Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Do you love WHERE you live but not so much the house you live in?  Are you frequently making adjustments and experiencing stress in your life because of how your home is designed?

Boswell McGuire Remodel - 140That is what Leslie and PJ were experiencing.  They didn’t want to move but the home was no longer working for them.  They decided they needed to do a remodel.  After some research and visiting our website, they decided to go with our Design/Build firm to help them design it and then do the construction.

A-1 Builders and Adaptations Design Studio work so well together that once the design and specification portions of this project were done, Leslie and PJ were able to go on about their lives, including traveling.

“Once the remodel started (the design staff) worked well with the construction crew to answer any design-related questions or problems that arose.  We are thrilled with the end-result!”  

Leslie and PJ actually enjoyed the process of construction – including getting ping-pong games going with the crew while they were on break!  (Congratulations, Shawn, for winning the tournament!)  You know, when things are worked out ahead of time, communication lines practiced and in place, and collaborative and hierarchical systems well established, things just go so much more smoothly…and efficiently!

“We especially appreciated the clear chain-of-command and the excellent communication on the part of the project manager.  We were given a flow-chart timeline of the work to be completed by A-1 and their subcontractors and any necessary adjustments were promptly discussed with us.  Any issues or problems that arose were addressed with honesty and integrity.” 

Prior to my 5 years here at A-1 Builders and Adaptations, I had 15 years of design experience working with many different contractors, almost all of which subcontracted out the drafting and design of their client’s projects.  I saw the results of projects that didn’t have teamwork in place; of poor or completely missing communication; of impatience for the planning of logistics and details.  So, my voice is one of experience…………Hooray for Design/Build Firms!

Our company has been blessed with some fun and creative clients of late.  Leslie and PJ have certainly been two of those clients!  Every time they came into the office, everyone’s spirits were lifted by the laughter – but especially the appreciation of the respect they clearly held for each other – both their differences as well as their similarities.  We would all like to say, whole heartedly, to Leslie and PJ – Thank you!!  You have been a joy to work with!

Patio door  and craneThe following article describes: What They Had, What They Wanted and What They Got.  For all the opportunities for melt-downs and miscommunications …very few, if any, were had.  Even getting the new 12 foot sliding glass door placed by using a crane for lifting it over the top of the house and onto the second floor balcony went smoothly!  The door slipped into place perfectly.  What a great testimonial to a well run company – one focusing on collaboration, respect, clear communication and meeting the needs of the clients.

What They Had

viewThe most outstanding feature of this home is the location.  Wow! What a view of the islands and sunsets!  It is no wonder that the clients, who have lived in this home for many years, want to stay for the long haul.  When a client comes forward knowing they want to stay in the same location for the rest of their lives, it really does make sense to create the structure that will support their lives.  But, even though they had the location to die for, the house had some pretty serious problems.

exterior full onOne of the more challenging problems they faced was managing the temperature.  In the summer time, the west facing kitchen, dining and family room with a spectacular view was, by evening, so hot it was difficult to cook and dine there. And the west facing upstairs master bedroom got so hot they would move out for the night – they ended up sleeping in their RV where it was cooler.   They had tried many different solutions but none seemed to work.  It just seemed to be hot on the west half of the house and cool on the east side.  Air movement was virtually non-existent.  Of course, those existing Saltillo tile floors that were gathering all that solar energy during the day and releasing it at night didn’t help much with moderating the temperature either – way overkill on the solar gain.

There was a very narrow main thoroughfare through the kitchen that everyone visiting or living there would pass through often.  This was frequently a bottleneck, a nightmare for the cook, and one of the most challenging to solve and still meet the other criteria for a successful design.

kitchen beforeTheir 1970s kitchen had the classic problem of an eating bar with cabinets that hung down so low that you could not see the people you were talking with even though they were sitting at the eating bar just 2 or 3 ft away.These low hanging cabinets cut the cook off from the dining area and family room.  And of course, to compensate for this restrictive design, people just  came right on INTO the kitchen to lean against the counter and chat with the cook – thereby being in the way.  This might sound very familiar to many of you!  We get called for kitchen remodels when they have this characteristic quite a lot.  On top of the ‘isolated, one cook kitchen’ layout, most of the cabinets were very poorly designed for practical and ergonomic use.

closet beforeThen there was the master bedroom’s 5’ x 4’ closet that was shoe-horned into the master bathroom.  With two people squeezing their clothes and shoes into that tiny space, I have to say that I was impressed at how much they actually got in there!  The ¾ master bathroom by itself was quite small and difficult for two people to use, let alone adding the extra traffic needed for getting into and out of the step-in closet.

And I should probably mention that getting hot water to the kitchen and master bathroom took about …11 days!

Throughout the house were countertops, trim details, appliances, cabinets, lighting, and flooring that were wearing out … they either had or were ready to ‘give up the ghost’.

Even with all of this, what they also had was some extra square footage located in just the right spaces!  Off the master bedroom was an under-utilized sitting room that had, in the past, been a bedroom.  They also had a large walk-in closet in one of the children’s bedrooms that actually served as storage for the whole house.  The child’s room didn’t need this much closet space.

What They Wanted

Go figure – they wanted the ability to sleep in their home year round.  Comfortable and manageable temperature control was high on their list.

In the kitchen, they wanted a wider passageway from the entry to the family room.  They wanted great storage in practical locations.  Leslie and PJ entertain quite a bit and wanted to open up the kitchen (and the cook!) to the festivities of the occasion without asking the cook to waltz around their guests.

In the master suite, Leslie and PJ wanted a functional closet… one they could get to without asking their partner to step aside.  They also needed additional storage and wanted a relaxing, healthful soaking tub.

And it goes without saying – they wanted hot water to arrive at the tap within seconds rather than days.

What They Got

We were able to create a comfortable and manageable environment – whether hot or cold outside – by:

• Changing out the existing 1970s wood windows with energy efficient Loewen windows with wood interior and aluminum clad exterior windows
• Adding a whole house ventilation fan in the laundry room
• Adding (4) fresh air intake portals
• Converting some of the existing heat system to ductless mini-split systems

Each of these solutions focused on one of the core values of these clients – energy efficiency… aka, care of the planet.  The reduction of their existing hot water baseboard heating and the addition of the ductless mini-splits were quite strategic in design; many thanks to Northwest Energy Systems for their valuable advice.

bath twoWe also were quite strategic about which windows were a higher priority to replace and which were to have extra thermal and high wind performance.  Changing out the windows was probably one of the most effective things they chose to do to improve the comfort of their home as well as the amount of energy the home will use over its life time.  Great investment for them and the planet!

And why was it taking so long to get hot water to the faucets!?  Past remodels had routed plumbing lines into some, shall we say …‘interesting’ configurations?   Favinger Plumbing custom designed an energy efficient system; one that met all their requests.  And, just as with the HVAC remodel, a ‘systems thinking’ approach was used for the whole house: lines were re-routed, older inefficient appliances were replaced, and they can now turn on the faucet anywhere and get hot water right away.  The new system heats the water efficiently, stores it efficiently, and efficiently “gets it to the church on time.”  The perfect wedding!

The master bathroom adopted some of that extra square footage in the child’s bedroom closet.  With this extra space, they were able to put in a soaking tub with windows that let in close up views of beautiful Western Red Cedars.  Those same new windows also now let in first light to brighten the morning.  When a room is filled with natural light, electrical lights are less likely to be used.  The clients chose light colors which enhanced this even further.  We also converted that tiny master closet into a shower for two and we added a linen cabinet.

storage closetSo where did we find room for the master closet?  The sitting room that had been converted from a bedroom in a past remodel was perfect for a large dressing room that would also have a window seat …keeping its use as a nice place to sit and read while also enjoying the view of the islands.  Careful design was considered when laying this room out so that it could comfortably and effectively be used by both clients at the same time.  As we all know, couples don’t always manage their lives the same way. Thoughtful planning can be a great stress reducer.  A motion sensor light in the extra deep closet prevents the closet light from being left on accidently.

In order to get all the needs and desires met in the kitchen we added a 2 ft bump-out (total of 37 sq ft) – spanning between two existing bay windows.  The addition was completely under and, therefore, roofed by an existing waterproof deck.  We made several attempts at designing a remodel without an addition but once we saw what it did for how the kitchen would function, it was obviously the perfect solution.

With this tiny addition we gained the extra width in the main corridor that runs through the kitchen.   We were also able to open up the kitchen with wider aisles, allowing more room for the cook and helpers – and for them to still be a part of the fun and frolic of the evening!

exterior at angle

islandWe planned for THEIR lifestyle and for the accoutrements we live with in THIS century – like cell phone and camera chargers, recycling and composting, natural materials and our connection with nature, and, of course, honoring each other and the kitchen as the gathering spot in the home. It was quite helpful that PJ and Leslie had been living in the home for many years and knew just where the weak and strong points were in the house – especially the kitchen!

Island threeAdaptations Design Studio, A-1 Builders and the clients all put our priorities on long life cycle products, energy efficiency, supporting local businesses, minimizing any additional square footage, and thinking about the home as a system.   We used impressions of nature in the design and colors – bringing inside, the natural environment that is so much a part of PJ and Leslie’s lives!  Since they are planning on living there for the long term, we put their lifestyle as one of the highest priorities.  We really had no discussion of re-sale value when making decisions.  For me, personally, that was refreshing!

1. Designer and author: Cindi Landreth
2. Design Project Management: Maggie Bates
3. Cabinet Management: Paula Wlaznak
4. Production Lead Project Manager: Shawn Serdahl
5. Support Carpenters and Cabinet Installers: Justin Deane, Chris Pasquini, Adam Yost, Arthur Johnnson, Mike Gill, Gerard Kincaid, John Del Signore
6. Shop Manager: Chris Frerichs
7. Production Manager: Joe Gillmer
8. Office Manager: Bobbi Plata
9. Reception: Nancy Sabiston
10. Lead Sales: Rick Dubrow
11. Estimating and Project Management: Patrick Martin

Testimonial by Leslie & PJ Boswell-McGuire

“The design work with Adaptations was instrumental to the success and ease of our remodel.  The time and cost up-front saved us money and stress during the construction period.  Cindi and the staff were knowledgable, thorough, and detail-oriented and worked collaboratively with us to create a design to fit our needs and desires.  The samples in their showroom and the vendors they referred us to gave us good materials to pick from.  Once the remodel started they worked well with the construction crew to answer any design-related questions or problems that arose.  We are thrilled with the end-result!

“A-1 Builders was wonderful to work with for our major remodel project.  They were well-organized, responsible, and held themselves to a high standard. Their primary goal was to give us the end-result we desired and they exhibited superior craftsmanship, and attention-to-detail in doing so.  We especially appreciated the clear chain-of-command and the excellent communication on the part of the project manager.  We were given a flow-chart timeline of the work to be completed by A-1 and their sub-contractors and any necessary adjustments were promptly discussed with us.  Any issues or problems that arose were addressed with honesty and integrity. The worksite was well-organized and cleaned up at the end of each day and the workers were friendly and respectful of our space.  Our remodel experience has been extremely positive and A-1 Builders will be our first choice for any future work!”

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