Sticking to brick

Longtime Steamboat residents find new owners for their custom home

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More than a year after Dick and Lucy MacGregor put their custom brick Steamboat Springs home on the market, it is under contract.

Many of the people who looked into purchasing the home said it reminded them of the houses they grew up in, but homes constructed entirely of brick do not scream Steamboat, Dick MacGregor said. Although well-built, the brick kept at least one buyer from making an offer.

"It doesn't look Western," said Lucy MacGregor, 80. "It looks more gothic, and people want a Western house when they move out West."

The house was initially listed for nearly $700,000. They were sure it would sell right away, but it did not go under contract until they lowered the price by $20,000 from the appraised $645,000. If the sale goes through, it will be the first home in Heritage Park to sell for more than $600,000.

It took Dick MacGregor, 78, a year to lay the brick for the home his wife wanted him to build.

"One day, Lucy said 'I want to have a house that you build,'" Dick MacGregor said.

A retired bricklayer, he had spent a lot of time building homes for other people, but never for himself. He drafted plans and gave the drawings to architect Robert Ralston.

Even in a mountain town where logs, cedar siding and stone make up the exteriors of the majority of homes, Dick MacGregor wanted to build a brick home.

"I'm a bricklayer, number one," Dick MacGregor said. "I didn't want to own a framed house."

Numerous large windows were also a priority. The couple further customized their home by putting the washer and dryer in the master bedroom closet. In the basement, the MacGregors built what they called the "Florida Room," which has a tile floor, drain and spout for watering plants.

"I don't know of a house in Colorado like this," Dick MacGregor said.

In 2000, Dick MacGregor started building and worked through the winter under tents laying courses of antique brick. An assistant helped him mix concrete and carry the bricks. The bricks he used were larger than usual and typically are used in commercial applications.

Using larger bricks allowed him to reinforce the walls with steel. It took two years to build the home.

"It's a lot like building a watch," Dick MacGregor said. "You have to be very careful. You have to make sure the steel is placed exactly right, or it won't work."

That was even clearer after a woman crashed her car into the front corner of the home in the winter. The car had some pretty serious damage, Dick MacGregor said, but the couple had the home inspected, and the damage was only cosmetic; one of the bricks had a chipped corner.

"Had that been brick veneer, that would have collapsed in," Dick MacGregor said.

The sound of the buzzing fluorescent light in the basement workshop is deafening compared with the silence throughout the rest of the house. The house is quiet because the brick reflects outside noise, Dick MacGregor said. There are other advantages to a brick home.

"In a lot of houses, you can hear a lot of the creaks and grinds as the temperature changes," Dick MacGregor said. "You don't have that in this house."

The house is not going anywhere, but the MacGregors are. After living in their custom home for four years and in Steamboat for 23 years, they are moving to Rifle to be closer to family.

"I enjoyed building it," Dick MacGregor said. "It's time to move on. I'm going to miss the people."

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