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A house with a view

Staff writer

Building and remodeling houses is an enjoyable enterprise to Garry Dunnegan of Wichita — that is why he bought the property at 73 Lakeshore Drive at Marion County Lake.

Dunnegan has performed drafting and engineering for construction projects throughout the country for the past 20 years. The house at 73 Lakeshore Drive is Dunnegan’s third project at Marion County Lake: he renovated the former Kingfisher Inn and the house at 3 Prairie Lane.

He saw that 73 Lakeshore was available after completing the home on Prairie Lane. The property, only 100 feet from the lake, was too enticing for Dunnegan to ignore. He purchased the property for $65,000.

“There’s really been nobody here for the last 15 to 20 years,” Dunnegan said. “Everybody said I paid too much. The location is the reason I bought it.”

The joy Dunnegan receives from reworking a house was spawned while working in his father’s repair shop as a kid.

“It kind of gives you a chance to be creative,” Dunnegan said. “It gives you a chance for freedom of expression.”

However, instead of constructing trailer hitches in his father’s shop, he is doubling the size of a residence from 900 square feet to 1,800 square feet. Inspired by the original design, Dunnegan and his crew have put a 27-foot A-frame on the front of the Lakeshore residence. The A-frame is topped with an atrium to allow light and air-flow through the house.

Not much will remain from the original house built in 1962. The one-story, three-bedroom residence will include two new kitchens, a fireplace, and all new living quarters.

Dunnegan was also creative in his use of materials. After Duckwall’s closed, Dunnegan bought pieces of pine from the store. He is going to tongue-and-groove the 120-foot pieces of wood to use in the project.

“You can’t find wood like that anymore,” he said.

Like the pine from Duckwall’s, Dunnegan reinvented himself as a homebuilder as a second career. He said he is semiretired from his ownership of Northstar Automotive Glass in Wichita.

“We were the second company in U.S. to import glass from China,” Dunnegan said. “I freed myself up to do this.”

While he has been involved with building projects for two decades, construction has become a nearly full-time venture for Dunnegan the past three years.

“I just like working with my hands,” he said.

Because it is more of a passion than a living, Dunnegan hires a small crew — a framer and a few assistants — and takes more time on a project. He expects to have the house at 73 Lakeshore completed by June.

“We’re not in any big hurry,” he said.

He also uses sheet rock, plumbing, and electrical contractors.

While his goal was not to turn a profit, Dunnegan said he expects the house to sell for more than the cost of his investment when it is finished.

“You’ve always got to sell at some point,” Dunnegan said. “This will sell pretty easy because of the location to the lake.”

Dunnegan believes the same philosophy that led him to buy the house will lead to the property changing hands.

“The people that are going to buy are the baby boom generation. They have money,” Dunnegan said. “They don’t care if it’s a steal. It’s not like you have 100 houses on the lake for sale.”

Last modified March 16, 2011

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