Mark Lavitt, who has a degree in landscape architecture, is a Coventry-based designer, builder and developer. He envisioned Flanders Woods to be a community of “green” homes in harmony with the landscape. Passive solar designs combine with the natural surroundings to create energy-efficient homes beautifully set against a backdrop of native flora and fauna.
Driving through the Coventry community is like touring a subdivision of stand-alone houses. Each unit is a separate building set at least 50 feet from any neighboring home. Much of the community’s 16-plus pristine acres is jointly owned by the homeowners, while each homeowner also owns a small amount of green space surrounding their home.
“I wanted to take the best of a subdivision and combine that with the best of a condominium,” says Lavitt about the six models he designed for the woodsy community.
The non-age-restricted community will have 16 custom homes when complete. Each homeowner starts with a basic design and, with Lavitt’s guidance, creates a home perfectly suited for their lifestyle.
The condominium aspect becomes apparent when the homeowner realizes there is no worry about shoveling snow from the sidewalk or mowing the lawn. If someone has a green thumb, they can enjoy gardening. Otherwise, grounds maintenance is taken care of by the association.
“With a normal condominium, you own from the walls in,” says Kathie Lodge, the resident agent at Flanders Woods. “Here you own the whole house.” Lodge, along with her husband, already resides in the community. The couple decided to downsize once their children were off on their own. After an extensive search, they fell in love with Flanders Woods. Their home is shown as the model and Lodge’s enthusiasm about living here is apparent to visitors.
“They were attached and sitting on top of each other,” Lodge says of other condominiums. “We were willing to downsize but not to downgrade.”
One of the differences at Flanders Woods is the size of the second bedroom. “Here they are quite large,” says Lodge. “You could put in a queen size bed and still have plenty of room.” Each home is spaciously designed and models start with a minimum of 1,454 square feet of living space.
Lodge and her husband decided to finish the optional room above the garage. Now, visiting grandchildren can go up there to watch television while the adults visit downstairs. The room also serves as the perfect quiet area for a home office.
The natural beauty of the community was another draw for the couple. “You don’t have to go anywhere in the fall to see foliage,” says Lodge. “The whole place is enclosed by trees.”
Lavitt also has positioned each unit to take advantage of the natural surroundings. “If I can use energy from Mother Nature in the wintertime to heat the house, I do that,” says Lavitt. “The morning sun comes up in the east, comes in and goes right through to that wall,” he says, pointing to a kitchen window and then to a far wall in the great room.
“In summertime, you can maximize time on the deck,” says Lavitt about the placement of the large rear deck. “Winds come from the northwest, so we put the deck on the southeast side of the house. You have the ambient temperature but not the wind chill.”
Each model includes a large deck made with maintenance-free Azek flooring and composite materials for the decking and railings. If a homeowner decides on an optional propane fireplace, a fuel line for the outdoor grill is included.
The home’s heating and cooling systems were carefully selected. An oil-fired Weil-McLean cast iron boiler creates heat and hot water. This Energy Star-rated system is housed in the full basement. The air conditioning system is placed in the attic.
“Heat from below and cold air from above, it’s the best way to do things,” says Lavitt. “The cost difference is pennies. The comfort level is amazing.”
Ceramic tiles are standard in the bathrooms and kitchen, but the Lodges wanted the standard oak flooring used in other rooms to continue into the kitchen. Oak floor boards are three-inches wide instead of the more typical two-inch boards. Lavitt is very selective about flooring and has used the same supplier for years.
“I’ve used this particular kind (of boards) for a long time,” he says. “The quality is totally consistent all of the time. It’s tongue-in-groove, but not wide enough that it’s going to scallop.”
Lavitt uses two-by-six framing which allows for wide sills for displaying house plants, photographs and knick-knacks.
“All those little touches make it more upscale, yet affordable,” says Lodge.
“It’s very much like building a custom home,” says Lavitt about his interaction with clients. He introduces clients to his sub-contractors, who then work with the clients to individualize each home.
“I stay with the same sub-contractors,” says Lavitt. “Some I’ve been with for over 20 years. I don’t have to worry about the quality. They’re also good with people. I chose them for that reason.”
Of the six models, three allow bonus rooms over the garage and four have a master bedroom on the first floor. Sunrooms and screened porches are optional.
Lodge notes that Coventry schools are excellent and the town has a high school. Lisicke Beach, located nearby on Coventry Lake, offers town residents car passes for $10 a season.
An impressive farmers market starts up in June at the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. USA Today highlighted the market in its story on “Top 10 great places to shop at a farmers market.”
Flanders Woods is near highways, shopping and UConn but has a peaceful, bucolic atmosphere. “We’re in the country, but we have amenities,” says Lodge. “We don’t have the hustle and bustle.”
An open house will be held at Flanders Woods in Coventry on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27 from 1-4 p.m. Open houses also will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1-4 p.m. or by appointment. For more information on the community, contact Kathie Lodge at 860-324-9671 and visit flanderswoods.com.
Builder: Mark Lavitt
Price: Starting at $269,900
Style: Cape, raised ranch
Rooms: 5 to 7
Bedrooms: 2 to 3
Baths: 1.5 to 2
Square footage: 1,454 to 1,782 square feet
Acreage: 18.6 acres
Tax rate: 27.9 mills
Best feature: Stand-alone condominiums in a natural setting
Contact: Kathie Lodge, Resident Agent, 860-324-9671
Larry Greene is a freelance writer based in Norwich.Copyright © 2015, CT Now