that affects the experience of coming home and leaving. This involves considering how quickly you want to arrive, what feelings you want to conjure on your approach, and how things like snow might affect accessibility.
Thesing encourages homeowners to adopt a craftsman’s eye and embrace the beauty of the creative process. Some homeowners desire absolute perfection, but he explains that, in reality, humans are designing the architecture and putting the home together by hand, which can lead to slight imperfections. While build teams work to create a home that is on point, he explains that the elements that remind us it was made by hand are the signatures of a custom home. “We don’t live in a perfect world,” he says, “so the assumption that everything is going to be perfect can lead to unrealistic and unmet expectations.”
Among the top mistakes that Thesing sees is the tendency for homeowners to succumb to the newest fads. In some instances, they might try a new trendy style or product, then a year later, after living in their home, realize it wasn’t a good choice. “Know your own style and think about timelessness,” he says.
Big Sky, Montana’s Moonlight Basin offers two new developments
Set on the northwest side of Big Sky, Montana’s iconic lone peak, the Moonlight Basin community features direct access to the 5,850 acres of world-class ski terrain at Big Sky Resort, a Jack Nicklaus-signature golf course, fine dining, a private trail system, and a location that’s convenient to Big Sky and Bozeman area offerings, and to Yellowstone National Park. Two new Moonlight Basin developments offer a variety of dwelling options.
The 59,000-square-foot contemporary LakeLodge, located at the base of Lone Peak, opens in June 2021. Featuring 16 residences, with open-concept floor plans, large windows, and ski-in/ski-out access, they range in size from studios to five-bedroom penthouses. LakeLodge residents also have full access to lodge amenities, which include a restaurant and bar, retail outlets, a fitness center, a kids’ club, and a 3,000-square-foot outdoor pool and hot tubs, among other things. A new ski lift will link the lodge to Big Sky Resort.
Jack Creek Cabins
Designed by Reid Smith Architects of Bozeman, the 13 new Jack Creek Cabins offer access to Moonlight’s private trail system and Ulery’s Lake, ski-in/ski-out access to Big Sky Resort, and the use of all LakeLodge amenities, which is just a short walk away. These four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath mountain homes are available in three floor plans that range in size, and each features covered patios and decks for year-round outdoor living, attached two-car garages, and an option of two finish packages to establish the interior ambiance.
MONTAGE AT SPANISH PEAKS OPENS THIS FALL
Nestled within the 3,530-acre Spanish peaks mountain club in Big Sky, Montana, Montage Big Sky is slated to open year-round in November 2021, offering 150 guestrooms and suites and 39 Montage Residences. Designed by Hart Howerton and BraytonHughes Design Studios, this ultra-luxury resort in the Big Sky area is designed in a mountain modern style with aesthetics that are inspired by the natural setting. Amenities include a restaurant, along with a bar and lounge, a market, outdoor grill, gastropub, and a recreation room with a bowling alley, indoor lap pool, family swimming pool, fitness center, signature spa, ski lockers, skier services, meeting and event space, and more. The resort also features ski-in/ski-out access to Big Sky Resort in the winter and use of the 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course in the summer, which is just steps away.
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