Buildings in Profile

Many New Yorkers are looking for getaways in the country, and that’s the niche entrepreneur developer Charles Petersheim has created in this rural landscape along the Delaware River in Sullivan County, just shy of two hours from Manhattan.

At a time when many builders are downsizing, Petersheim’s Catskill Farms is busy designing and constructing small second homes for artists, celebrities, young executives, and under-40 creative types from New York City.

These uniquely designed small, high-performance homes and cottages range from 750 square feet to the largest—under 2,000 square feet—on private parcels surrounded by woodlands. Layouts maximize the views of nature while smart building practices such as high-efficiency gas-fired boilers, low-flow fixtures, and insulation from Petersheim’s other business: EcoTech Spray Foam, ensure low operating costs. While many of the 60+ homes the developer has built in the past five years would qualify for LEED certification, that’s not what clients are concerned with: Rather, they want customized design, affordability, and a private retreat.

Characterized by elegant use of simple materials, from stone and wainscoting to wide-plank floors and plank ceilings from a local salvaged lumber supplier, there’s a lot of whimsy built in. Features include Dutch doors, sliding barn doors and track chalkboard doors for closets and room dividers, country kitchens, masonry fireplaces, built-in bookcases and cabinets, clawfoot tubs, and old-fashioned radiators, not to mention security and whole-house audio systems. Even the smallest “shacks” boast spacious kitchens and full basements. Each home offers plenty of storage and outdoor living areas, whether screened porches, full decks, or stone patio areas.

The developer’s design/build model allows for a 3- to 4-month build time. Home prices, depending on size, parcel, and design, range from just under $160,000 for a shack to $425,000 for a farmhouse.

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