March 29, 2012

Renovation ‘A Personal Experience’

The owners now have a home that is designed for aging in place

It might be as small a project as RDC Fine Homes’ brilliant Whistler kitchen renovation, which took gold for Best Kitchen Under $40,000 at the recent Georgie Awards, or as ambitious a transformation as Harald Koehn Construction’s Langley Country Classic, winner of Best Residential Renovation $800,000 and Over and Best Renovation – Any Room, for Ben’s Room.

Throughout North America, B.C.’s renovators are considered among the best at what they do – stripping houses down to their bare bones, adding storeys, moving walls, all dramatic improvements to the quality of life for homeowners.

In 1992 when the Georgie Awards were created, there was a single renovation award while today there are a dozen, obviously a reflection of a B.C. industry in which 2012 expenditures are predicted to approximate $7.6 billion, a 1.7 per cent increase over 2011.

When Harald Koehn, a small custom builder for 35 years, was asked to totally reshape an older 2,100-square-foot ranch house on five acres the job became far more than a mere renovation. In his words: “This was a really good project, far more than just a job. It became quite a personal experience.” Space in the rural home was cramped and not at all adequate for a family of five children, one of whom suffered from spina bifida.

“Because of the limited space and narrow hallways the family had never been able to fully integrate 10-year-old Ben into the family,” Koehn explains. “And working with them made me realize what a family has to go through to adapt their lives to caring for someone with a disability.”

First, most of the roof was removed and now, almost totally rebuilt, the striking new 4,400-square-foot home looks and feels grand, with a central timber frame section added with wide, open beams. Ben’s area, part of the original house, was opened up and reconfigured across the hall from the master-bedroom area for easy access. The family now has a home that is designed for aging in place.

Ben’s Room also received a Home Renovation Award for Any Room on March 17 at the 2011 CHBA National SAM Awards.

Intermind Design won the Georgie Award for Moscow (Best Condo Renovation), maison d’etre design-build won Best Kitchen Renovation Under $100,000, Residential Renovator of the Year and the Customer Choice Award for Residential Renovator.

Read more from Georgie Awards 2012

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