Monday, December 22, 2008
Digging down erases steep driveway
By Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer
When you are sitting in Jennie Broadhead's main-floor family room, you would never guess that two years ago you would have been sitting in her garage.
The Broadheads just finished an extensive remodeling project that is one of the most creative uses of existing space we have seen.
Jennie's home is on a steep Bountiful hill, where all the driveways are set at a steep incline from the street up to the garages.
The Broadheads hated the steep, dangerous driveway — especially in the winter. They also knew with their new blended family they were going to need more gathering space.
The yard was too small and shallow for an addition out back, and building up didn't seem practical. Not to mention a two-story house wouldn't blend well with the 1970s ramblers in the neighborhood.
So, they decided to go down. They excavated the steep driveway and built a new garage under the existing garage. The space where the old garage was would become the extra living space they needed.
But the project gets trickier. In 2004, Jennie had remodeled the kitchen and finished the existing basement. Those parts of the house had to stay intact, which wasn't easy — especially at one point in the excavation when part of the kitchen was suspended in midair.
Temporary support columns held up the end of the kitchen while the crew was slowly removing the dirt and rebuilding the concrete walls and floor below. The roof over the garage also needed to remain, so it was floating over the excavation as well.
Speaking of dirt: The contractors extracted 17 truckloads of it!
"Can you believe 17 truckloads? And it was practically all sand," Jennie says. "I guess we live on the sandy beaches of Lake Bonneville."
During the remodel, the front of the house was completely re-created. The once-sloped yard now terraces down with rock retaining walls with steps leading up to the entryway.
The entry opens to a small sitting/music room housing harps that belong to Jennie her daughter.
Guests move from the entry past the music room into the new family room (old garage). It is a large, comfortable sitting and dining space.
A window seat across the entire length of the room provides plenty of additional seating or room to lounge while reading and enjoying the view of the Great Salt Lake in the distance.
The area that used to be the smaller family room is now an additional sitting area off the kitchen, furnished with four overstuffed lounge chairs in front of a new craftsman-style fireplace.
Jennie says this is the most used portion of the house. "Everyone wants to be where the action is in the kitchen," she says.
Removing the old fireplace served an additional purpose when they recycled the old brick to close a window on the main floor.
Jennie says her favorite part of the remodel is a toss-up between the fireplace mantel inspired by the old Salt Lake bungalow she grew up in, and the kid's mudroom.
The mudroom is not really a room — just a hall between the entry and the existing kitchen that was widened just enough to contain new 15" deep floor-to-ceiling cabinetry that serves as a "dumping ground" for school books bags, coats and shoes. It is the perfect spot to keep all the kids' school gear out of sight but still close to the front door.
Overall, this creative remodel was a success.
"It is seamless," Jennie says. "You don't look at my house and say, ''Wow, I can tell that is where the garage used to be.'' I couldn't have done this kind of remodel without an architect or a structural engineer. It would have been impossible." As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.