Inside The Former Factory This Iowa Family Calls Home

Dan Hibma doesn’t need a study on housing trends or aging populations. The mind behind Vision Builders Iowa knows what’s going on in his state and he’s developing logical – and beautiful – solutions to address shifting housing needs.

“The idea of living closer to community is appealing for all ages,” Hibma comments. So, when an old factory building in Orange City went on the market, he knew just the people who’d benefit from moving closer to town: his parents.

“My folks lived on a farm and it was time to get off the farm,” notes Hibma. “But trying to convince my dad was another story. He doesn’t like suburban living on the golf course.”

The location near Main Street was appealing, but the building’s history sealed the deal. It was the original factory of Vogel Paint – the family-run company Dan’s dad had proudly worked at his entire life.

“My dad had a lot of respect for Andrew (Vogel) as a man and as a boss, but you don’t build a great paint company by spending a lot of money – you had to be frugal a bit.”

So when it came time to renovate the factory into a dream retirement home, Hibma left a few of the quirky features – such as using 10 boards to cover up an 8-inch hole, or wood that was so flimsy it hardly served its designated purpose. “Dad got a kick we saved those little nuances throughout.”

But the heart of the renovation required gutting the building, originally built in the 1880s and added on throughout the years.

“When we started working on it in 2018, the building was just worn out,” recalls Hibma. But there was a commitment to keep the façade so it would fit in with the downtown area, while innovation dictated the conversion in the back.

“I wanted to make sure it had nice views, but there’s a bunch of old homes around it, so creating the outside space was just as important as the inside space.” Floor-to-ceiling Pella windows offer both natural light and a link to the outdoors. Decorative fences, crafted from cedar and Lp Smartside siding, open up the small back yard. A private patio area, with raised garden beds (filled with dirt from their farm), completes the outdoor experience.

Indoors, the original Douglas fir beams were salvaged whenever possible. Reclaimed Douglas fir was brought in for the stair treads and engineered white oak flooring is found on the first level. The second level has the original floor – and its original factory markings. A modern touch is found in the kitchen, with its Cambria counters, warm brick walls, and sleek appliances.

Everything his parents need is on the ground floor, with 900 square feet of living space and a garage. Upstairs is an open room, as well as a bedroom and dining area that is used for family gatherings and the third floor has been converted into a playroom for grandchildren, complete with foosball and a ping-pong table.

“It was a great responsibility to build my parents’ home from a historic factory, but it’s also my greatest joy,” remarks Hibma.

And it follows the company practice that Hibma and his partner Ben Kurtzleben embrace – developing projects that keep the Sioux Center and Orange City areas vibrant. Their effort includes keeping college grads in the area and turning over housing stock so that retirees – as well as younger families – can afford to live in the area.

Photography courtesy of Vision Builders. 

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