Homeowners’ Wishes Become My Goals
My clients were a couple who bought a new home in the location they wanted. They knew the whole house needed remodeling. Their blended family includes six adult children. They wanted to achieve a large addition for a dining room, enlarge the kitchen, and possibly enlarge the master suite above the kitchen. Shortly after they bought the home, they called me to design their whole-house remodeling project with major additions.
Homeowners’ Wish List:
- A smart home, controlled by phones and pads
- A dining room that would easily seat 16-18 people;
- A larger kitchen with a dedicated coffee bar and more storage, and more usable countertop space
- A larger deck for entertaining and a hot tub for the family
- An updated living room with stacking doors
- A home office for the wife
- An updated master bathroom with a two-person shower and a separate makeup area
- A multi-purpose guest bedroom and bathroom
- A laundry room that’s accessible by everyone
- More storage
- A dedicated playroom with a large projector TV and theater seats
- A storage area above the husband’s workshop in the garage
Challenges to Prevent The Whole-House Remodeling
I learned years ago to check with the building and planning departments before starting to design an addition. The planning official said that this home was close to a floodplain, and he’d need to see two things before giving us the go-ahead with the major additions:
◊ Preliminary plans of the proposed addition and deck;
◊ A positive report from a soils engineer that the proposed addition was okay.
It’s human to go ahead and assume that everything will be okay. But in this case, it wasn’t. The 760 square-foot addition came too close to the floodplain. The planning official said that he definitely needed to see a soil report. The homeowners weren’t happy with the situation, but they hired a soil engineer. The engineer drilled several holes down to 50 feet in the proposed addition area and discovered that the “soil” was mostly sand. The homeowners were devastated. They had bought a home, thinking it would be everything they always wanted. They had two choices: To resell the home, find another home, stay in this home, and make the best of it.
The Whole-House Remodeling Project Forged Ahead!
They took several weeks to talk about their alternatives and make a decision. I received an email telling me that they wanted to proceed but scale back their whole-house remodeling project severely. After getting that message, the first part of the meeting was uncomfortable for all of us, like trying to speak and understand a foreign language to build a strong bridge of communication. I felt the anguish they had experienced and listened to their story to gather information about our direction moving forward. By the end of the meeting, we had achieved a new level of understanding and compassion.
I went back to work to see how we could achieve what they wanted, using the original wish list we had compiled. The smart home and the workshop with a storage mezzanine above weren’t a problem, but the rest of the list was challenging.
Whole-House Remodeling Project Details Room By Room:
DINING ROOM: There was no way that the existing dining room would comfortably seat 16-18 people because it was landlocked. When I asked the homeowners if they would ever seat that many friends at the dining table, they responded that the only reason for needing a large dining room was for family gatherings. I widened the doorway between the adjacent entry hall. If two tables were placed next to each other and extended to the maximum possible into the entry hall, it would seat 18 people. A custom cantilevered cabinet is a beautiful display hutch with a granite countertop.
LARGER KITCHEN: The kitchen was expanded to be on the same plane as the garage, approximately five feet. We achieved this by cantilevering the floor joists and creatively framing a new roof over the kitchen so that the ceiling could be extended at the same height. This additional space gave the homeowners what they wanted. They chose custom gray cabinets, granite countertops, and porcelain tile with glass tile accents. A bonus in the kitchen is the heated countertop where they can sit for casual meals.
LARGER DECK: The planning department didn’t balk when we submitted the plans that included a new deck three times larger than the original deck because a structural engineer designed it for stability on unstable soil. The new deck has two sets of stairs: The large main stairway leads to the rear garden, and a side stairway leads to a concrete pad for the family hot tub.
LIVING ROOM: The homeowners found a manufacturer of stacking patio doors that met their requirements. They selected a new fireplace, and we designed the surround, mantel, and recessed AV controls that would be hidden by the flat-screen TV mounted on heavy-duty swing-arm support.
WIFE’S OFFICE: The original den, adjacent to the entry hall, became the wife’s office. She requested a larger side window so she could see the floodplain and the wildlife.
MASTER BATHROOM: New cabinets, countertops, plumbing, and lighting was designed to replace the existing double lavatories. A two-person shower replaced the existing 6-foot whirlpool tub. We replaced the double doors with a single 3-foot wide door that allowed the master shower to be amply deep. The existing window remained, and a new window was installed adjacent to the wife’s new generous makeup area.
WASTED SPACE CONVERTED TO A GUEST BEDROOM AND BATHROOM: This home had a large open area on the second floor, about 170 square feet, that was useless wasted space. The laundry room was adjacent to this room. I designed a wall along the upstairs hallway to enclose the room and converted the laundry room to a bathroom with a neo-angle shower.
LAUNDRY ROOM: Borrowing about 10 feet from the large room allowed enough space for a laundry room accessible from the hallway. It has storage cabinets, a large single sink, a built-in ironing center, and pull-down rods for air drying clothes.
PLAYROOM: The perfect location for this was a large corner bedroom separated from other bedrooms. A state-of-the-art ceiling projector and built-in speakers are the heart of the environment. We added a platform for two levels of comfy theater seats to watch TV, movies, and play video games on the humongous screen.
MORE STORAGE: One storage area is a cabinet that’s cantilevered into the garage for bulk purchases. It’s high enough so no one will bump their head. Another storage area was achieved by redesigning the upstairs hallway to allow the addition of two deep closets. The loft above the husband’s garage workshop will also provide a lot of storage for seasonal accessories, luggage, and more.
We worked on this whole-house remodeling project for 15 months. The plans I prepared totaled 26 pages on 24” x 36” paper. The plans included 40 interior elevations, four exterior elevations, and eight virtual-reality perspectives. The general contractor called me the day he went to the building department to talk with the building inspector. He said with excitement, “The plans were approved with no comments and no red marks!” He told me this is the first time in over 40 years that plans were approved quickly without requiring additional information or revisions. I was happy to hear this, but this has happened with my plans many times. Details are important!
It was a joy to attend the housewarming party, see the homeowners enjoying their new home, and witness the transformation’s guests’ reaction. One of the guests was the agent who helped the couple find this home. He told us he couldn’t believe that it was the same home. It was a major transformation that the couple will love and enjoy for years. This is what makes me happy when I know we’ve achieved my clients’ goals.
If you have an existing or new home that you’d like to transform, I can help you! I listen and give honest feedback. I prepare detailed plans to help everyone involved in your project help you achieve your goals. Call me today to chat about your home remodeling desires!
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