Many thanks to KCCNE for converting our old house into a modern home! We kept the exterior walls mostly the same, but the entire house, except the basement, is brand new. Believe it or not, the project was completed while we continued to live in the house. This feat took careful planning and coordination led by Kelli and creative solutions crafted by Joe Mele. KCCNE completed the project in two phases with a short break in the middle so we could catch our breath and move from the untouched areas to the newly completed ones. The finished house feels substantially larger, has a massive kitchen with excessive counter space, open floor plan, and a beautiful master bath with a few extra luxuries. We used to feel cramped with a few friends visiting, but we recently had a BBQ with eighteen family members and had plenty of room for everyone. The details of our adventure are below, complete with the highs and lows of the project in case you’re thinking of starting a renovation.
The first day of demolition our refrigerator and stove moved into the garage, an old microwave moved into the basement, and a slop sink was installed for doing dishes. Four full days of demolition and our house was hardly recognizable. The kitchen, main bathroom, living room, dining, room, upstairs bedroom, sitting area (now a master bath), and hallways were completely stripped down to the studs. The first few minutes were the most terrifying since we realized there was no turning back. Every day that Shaun and the rest of the demolition crew were there, we would come home to a surprisingly clean house. We even noticed they were sweeping the steps outside to the main entrance so we didn’t track dust back in! They made it feel like we were still coming home after a long day instead of feeling like we were entering a disaster.
Once the walls were open we got a chance to see what unexpected problems we were going to face. We were lucky and we only had a few surprises. For each problem, KCCNE had multiple possible solutions. They took the time to explain the options, their pros and cons, and helped us make the right decision for our budget and schedule. We asked a lot of questions and kept ourselves involved in the project. Fortunately, because our project was so massive, they could work on other areas if we needed a little time to do some homework before making a major decision.
The leads from each of the trades all met at the house with us as soon as demolition was completed. We walked from room to room explaining our vision for what we wanted. They took the time to listen, asked great questions, and remembered the fine details as they worked. Joe Pakuris, Leo (electrical), John (plumbing), and Joe Mele (carpentry) found ways to slightly adjust how they were doing their part to ensure the finished product came together as we had dreamed it up. Joe Mele really stepped up as the onsite day-to-day person. Every morning he would ask us a few questions to make sure he had our vision clear in his head and helped guide everyone as small things came up. If he wasn’t positive of an answer, he’d ask us the next morning or text us a picture so we could provide quick answers. He usually had questions a few days in advance for us so we could think and decide without feeling rushed which we greatly appreciated.
One example of Joe’s creative leadership that really stood out was early in the roughing stage of the master bathroom. John agreed to route a pipe a little differently so that Joe could put a pocket door in a specific location to satisfy a bunch of goals. It may sound like a minor thing, but it solved several problems at once that we could not see a solution to any of them individually. That little change gave us a place to put our heated towel rack, made the entrance to the master bath more convenient, helped open the room, and gave the toilet area a little extra privacy. Another example was Kelli tracking down a way to create a custom shaped shower to fit our small space, but with a solid surface instead of tile. The combined Corian shower pan, Choreograph and glass walls exceeded our expectations. It looks incredible and is so easy to keep clean. We really love the master bathroom. The glass and mirrors that Scott installed, who was referred by KCCNE, really make the tiny space feel much larger than it truly is.
No project of this magnitude goes forward without some issues. The real question is how a company handles those problems when they do come up. Given the scope of our project, it was surprising we didn’t have more issues; careful planning really helps avoid problems. Our biggest problem was the result of one area of granite installation. The result was not what we expected. A few folks from KCCNE came down to look at it and tried to make one fix which was reasonable, but still very different than what we really expected. We were very surprised a few days later when the fix was removed and that task recompleted a few days later better than we expected. We have a lot of respect for a company that stands by their work, especially in a gray area like this where they could have been very justified stopping with their initial fix. We know that took extra time and materials and we absolutely love the result. Many thanks to Dan and the rest of the team for going the extra mile.
The granite from KCCNE is beautiful. We ended up putting the White Ravine stone everywhere, led by Rafael and the granite crew. The kitchen, dining room, both bathrooms, and stairwell ledges took approximately 4 full slabs. We have no ideas how many square feet of blueboard were needed, but we do know the new blueboard went up fast. Then Scott and his crew removed the old popcorn ceilings and cleaned up a bunch of poorly taped old seams from the original house in the process too. It was amazing to see the design Mary Jane prepared on the computer become a reality.
As part of the renovation we also had some cosmetic and functional changes that we wanted to do while the walls were open. This included splitting up the original poorly designed heating loop for the house into four zones, adding beams to give the living room a wow factor (everyone says wow when they enter the room for their first time), creating a coat closet, adding insulation to rooms we felt were cold in the winter, installing a ceiling fan, improving the lighting, replacing all carpets with tile or hardwoods, fixing squeaks in the floor and stairs, upgrading the house security system, and many other little pieces that really make the house more functional and comfortable.
It’s funny how some of the small things we didn’t think about were taken care of too. For example, our electricians Leo, Matt and Scott listened to how we were planning to set up the furniture in the master bedroom during that first day walk through. As the project was nearing the end we noticed the outlets near where we were planning to put our nightstands had built-in USB charging ports in them. Leo consistently told us he only does things he would do for himself in his own house. We use them every day, but never would have thought to ask for them. The same goes for dimmers on many of the switches which we use more than we thought we would.
Our painter Chris, who was recommended by KCCNE, was a one-man show but worked creatively to get areas of the house finished so we could move in and get back on with our lives. He patiently waited while we debated between countless shades of blue for one bedroom. He was always cautious to remind us that he didn’t want to push in any way with color selections, but we knew he would have good ideas having seen the results of his work on countless other houses. His suggestions to go a bit bolder with some color choices were absolutely the right move. The house has a classic color palette, but with enough subtle differences to make it feel bright, warm, and inviting.