Granite House

Jan 21- Thanks for hanging in there with us as we plug away at contracts and legal documents to put in front of the board of directors for approval. Of course we’d hoped to be building by now but it takes TIME to do things RIGHT, and to do it right with a nonprofit corporation takes EVEN LONGER. Here is a photo taken just before the December snowstorm that shows the building site covered with a thick layer of straw and then covered with black plastic. Add to it a few layers of snow and ice, and it is well insulated and ready to go. The old well by the tree has been decommissioned and will be trimmed and buried below the surface when the new one is drilled.

Aug 20- Here is another photo of the lower level. Carol is looking out through the window of the physical therapy room and you can see the beam running through the hall.

April 29- The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Granite House residence! What a beautiful day for our celebration- clear blue skies and a nice breeze. We had over 50 guest who came to our program and watched our board members and partners do the ceremonial shovel dig, as an eagle flew by overhead. Tom’s helpers, Mary Ann the excavator and Wall-e the track loader, held the Granite House sign as we posed in front of the building site. We even had a spot on the 5:00 news on WCCO this evening. LINK

March 6- Just checking in-- we are still working hard with our team to get our legal and construction documents finalized, presented, and approved through our board of directors. So many details-- and with many more people and professionals involved, we are finding ourselves waiting for responses and feedback. We are still on track for groundbreaking soon and opening this fall, and appreciate your faith in what we are doing. Thanks to all of our supporters and your positive thoughts that keep us going. Our spring newsletter WILL feature a photo of our groundbreaking ceremony. If you are not on our mailing list for this publication, please let us know so you can share our next milestone!

May 24- We'll show you each step of the project. First: excavation. We broke ground in a BIG way on May 5, with Miller Excavating, our neighbor on Stagecoach Trail. They dug the main part on Friday and returned on Monday May 8 to complete the fine work and prepare for the footers. They even worked on the driveway to restore it, after the hard wear during excavation, to prepare for the cement trucks coming. Miller has generously donated their work to Granite House as a charitable consideration. Great neighbors! They will return after waterproofing to back fill the poured foundation. Please wave and smile next time you see one of their big red trucks drive by.

Jan 31- We just received our first donation specifically earmarked for our Music Therapy program. This officially opens this account to fund this important offering at Granite House. Our plan is to have group music therapy twice a month by Katie Corbett, MT-BC, MAMT, NICU-MT from Singing Heart. Katie, who is a board-certified music therapist, specializes in working with people with developmental disabilities and brain injuries. Music Therapy is widely used to stimulate the brain functions controlling movement, cognition, language and emotion. On a more basic level it provides relaxation and sensory stimulation. This is not covered in our funding for staffing and operations, so our hope is to have donors support this effort. For our residents it will be an important part of our program and we encourage anyone who wishes to support this program to make a gift and specify the Music Therapy program. For every $100 in donations we can offer a visit from Katie for all of the residents and family members who visit. Thank you!

June 4- Another generous contractor! The concrete for the foundation walls & footings and our interior polished concrete floors is being provided by Cemstone, the guys in the big blue cement trucks. The Becken family has given Granite House a charitable consideration of a generous discount on the material, working through the installers, Halverson Concrete. Thank you! We are very grateful for this gift-in-kind, which will extend into the materials for the entry and patio we have planned. Please help us thank them by recommending Cemstone to your neighbors.

July 13- Backfilling being done last week by Pete Miller from Miller Excavating, with Tom doing finish work around the foundation with his own track loader. The Miller family is still doing the work for no charge, and we are very grateful to our generous neighbors!


Aug 23- Lower level walls are done, and floor trusses are up. Today the plywood to cap the lower level goes down, then upper level framing, windows, and roofing comes. Note on the outer wall on the right in the photo-- the crew from Waterproofing Inc. came out and finished the foam and outer surface in preparation for the next phase of backfilling. The yellow foam will be covered when that is done. In the photo is Tom with Shawn Lundin, who is doing the framing mostly by himself with the help from his crane.

For more photos of the building progress, go to our BUILDING SITE tab on the website. 

July 24- Making progress towards pouring the floor! Photo shows Jim Larson from Larson Plumbing laying in the ground runs for the lower level drains. This will include the hydrotherapy tub, roll-in shower, staff bath, sink in the conference room, and laundry room. This week Tom is leveling out the base and installing radon rock in preparation for the in-floor heating installation and concrete pour.​

Sept 12- Raising the roof! The house is taking shape with the roof trusses complete and roof sheathing beginning. The screened porch is in the photo on the far left. The grading will bring the soil right up close to the entry door and then the concrete porch will be poured.

Sept 21- The triple-glazed Loewen windows were installed this week. Such great quality at a generously discounted price! The manufacturers in Canada as well as the distributors, Synergy Products, gave us discounts. When the framers were installing them, they were so sound-proof that they could hardly hear each other from the inside to the exterior. This house will be warm and cozy and cool in the summer--plus very quiet.Thank you to Loewen and Synergy!

May 15- We’ve got walls! In 2 weeks there has been great progress on the house. With the clear weather we’ve had, the excavation was completed and foundation walls poured. On the left is the garage entry, and Carol is standing outside the lower level conference room. The L-shaped house extends up to the top of the hill with the great room and screened porch. You can still catch that view of the WI River bluffs. More photos on the BUILDING tab on the website. We are expecting rain this week so Tom is putting up silt fencing and recycling that black plastic sheeting to protect the site before waterproofing, drain tile and back filling. If you have ever considered making a donation to Granite House, NOW is the time! Help us purchase the specialized equipment our residents will need once the house itself is completed. Thank you!

Aug 7- Another milestone--Halverson Concrete pouring the floor! Once again we received a per-yard discount on the concrete from Cemstone. The plumbing, electrical and well lines are under ground, covered with rock, foam, in-floor heating tubes, and rebar. The floor color is "Tofte," the name of a MN town on the north shore of Lake Superior. Next step-- walls and windows!​

Sept 3- The upper floor is framed and the roof trusses are going up this weekend. Look at the size of those windows! With the nice weather ahead the roof will be completed and the windows installed within the next week.

June 21- The poured foundation walls were waterproofed by the crew from Waterproofing, Inc. on May 15. With the imminent threat of a week of rain coming, Chris Gilbert’s crew worked hard all day, applying a waterproofing compound and Styrofoam insulation to the foundation walls. They finished just minutes before the rain began. Granite House received a generous charitable discount on the work, another welcome gift-in-kind from a great crew. Thank you, Chris, for coming through in the nick of time before the rain and helping us out with a donation. 

August 1-The stock market is up again and it’s time to think—would you rather pay capital gains tax or give it to Granite House? Giving appreciated stock can be a very cost-effective gift, especially if you have owned the stock for at least a year. The gift is deductible at the full fair market value, and Granite House receives the appreciated amount.  And, neither you nor Granite House have to pay capital gains tax because of our 501(c)(3) Charity status. For more information, see the DONATE tab on our website or send us an email at  to request the transaction details. We've had several donors do this and it's a win-win situation for everyone. 

Jan 3- Happy New Year to everyone! Our last few days of December were exciting as we saw donations on PayPal, checks arriving, and gifts of stock coming through. Our Community Grant of $4600 was fully matched and then exceeded by an additional $5000.
​Thank you for helping us make our goals this year! We love our donors and appreciate your faith in what we are doing.

Aug 20- The lower level is almost ready for trusses and capping off. Just imagine the upper level being on top of this one--the view will be fantastic and the big trees will provide lots of shade. We are making great progress!

Aug 11- Today the dimension lumber, sheathing and floor trusses were delivered at the site. Here’s Darin from Lyman Lumber with Tom. Lyman is working with us to get a discount on the materials with prompt billing terms. Another great partner participating in this project! Watch for the first photos of framing starting early next week.

July 2- DID YOU KNOW? In order to conserve resources and donor funds, Tom Insley, a retired 3M Chemical Engineer and one of the Granite House founders, is acting as General Contractor and Project Manager for the construction. He is receiving some excellent professional backup by Chad Bouley, VP of Homebuilding of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. We were introduced to Chad by one of our Thrivent partners, Lou Cristan, also a retired 3M engineer and active Habitat volunteer. In addition to providing his construction management expertise, Chad has shared his list of trusted subcontractors and suppliers. These providers are at the top of their field and already tuned in to the nuances of working with a nonprofit as well as being generous and engaged with our mission.

​May 31- Step 2- After excavation, the foundation walls were poured by Halverson Concrete of Hudson, WI. They had a big crew at the site setting up the forms over three days, May 9-11. Darin Schleuter and his crew formed the footings, then set up the tall forms for the foundation walls, poured them, then returned to remove the forms. They used sophisticated GPS survey equipment to assure the forms were precisely placed and following the plans. A great group of people and a job well done! Halverson also worked out a generous offer for Granite House by the concrete provider, which will be featured next time.

Our short program featured our partners in the community, then champagne at the pole barn

MN State Rep Kathy Lohmer, District 39B,  a former board member
Dan Kyllo, West Lakeland Township Chairman of the Board of Supervisors 
Todd Gillingham, Wealth Advisor at Thrivent Financial -Landmark Group

Lou Cristan, Retired 3M, Thrivent Community-Landmark, and Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity 
Tom Insley, Granite House founder, Project Manager, and General Contractor
Carol Insley, Granite House founder, Board Chair

Photo on right, back row, from left:  Dan Kyllo, Lucas Gahler (board), Todd Gillingham, Rep. Kathy Lohmer, Frank Ritter, MD (board), Carol Insley (board)
Front row, from left: Board members Anna Bohnen, RN, Donna Koning, MD, Tom Insley, Kirk Dahl, DDS

Photo lower left: Champagne at the pole barn! 
          Lower right:
Children were invited to bring their own shovels for the photos 

April 2- PROGRESS! We have our building permit and the corners of the house have been staked out by the surveyor. Our first two subcontractors, for excavation and foundation, are working out their schedules to break ground and pour the walls this month. Look carefully at the photo, left of the surveyor. His own taller stake is only two inches away from the stake that Tom and I placed in November with his own Theodolite.Pretty good work! That will be the corner of the bedroom wing by the garage. Watch for news about the next big step—groundbreaking!

July 13-Here's a photo of Tom with his Habitat for Humanity crew. On the left, Chad Bouley, VP of Homebuilding for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, and on the right, Lou Cristan, our Thrivent friend and Habitat volunteer. They are at the property today checking over the backfilling progress as we anticipate the framing to begin soon. So glad to have their expertise and support!

Granite House

Granite House

Granite House

​​A family-focused long-term care residence