Our very own Cody Filipczak was in the Rice Lake Chronotype discussing the appeal of owning a twin home: Click here to read the full story
Housing Options Expand with Twin Home
BY LEIAH FUNDELL
What makes a house a home? Many would say the people who inhabit it make it so. When building a new home, others may say each decision in that process makes a house their own too.
So what's the deal with a housing development that limits the choices for you? Though the outside may look similar to its neighbor, twin homes in the Moon Lake addition on the south side of Rice Lake cannot be built fast enough for occupancy demand. If you've paid any attention to the City of Rice Lake property transfers over the last year, you know C & M Home Builders and Real Estate, of Eau Claire has been busy.
So what's the appeal of a twin home?
According to C & M Home Builders and Real Estate owner, Cody Filipczak,
a twin home owner owns the unit and the lot right down the middle, called a zero lot line. There's a party wall agreement, but the unit and the lot underneath it belongs to the homebuyer, unlike a condo where a buyer only owns rights to the unit.
In the case of the Moon Lake development, these twin home units are being sold before they can be built. Because of that, buyers can customize many things, including the floor plan to an extent. C & M offers five twin home styles to choose from, but many of the units in the Moon Lake development are The Kennedy style-1,304 square feet (2,054 expansion option with basement), two bedroom, two bath and optional sun-room.
Buyers get to pick all their own furnishings and finishes and each unit includes high end features like custom trim work and cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, solid doors and quality flooring.
"People are more interested in higher quality with smaller properties," said Filipczak. "There has definitely been a shift to that."
Filipczak said the twin homes are turnkey when finished, meaning all the owner has to do is turn the key. Landscaping is done and the homes are Focus on Energy certified.
Who are all these buyers?
Calling himself the "occasional host," commercial realtor Chick Feather was the first buyer in October 2017, and is the resident host of the model unit located at the Moon Lake development.
"I felt that strongly about it," said Feather. "And there were a lot of people in this community, who have been here a long time, who said, 'You're crazy. It's never going to work. How many people are going to buy?'"
In the year since, 30 units have sold of the 96 units planned for the development, and construction is on course to finish by 2020, possibly earlier according to Feather.
Filipczak said that there are two finished units that are available to buy, otherwise people are prebuying for the next round. According to Filipczak, the last four buildings in phase one will be finished this winter. "Then the road-work is going in for phase two," said Filipczak. "So more basements will go in depending on how they sell through the winter."
Filipczak said the move to a twin home is usually a downsize for baby boomers and empty nesters. That's the demographic doing the most buying at the Moon Lake development. But it can also be a strategic relocation to town for some people.
"We also have a lot of young professionals who are buying them," said Filipczak. "It's definitely changed over the years."
Filipczak has been building twin homes and single family housing in the Eau Claire area for 17 years, earning multiple awards in small business and home craftsmanship and design.
He and his wife, Mollie, (The M in C & M), were high school sweethearts originally from the Bayfield County area. Mollie does most of the design work for the company, and they live in the Eau Claire area with their two sons.
In early 2017, Feather met Filipczak where he was building a subdivision in Altoona behind Woodman's, the largest subdivision C & M Home Builders has completed to date.
"I invited him up to Rice Lake," said Feather. "He said 'I'm too busy.' Then I invited him up again and he said 'I'm too busy.' And then I said 'can I buy you a cup of coffee in Rice Lake?' And he came up for a cup of coffee, and he looked the city over."
Feather showed him some sites from the north side, west side and south and eventually sold him some lots on Thomas Street. C & M built three twin homes, six units, and according to Feather, they sold before the concrete was dry.
Feather said that test run was all the proof Filipczak needed that housing was in demand in Rice Lake. Feather said the housing need is something he has seen for the Rice Lake area for sometime.
"Rice Lake has always been considered an under 10,000 population city, but it really isn't," said Feather. "There's probably a 50-60,000 population retail center here. We kept hearing that no one is building anything. In my role, I guess I define it as a role to help the city grow wherever I live, and try to see if someone would step up, and I didn't see that happening."
Feather had a theory that people were working, shopping and recreating in Rice Lake, but not living here due to lack of newer affordable housing. He referenced the Moon Lake Apartments' success as proof that more people were looking for quality affordable living.
"People thought nobody would ever rent at those prices and apparently they're full every time they're finished as the paint's still drying," said Feather.
The 40 acres allotted as the Thomas addition on the south side of Rice Lake were sold to C & M Properties for two phases of development.
Developing land in any city requires multiple planning commission and city council meetings. Feather represented Filipczak at all those meetings.
"The city saw the need also," said Feather. The land is located in a Tax Incremental Finance District (TID) in the City of Rice Lake which is key to C & M and the city being able to develop it at a reasonable cost.
TIDs borrow for projects and use local tax revenue generated in the TID exclusively to pay off debt and fund new projects in that district. This formula enables significant development that likely would not occur under normal conditions.
"It's just so expensive to develop land," said Feather. "Water, sewer, streets, side-walks, curb, gutter everything else, by the time you get it put in, even if the land was free, you still couldn't do it."
Filipczak echoed the mutual benefit to everyone due to the TID and the city's eagerness to develop.
"The City of Rice Lake has been great to work with, probably the best," said Filipc-zak. "They wanted the housing here. In a lot of cases, you're going into areas that aren't necessarily as receptive. So it's really nice to have a community who is as excited about it as we are."
For more information on the Moon Lake development or C & M Home Builders, visit www.candmhomebuilders.com
Click here to read the full story
C&M Home Builders and Real Estate is a family-owned Eau Claire real estate agency. Cody and Molly, the founders of C&M Real Estate, started their first business, C&M Home Builders, in 2005 and began building homes in the Eau Claire area. In 2011, they expanded their services to include Eau Claire realty and began C&M Real Estate.