Exterior Facelift: About Face

Phase three of a remodeling project presented complications, but TreHus Architects + Interior Designers + Builders proved its expertise while the homeowners displayed their resilience.

by Kacey Larsen

Despite his 30-plus years in the business, David Amundson, president and owner of TreHus Architects + Interior Designers + Builders in Minneapolis, learned four critical things that must be present when undertaking a remodeling project: good people, good internal systems, good planning and good management. “If you have one of those four things wrong, heaven help you,” he adds. Chemistry is also important considering how much time and trust are committed to a project.

When Amundson interviewed with these Minneapolis-based homeowners regarding their whole-house remodeling project, they were a year into trying to coordinate the remodel themselves—with the husband as the general contractor and a baby to boot. Their house was totally torn apart except part of the kitchen, and there was no end to the process in sight. “The reason I learned [those four things are critical] on this job is they got all four things wrong. They didn’t have good people—good people meaning you have reason to believe they are ethical and have the skills required to do the work. Good internal systems—none of these people had good ways of writing proposals, clear communication and scheduling—were not present. Good planning was pretty much zero, and then good management, again, pretty much zero other than the homeowner trying to get control,” Amundson says. “One of the first things I said was, ‘Listen, you guys don’t want to hear this but we have to stop, do some good planning, and you have the wrong people working here.’”

The project did pause for approximately a month, resulting in blueprints and the necessary “good planning” that included scheduling the work. From that point, TreHus undertook a three-phase whole-house project spanning close to two years, on and off. The final piece of the project was the exterior work, which included adding an open front porch and rear deck, as well as re-siding and painting the home.

Zoning In

Before undertaking the front porch and entryway that ultimately took about three-and-a-half months to complete, a feasibility study—the first step of the company’s three-step design process—took into account any zoning issues or concerns to ensure such a thing was known before moving forward with the design and trying to pull permits. Amundson says past experiences taught him this was a crucial step to do early on to save time, money and effort for all parties.

“We knew zoning in the city of Minneapolis can get pretty particular about adding on to the front of a home, so right away we went to zoning and said, ‘This, in general, is what we’re planning on doing. Do we have any limitations we need to be aware of?’ In this particular case, because it is an open porch,

Photos: Jenna Weilder & Brit Amundson

not an enclosed addition, there was leeway, and they allowed us to do what we wanted to do without getting a variance,” he says. “We did the homework early on so we didn’t get too deep into the process then find out [it wasn’t feasible].”

While the homeowners knew they wanted to improve their home’s curb appeal and create a more functional entry, they also wanted to maintain the home’s Craftsman style and ensure it fit into the neighborhood. A custom designed railing was modeled upon similar historic railings around the city, but despite its historic aesthetics, the railing still had to meet current building codes requiring no greater than a 4-inch gap because the porch is more than 30 inches tall, Amundson notes. The repetitive panels were fabricated from cedar and primed in the company’s shop before being trimmed to length and finish-coated on-site. The porch flooring is fir tongue-and-groove, while the ceiling is made of beadboard.

“The motorized, hidden screens were in the plans, but technically according to the zoning you can’t do that because it becomes an enclosure at that point. So, we subtly prepared [the porch] for that, had the inspection done and then put the screens in later,” he explains. “I don’t like to do that kind of thing, but because they’re motorized and [the homeowners] do keep them open a lot of the time we just thought, ‘C’mon, let’s not nitpick here.’ That was an after-the-fact add-on that was pre-prepared for.”

Showing Its Age

The new front porch was planned and constructed around an existing bay window. While the size of the window did not change, it did need some TLC. “All that changed was the existing bay was slanted and had drooped over the years, so we basically just straightened it out and put a new window in,” Amundson explains. “On either side of that bay window, we put in full view doors to let more natural sunlight into the living room and just give a much more open feeling in connection from the living room to the porch, thus to the front yard.”

In the back of the house, a single door and window were removed to create a better connection between the existing sunroom and backyard. Now, the

Photos: Jenna Weilder & Brit Amundson

space—which took approximately two months to complete—features a sliding glass door with windows on either side. The new doorway is protected by a copper canopy roof with the same beadboard ceiling as the front porch. An ipe deck with hidden fasteners replaced what Amundson describes as a “flimsy, wood little step,” and created space for a table. A privacy wall blocks the deck space from the view of the closest neighbor.

While parts of the exterior phase involved adding new elements, another piece was restoring what existed. Amundson points to a mix of practical and desirable during the planning phase. “We did get a price for replacing [all the siding] because it’s a 100-year-old house or so. You’ve got multiple layers of paint, some alligatoring, some scrapping, and so it would have been wonderful to have just changed it all,” he says. For budgetary reasons, the homeowners opted to patch and repair where the siding had deteriorated. The cedar shingles on the upper portion of the home, cedar lap on the lower part and the new siding surrounding the porch addition were repaired and replaced with AllPrime 4-inch lap, and then everything was repainted to blend. In total, the siding segment took about six weeks and, once it warmed up enough, a few more weeks for painting.

Admittedly, many pieces of the project were a challenge for the TreHus Architects + Interior Designers + Builders team, but the result is an award-winning project. This Kenwood Park Remodel project won a 2016 B.L.E.N.D Award for Addition/Remodel; a 2016 Chrysalis Award for Residential Exterior; 2016 NARI Contractor of the Year Gold Award in the Residential Exterior Over $200,000 category; and a 2016 Master Design Award in Gold for Exterior Facelift. |QR

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