A Capital Setting

Being eco-responsible is important to this builder/homeowner

By: Dennis McCloskey
Photos By: Greenmark Homes

In October 1859 Sir Edmund Head, Governor General of British North America, wrote that the least objectionable place in Canada is the city of Ottawa. “Every city is jealous of every other city except Ottawa,” he grumbled. Fast forward to September 1982 when singer Frank Sinatra announced during a benefit concert for the Ottawa Civic Hospital that “Ottawa is obviously the most beautiful city in all of Canada.”

Evidently, many improvements took place in our capital city during the 123 years between those particular criticisms and compliments being uttered, and the city’s exceptional progress continues. Today, Ottawa is considered to be Canada’s “best place to live” according to MoneySense magazine which bestowed that title on the Rideau River city last year for the third year in a row. The publication cited its “cultural offerings” and “family-friendly lifestyle” as some of the nation’s capital’s best attributes.

That comes as no surprise to someone like Mark Kranenburg, president of Greenmark Builders, who builds “quality, custom, eco-responsible and creative homes” on one-half-to-two-acre-lots that surround man-made lakes in some of Ottawa’s most desirable suburbs.

The 30-year-old started as an apprentice carpenter at age 18 and worked his way up to managing home builds for a custom builder at age 23 before forming his own company in January, 2010. He and his wife, Crystal, have two children, ages three and four years.

Currently, Kranenburg is building homes in Cedar Lakes on the southwestern corner of the Ottawa suburb of Greely in a serene, wooded setting on a jewel-toned lake. His previous project was also in Greely, a growing rural village in the southern end of Ottawa with a population of over 7,000.

That project was a small subdivision called Water’s Edge that included six bungalow models and five two-storey models on the man-made, five-and-a-half-acre Blue Water Lake.

The development is sold out but we asked Kranenburg to talk about one of its most popular models at Water’s Edge, The Davenshire: a stunning, custom-built 3,694-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom, waterfront home on a half-acre lot. When asked to explain what he means by “custom built” Kranenburg says the difference between a custom homebuilder and a regular house builder is “how much you care about the building.” He schedules many meetings for the client with the architect, electrician, designer, and himself, to consult, assess, plan, design, and build the home of the client’s dreams and needs.

These open discussions begin with an initial meeting with Greenmark staff to discuss the client’s wish list, and the get- togethers continue throughout construction as each main stage is completed, right up to a fine tuning meeting with the client prior to possession, followed by a detailed list of after-closing service.

Kranenburg claims the ongoing sessions with clients builds trust, peace of mind and relationships. “We live in an information age and people want information,” he says. “Our goal is to exceed expectations.” He admits the meetings are for the builder’s benefit as well as the client’s, noting that his homes have “flex space” which means he will trim space to fit the client’s needs and lifestyle.

“We include eight hours of design time with an interior decorator to co-ordinate selections including paint colours, tile selection, flooring, cabinetry, and exterior elements of the home.” He adds that it speeds up the selection time and provides a nice flow throughout the house and believes it’s better than having a builder make selections out of a hat.

The exterior of The Davenshire is grey stucco and features Estate Stone at the bottom in a Kingston blend colour.

Shingles are dual black made by Owens Corning and there’s a three-car garage behind charcoal grey doors.

Inside, an open concept main floor is the home’s focal point with eat-in kitchen, nook, traditional dining room, and a full-service butler’s pantry. Kranenburg explains that the butler’s pantry, which is situated between the kitchen and dining room, is a perfect place for a wet bar as well as a buffet and hutch that contains all the items that are pulled out a few times a year, such as fancy wine glasses.

The kitchen island is covered with a granite countertop, and other countertops in the kitchen area and pantry are Corian made by DuPont. A unique feature in the kitchen is a grey, porcelain backsplash called Tracce-Muretto Mosaic Listello that resembles stone. Looking out from the kitchen and dining room is a 10X20-foot deck that overlooks the lake.

The nearby 21X16-foot great room is built under a white, tray ceiling with pot lighting that accents the ceiling. Kranenburg suggests that people prefer the square lines and hard edges of a tray ceiling rather than traditional crown moldings. An optional two-way gas fireplace between the great room and living room is made with the same Estate Stone as the exterior stonework. Storage cabinets on either side of the fireplace hide wiring, cords and plugs.

Flooring throughout most of the house is Gaylord Maple Hardwood, and Kranenburg uses eight-foot lengths to provide a floor that’s “as nice and seamless as possible with a prefinished product.”

Brenda MacPherson Design, of Stittsville, Ontario, chose Benjamin Moore paint for the home’s interior, including Innukshuk as the main wall colour as well as on the family room ceiling and most walls in the partially finished basement that can double as a study. Metropolis was used in the kitchen, family room, Jack and Jill bathrooms, and the basement walls next to the stairs. Trim, doors and other ceilings are Cloud Cover.

Upstairs, a TV nook is situated near the top of the stairs, and the 15X15-foot master bedroom that overlooks the lake is infused with lots of natural light from a plethora of windows. The en suite bathroom features a marble countertop and faucets are made by Delta.

The paint colour in the bedroom and en suite is Revere Pewter. Tiles in one powder room and a bathroom off the guest room are done in Geotech Grey. (Other tiles in the house are Geotech White in the laundry room and Shore Line Luis Brown in the front entrance.)

Berber carpet can be found in some of the smaller upstairs bedrooms because of its noise-reduction qualities and as a safety feature “if a kid falls out of bed.” The father of two youngsters adds, knowingly: “We build family-friendly homes.”