(Article published in 2013 Spring Preview Parade of Homes Guide) –

Real Families Tell their Home Building Experiences

Opportunity, or 机会

Drew and Kelly loved living in South Minneapolis, and their century-old, foursquare set on a hill near Lake Harriet was perfect, except for one thing, their children would soon be starting school. The couple, while not opposed to sending the kids to a Minneapolis elementary school, couldn’t find one that offered the language immersion program they were looking for.

“Travel and different cultures helped shape who we are,” says Drew. Kelly once worked as a nurse in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and Drew studied in Holland as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. While Drew and Kelly were open to a Spanish immersion program, they were leaning toward Chinese to hopefully widen the range of future opportunities available to their children, Bella, who is now 6, and Brix, aged 4.

Following an exhaustive search, the couple found the perfect Chinese immersion program in Minnetonka. With that decision made, Drew and Kelly were faced with whether to buy an existing home or build. “We looked at a few homes, but we have particular tastes in design and layout,” says Drew. “By the time we remodeled an existing home, we figured we would be at the same price point had we found a lot to build on.”

With a limited number of available lots in Minnetonka to choose from, Drew and Kelly were fortunate to find one owned by Excelsior-based Knoblauch Builders. “We liked the lot, but we still had to interview John Knoblauch and go through the process to see if our styles and tastes were in sync,” says Drew. “We were also looking at a few other lots.”

After visiting several homes built by Knoblauch, Drew and Kelly were pretty much sold on the builder’s style and his flexibility. Before even beginning the design process, though, Drew and Kelly brought the builder to their South Minneapolis home, which they basically hoped to replicate in Minnetonka. Knoblauch then worked on merging some of the couple’s favorite old-house features into a new-house plan. Kelly, a very talented designer, had a terrific vision for the couple’s new home, and Knoblauch did his best to make Kelly’s ideas work.

“Kelly poured her heart and soul into this house. Kelly and John were basically ‘married’ to each other for nine months,” says Drew. “A relationship with a builder is like a relationship with a spouse. It requires trust and compromise. We got both from John.”

The traditional design of their new custom-built home—with its dark baluster, white enameled woodwork, claw-foot soaking tub, and wooden fireplace mantle flanked by built-in cabinetry—successfully mimics the charm and craftsmanship of the early 1900s.

But there are differences, too. “When you hang a picture on drywall, the wall is smooth as opposed to a lath-and-plaster wall,” says Drew. Other advantages include modern conveniences, a more open floor plan, a large, attached garage, a spacious yard for the kids to play in, and a flat lot that allows Drew to cut the grass without wearing soccer cleats. Best of all, however, is that Bella and Brix could soon be teaching mom and dad Chinese.