Real-Life Benchmark Solutions
AN OFFICE ADDITION
Steve and Ann have a lovely home adjoining a beautiful golf course. When Steve started his own business, he was spending a lot more time at home. But because there was nowhere else to go, he was spending that time in a dark basement office, and rarely got to enjoy the great views just outside his own house.
There was a simple screened porch off the back of the house which provided an opportunity for an upward expansion. The upstairs master bedroom had an adjoining hallway closet with a doorway which cut into the wall at the right point, giving an easy entryway to the new office. We removed the porch roof, added a comfortable office above, and reinstalled a new roof. We also upgraded some of the doors and the screened porch, adding new lighting and trim. We built the addition from the outside, so that it blended beautifully with the existing structure. And, when it was adequately weather-tight, we cut the access to the inside of the house.
Steve and Ann were very pleased with the work that BenchMark did. They love the fact that the addition blends in so well that you would never know it was not part of the original house. Steve loves his new bright, light-filled office, and can enjoy his great views all day long. And, the family gets more enjoyment out of the upgraded porch.
DISASTER: A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Mark Rasch of BenchMark Homes has gotten some of his most meaningful building experience from some of his own personal disasters. (see company history, About page) Such was the case one fall day when his own beautiful home was suddenly engulfed in flames.
The fire started as a result of a camper-trailer that was being charged at an outlet in his garage, when the charging system batteries internally shorted, and the fire quickly spread through more than half of the house. Mark’s family was fortunate to have his building knowledge and experience at their immediate disposal, but Mark got a new, more personal understanding of the process of dealing with a disaster – facing the shock of sudden loss, sifting through his own damaged property, working with insurance companies – which he has since been able to use to understand and help other families in the same situation.
After the city inspected Mark’s damaged home, BenchMark was able to quickly determine if the house could be salvaged. The company dismantled dangerous parts of the house, and immediately created a temporary roof and plastic coverings to keep out additional weather and damage. With his family’s close involvement, restoration moving companies came in to take off the salvage and inventory everything. A demolition service was contracted to remove the un-salvageable items and debris. We removed all drywall and insulation, stripping the home back to usable studs and flooring. A smoke enzyme killer was applied and all lumber treated with a Kilz sealant. The home was restored to the original layout, with some upgrades and modifications possible as long as the family stayed within the insurance budget. Mark updated his home with a new stone exterior, and the family was back in the home within a few months.
BenchMark Homes found this next project a fun and challenging one. The homeowner wanted to add a large, four-car garage to his beautiful property. The older house to which it would be connected was very unique in it’s architectural design. The mission was to match the pitch of the old roofs, the special roof brackets and the large overhangs on the existing house, as well as the colors and materials. BenchMark was very careful in adding the unique garage and the connecting porte-cochere, and it now looks as if it was built at the same time as the house.
A HIGH-TECH, GREEN, EQUINE FACILITY ADDITION
The owners of this estate allowed BenchMark free rein to use their green-building capability on this ambitious horse facilty. The plan included a stabling area and tack room, an indoor riding arena with comfortable adjoining facilities for viewing and entertaining, and outdoor corrals, as well as developing the land around the facility, including a pond and spring. The owners were very particular about the classic look they wanted and were very involved in choosing unique fixtures and materials from an equine specialty supplier that we sourced for them. We worked very hard to construct a beautiful complex that integrates nicely with the landscape and the existing structures, while still performing at high efficiency.
Although we were able to save many large trees on the property, many had to be cut down to make way for the buildings. The wood was saved, and we installed a chunk-wood high efficiency boiler system, in which the owners could burn the firewood and create heating for the property. The system heats the indoor riding arena, the viewing/party room, a two bedroom apartment above, and also creates hot water for the plumbing system. A large RV storage garage is also heated, so that the RV never has to be winterized.
The city was very concerned about the large number of horses on the site, so we went out of state to find a leading-edge compost bin specialist and built a state-of-the-art composting system. This system keeps 100% of the animal waste on site and recycles it into good, rich compost which is then sold for profit to nurseries and gardens. The stall barn is also state-of-the-art, with a built-in watering system and radiant heating system. The heating system ensures that the horses do not get too warm. All the water for the horses is run through a reverse osmosis water purification system, ensuring the health and vitality of the animals.
We enlarged and developed a beautiful pond area, and also devised a system to capture the water from the natural spring on the property, so that it fills the pond. The pond is then used to irrigate the entire 24 acre estate without the owners having to buy any city water. To give you an idea of how successful this system is, water is provided for a sprinkler system which runs on a continuous 24-hour watering cycle during the summertime– the estate has has so many zones that there is constantly a zone running.
Because of the excessive water runoff on the large property, MSD required a filtering system. We built bio-filters on site to clean the raw storm water – roof and driveway run-off — routing it into a bio-filter bog. The water then flows through specially placed loamy filters and plant life that are ideal for removing the pollutants from the water bog. From there it goes into the pond and gets recycled into the irrigation system or filtered into the creek system as unpolluted water.
These homeowners decided to downsize and wanted to purchase a home that needed some work so they could make it their own.
We found them a house that was 19 years old and in great condition, but that needed an updated kitchen, updated lighting, updated doors and trim and the hardwood floors the owners wanted. It was the perfect size home and project to fit their budget.
In their prior home they had installed Brazilian cherry hardwood floors and fell in love with them. They definitely wanted them installed in their new house. Since this home had dated, plastic wood- grain doors, trim and baseboards, the owners opted to replace them all.
We started by taking out all the carpet in the living room, dining area and hallway. We also removed the vinyl flooring in the kitchen. All the old cabinets and appliances were also torn out of the kitchen, and all interior doors, trim and baseboards thru-out the entire house were removed. We installed updated two-panel doors with roman arched tops and satin nickel hardware, white casing and 4” white baseboards. This really brightened up the entire home.
Much of the lighting was dated and the dining lighting was not in a good location. Benchmark was able to move a ceiling fan for better placement in the room and add in another fixture which made a huge difference. The owner was concerned with installing the new lighting and adding ceiling fans because of the vaulted ceilings and getting to the wiring. They were pleased that we were able to do this, and to seamlessly blend the “popcorn” surface of the ceiling where the patches were made.
“We now have a home that is exactly how we wanted it. The updated features that were added make the home look new. We believe that we accomplished our goal of buying a home that was within our budget, and we were able to update it with the features we desired…
“Our kitchen is now our pride and joy. The old kitchen had very dated cabinets, counter tops and appliances. Since this is a somewhat small kitchen we were able to purchase a little higher grade cabinets and granite counter tops. We also were able to change the layout some, which made the use of space much better. We opted to carry the hardwood floors into the kitchen because of the very open floor plan and this created a great flowing feel through the house. Lawson Brothers flooring did an excellent job with the installation of the flooring.
Benchmark Homes did an excellent job and was very professional. All work was done in a timely manner and they kept our home as neat as possible during the process.”
The owners of this house were devastated when, due to a TV shorting out, their home burned down. They didn’t know where to turn until a friend recommended BenchMark Homes. We managed all of the workings with their insurance company, and negotiated with their adjustor to maximize the claim and get a complete and fair restoration. Once the property was declared safe, we walked through the home with the owners so that they could point out where things had been and what things they might want to change. They were able to upgrade virtually everything in their house, including appliances and cabinetry, and still stay within their budget. They were back into their restored house within approximately 4 months. They are in love with their new home and there are no signs whatsoever of any fire having taken place.
Full Interior Fire Restoration: