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Building Memories

How NBC helped a family build their dream home

“The key is to embrace the struggle,” Al Ratai says with a smile. Though, judging from the story of how he and his wife Melissa built their dream home with the financial help and guidance of NBC, it was less of a struggle and more of a joy.

In 2008 the Ratai’s began their search for a piece of property they could develop. They found it in an old farmstead on Nordling Rd, just two minutes from Scenic Highway 61 and Lake Superior’s stunning north shore.

“We had a vision of returning the old farmstead back to its glory,” Al says. “We knew one day we would be able to build our dream house here, we just had to be patient.”

While they exercised that patience, they had a lot of work to do cleaning and clearing the site, returning it back to its natural, beautiful state. After that hard work was done, they got started on the design.

“Melissa and I spent countless hours preparing, planning, and creating this property,” Al says. While they considered multiple designs and styles, their final inspiration came in 2014 from a source all-too familiar to those DIY daredevils with a thirst for renovation and remodeling — HGTV.

Each year the home improvement network unveils the HGTV Dream Home — a stunning piece of new construction built and designed by their cadre of stars — and offers viewers the chance to enter to win it. Al and Melissa were so inspired by the floorplan and design aesthetic of the 2014 HGTV Dream Home that they used it as the launching pad for their own custom version of this custom home.

They spent almost a year planning their project and then, blueprints in hand, it was time to fund the construction of their dream home. Naturally, they turned to their local bank, National Bank of Commerce, and their local banker, Emily Nothacker.

“Emily took the lead and provided us with her experience and leadership that made our dream come to reality,” Al says. “Her communication and knowledge of the industry provided us with the navigational tools we needed. She was always available to provide us with answers to questions and concerns with her calm, positive, and confident outlook on the end goal.”

It’s at this point in their story that things pick up steam. And, with steam, comes stress. The planning process took a full year. The construction, another year. During that time the Ratai’s wore a lot of hats, from designer and planner to general contractor and accountant. And, while the home was finished before the pandemic struggles of high prices, long lead times, and supply chain issues, that doesn’t mean the project was all smooth sailing. Honestly, no construction project of this size ever is. But the Ratai’s — along with the help of Emily and NBC — had the experience, confidence and temperament to overcome any hurdles the project presented.

“Life was a blur and at times I did not get to see the family as much as I would like, but I knew that the sacrifice would be worth it to be able to enjoy our dream house together for years to come,” Al says with the calm wisdom he’s clearly earned. “You must not get frustrated or emotional about processes that are out of your control. Remain positive and know that with proper planning and patience, along with surrounding yourself with capable people, the process will play out.”

Good advice from a couple who clearly practiced what they preach. But Al and Melissa have one final piece of advice to impart to anyone looking to follow in their footsteps:

“If you are looking to work with local people with the leadership and knowledge to navigate your project, do not hesitate to go with NBC!”

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