Project Spotlight: Full house restoration after fire
For most homeowners, one of the most devastating things that can happen to their home is a disaster that forces them to move out and rebuild or remodel. Unfortunately, we work with many homeowners who are experiencing a tragedy as a result of fire, flood, wind and/or water damage in various rooms of their home. For these homeowners, it is our mission and responsibility to make the remodeling process as simple and pain free as possible, so the homeowners can focus on what matters most, their families.
Recently, we worked with one homeowner who, following a house fire needed to do an extensive restoration to the entire interior of their home. The fire originated from a faulty dehumidifier in the basement. Smoke and soot entered the walls and the main air ducts within the home, resulting in heavy smoke and soot damage throughout. As the extent of the smoke damage was quite severe, the homeowners were set up with alternate living arrangements for the duration of the remodel.
We were able to work with the homeowners, their insurance company, and an architect to develop a plan for rebuilding and remodeling all areas of the home that were damaged, a project that took several months. Below we’ve outlined the work completed in various rooms throughout the home as well as specific materials/systems needing replacement.
HVAC (Heat, Vent & Air Conditioning), Electrical and Plumbing
One of the first things we needed to address in the home was the damage to the HVAC system, as the smoke damage caused by the fire was so severe the entire system needed to be replaced. In order to ensure this was done correctly, we worked with a company that specializes in replacing HVAC systems. Additionally, certain plumbing items, such as the boiler, were not serviceable and needed to be replaced. We replaced all items necessary and made additional upgrades per the homeowner’s request. Lastly, when addressing the electrical damages to the house, we were required to make all changes necessary to bring the home up to code. The homeowners had code coverage in their policy, something that is not found in every policy, which helped cover the additional costs associated with this and other code required upgrades/items.
A large area of our focus went towards the repairs for the basement of the home, where the fire started. In addition to the cosmetic damages that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the space was back to pre-fire conditions, we needed to ensure the safety and structure of the house. The fire destroyed one of the main structural beams within the basement that supported the living room, dining room and kitchen. This beam needed to be removed and replaced to ensure the structural integrity of these rooms, and the rest of the home. In order to do this, we built temporary support walls that were removed once the new beam was securely in place. Code requirements in this township also required us to install a basement egress window as the basement did not previously have one.
The kitchen did indeed experience smoke/soot damage throughout the room. However, after beginning removal of affected materials we discovered that there was also smoke damage within the walls. Given the need for a full restoration of the room, the homeowners decided to upgrade their kitchen in the process. We worked with them to create a new layout and a more open floor plan. The homeowners chose Waypoint cabinetry in a Cherry wood with an Autumn finish for their new kitchen and complimented it with a beautiful new granite slab and beveled tile backsplash. Glass panels and cabinet lighting were added for some additional flair along with modern appliances and plumbing fixtures. We also removed the old vinyl flooring and replaced it with Avalon Gemini Fume 12x12 tile. The changes made to the layout also provided enough space for the install of an island with a cantilevered top to provide seating within the room. A great optional upgrade for them to provide a spot for a quick breakfast with the kids before school. With lots of creative input from the homeowners and hard work from our team, the kitchen evolved into a truly beautiful and more functional space for them to enjoy for years to come.
The three bathrooms in the home, the powder room, hall bathroom and master bathroom all needed to be restored as well. In the powder room on the ground level, we installed a new vanity, trim, new flooring, new finish plumbing and repainted the walls. We also removed an existing knee wall creating a whole new room.
The hall bathroom serves as the main bathroom for the homeowner’s children. In this room the original tile was replaced with Avalon- Cavatina Aria 13x13 tile with coordinating bullnose tile. We also installed new Cavatina Aria 13x13 tile flooring, a new vanity and new finish plumbing.
In the master bathroom, we installed Thermae pearl 13x13 tile with coordinating bullnose tile outside of the tub and shower surround. The homeowners chose a smaller tile in the same series for the shower tile as well as custom granite sills. We also installed new tile flooring, repainted the room, and installed a new custom vanity and top. New plumbing fixtures were chosen from the same product line to complement each other. The lighting within the room was also updated per the request of the homeowner so that lighting could be operated independently. The restoration of the bathroom also required the replacement of the custom glass shower surround and mirror glass. Both were installed slightly differently than the prior bathroom ultimately making for a very elegant finished product.
In the family room we worked to make both necessary repairs as well as a few requested changes. In addition to the electrical and HVAC that was completed throughout the house, we removed and replaced the drywall in all rooms as well. Much to our surprise there was paneling installed behind the visible drywall in this room. It is not unusual to find layering of materials like this, and when we do find it, it typically adds additional work to the project. During repairs for this room, the homeowners asked us to remove the false decorative beams from the ceiling and not to reinstall them as they felt this was not the finished look they were after. As an upgrade, the homeowners asked us to change the design of the fireplace wall as it served as the main focal point of the room. We removed the existing shelving and installed lower cabinets on either side of the fireplace with bluestone tops. The existing mantle beam was cut down and capped with hardwood to be stained and finished along with the new cabinets to match. To provide the additional shelving lost by the install of cabinets instead of shelf boards, the customer opted for the install of glass shelving on the walls on either side of the mantle. The finished wall provided a more modern and cleaner look, which was more in line with the homeowner’s style.
Though the larger portions of the restoration are mentioned above, there was a lot of other work that took place on this project as well. It was indeed the entirety of the interior of the home and its systems needing replacement. Here are a few additional highlights of the project:
In the foyer, we removed the existing wallpaper and painted the walls. We also installed new tile flooring and removed the doorway to the hall. Lastly, we did a detail cleaning on the iron handrail and gave it a fresh coat of paint. The bluestone slate steps to the landing were cracked and not in great shape overall. At the homeowners request these slates were replaced along with the portion beneath the iron railing on the landing to match. Not only does it now look much better, this also gave us the opportunity to re secure the railing making it much sturdier.
The laundry room experienced heavy smoke and soot damage like the rest of the home. We removed and replaced all cabinetry as well as installed new tile flooring to match the foyer and hallway. For the cabinetry, the homeowners chose 21stCentury cabinets in the style Sterling with a grey finish. They also opted to replace the existing laminate countertop with a Corian countertop, a much more resilient material.
Throughout the house we needed to replace carpeting and the carpet pad due to smoke and soot damage from the fire. This included carpeting on the stairs, the hallway, in bedrooms and in other living spaces. In areas without carpeting we replaced the old parquet wood flooring with new prefinished birch wood flooring or tile selected by the customer for install.
Drywall was removed from all the walls and ceilings within the home. Smoke and soot had made it into wall cavities throughout affecting the insulation within the walls and ceilings. We also wanted to make sure there was no additional damage to the framing from the fire that was not visible originally.
The insulation within the walls and ceilings throughout the home also needed replacement as a result of the smoke and soot damage. As per current code requirements the exiting R values (insulation value) of the insulation were no longer adequate for the home. Insulation was upgraded to meet current energy efficiency codes throughout.
Fire restoration projects often require the replacement of windows due to heat and smoke damage compromising their seals. Also, fire suppression efforts can lead to windows being broken to help the firemen extinguish the fire within the home. In this instance there were some window seals that had gone bad. There was visible soot between the glass panes. However, most of the windows within the home needed replacement due to current energy efficiency codes. The pre-existing windows were old wood windows and did not have an insulation value high enough to meet current standards. The windows were replaced with modern vinyl windows with a much higher efficiency rating throughout the home.