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Have you heard: Developers go into Lake Hills clubhouse remodel with advantages

Have you heard: Developers go into Lake Hills clubhouse remodel with advantages


Contractors have serious advantages when it comes to remodeling.

They can do the work themselves, a huge cost savings. They get breaks on materials. And nobody knows if they are behind schedule or over budget, unless they decide to tell.

That’s the catbird seat that Heights developer Ron Hill and his son, Brendon Hill, share as they work on the first of three phases to remodel the 53-year-old Lake Hills clubhouse at 1930 Clubhouse Way.

“We’re taking out all the single-pane windows and putting double-pane,” said Ron Hill. “And it used to have a flat roof. We cut off all the flat overhangs and put on a trussed roof with a nice design.”

The trusses give the Hills room to install R-60 insulation in the attic, instead of the former paltry 4 inches of insulation.

Last November, the Hills bought the clubhouse on the 18-hole golf course for an undisclosed amount from the original owner, Rainer Dahl of Salt Lake City.

Other energy efficiency moves include installing a new furnace and air conditioning for the 7,500-square-foot clubhouse. There are two floors with a walk-out lower level. The Hills are adding a 2,700-square-foot enclosed patio with large overhead doors that can be closed during nasty weather. With the help of big heaters, the patio will help turn the clubhouse into a year-round business.

“And in nice weather, we’ll overlook the golf course, which is beautiful,” Hill said.

Phase two will start in mid-September. When the golf crowd thins out, the upstairs interiors will be remodeled. During the final phase, the pro shop and locker rooms on the lower level will get a make-over and the entire project should be finished by next spring.

Also by March 2011, the clubhouse will have a full-service restaurant.

“There is a huge population around Lake Hills and there aren’t that many restaurants,” he said.

Since forming his company, Specialized Construction Inc., in 1976, Hill has built roughly 250 homes in the Heights, chiefly around the golf course. By buying the golf course, Hill kept the property from being sold through foreclosure, which would undoubtedly have led to the rare 215-acre green space being chopped up and turned into more rows of housing. Hill said he spent two decades building homes around this golf course and he wanted to keep his word to those homeowners.

Lake Hills’ standard membership gives players access to the course, the clubhouse, the driving range, plus other perks, including in the pro shop. But a newer option, called Pass Holders, was started to attract more singles and family golfers. The pass charges no initiation fee, but golfers pay monthly dues for the right to play as many rounds of golf as they like.

By next spring, the Lake Hill Clubhouse that had little curb appeal, according to Hill, will be remodeled and the Heights will have another restaurant.

The father-son team also has hired three people to chip and haul away large piles of tree limbs and clean up the greens.

“I’d love to give them (wood chips) to somebody, but I don’t know if there’s a market,” Ron Hill said.

Striking out on the biz front

People who have starting businesses in their blood can’t help themselves, even if they have a regular job with benefits.

Just before Christmas, Patrick Chapel quit his job managing Independence Hall for homeless veterans in Billings on Lake Elmo Drive, to start his second venture.

After conducting the market research, Chapel and his wife, Lisa, opened Bunk Bed Outfitters at 536 Sugar Ave., at the corner of Sugar Avenue and King Avenue East.

The company has been making log furniture in northern Minnesota for four decades. The bunk beds, drawers, desks, and bookcases are made and sold through the same business, so it’s a hybrid model.

“Recently, there has been a serious decline in manufacturing in America,” Patrick Chapel said. “We’re trying to keep things sensible and create a quality end product and charge a really reasonable price for it.”

The starter price for one of these bunk bed sets is $149.

The Chapels didn’t buy a franchise. They bought the assembly jigs and the process to make the furniture.

Even with kids ages 3 and 4 and a baby due in August, Patrick Chapel said he couldn’t resist starting his second Billings business and using his degree in entrepreneurship from Washington State University.

The couple also has submitted bids to supply beds to lookout towers used by federal firefighters and they hope to hear back in a couple of weeks.

  “They’re pretty rough. They’re using platform-style beds with mattresses 15 years old,” he said.

Out and about

• Montana Cycling, Billings’ newest cycling center, will hold its grand opening May 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. at Shiloh Crossing. The 12,000-square-foot store is located near two bike paths. This month’s Bicycling Magazine listed Billings at 37th among the Top 50 most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

• If you like home remodeling, especially of historic homes, check out the free workshop at 7 p.m. May 12 at McKinley School. A local architect and various craftsmen will discuss remodeling older homes as part of The Heritage Home Tour.

Scams du jour

At the end of April, Billings Heights resident Richard N. Bailey received a “check” made out to his wife, Helen Bailey, for $3,977.53 along with a letter claiming the couple may have won $250,000 in an international lottery. The company called itself Region Financial Services Inc. of Las Vegas.

They were advised to immediately call a claims agent and then cash the check and use the money to pay taxes of $2,985.

 Instead, the couple showed it to Wells Fargo Bank where a clerk said she’s seen a rash of these phony checks from various companies lately.

“They are keeping the original check and sending it to the FBI,” Helen Bailey said.

There are at least three red flags here. U.S. law prohibits American citizens from winning foreign lotteries. You should never pay taxes upfront on a prize you haven’t received. And you simply cannot win a contest you haven’t entered.

Laugh lines

Why is it that whenever you try to catch something that’s falling off the table, you always manage to knock something else over?

How come no plastic bag ever opens from the end you first try?

Why do people return to the refrigerator several times? Are they hoping something new to eat has materialized?

Contact Jan Falstad at


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