Published on Thu, Mar 1, 2007
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Home Improvement

Exploring the moderate Blaine home

By Jack Kintner

Ben Reiter has been a contractor, developer and house designer for 40 years in the lower B.C. mainland and in Whatcom County.

In Blaine, he’s developed tracts of affordable single-family homes from $150,000 to $180,000 (at 2004 prices) on D Street east of the truck route and is about to start another single-family housing project on Alder and Mitchell streets in Blaine.

While waiting for that project to become permitted, Reiter has been working with his son Michael on a two-story 2,300 square-foot house on Crest Drive, off H Street, that lists for just over the median asking price for a single family house in Whatcom County which, according to several real estate web sites, is hovering in the high $300,000 range.
Reiter said that the house represents a state-of-the-art moderately priced family home, comfortable without being lavish, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor and a third full bathroom on the ground floor plus 800 square feet of space for two more bedrooms or offices and a rec room or workshop.

Leaving the area unfinished keeps the price low while giving a prospective owner considerable latitude in deciding how to finish the area off.

The house sits on a large 90 by 156 foot lot just outside the city limits, a half mile east of the Blaine International Mall and a block south of H Street.

The structure has twin gables, one over the living room and the other over the master bedroom, that face west to the street over a short, wide driveway that will be paved with concrete. The house is faced with light tan vinyl siding and white trim.

The main entrance is at grade level and leads into a large tiled entryway. The main (and only inside) staircase is lit by a flexible tube skylight and leads up into what’s known as a great room: there are no walls between the 20 by 20 foot living room, the 15 by 15 dining area and ten by ten kitchen.
The spacious feeling is enhanced considerably by nine-foot ceilings on both floors. Reiter said that increases the price somewhere between 10 and 20 percent, “but it really opens up the inside,” he said.

The light streams in from a large west-facing window and sliding glass door that leads to a deck cantilevered out over the smallish front yard.
Reiter designed the main floor to be just high enough on the sloping lot to see a slice of Drayton Harbor and the tops of the San Juans and Gulf islands in the distance. The sliding door to the front deck is in effect the biggest picture window, letting the owner walk out into the view, a touch that seems to add additional space to the living area.

Most of the appliances, including the living room fireplace, forced air furnace, stove, range, water heater and clothes dryer are gas, hooked to a propane tank in the back yard. “It’s more economical than electric heat and simpler than a heat pump,” Reiter explained.

The washer, refrigerator and microwave are electric. The house is wired throughout with coaxial cable for computer and TV cable applications that will be useable for some time as technology develops.

With copper so expensive that thieves are stealing telephone lines off power poles, Reiter elected to use flexible plastic water pipes and brass connectors.

On the main floor, flooring is carpeting in the main living area, hallway and bedrooms and hardwood in the dining area and kitchen.

The floor, along with a set of maple kitchen cabinets that assemble in place in an area designed to make them look custom gives the east end of the main floor a rich wood look without the expense of custom work.

The master bedroom faces west and looks out one of the main floor’s two gables. With the master bathroom it shares the same unobstructed 160-degree view of the islands and Georgia Strait also visible from the living room that can see Blaine’s sometimes spectacular sunsets any time of year as the setting sun moves north in the summer and south in the winter. The master bathroom has a tiled shower and, underneath the picture window, a jetted tub.

The septic system is being built to contemporary specifications and begins with a two-tank gravity fed set-up in the front yard that connects with a pump and a pressure line to a backyard drain field covered with topsoil. “They’re going to be inspecting these things every year, so this will not only be easy and cheap to do, it will work and pass inspection, too, which is what you want,” Reiter said.

Reiter’s project house is typical of many being built in the area, where there is still a demand for detached single family houses convenient to school and shopping. For more information contact Ben or Michael Reiter at 483-3657.