Award-winning renovation: All in the family
Award-winning renovation project presented challenges for contractor whose clients wanted to retain part of the grandparents’ home for sentimental reasons
It’s not a rare occurrence, in a major renovation, for contractor and client to reach the conclusion that it’s best to tear down the structure and start fresh.
But that was not an option for Tony Alfieri, founder of Windrush Hill Construction of St. Catharines, Ont., as he set out to re-build a 1960s-era, 1,650-square-foot bungalow.
The home, purchased by a professional couple, had been owned by the grandparents of the female purchaser and, for sentimental reasons, she wanted to keep some of the old frame intact – even though a greenhouse had long been attached to the home, resulting in extensive mould growth throughout the back walls and roof. Alfieri quickly decided that the whole roof had to go.
Almost two years later, Alfieri finds himself accepting congratulations for winning a 2013 Ontario Home Builders’ Association award for Most Outstanding Home Renovation (client cost $100,001–$500,000). The project, dubbed Next Generation, was particularly satisfying for Alfieri, who loves the “grey matter” of renovations – dealing with the existing infrastructure and getting creative as the job plays out, as opposed to the black and white of drawing up completely new plans.
He describes the project as contemporary with an open design. A focal point is the open-concept gathering space, including kitchen, family room and dining area. In addition, there are three bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, huge laundry room, mudroom and two-car garage on the main level and, in the basement, a gym, office, spa washroom with lounging tub and rec room. There’s also a room dedicated to an integrated $40,000 entertainment system.
The open concept extends to the backyard, which features a covered outdoor kitchen and dining area, pool, cabana with washroom and wood-burning fireplace.
The main home was renovated last year and the backyard additions installed this year.
Including the basement, there is now about 3,700 square feet of living space on a property that is pie-shaped and measures 130 feet wide by 180 deep at the curb.
The project, budgeted for between $300,000 and $400,000, came in around $380,000.
“It wasn’t a large addition, but it was a very good utilization of space,” Alfieri says.
It’s often more cost-effective to start from scratch, he says. He doesn’t want to pay an electrician for three hours’ work to try to diagnose something within an existing wall when it should be torn down and built from the floor up.
“This is essentially a brand new home,” says the 47-year-old. “We completely gutted the house, even though a substantial part is still there. We took it right down to the studs. New electrical, plumbing, insulation, new HVAC.”
Alfieri relishes the opportunity to change plans on the fly if need be. “We change things up – the house has a glass garage door, which is a unique feature, which was never really thought about (but) which brought a lot to the table.”
The new homeowners, both boomers, were typical of many current Windrush Hill clients, Alfieri says. Many are aged 45-plus and looking for a home – ideally a bungalow – that they can renovate to meet their needs as they become aging empty nesters. The more amenities kept on the main floor, the better.
The infrastructure incorporated into Next Generation included hydronics heating in some rooms with hot-water pipes built right into the floor, a top-of-the-line HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) system; and top-end insulation of R30 in the walls and R50 in the attic.
Such features add value but what tends to win awards – this is the third for Windrush HiIl – are curb-appeal and a walk-in design that takes the breath away.
Alfieri was trained as a landscape architect and worked on some 700-800 homes in the construction industry before starting his own company 17 years ago. He keeps Windrush Hill small enough so that he can serve as the hands-on project manager for each job – which means he has 18 months’ worth of projects waiting for him. Consulting extensively with the client, he asks questions such as how many people they have for Christmas dinner, what sports the kids play (for mud-room design) and where they want their Christmas tree, then draws up the plans.