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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Uncover house's former glory

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

What a difference a year makes! At the beginning of 2006, a run-down eyesore blighted a lovely Federal Heights street. Today a tasteful, stately home with beautiful landscaping adds to the charm and character of the area. The home stands ready to shelter a family and facilitate all the activities of gracious and productive living.

We've been tracking the progress of this project for a year now. At the beginning of 2006 this home was a large, rundown house that had had many questionable additions over the years. It's most recent and long-standing use had been as a fraternity house. A group of developers saw potential behind the well-used exterior and took on the project, hiring us to be the architects.

After years of additions and vigorous use as a fraternity house, this 1920s home in Federal Heights has received a complete makeover.

We have been regularly tracking the progress of this project throughout the year to give you a sense of the time and effort required to undertake a major remodel. Originally built in the 1920s, the house had 'good bones.' The style was reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie homes with low overhanging eaves, a hip roof and large rectangular windows. But the original style was buried.

The demolition on this house was more extensive than most. It was gutted down to the studs, and even some of the studs were replaced, along with part of the subfloor. Part of the home was permanently demolished, reducing the total square footage by more than 800 square feet.

The main goal of the design was to uncover the house's former glory while updating the floor plan to accommodate today's family. We incorporated several modern features such as a great room off a large kitchen and generous closet space. The completed home is two stories with a finished basement and includes six bedrooms, three and a half baths, a kitchen, great room, dining room, living room, study, family room and laundry room. The original porch was restored, and a new two-car garage was added, creating a courtyard between the house and the garage. The yard is enclosed by a six-foot high concrete block wall covered in stucco to match the house.

The home also boasts all new wiring and piping as well as a new forced air furnace and air conditioning. After the many layers of old shingles were removed, a new layer of sheathing and waterproofing was laid down under new architectural asphalt shingles. Such work results in the convenience of a new home and the charm of an old home. However, the budget reflects the great time and effort required to do such a massive remodel.

Now that the major work is done, all that remains are the myriad of touch-up tasks, such as painting, adjusting metal railings, final appliance installation and cleanup.

Of course, the project was not without its challenges. Compromises were made to keep the budget in line. Sub-par sub-contractors had to be replaced midproject. Even with professional developers in charge, the course of construction never runs smoothly, so patience and perseverance are a must when undertaking a remodeling project.

Now the that home is gorgeous, the stress and work seem worth the effort. So keep your eye on the ultimate goal when in the throes of a construction project! When the workers are gone and the last bit of dust is vacuumed away, peace settles over the house and it is ready to be made a home. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

© 2007 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.

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