Case Study

Long Tall Sally

Like many homes we have built, Long Tall Sally started as a dream. The current owners of a second-generation waterfront property had always thought that someday they would build a new cottage, but what…and when…those were the unknowns. The existing cottage had served them well, providing great memories with family & friends, but they decided it was time to get serious about some improvements and upgrades – more space, less maintenance, etc.

The Problem…

The original cottage was constructed in the 1940’s as a fishing shack. Over the years it had been added on to, remodeled and repaired with the best of intentions, but time was taking its toll. The when was rapidly becoming evident, but the what still lingered. With no formal foundation the existing structure was not salvageable, and was non-conforming according to the current zoning standards, so tearing it down was the only option.

At 32’ wide, we knew the lot would provide a challenge for design and construction of a new home as it would be limited to 20’-21’ in width. It was considered to sell the lot and buy a larger property, but they loved the location and decided to see what could be done with it.

A licensed surveyor was hired to confirm the lot size and re-stake the corners. From there, we could establish the setback lines as dictated by the county zoning ordinance. With this complete, we now had a theoretical footprint of a new structure, which could be expanded with the successful granting of variances by the local BZA.

The Solution…

Initial sketches made during the summer of 2014 confirmed that getting a year-round home on the lot that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing was going to be a challenge. But the owners were committed, so we established two lists of attributes to use as guides during the design phase. The “Need-to-haves” included great lake-views from as many rooms as possible, a large Kitchen, a Master Suite with walk-in shower, 2 additional Bedrooms, a second full Bath, a Flex Room, a Laundry Room on the same level as the Bedrooms, at least a 1-car Garage, and a covered porch on the lake elevation. The “Want-to-haves” included a 2-car Garage, a fireplace, and a balcony off the Master Bedroom.

To complicate things, a decision was made to design and build this house with as many attributes from the owner’s lists as possible without requiring a variance. And so we hired a local designer to begin putting together conceptual designs. The single biggest hurdle we faced during the initial sketches and this phase was the location and layout of the staircase. By late winter, two designs were created, and the owners were satisfied that they had one they could live with. Construction would begin in the fall of 2015.

With so much time before construction commenced, the owners had an opportunity to study the plans in great detail and discuss furniture layout, traffic flow, etc. As a result they realized that they had designed an awesome cottage, but it didn’t work for them long-term as their family would grow with grandchildren. So with several months before construction would begin a second designer was brought in to look at things from this long-term perspective. Five additional floor plans were developed before the owners agreed they now had the perfect cottage/home for their narrow lot, and we still had 3+ months to spare before construction would begin.

Thus was the birth of Long Tall Sally. At 20’ wide she is sleek, she is unique, and she will provide the owners with the opportunity to continue making memories with family and friends for decades to come.

A Little About Her…

The design is primarily Craftsman-style with a few modern touches, some retro components, and a lot of fun. The main level consists of an oversize single-car garage/man-cave, a spacious foyer, a fun half-bath with a hammered-copper fish vessel lavatory bowl, a large kitchen with custom cabinets offering lots of storage, and a functional island with seating which flows into the dining and living areas. The second level houses 2 bedrooms, a flex room, and a spacious Master Suite with private balcony, walk-in closet, office, and Master Bath with custom-tiled walk-in steam shower. Re-purposed barn doors and tracks from a family farm were used to compliment the painted craftsman-style interior trim.

Red cementitious lap siding adorns much of her exterior, accented with tan cementitious shakes and thin-veneer real stone and brick. Black windows, soffits, fascia and gutters complete the retro look. Awning window units were utilized to maximize some views and offer privacy in other areas.

The attention to detail, creativity in design, and careful planning are evident throughout this home. There is no wasted space. If you have a narrow or irregular lot, or simply need a firm that will guide you through the process from concept, through design and development to complete home, Mike Gepfert Homes is that firm.

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Mike Gepfert Homes
923 Northcrest Shopping Center
Suite D9
Fort Wayne, IN 46805
P: 260.482.3650