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Montana Mountain Home

Mountain Home near Big Sky, Montana

Story

This project was not built by M Services, but is featured here because it inspired me to create M Services. This was the second occasion that I (Ross Martin, Owner of M Services) hired others to build a home for our family. I was not the project manager or general contractor for this home; rather I was the owner experiencing again the process of having others design and build my home. And, I also played a significant role in the design and construction details.

The Montana Lodge was built as a second home for our family, and my wife and I hope it will become home some day. It is located in the mountains of Southwest Montana, near the town of Big Sky. It was built in a neighborhood of 20-acre lots, each with designated home sites (building envelopes) designed to preserve the views and natural features of the area. From our lot there are expansive views east, across the Gallatin River valley to the Gallatin Range of the Rocky Mountains. These views are beautiful year round. The neighborhood landscape is a combination of pine stands, open meadows and mountain topography, and it is bordered by national forests. Wildlife abounds, often near our doorstep, including elk, moose and bear.

Our vision was for a home that visually brought the outside in (using views, light and natural materials), facilitated an outdoor-oriented lifestyle, provided for highly flexible space (part of which could be semi-closed off when family or guests were not visiting) and could take a beating from dogs, kids and the environment without needing a lot of maintenance. Architecturally, we pursued a customized arts & crafts aesthetic, that was unique but did not clash with the rustic lodge styles commonly found in the area. Our architect did a fantastic job of creating a design that exceeded our vision. The spaces are just right, the natural light is refreshing and the details are beyond what we imagined. The home was sited in a sloped meadow in a fashion that gives us expansive views from inside and yet nestles the structure into the natural landscape.


We are very fortunate to have this lovely home. But candidly the road to creating it was quite bumpy. For example, communication was incredibly poor, the budget was so inadequate that I created my own, job site supervision was lacking to the point that subcontractors openly glared at the supervisor, it took time for the builder to fully understand the level of finishes planned for the design, the driveway had to be moved because no one on site saw an obvious flaw to the original plan… Now, I must also give credit – the end product was excellent. It just cost me a lot more time, money and intervention than it should have. At the time I was contemplating the next chapter in my life and the concept of M Services was partly formed in my mind. The process of designing and constructing the Montana Lodge – particularly the bumps along the way - clarified for me the foundational elements of M Services, how it could be better and how I could offer value to clients.

It strikes me how very rare it is to find a homebuilder who has had someone else build a home for them - in fact I don't know of a single example other than myself. I am convinced that as a result, most builders don't fully appreciate what it's like to be "in the owners' shoes". I suppose the best builders try to imagine the owner’s experience, which is probably the next best thing. But I have experienced this twice now, and those experiences go the core of what M Services is all about, why it is different and so “in-tune” with owners’ needs, concerns and interests.

In addition, my hands-on participation in the design and construction of the Montana Lodge convinced me that my skills and experience were well suited to this work, not to mention that I enjoyed it. I saw how my organizational and management skills, developed over many years in a demanding professional environment, went far beyond what is typical in the construction industry. And I was pleased to re-discover that I could easily blend my organizational strengths with a creative side; one that coupled an overall sense of design with an eye for the detailed execution of that design.

In short, I became convinced that I had something special to offer to other owners. Not only had I shared their experiences, but I had valuable and uniquely suited strengths to lead them through the process of designing and building their custom places. So in the end the Montana Lodge project was a wonderful experience, resulting in a beautiful family place and business I love.

 

Statistics

Size 3,600 square feet of interior space  
  575 square foot patio  
  885 square foot garage  
     
Timeline Planning/Architectural Phase: February 2005 - July 2006
  Permitting: June 2006 - October 2006
  Ground Break: August 28, 2006
  Completion Date: January 22, 2008
  Ground Break to Completion: 17 months

 

Team

Architect Bayliss Architects P.C., Bozeman, MT
   
Interior Design PJ Martin

 

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