LOCATION: WALKER WOODS DRIVE IN GREAT FALLS, VIRGINIA
Located off Walker Woods Drive in Great Falls, Virginia, this project was for a family with a handicapped son who lives with them full-time.
We had been doing some work on their neighbor’s house, and the client knew how happy they had been with what we did. When the clients were ready to remodel their home, we were their first and only call.
The first job we did for them was a remodel/room addition in 2014; it was a fairly large and complex job that involved relocating the septic field.They wanted to expand their ranch-style home to make the master bathroom larger, add a screened-in porch off the master bedroom, enlarge another bedroom, and add a guest bathroom.
They had some bad experiences with contractors in the past, but when they heard about our work and saw how we performed, they were eager to connect with us.
For the second project in 2019, they wanted to remodel their son’s ADA bathroom. Initially, they had contacted us strictly for a referral. They were under the impression that we only do quarter-million-dollar (or more) jobs, but when we told them that we also do kitchens and bathrooms, they were over the moon.
This was a multi-faceted job that took a great deal of planning.
First, we were tasked with remodeling the adult son’s bathroom for better handicapped accessibility. They had done some work with another contractor about ten years earlier, but the result was not high-quality, and the bathroom had started to fall apart.
Additionally, all of the windows needed to be replaced because they were outdated. Almost every window was custom, with arched and curved details set within brick openings, so the new ones needed to be custom-built also.
They were very specific in terms of what they wanted and had a very clear vision of how they wanted everything to look and flow.
Their son’s bathroom is ADA-compliant. We did a roll-in shower with no doors, a free-floating bench in the corner of that shower, and a linear drain. We minimized the slope by placing the linear drain in the back, which makes most of the shower relatively flat. Then, we installed custom grab bars throughout. It really turned out well.
Probably the only thing in the bathroom that isn’t technically ADA compliant would be the sink but that was at the request of the client. We always try to strike a balance between making it accessible, safe, and comfortable but also making it aesthetically pleasing. It’s really tough to find a good-looking ADA sink. But, it’s close, and it works for their son, and that’s what counts.
The second bathroom project took us about five weeks to build, and about three weeks to plan and design before we started. Most bathrooms this size would be finished in three weeks, but because this one had structural deficiencies, some mold issues, and ADA requirements, it took a little bit longer. This is something we anticipated from the start, so we planned accordingly.
For the master bathroom, they had some specific requests. They wanted a his-and-her toilet room, a his-and-her vanity, and a large shower that, for now, would be enclosed with glass. However, they wanted the panels to be removable so that in the event anyone lost their mobility, they could remove the panels and have a roll-in shower. This request was a challenge in itself. We worked closely with our glass designer on the design, and what we came up with was panels that slide in and out.
We widened the hallways and doorways, and we put blocking behind certain walls so that grab bars and things like that could be attached at a later date.
As for the tile, it was easily one of the most extravagant tile jobs we’ve ever done. It was a huge bathroom, all marble. The floor was done in eight-by-eight hexagonal tiles. We did something similar to penny tiles going up the walls behind the vanities, beautiful wainscoting tiles, all in this gorgeous marble. The tile alone took us about two months, but the result is nothing short of spectacular.
To pull that off and make it look as good as it does and make it to last,you need the best of the best. So, we planned well in advance, and we waited for it. The problem was that having only two people in there would take a month longer than if we put a crew of five in there. In the end, we went to the owner and said, “this is the way you need to do this. These are the craftspeople that you have to have to get the result you want. You don’t want to cut corners on something this detailed.” They deferred to our expertise, and it turned out fantastic.
In the bedroom, they wanted larger closets. They also wanted the bedroom itself to be quieter, so we replaced the doors leading into the bedroom with solid-core doors. Since we were moving walls around and all the drywall was down, it was a good opportunity to insulate for sound reduction.
To deliver on the client’s wish list, we had to expand the footprint of the home on the right side and the rear of the home.
They wanted a secluded, private, bug-free outdoor space off the master bedroom that would bejust for them. That way, if their son and the nanny were in other parts of the house, they would have a spot to escape to, to read a book, enjoy a cup of coffee. Just off the master bedroom, we built them this beautiful, enclosed screened-in porch.
For the screened-in room, we used a combination of masonry and wood paneling and installed a glass triangle within the roof to make a really warm and beautiful space. We put a paddle fan in it to provide airflow, and to extend the use of it longer. During the summer months, you click the paddle fan on, and it becomes an oasis. The room looks out onto a beautiful backyard, so we were able to take advantage of those views while giving them the privacy they craved.
For the other two guest bathrooms, the first had a curbless shower and was prepped for ADA in the future. They didn’t need an ADA bathroom on the one side of the house, but they wanted the ability to put it in, just in case their son’s bathroom was ever down.
We also needed to install grab rails throughout the common areas of the home for their son. He can walk, but needs the assistance of a grab rail. However, they didn’t want something that was too medical-looking. Working with some excellent carpenters, we created a sort of chair rail made from a combination of framing lumber with a veneer overtop. What we ended up with is a functional grab rail that goes around their house, but it looks like a decorative chair rail.
The job was done in two parts. During the second phase, we replaced a significant portion of the roof. Three years after that, well outside of our warranty, they called us up and said they had a leak in the roof. Our roofer was out there within 24 hours. It ended up being a limb that fell through the roof, but my roofer fixed it on the spot. He had brought the materials with him to fix it and then waived any bill as a thank you for the previous work that we had given them.
From the Owner
One of the things I’m always looking at with projects like this is how could we have done it a week faster without sacrificing quality. In this case, if we had done a little bit more invasive discovery before we got in there, if we were able to figure out why some of the previously done tile work was failing, we would have been better prepared for it. I might’ve been able to shave that week off. And so, that’s probably something I’m going to do in the future.
In the end, we took on a tremendous amount of added work, but it didn’t affect the schedule that much. This is one of the benefits of going with a company that’s been around for 40 years–we’ve seen it all. It’s very rare that something sneaks up on us. When it does, between our team, our vendors, and our subcontractors, we come up with quick, efficient solutions that satisfy the client’s needs without losing time.