By Kristina LymanBy: Kristina Lyman
Photos by: Larry Conboy
Bud Scott stands in the driveway of his new home on the edge of Lake Coeur d’Alene surveying the construction site. Work had stopped for a few months, but it’s about to begin again in earnest. You see, Bud has a deadline. He promised his daughter the house would be finished in time for the family to celebrate Christmas. And when a daddy makes a promise to his little girl, he follows through. Or he moves heaven and earth trying.
It’s a hot July morning and except for a few fishing boats there’s hardly any activity on the lake. Bud’s here early, waiting to meet the general contractor to go over the last phase of this major building project. He stands on the platform driveway that sits just above the roofline of his cliffside home.
Bud talks about the project and the work that must be finished before his family can move in. At this point, the 4,200-square-foot house is 50 percent finished and a bit smaller than the home it’s replacing.
Bud’s hopeful this second half will go smoothly and quickly. He doesn’t want to disappoint Taylor. He knows how important it is to her to spend the holiday there. And he wants to make it happen. For her. For his wife. For himself. Taylor grew up in the original house. And since 2006, the family has spent every Christmas there — until the fire.
It was a cold night in January 2013 when Bud got the call from the fire chief. His house was on fire. Fortunately, he, his wife Mari, and Taylor weren’t home. Bud called his dad and the two drove to the house.
It was 15 degrees that night. Firefighters managed to douse the flames, but the damage was extensive. The master bedroom was gone as was most of the roof over the great room. Luckily, the rest of the 5,000-square-foot house appeared intact.
Bud went back to his family. He would return in the morning to size up what he expected would be a large, but doable, renovation project.
He arrived early. Through the dense fog he saw the faint flicker of flames. He alerted the remaining firefighters. More trucks were called in, but it was too late. The house burned to the ground as Bud watched.
“It was horrible,” he says. “Everything you’ve got is gone.”
Bud isn’t emotional about the fire, at least not outwardly, not anymore. He talks about it as if it had happened to someone else. It’s not that it wasn’t devastating. He and his family lost their home and everything in it. But Bud is pragmatic. There wasn’t time to dwell. He had to move forward. He had a mission and a deadline.
“It was time to get to work,” he says.
It’s a quiet, picturesque morning on the lake and no better time to regroup on the rebuild. While Bud waits for his contractor, Doric Creager, he walks through the home pointing out rooms and describing what the house will look like when it’s finished.
The style is modern industrial and quite different from the original Northwest contemporary house the Scotts built in 2006. The exterior is mostly done, except for the decking and some of the siding, which is a combination of cold-rolled steel, painted metal and reclaimed wood from a century-old dock.
Inside, on the top floor are three bedrooms, two baths, a gym and a great room. The lower level has a billiard room, kitchen and a second great room. From the floor-to-ceiling windows to the 4,000 square feet of deck space, the home was designed to take full advantage of the spectacular lake view.
It was no small effort building this home. Before anything could be done, the debris from the fire had to be cleared. That took a solid three months. And because of load limits on the narrow road leading to the home, the heavy equipment had to be barged in. Once the limits were lifted, Doric got two cranes to the site and work picked up. But obstacles came from all directions.
The biggest was the terrain. The loose, rocky cliffside called for a deep and massive foundation. The crawl space is about 2,000 square feet with a 30-foot ceiling. Add to that over 200 yards of concrete in the footings alone, each 6 feet deep and 8 feet wide. Doric calls it an engineering marvel.
Still, construction was on schedule and the Scotts were hopeful.
“I think we made a lot of progress this summer,” Mari says. “Having the drywall complete was huge for both Taylor and I. She saw the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Taylor was key in getting the drywall up on time. In fact, she’s been a driving force all along. Taylor is 10.
“From the time we started with the architect and designer, Taylor was fully taking over meetings with what she wants to see happen,” Doric says.
If things weren’t moving fast enough, she called Doric directly.
Taylor is motivated. Last year the family spent the holiday in Arizona.
“I didn’t get the charm of Christmas, the snow or the coldness,” Taylor says. “I really want to have Christmas here, at home.”
It’s September now, a year after I met Bud that late summer day on the lake. Bud and I are catching up on the house. It’s finished, he says with the look of relief. But it wasn’t finished in time for Christmas. Bud missed his deadline.
“It became clear as this progressed there was so much more detail in putting together a house,” he said. “It was more than we thought. It took on a life of its own.”
Decisions on flooring, cabinetry, walls, fixtures, doors, lighting and furniture took time and were far more complicated than expected. When you’re rebuilding a home that was destroyed, when you’ve lost so much, you want things to be perfect. Bud did. The house could have been finished by Christmas, but it wouldn’t be the house it is now — a house that reflects his family, a house that feels like home. That’s what’s most important to the Scotts, especially to Taylor.
The Scotts moved in just as summer 2016 started. It was perfect time to celebrate their new home on the lake they love.
“We didn’t make Christmas, but we were in by summer,” Bud says. “And we’ll be settled in for the holiday this year.”
Taylor will be ready. She’s already picked out a place for the tree.
“By the fireplace,” she says emphatically.
Merry Christmas, Taylor.