Redoing #039;home, sweet home#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

With the arrival of spring, many homeowners turn their thoughts to sprucing up their &uot;home, sweet homes.&uot; Whether it’s simply a fresh coat of paint inside or out, or a full-scale remodeling or expansion job they undertake, the goal is to make their homes more attractive and comfortable.

Sometimes the home improvement project comes as an absolute necessity. Such was the case for Travis and Stephanie Heartsill, after Hurricane Ivan damaged their South Conecuh Street home.

&uot;When Ivan took us out last year by a tree falling into the house, we had to do something. So we decided to not only repair but to do some remodeling, too,&uot; explains Mr. Heartsill, who also happens to be a builder-contractor by profession.

The couple chose to add a soaring cathedral ceiling to the den in the center of their ranch-style brick home. &uot;We’ll now have a 16-foot ceiling in there,&uot; says Heartsill.

The original fireplace was also torn out and a new one installed. New windows installed high in the walls will let the sun shine into the Heartsill’s newly remodeled den.

As was the experience for many local citizens following Ivan’s devastation, it took several months for the couple to get things straightened out with their insurance company.

&uot;It was the first of this year before we settled with the insurance company, so that slowed us up in getting started with our house…I guess we’ve been working on it about three to four months now,&uot; says Heartsill.

Inclement weather and other projects have made Heartsill’s personal home improvement project a &uot;catch as catch can&uot; enterprise.

&uot;I have jobs I am doing for other people, of course, and with the weather, well – I just can’t put a completion date on this,&uot; he says with a wave toward the work in progress, before adding with a grin, &uot;Of course, my wife would like to be in there tomorrow.&uot;

In the case of Tom and Denise Watson, who live at 2304 Damascus Road, a need for more room, coupled with Denise’s desire for a new kitchen, prompted them to enlarge their 900 square foot house back in 2003.

&uot;Denise wanted a new kitchen and we started thinking, ‘Well, if we are going to do that, why don’t we do some other stuff?’ And it sort of went from there,&uot; says Tom Watson.

The Watsons ended up gutting the existing structure, rewiring and replumbing it in the process. They went on to add an additional 2700-2800 square feet of living space – not counting Tom’s beloved 1200 square foot garage. &uot;Yep, that would be my favorite part of the redo,&uot; he admits.

The project began on April 2003 and was completed by the first of August that same year.

While some work was contracted out, such as the exterior siding and the air conditioning, Watson along with family friends and Watson’s son (&uot;we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse&uot;) took on most of the remodeling project.

Including bathrooms, there were a total of ten rooms added to the home. &uot;We also have a gigantic room upstairs we will probably break down into smaller rooms at some point,&uot; Watson says.

The family continued to live in the home while all the hammering, sawing and drilling went on, and Watson laughingly admits they might have &uot;taken a crazy pill one morning to decide to do all that.&uot;

&uot;Originally, it was going to be one additional bedroom and a new kitchen – so it definitely turned into a huge undertaking,&uot; he adds.

While he admits they thought they would lose their heads on occasion, the family is happy with the results of their ambitious home improvement project, which cost approximately $60,000 to $70,000, including the garage. &uot;Denise loves her kitchen and I do enjoy that big garage,&uot; Watson says.

And they aren’t finished their home improvements projects just yet. &uot;It is still a work in progress – we are always doing something. We added a fireplace and then we wanted a built-in home entertainment center, so we had to tear one wall out. Anyway, I feel like it’s been money well spent.&uot;

While the Watsons purchased some of their building materials from Montgomery he says they tried to use local folks as much as possible.

&uot;Cash and Carry was very helpful. They offered their personal touch and, not to badmouth them, but you just don’t get that at the big home places up there. I could always find someone to help me out who was knowledgeable at Cash and Carry, and that’s good.&uot;