Living the Dream on Dutch Ridge Ranch: Part 4

Have you ever looked at a mountain home and wondered, “How did the contractors build that up there?” It’s a great question to kick off today’s post.

In Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series, we shared progress on the custom home we’re building for Tim and Lesha in the foothills northwest of Fort Collins. Today in Part 4, we have more photos to share – and HighCraft project manager D Walker talks about the challenges of building in the foothills, in good weather and bad.

Let’s first take a look at the latest construction photos:


mountain custom home exterior entry snow shovels December 2019

Our crew worked hard to dry-in the house before winter. We framed the home, completed the roof, installed windows and doors, and wrapped the house in a moisture-proof barrier to protect it from the elements.

mountain custom home exterior master bedroom siding_three photo construction progress

The exterior transformation of the master bedroom has been fun to watch – from the framing back in October, to the installation of windows and siding in November and December.

mountain home custom build garage wood siding November 2019_photo_pair

We hung vertical wood siding in a combination of rustic planks, and board and batten, as seen on the garage (above).

mountain custom home construction exterior dining room snow December 2019

Despite the snow, our crew continues to make steady progress on the custom home’s exterior.



The simple grids of the windows give the home a modern farm-house feel. As of today’s post, the interior plumbing and electrical rough-ins are complete, the drywall is up, and we’re prepping for tile and hardwood flooring installation.

mountain home custom build garage wood siding November 2019_photo_pair

We hung vertical wood siding in a combination of rustic planks, and board and batten, as seen on the garage (above).

The great room will be stunning with an abundance of windows and natural light, vaulted ceiling with exposed timbers, and this massive fireplace focal point.


d_walker_project_manager_general contractor_highcraft_builders

HighCraft’s D Walker is the project manager for Tim and Lesha’s new home. D is known for running a tight ship at his job sites, and Dutch Ridge Ranch is no exception. He’s also known for going above and beyond to keep the homeowners happy, and our subcontractors safe and on track. This year, D logged more than 30,000 miles on his company truck to personally oversee the HighCraft job sites he manages, including Dutch Ridge Ranch.

dutch ridge ranch custom barn_local_general_contractor_near_me_highcraft builders

We asked D to explain the unique challenges and logistics of building in the mountains. And given the recent round of severe snowstorms, we asked him to explain how he manages a project in the foothills during bad winter weather.

custom house builder colorado pouring concrete floor slab basement

How much more difficult is it to build in the foothills than in town?
“It’s a huge, huge difference,” says D. “Imagine driving big truss trucks up switchbacks, or a truck and trailer up switchbacks. Imagine a cement truck driving up a winding dirt road versus a paved street in town. We had 16 cement trucks carrying 11 cubic yards of wet concrete to pour this foundation, plus a pump truck,” he says of Dutch Ridge Ranch. “Narrow and unpaved roads can be challenging for large trucks carrying heavy loads on a good day. Add rain or snow to the mix, and the level of difficulty increases substantially.”

What is the biggest challenge when building in the foothills?
“Getting to the location. When handling logistics for a project like this, you have to ask ‘How far off the main road is the job site? How steep is the road? Do we need to cut a driveway for the trucks? Is the job site flat or is it steep? Is there room for vehicles to turn around? What time of the year are we building?’ Each adds a layer of complexity to the project,” he says.

custom house builder colorado pouring concrete floor slab basement_barn

If ‘getting to the location’ is the biggest issue, how did you get 16 concrete mixers, and a boom pump truck, to this job site?
“It wasn’t easy,” D says of the carefully orchestrated and staggered deliveries to a job site with no cell service. “Four of the trucks blew tires and had to repair flats on their way from Loveland. Once the trucks got five miles away from the job site, only four trucks could drive up the private road at a time and safely turn around once they got there,” he says. After the empty trucks returned to the staging area, four more would drive five miles to the site to unload their concrete.

Luckily, HighCraft poured the foundation for Dutch Ridge Ranch in August when the weather and roads were dry. “We poured two other foundations in the foothills last winter,” D says. “It can be done.”

Is it hard to find tradespeople willing to work in remote locations?
“Some trades won’t drive that far,” he says. That’s why HighCraft works to find reliable subcontractors and suppliers who are willing to make the longer drive to remote job sites. “Building and maintaining those trusted relationships is a big part of our job at HighCraft.”

Do you always have access to water and electricity on a mountain property?
“We do at Dutch Ridge Ranch,” he says, but HighCraft did not have access to water or electricity at a different project off Buckhorn Road. “That entire custom house was built with one generator,” D says. “I hauled gas up to the site each day, and water for the drywall guys.”

mountain custom home builder exterior siding snow December 2019

What happens when a remote job site gets a lot of snow?
“There’s a certain sequence of events that has to happen when building a house. If one set of trades can’t make it up the road because of snow, it can throw off the whole schedule,” D says. That’s why HighCraft is careful to build extra days into the production schedule for a project like this, to accommodate possible delays caused by unpredictable weather in the foothills.

“You cross your fingers the weather’s going to treat you right. Hoping trades can be flexible,” D says. To minimize production delays after a snowstorm, HighCraft works with homeowners, neighbors and HOAs to clear the roads of snow. For one project, our team drove up on multiple weekends to help “blade” the snow off the steep and winding road so trades would have access to the job site on Monday morning.

mountain custom home exterior entry snow shovels December 2019

Is winter a bad time to build in the foothills?
“Winter isn’t necessarily the worst time to build in Colorado,” D says. “Spring can be brutal. Rain can be just as bad as snow,” he says. “Mud gets slick. Trucks get stuck.” Each season has its own set of challenges, so it’s important to find a contractor who can offer solutions – whether you build in winter, spring, summer or fall.

How do you prepare for bad weather?
“We watch the weather before we go to bed at night, and first thing in the morning when we wake up,” D says. “We watch for wind, too.” HighCraft project managers rely on a good weather forecast to avoid putting any trades in harm’s way, and to take full advantage of mild weather windows. “You have to stay in front of the weather. You have to get materials delivered when you know you can get trucks up there.”

How did the November blizzard affect Dutch Ridge Ranch?
“We knew a big snowstorm was going to hit the week of Thanksgiving. The subs and I were up at the house working hard on Monday and Tuesday. I told everyone to go home early on Tuesday. When it started to snow around 2 p.m., I kicked everyone out for their own good,” he says. “And they all made it out in time. Just barely, but they made it.”

Dutch Ridge Ranch got nearly three feet of snow, and then the wind blew drifts across the road. “We were snowed out for the rest of the week.” D knew the HOA would plow to the end of the lane, leaving more than five miles of unpaved private road that would still need to be plowed. D also knew if we didn’t get the private road cleared, then the subcontractors in two-wheel-drive vans would get stuck or be forced to turn around and head back to town. “So we got it cleared,” he says.

dutch ridge ranch sunrise DEC 11 2019_pc Lesha

Any last thoughts?
“Regardless of where we build, HighCraft offers a guaranteed start and completion date, and we hold to those dates,” D says. So when weather hits, our team works harder to make up for lost time. But it’s more than just meeting a deadline to HighCraft project managers like D. HighCraft is in the business of taking care of people. “HighCraft is dedicated to each and every client and they will not cease until the job is right,” D says. “That’s what I love about them.”


Stay tuned to this monthly blog series as we follow the home’s transformation, and hear from the homeowners, interior designer and project manager throughout the building process.

Special thanks to Tim, Lesha and Dutch Ridge Ranch for the gorgeous photo of the sunrise used in today’s post.

Whether you build new construction, or remodel what you have, HighCraft’s experienced design-build team can navigate every detail of the planning and construction process so you don’t have to. Contact HighCraft with questions or to schedule a free consultation.