When Hogan and Susan bought their property in Osler Bluffs, on the outskirts of Collingwood, they knew they wanted a winter chalet that would offer the cozy atmosphere they craved during their weekends skiing in the Blue Mountains. The vacant property had breathtaking views, giving the couple freedom to choose a chalet that could make the most of the location.
At first, Hogan says they had their mind set on a log cabin design. However, after researching the building restrictions and requirements for log builds, they knew they needed to investigate other building styles with a rustic appeal that could accentuate their panoramic views.
Building around the view
“The best part of our property is the view,” says Hogan. “At the front, it overlooks Georgian Bay, but there’s also a lake at the back, so we needed a design that would allow us the windows to maximize the view.”
The couple toured show homes of all different building styles, from stick frame to post-and-beam, before falling in love with timber frame design.
Unlike traditional stick-frame homes, timber frame designs use large, exposed timbers to frame the building’s structure, offering greater stability and rustic appeal.
“We had a friend who worked at Normerica, so we decided to tour some of their homes,” says Hogan. Immediately, the pair knew Normerica’s timber frame designs were the right fit. “Their house plans look great aesthetically, and we loved that the timber details are also structural. It’s all held together with real wood, and that wood is beautiful to look at.”
As a builder himself, Hogan also found solace in Normerica’s choice of materials. The timbers are pine – a material that is easy to stain and is receptive to any colour.
Personalizing the design
When tweaking their chalet design, Susan says Normerica made the process easy. At Normerica, you can work with their design team to create a completely custom home, fitted to your property, parameters and taste, or customize one of their existing house plans to make it your own.
Hogan and Susan browsed Normerica’s house plans, viewing styles ranging from traditional to contemporary. It wasn’t long before they found the perfect one for them: a 3,856 sq ft all-season timber frame chalet.
“We knew we didn’t want anything too big,” says Susan. The chalet had everything they needed: two floors with lots of windows to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding beauty, a cozy interior with a soaring stone fireplace, and four beds and two and a half baths – perfect for hosting their grown children or visiting guests.
Although the house plan had everything the pair needed, they made a few minor adjustments to the design to make it perfect for them. With the help of Normerica’s design team, Hogan and Susan raised the roof pitch, and adjusted the loft position. They also altered the fireplace placement to make it easier to see throughout the main floor. Finally, they enlarged the window and door openings to accommodate the gorgeous mahogany-framed windows that Hogan had sourced independently.
Team effort install
Hogan was also attracted to Normerica’s custom approach and flexible building options.
In addition to designing and supplying the material package for the timber frame building, Normerica can also erect the timber frame shell. This was an ideal option for Hogan, who wanted to complete the interior finishes himself. “They did the exterior portion and I took care of the interior,” says Hogan. “They gave us a shell structure that was secure and waterproof, and I took care of the rest.”
From start to finish, the building project only took seven months – a smooth process completed in a very short period of time.
“The biggest thing was Normerica’s team was malleable,” says Hogan. “They were prepared for changes that may arise. They made everything simple – even their invoicing was predictable, even with changes that arose.”
Much has changed in the 12 years since the pair completed their alpine chalet, but Hogan and Susan say they still love it as much as they did on day one – in fact, they may even love it more now that they’ve converted it from a weekend retreat to a full-time residence.
Mere months before the 2020 pandemic hit, the pair left the city to live in Osler Bluffs year-round – a choice they have never regretted.
“When lockdowns began, our two adult children moved in with us,” says Susan. “It was comfortable, quiet and spacious enough for all of us.”
While Hogan and Susan still travel downtown for occasional business, there’s no question they prefer their chalet and its stunning views.
“The chalet is very welcoming. We want to be here year-round.”
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE | PHOTOS DANIEL WEYLIE