A Minneapolis couple wanted to make room for a nursery in their bungalow. Instead of building on, they went up, adding a dormer, which gave them the space they needed at a price they could afford. You can see their problem-solving addition in the Remodelers Showcase this weekend.
A 1 1/2-story bungalow in south Minneapolis built in 1927.
Owners Doug and Anne Thielen slept in a cramped attic bedroom surrounded by low, slanted walls and had only two tiny closets for storage. The couple planned to start a family and wanted the baby's bedroom to be near their own.
Add square footage to the second floor for a nursery, master bedroom with a bathroom plus an alcove for a washer and dryer. "We also wanted the new space to match the character of the rest of the house," said Doug, who bought the bungalow in 1999 and has already remodeled the kitchen.
First the Thielens had to answer the $50,000 question: Should they add on a second story or simply build a full dormer off the back of the house? Architect John Anderson of JDA Design Architects in Minnetonka drew plans for both scenarios. Doug and Anne opted for the full dormer, which cost $50,000 less, but would almost double the size of the second floor to 660 square feet.
"We took barely usable upstairs space and turned it into a family suite," said contractor Brent Christenson, owner of Pro Time Construction in Elk River. "This young family was able to expand their living area and get more bang for their buck without the expense and headaches of moving."
A much-improved master
The light-filled, vaulted-ceilinged bedroom has French doors that open to a rooftop deck. The bathroom and shower are only steps away rather than down a flight of stairs.
Stay true to the period
The Thielens budgeted for quality upgrades such as oak hardwood floors, tall baseboards, detailed millwork and pricey maple St. Louis Miracle Doors (pictured) to replicate the 1920s character of the rest of the home. "We're proud of the approach we took," said Doug. "When it came down to cost vs. integrity, we ended up with integrity."
A master bathroom made of marble -- from the dual-sink vanity top to the walk-in shower walls. They installed custom cabinets and Restoration Hardware fixtures and accessories. "It's the one room where we wanted luxury," Anne said.
The rooftop deck off the master bedroom. They swing open the French doors on a warm day and grow herbs and tomatoes on the deck in the summer.
Additional home improvements included long-lasting fiber cement siding as well as new mechanical systems and energy-efficient double-hung windows, which cut their energy bills in half. They also remodeled the main floor bathroom and saved money by refurbishing the old cast iron tub.
They unearthed newspapers from 1934 and children's toys tucked inside a wall. "We put our own time capsule with a newspaper and photo of our family in the new bathroom wall," Doug said.
The new bedroom closets had awkward slanted walls so they hired a pro to design functional shelving.
Timing is everything
Anne and Doug wished they would have torn off the roof and began construction several months earlier so the project was completed before -- not after -- baby Oliver was born.
Happy they tested
The Thielens planned to use the newly-finished basement for Oliver's playroom so they tested it for radon, a harmful radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil. Because the test showed the basement had moderately-high levels of radon, they hired a mitigation company to install pipes to vent out gas from the basement up through the roof.
"Oliver never needed a baby monitor," said Doug. "He was right next door."
Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619
• Hire an architect to design your project. It's an added expense but a pro can help eliminate unpleasant surprises.
• When budgeting for a remodel, consider the long-term. If he had the chance to do it again, Doug said he would have considered adding a full second story to increase the home's resale value.
• To save money, buy some of the materials yourself instead of going through the contractor. The Thielens purchased bathroom fixtures, tile, washer and dryer, lights and hardware on their own.
• Cash in on available tax credits and rebates. They received a rebate on their new furnace and water heater.
• Don't overlook salvage shops such as the ReUse Center when you're looking for materials. They found a $600 door for $40.