A Lake Oswego homebuilder builds his own house next to relatives.
by: Vern Uyetake, Wendy Martel Klann and her husband, Ben Klann, said their new Craftsman home Ben designed is comfortable. The family room has plush furniture.  A dog room, below, was created for their late dog, Otis, and features a shower and floor for easy clean-up.

Three acres. Three houses. Three generations of family. A million memories.

Tucked off Childs Road in Lake Oswego sits the Klann residences. Three homes on the Tualatin River share a private driveway and the homeowners share a last name.

Ben Klann, a local homebuilder, just completed his residence, next to his parents and late grandmother's home on property their family has owned for 60 years.

Family is a big part of Ben's life. His Lake Oswego business, Klann Construction, LLC, is family-owned-and-operated.

Ben's mother, Mindy Klann, is president of his company; he is vice president. His sister, Marni Klann, is a commercial and residential estimator at Paragon Tile and helped complete all tile and granite work for Ben's new home.

The family has a love of houses - designing them, building them, remodeling them.

'We're a small company and I'm hands on. I'm with the customers daily. I'm doing the work for them,' Ben said. 'When you shake my hand to sign a contract you know I'll be there daily doing the work.'

And while Ben is working in the field, his mom is answering the phone, booking appointments, purchasing materials and doing the bookkeeping.

'Otherwise, it's hard to work all day (at job sites) with my phone ringing,' Ben said.

For his own project, Ben and his wife, Wendy Martel Klann, opted to rebuild on the property that once belonging to his late grandmother Camille Ann Prescott's sister, Bo Spousta, who just passed away at age 92.

Wendy said their new surroundings are inspiring.

'It's nice because this is the wetlands down here. We don't hear a peep,' Wendy said. 'We have deer that wander through. It's quiet.'

And their new 6,900-square-foot Craftsman home is also serene.

'His true taste is Craftsman,' Wendy said of her husband. 'I'm about a cozy, warm snuggle up environment. This is perfect.'

The living room overlooking the picturesque backyard is comfortable with a stone fireplace, box-beam ceiling, thick baseboard molding and a wall of windows. The furniture is plush. The colors are tan and rose.

'I like to stay simple,' Ben said. 'You can go overboard. If you start mixing an Oregon Craftsman with a Californian Craftsman, then it's not going to look right. The materials and roof design are different.'

Ben has remodeled and built several Craftsman homes in Sellwood and Lake Oswego in the past five years and is currently remodeling one off West Bay.

On his lot, the surroundings are very much a part of the interior.

Any plants brought onto the property are native to Oregon and from Bosky Dell Natives in West Linn. Pacific Habitat Services, Inc. and landscape architect Jane Combs provided environmental consulting for the Klanns regarding their wetland preservation, Wendy said.

Ben - alongside his sub contractors, friends and family members - built the house.

'One of my favorite memories is the first wall going up,' Ben said, who designed his house.

Ben has worked on construction sites for 17 years and started out as a framer. That first wall began the Klann's new kitchen. But the layout evolved over time.

'The kitchen was originally where the dining room is,' Wendy said. 'I said, 'why wouldn't I be cooking looking at the river?''

Ben agreed, saying, 'Just being able to make on-site decisions of how we're going to move a whole kitchen was something that we had to do.'

The kitchen - with light cabinetry, extensive tile, a large range and inviting décor - overlooks the backyard and flows nicely into the family room and dining room.

The three bedroom, three bathroom house also features a room 'for their pooch,' Wendy said. The laundry room, with easy-clean-up checkerboard flooring features a dog shower and dog memorabilia. Their dog, Otis, just passed away and pictures are up on the wall to remember him.

'I've noticed a lot of homes are doing these dog showers. It is nice when you live on the river. When Otis had muddy paws he'd just come in here,' Wendy said. 'Or Ben, with his muddy boots. It's nice to have warm water and all (surfaces) are easy to clean.'

Upstairs, the master suite also overlooks the river and has an easy, breezy feel. A red and white striped bed comforter gives the room a fresh, upbeat vibe - like a peppermint.

Ben said that as a contractor, his job is to help clients envision their dream house and 'make it happen.' This house is Ben and Wendy's dream - and much bigger than their former digs. Previously, the Klanns lived in a house on a small lot in Portland. They now have a custom-built home and 2,000-square-foot unfinished basement beckoning Ben.

'It's maybe a future pool room,' he said.

Wendy smiled.

The couple is still adjusting to their spacious lot and house.

'I like having space,' Ben said. 'What a change.'

For more information about Klann Construction, LLC, visit the Web site at To contact Ben Klann, call 503-319-4244 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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