After dedicating 42 years of his life to the insurance business, Ed Buhl was ready to retire. He and his wife, Tavie, had raised their family in the small town of Van Wert, Ohio, but their two sons had since moved to the Indianapolis area where they were now raising their own families.
Less than one year into retirement, Ed and Tavie packed up their home of 30 plus years and set out to find a place to replant their roots. Both golfers, the couple knew they wanted a home near a course, but also something that provided easy access to both Indy’s booming restaurant scene and their grandchildren.
They found all of that and more in the Chatham Hills neighborhood of Westfield, and hired McKenzie Collection to build their next dream home. Here’s how they did it.
How did you choose a home in Chatham Hills?
While still living in Ohio, we began working with an Indianapolis real estate agent who told us about some new developments north of Indianapolis. We looked at two gated communities and our agent recommended the one where McKenzie was building.
Did you visit an open house or see a model home?
When we first met with McKenzie the development was only on paper. They had five floor plans for us to look at, but nothing had been built yet. It was a little scary, but after seeing some of their other homes, we knew we liked their work.
What do you love about your home?
It’s very open. Our great room expands into a great kitchen with all of the windows facing a par three executive golf course. We put in a living suite upstairs that runs over our garage—it’s so nice that when our family and friends come to stay with us they never want to come down.
What was it like to work with McKenzie?
As soon as we sat down with the folks at McKenzie, we just knew it was the right fit. Everybody was wonderful. We put our trust in them and it all worked out. The best decision we made was to utilize their staff throughout the process. We had very few problems at all, but if we did have concerns, we had people we could go to and they took care of it.
What specific goals did you have in mind when you began the building process?
We knew we wanted a huge kitchen island as well as a covered back porch with a nice paved patio with a fire pit and we got all of that.
Did you use any additional services such as McKenzie’s in-house interior designers?
We were so lucky to have Kate as our interior designer. We hadn’t built a home in almost 35 years so it felt all new to us, and there were so many decisions to be made. Kate understood our taste and was on the same page so we had a lot of trust in her. She did an amazing job.
What advice would you give to other empty nesters looking to build a home?
It will always end up being more expensive than you think, but it’s absolutely worth it. When people see a model home price, they think that’s what they’re going to build the home for and it’s not. But working with McKenzie you’ll have all the support you need from a great team to work within your budget.
How would you describe your pad—is it an entertaining hub or more of a private sanctuary for two?
All of the above. We’ve become good friends with the other empty nesters in our neighborhood and see them a few nights a week, whether it’s getting together for dinner or sitting out back with a beer after golf. And there’s nothing better than having the grandbabies over here. But there are times where we just want to be by ourselves and we get that, too.
How long do you see yourself living in this home?
We’re never leaving this house! When we were younger, we said we would never follow our children. We thought when the time came to retire we’d be looking out over an ocean, not a golf course in the Midwest. But grandbabies change things. We’re fortunate to be able to still spend three months of year in Florida. We can get our baby fix on Saturday and be back in Bonita Beach on Sunday. We’ve even met people there who have heard of John and Jim McKenzie—they’re that good.