When we got the phone call from a homeowner in Maryland who was hunting for a contractor in Missouri, we could tell she was at a bit of a loss. Though she was many miles away, she needed someone who could repair her fire-damaged home in Pierce City. I’ll admit that this was in the early days of our business – less than a year old! The scope of work would be our biggest project to date, but we were ready to cut our teeth.
Upon the first appointment, Casey and I realized this would be more than “cutting our teeth!” The age of the one-hundred-plus-year-old house and the extent of fire damage were two huge factors that would make this project full of unpredictable challenges. After leaving the appointment, Casey and I were certain this was NOT the job for us!
Apparently, every other contractor had decided this was not the job for them, as well!! Being so “young” in the construction world meant that we did not have experience creating complicated estimates. We were so sure that our extensive bid, full of “high-dollar” expenses, would knock us out of the running immediately. Silly me! Less than twenty minutes after I emailed the estimate, the homeowner ecstatically called me to offer us the job! We were HALF the cost of all other contractors!!
Harris Renovations was determined to rise to the challenge, so the demolition began!! We were hired to rebuild the back of the house – an addition to the original house, but still extremely old. Step one involved the extensive removal of… basically… everything. Very little of the original bones could remain.
The bones that did remain were the original, solid-oak, 2×4 floor joists under the front half of the addition. Indications throughout this project would date these joists back to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. Yet, no lumber today could come close to replacing the quality and stability this solid oak provides. They just don’t make ’em like they used to!
However, the back half of the addition had no floor joists whatsoever. Pre-fire, the floor was resting entirely on the dirt ground. This discovery created the need for a new floor joist system, and, unfortunately, cut into the eventual ceiling height of the finished space. From the beginning, Harris Renovations has been committed to high standards. The new floor joist system was built right and will provide sturdy support for years to come.
You might be wondering why the original exterior walls are still standing. Well, they’re the only support holding up the roof!! We had no choice but to leave these walls in place until we were ready to frame the exterior. But, never fear! These will go away!
The homeowner provided specific floor plans for her “future” space, though we would not be taking this project to total completion. It was, however, crucial that we rough-in the plumbing before laying down the floor. Meticulous details were planned with the exact placement of future fixtures. By doing this, the homeowner can complete this project to her specifications without a challenge!
Reinforcement of ceiling joists was a must, which sadly cut into the height of the space more. But, structural integrity had to take priority.
We were finally to a point that allowed us to build exterior walls and remove the old. This was not without its treasures!! Behind the lath and plaster, as the insulation, was newspaper from the 1880’s!! Yes! This was the insulation of the time, and it was worth taking a break to admire!
With the exterior walls built and sheathed, it was time for the electricians to bring electricity from the main house to the addition. They roughed in the outlets, switches, and light fixtures.
This project was full of many “firsts” for us, including our first pocket door! I must say, I’ve been addicted to them ever since!
Excellent, R-30 insulation was placed between the ceiling joists, and homeowner provided spray foam insulation for the exterior walls. Spraying foam insulation is truly a job for the experts, but the budget was limited to Harris Renovations performing the task. Another first with great results!!
Dare I say, “Drywall!!” It is the point of every project when the space really starts to take shape. The bones get the skin!
On top of the drywall, the two, new, energy-efficient windows were installed.
Below you see the addition of the interior bedroom door and bi-fold doors that will house the future washer and dryer!
James Hardie siding was installed on the exterior, which gave the addition a very polished look. The homeowner loved the look so much, she has since finished the rest of her house in the same siding! The roof line allowed for new soffit and fascia at the back of the addition, brightening this wall dramatically. Finally, the exterior door is full of charm with a nautical porch light centered above.
Though this may have been the job no one wanted, we are so grateful we got it! The scope of work was truly challenging, pushing our knowledge and experience to a new level. Prior to this project, we were filling the schedule with handyman jobs that offered little gratification. We knew we had the hunger for something bigger, but we never saw this one coming! Pierce City will always be a milestone in our company’s history. It will be that project that pushed us into full-time contractors and hung-up the hat of handyman. We have never looked back.
“This company did outstanding on a job that was out of the norm. They turned and old addition, that was serving no purpose and had sustained extensive fire damage and deterioration, into a small bedroom suite that included a large walkin closet and the ruff in for a 3 piece bathroom. A mud room and laundry closet was also built. Because of the age of the home and the fire damage, several problems arose that could have pushed me out of budget, but they came up with creative solutions that were able to keep me in budget. The were also able to accommodate some requests that would make future remodels less expensive because the infrastructure will already be there. This company is professional and accommodating to all request even the inconvenient ones. I would definitely recommend this company to anyone. I will definitely be using them for future projects.”