Cindy Stephen | Vancouver Sun
Project is part of master-planned community on the east side of Okanagan lake
Susan Ewanick knows British Columbia like the back of her hand.
During her 30-plus year career as a financial services executive, she has travelled to every corner of the province, meeting with clients and checking in with fellow bankers. As much as she enjoys the people and places of B.C., her heart belongs in the Okanagan.
Through the years, Ewanick and her partner have lived in several locations throughout the region and are now ready to build their ultimate dream home in the ultimate community — Kelowna’s McKinley Beach on Okanagan Lake.
“We were living in West Kelowna but have been familiar with McKinley Beach almost since its inception. We have friends that live there,” she says.
The master-planned community on the east side of the lake is 10 minutes to the Kelowna International Airport and just 30 minutes to their favourite golf course, Predator Ridge. It has a marina and amenities like tennis and pickleball courts, community gardens, playgrounds and plans for a future clubhouse. The location and the resort lifestyle were so attractive that Ewanick and her partner moved to McKinley at the first opportunity.
The 872-acre development by North American Development Group (NADG) rises from the lake, and many homes are built on stilts due to the steep grade. So, when the pair noticed a small subdivision called The Benches being carved into the mountain with flat building lots, they were intrigued. A flat lot meant they could build a home with a swimming pool.
The Benches is a prestige development with a total of 17 flat lots. Calgary-based Rockwood Custom Homes is heading up the development of single-family homes, with prices starting at $2.3 million. Rockwood is a notable builder of luxury custom homes, founded in 2009 by Allison Grafton, who was raised in the region. The Benches is the first exclusive Okanagan community for Rockwood and is located next to the Azhadi Vineyards, a new sustainable winery.
“You have privacy, panoramic lake views, lakeside amenities and a vineyard next door. The Benches is best in class with exceptional value,” says Grafton.
The exterior of each home is set in stone with a three-car garage and a 600-square-foot covered deck. While the outside is architecturally directed, the interior is custom-built for the buyer. The standard floorplan includes a primary bedroom with a large ensuite, a flex room and mudroom, plus a 10-foot island in the kitchen. However, that floor plan is open to interpretation by the purchaser.
Ewanick’s 3,700-square-foot home has several custom features, primarily at the walkout level. There’s an extra bathroom and a sauna, both convenient to the pool, plus two guest bedrooms. Space reserved for an optional elevator will be used for a wine room feature. The couple are working with Rockwood on the design of a downstairs bar, which will incorporate a vintage 1957 record player and a mesmerizing display of vinyl records that once belonged to Ewanick’s parents.
“We’re also adding an outdoor kitchen, which will have a sports bar theme and a T.V. We’re bringing the inside, outside,” she says.
Their bungalow is the second custom home build for the couple, and the process is much less stressful than the first one was. Ewanick says the design team assigned to their project has invested a great deal of time building a relationship with them and working on their plans, which has taken away a lot of the worry.
“I’m in banking, so I’m not a creative person. The number of decisions you have to make when building a home is overwhelming. It’s like handling complex finances. You work with a financial advisor who will take the mystery out of it for you. Here, Rockwood is taking the mystery out of building because of their expertise,” she says.
The couple hopes to move into their home in the summer of 2024 when they can add one more activity to their active McKinley Beach lifestyle.
“Probably taking advantage of the surrounding beauty, just relaxing on our deck at the end of the day admiring the lake and mountains. It can’t get much better than that,” she says.
Community: McKinley Beach, Kelowna
Developer: North American Development Group
Project: The Benches
Builder: Rockwood Custom Homes
Size: 3,700 square foot bungalow homes
Price: $2.3 million to $2.6 million