Welcome Home: 571 Long Lake Pines

We are excited to invite you inside our most recently completed home, 571 Long Lake Pines.  With its spacious open kitchen, abundance of windows, and two levels of covered outdoor space, the owners are set to enjoy summer gatherings of friends and family and serene solo time.  

Click here to see more photos.

Bloopers Reel: Long Lake Pines

The work at Long Lake Pines was almost complete, and the road had been paved with asphalt and good intentions.  We installed the finishing touch--a state-of-the-art electronic entry pad for the gate--and we congratulated ourselves on a job well done.  

Sadly, the feeling of accomplishment was short-lived.  Back to work!

Available Lots: Meadow Lake Lots 117 & 118

The snow has melted and spring is here!  Its the season of new beginnings, and if you're on the thinking of moving, get in touch with to learn more about building a custom home on one of these lots.  Each one acre site is situated with the main floor 45' above beautiful Meadow Lake. The full walkout lower level will have nearly 10' ceilings and be 35' above the lake. Lot width and depth are such that there are virtually no limits to design the perfect home with gracious single floor living on a daily basis and room for guests and entertaining below. A guest suite on the main floor can also be accommodated easily.

Canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board or swim in Meadow Lake. Or use the Homeowners' Association park with its playground, paths and gazebo. Amazing amenities include Franklin Village and its cider mill or excellent local shopping, dining and boutique theaters at Maple and Telegraph. Downtown Birmingham is a mere 5 miles. Four world class country clubs are nearby. Enjoy excellent Birmingham schools, Bloomfield Hills mailing and Bloomfield Township services.

Digging Deeper: KPL/KNS Custom Woodworking

Kian Lynch and his team at KPL/KNS Custom Woodworking have brought passion, skill and innovation to their trade for over 20 years.  From intimate residential interior work to large scale projects like Disney’s “Behind the Magic” and the renovation of the Grand Army Republic and the 36th District Courthouse in Downtown Detroit, Kian’s drive to challenge himself and “never stop learning” has led to a successful career in which modern tools and methods are used sensitively to preserve an artisanal approach.  KPL/KNS and Nosan Signature have teamed up for many projects, and are currently working together on the mahogany fascia project at Coventry Lake.  We thought it would be interesting to find out more about how Kian got into this specialized field, and the philosophy behind the beautiful results he achieves, so we called him for an interview.  

Grand Army Republic, Detroit

Grand Army Republic, Detroit

NS:  Let’s get this nerdy question out of the way first--do you have a brand of power tools that you are loyal to?

KPL: In the field, DeWalt.  In the shop we use Powermatic--they make really serious, high quality tools that are precise and that last.

NS: How many contractors work under you?  

KPL: Actually, 90% of the guys I work with are full-time employees.  Some of them have their own companies now, and I’ll hire them in for certain jobs, but for the most part, I don’t hire on a contract basis.  Half of the guys, I brought into the trade and trained from day one, and some of the have gone out on their own now, but I still like to work with them from time to time.  

NS: What makes a good employee? What do you look for when hiring someone?

KPL: Well, this seems obvious, and I hate to say it, but no drug addicts, drunks.  There is a lot of abuse in a lot of the trades...it’s a real problem.  But aside from that, I’m looking for guys who are willing to learn.  People who are open and flexible, but also willing to give me a suggestion or come up with a good idea, because I’m always open to learn something new too!  Work ethic is important.  John, who is on Coventry Lake right now, will stay out in the rain all day and just keep working and won’t complain.  Finally, I value honesty.  When you get to a certain skill level, you know...everyone makes mistakes, but I think that once you’re at the 20-30$ range, you should fix your mistakes on your own time.  You know better, you should admit that and fix it.  I really appreciate when employees take responsibility for themselves like that.  

In our trade, most carpenters do framing and drywall.  Not many people are going to the union anymore, and carpentry skills are being lost.  Basic framing is pretty simple, stairs are a little harder.  A lot of companies hire out the stair jobs because they don’t want to deal with it.  My guys who do stairs make $65 - $70 per hour.  What they do requires skill and takes a lot of planning and patience and being able to visualize the product and the process and how to make it, step by step.  Mantles, wainscoting, coffered ceilings...work that is done on site is a different level of trade, versus people in the shop making cabinetry, and it’s interesting to see how people often come to excel at one or the other.  They are different types of work.  

NS: What was the first woodworking project you did?

KPL: I was really into forts.  I built forts from age six on.  First simple ones, then 2-story, then they were 3-story.  I scavenged the wood and other materials from around neighborhood.  Once I made an igloo in the winter that was so huge it was in the newspaper.  They couldn’t believe a little kid made an igloo that big.  Five of us slept in it.  

Later, I had a shop teacher, Julius Natko, who built pianos and accordions--really cool musical instruments.  He must have been around 80 when he was teaching--he was a very old man, and he also ran the chess club.  I met him in the chess club, when I was in 6th grade, and then I went into the shop to make stuff, and I immediately became his right hand man.  I ended up getting out of classes and spending like half my school time making wood signs for the school.  A lot of shop classes had you do paperwork, procedures, not hands-on learning.  Some kids don’t need that much instruction.  Julius was different.  He just let you work at your level. He showed me how to use the lathe in one day, and then I was making baseball bats and lamps on the lathe after school.  I took wood from the scrap bin, used all free materials, and then I would sell the furniture and stuff I made in school art shows and make money.

NS: Tell me about your family--are there other craftspeople that came before you?

KPL: Well...my mother’s father, Grandpa Ochs made furniture.  He died when I was 3, but maybe it’s in my blood.  I lived in a small town for a while.  My mom was a single mom, and we got this house that was over a hundred years old, and was never fixed up.  I was about 9, and my brother was 14, and we were pretty competent.  We started watching “This Old House,” and going room by room, because we didn’t have the money to do more than a little at one time.  We tore the horsehair plaster and lath off, cleaned, insulated re-drywalled, put the trim back in.  We found beautiful buried pocket doors under these crappy pine shelves someone had put in.  We removed the aluminum siding and scraped the wood clapboard then painted it.  That was how I learned about construction.  

NS: What was the first job that you had in the field?

KPL: My first job was working for a bricklayer.  He wasn’t a nice guy to work for, and 2-3 weeks into it, he was screaming at another employee, insulting him and swearing, and I stuck up for the guy.  The trim carpenter on the same job saw it happen, and was like, “I hate that guy.  You’re gonna get fired, so you should just come work for me.”  I worked with him trimming for about 2 months.  He was a drunk, so not the best to work for either.  I used to make these one-off tables and donate them to charity auctions.  A guy saw one of them and offered me a big job from it.  I brought the job to this boss, but asked him to pay me more, since I had brought in the work.  He refused, and when I went back to the guy who offered the job, he told me I should start my own company, and told me how to do it, so I did it.  At 20 I founded Lynch Brothers, which later became KPL Custom Woodworking.  

I hired my best friend, Neal Piziali.  He died young in a car accident.  He was my best employee, learned super fast, and he became my partner.  Neal’s middle brother still works for me today.  His younger brother also worked with us for years, and now he works for a company that does stuff at the Detroit Zoo.  I went into Pulte Homes and asked them to give me a chance, and just let me do an interior job for free and see what they thought of it, and they started giving me work.  We were also doing display cases for Nextel.  We got jobs and then things moved forward from there.  When Neal bought into the business we were able to purchase the equipment to start the shop.  

The shop

The shop

NS: What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

KPL: The diversity.  Going into a job and having the opportunity to make something that I’ve never made before.  I love to be challenged.  I love to think.  If you do the same thing every day you become a robot.  I think a lot of my employees feel the same--they like to go in there and be challenged every day.  

I had this huge multi-million dollar job a while ago--this guy had me do a ton of really intricate work in his home, and he didn’t care what it cost.  He just wanted what he wanted, and he trusted me to make it.  I made him this table, and then his father passed away, and I made a death plaque for him out of the scraps of exotic wood from the table.  I put a photo of him into the CNC machine and cut the pieces and inlaid them.  His son was so moved--he said it was literally the best gift he’d ever received.  And he’s a millionaire!  I get so much satisfaction from making things that people love.  It makes you feel good, like making a dream come true.

NS: What do you enjoy least, or find most challenging?

KPL: People being late.  [laughs]  A lot of wood today is quick growth wood.  Trees aren’t given enough time to mature.  Twenty to thirty years and they say it’s good enough.  Back in the day wood looked different.  Antique heart pine doesn’t exist anymore.  You can’t get good wood.  A lot of the wood we get is cupped, warped, checked, cracked.  You’re paying premium money for this stuff, and it’s supposed to be sanded and coated and look beautiful.  We just have to make it work.  We can’t complain about it all day, but really, if we only used the wood that looked decent we’d have like a fifty percent loss rate.  Older trees make harder and more stable wood.  It takes eighty to a hundred years.  I also suspect they are speeding up kiln drying.  They are rushing that, and the wood isn’t stable even though it reads right.  MDF trim is becoming popular now because it is consistent and even, but it’s garbage!  It’s a shame.  It doesn’t compete with real wood.  Nosan Signature uses real wood for pretty much everything--they only wouldn’t if the customer didn’t want to pay, I think.

NS: Are there any skills or techniques that you are hoping to explore or develop further?

KPL: I’ve done some hand-carving but I would like to carve more.  Its interesting to try and replicate older pieces.  But it’s funny--CNC machines now have 4th and 5th axii.  They can cut anything out, so there’s not much of a point.  

NS: On that note, what does it mean to you to be an artisan, to make one-off things by hand in a time when that is increasingly rare?

KPL: It means the world to me.  The trades are being lost, and i feel good about doing a really good product.  Quality matters.  I get to do what I love to do, and what makes me feel good.  Both my sons work for me now.  One is in school full time and works for me, and the younger one works during the summers.  I don’t care if it’s what they end up doing, but it’s good for them to learn.  I get to work with my boys, with my good friends.

An old man once said to me, “if you stop, you die.”  I think it’s true.  Everyone I know that’s old still works really hard.  I used to work about 90 hours a week.  Then I had open heart surgery two years ago.  I almost died.  Now I work more like 40-60.  I love it. Most people can’t say their job is fun.

NS: Tell me about the current project at Coventry Lake--what was your role in developing a technique for achieving the desired results?  

KPL: Terry did most of the diligence on that project.  It’s a work in progress.  Lots of choices are being made on the fly because it’s a process that is not being done much.  We gave suggestions and took the drawings, modified them a bit, and cut them out on the CNC.  Now we are working on getting the underlying structure perfect before we go and and wrap it in mahogany.  It’s been a challenge, but it’s going to look really beautiful.  
 

Digging Deeper: Coventry Lake, Lot D

Craftsmanship has always been a core value at Nosan Signature Homes.  Our clients’ needs and desires dictate the style and features in the custom homes we design and build for them, but while styles vary, our commitment to quality and attention to detail never wavers.  In recent years, we have had the privilege of working on some really detailed builds that take our passion for the craft of building to the next level.  

Our Coventry Lake development, 4 lake-front lots on the corner of 14 Mile and Inkster Roads, continues to progress. Two properties are completed, one is in the finishing stages and envelope construction on Parcel D, the last to break ground, is currently underway.  We are doing something really special on this exterior of this house, and we thought the process was interesting enough that we’d tell you a bit about it.  

The exterior of this special home features roofs with large overhangs that will be clad in specially milled African Mahogany siding. The bottom of these overhangs will be finished with white exterior plaster finish and are at the same level as the interior ceilings. Windows that finish right at the ceiling create the illusion of the interior ceiling flowing straight through to the underside of the overhangs.  The visual effect will be one of simplicity and clean horizontal lines, but the craft that makes this possible is complex and demanding.   The level of detail is such that we decided to bring in our friends at KNS, who normally only work inside our houses doing finish carpentry to work on the outside!

It all starts with this gusset:

The design is very specific, allowing it to hang from the roof to form an overhang, while the notch on the bottom right is meant to fit securely over a 2 x 4 that follows the length of the wall.  All of the angles and shapes need to be perfect for the finished build to meet our exacting standards.

We needed a lot of them, so we sent the job out to KPL’s shop and had the pattern cut on a cool machine called a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) router.  The desired shape or pattern is inputted into a computer which controls the cutting apparatus.  Extremely complex shapes can be replicated quickly and perfectly every time!

Once our gussets were cut, it was time to start attaching them to the roof.  Here they are, nestled on top of that 2 x 4 we mentioned earlier:

Another nice feature is the notch on the upper side of the gusset, which is meant to hold the roof gutter so that once the fascia are in place, the gutter is invisible.  Looking up, you can see how neatly the gutter fits in there. The small notch in the front holds a continuous vent strip that allows air to flow by convection from the overhang to the ridge of the roof keeping the roof cool all year round.

But really there are 2 gussets in each set--a gusset sandwich. To provide strength to the detail which could hold water if the gutters get clogged or we have a heavy snow load on the roof or ice in the gutters (we can’t design out everything).

We are beginning to see the overall shape of the roofline.  The windows will be dramatically recessed to and mahogany boards the same height as the windows will go in areas where there are no windows to create the illusion of continuity and emphasize the linear look.

Here is a sneak peek at what the finished fascia will look like--dramatic horizontal panels of wood that stretch along the length of the house.  In order to keep this all weather-proof, the bottom of the fascia are filled with a very stiff fiberglass-like material called "denseglass," followed by a coat of dryvit, a very durable form of plaster for outdoor use that can be premixed with pigment for a variety of colors, in this case off-white.  

Sometimes an appearance of simplicity hides great effort and complexity.  Think of what it’s like when you watch a talented magician--the craft, and all the work that went into it, is invisible during the trick.   We are giving away our secrets here, but we still hope you’ll swing by our Coventry Lake lots to see the magical results.

What's your Style?

One of our homes was featured in this article on EuroAmerica Design in Troy, MI.  We enjoyed working with our client to implement their EuroAmerica kitchen design and highly recommend them!  Checkout our customer's beautiful kitchen on page two. 

April Showers

Well, April has definitely not disappointed it's reputation.  We had a few weeks of Spring weather and then we got some cold rainy/snowy weather again.  Even though the weathers nothing to brag about, these floor to ceiling windows overlooking Coventry lake still make us smile.  We're crossing our fingers that May flowers will be right around the corner.  

(1.4) Green Acres

We've got a gorgeous 1.4 acre rolling and treed lot on newly paved Goddard Court.  There is plenty of topography to build a walkout lower level and create a spectacular landscape or just leave much of the lot natural.  We can support just about any type and size house you could dream of and we are ready to show you our available plans or start from scratch with one of our award winning architects to design your new dream home.  Oh and did we mention it's in Bloomfield Hills School District?  What are you waiting for?

Romany Way in Franklin Village

We have an amazing lot available right near the heart of downtown Franklin Village.  25800 Romany Way is situated high up on a treed lot with a beautiful pond and ravine below.  

We have some concepts for the type of home we've been thinking of building here.  These concepts can be adapted to meet your needs or we can start from scratch on a concept to fit your exact needs.  Which do you prefer - the modern or traditional home?

Where does it all go?

That may just be the most philosophical question we've been asked lately.   And in this case you may not be that curious.  However, we're not above getting our hands dirty with ALL aspects of building a home, including where all of our waste goes.  You can see very clearly that all of the pipes in the house lead to this main pipe in the center of the picture.  This pipe will then be connected to the outside sewer and voila, it's gone!  And see that blue pipe?  That's where all the fresh water comes in, completing our home's fine tuned eco-system.  May not be the most glamorous part of building a home but we still think it's pretty cool.

Room with a View

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged but don’t worry; we’ve been keeping busy.  Take a look at the progress over at our Coventry Lake site.   The structure of our first home is fully in place and would you take a look at that view!  We think our new homeowners won't have too many complaints about watching the sunset over beautiful Coventry Lake from their living room...or kitchen, dining room or bedroom for that matter!

Sturgeon Queens and their Dad

On the lower east side of Manhattan for exactly 100 years a small family owned store has served the best Caviar (sturgeon eggs) herring and smoked and pickled fish on the planet. It is called Russ and Daughters and was the subject of a documentary film featuring regulars from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Morley Safer to Maggie Gyllenhaal.

So what does this have to do with our building blog you ask? Ahhh, we have a Russ too and he has two daughters. Hence, meet Russ and Daughters in their branded garments direct from this famous venue! 

 

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM NOSAN SIGNATURE HOMES!

Winter Isn't So Bad...

Our original home in Turtle Lake looking awesome with up lighting on natural stone! Check out the dusting of snow and blue night sky. 

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We are starting another Signature Home right down the street...see our page on lot 34 Turtle Lake.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As we wrap up the development of Long Lake Pines we need to install a couple hundred feet of concrete sidewalk.

 

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These sidewalks are paid for by us but belong to Bloomfield Township

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Really nice, isn't it? One would think most people could figure out this is freshly poured concrete.

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But Noooo! We were visited by several idiots that either didn't know any better or just couldn't wait. 

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At least they didn't bring their kids out to put in handprints and autographs.