Sometimes you can look at a
house and think it suits your needs perfectly. But it isnt
until you live there that you begin to notice things that could be
changed, according to Tom Callen, owner of Callen Construction
in Hales Corners.
This was a brand new
neoclassic-style house built by Woodhaven Homes. It was one of the
Parade of Homes houses in 1996, said Bob Neis, vice president
of manufacturing at Hal Leonard Publishing in Wauwatosa. We
followed the old routine of buying the house in the right area, to
fit our lifestyle. And our furniture fit very nicely because of
the style, he said. The three-bedroom home covers
2,300-square-feet of space. The house seemed to be large enough
for the couple and their Lhasa Apso named Alex. After a couple of
years, however, the Neises recognized some changes were necessary.
Neis of Waukesha relaxes in her new addition with her dog
Alex. The new room was built by Callen Construction of
The first problem surfaced after
the couple lived in their house for a few years. It centered
around a triangular-shaped area adjacent to the kitchen designated
as the dinette or breakfast nook. When you look at the house,
the little triangle is kind of neat, Neis said. But we found
out its just not practical. You can fit a small table that
seats four people into the space,
but if you put four people around
it, youre crowded, he explained. When guests would come to
visit, people would be forced to eat in the formal dining room.
Who eats in the dining room if they dont have to? he
The Neises had a large
kitchen/family room space in their former house and liked it very
much. So, they began thinking about adding some space to their
kitchen. We started out by going to some remodeling shows and
tours. We saw some high-end work that had been done and some
average-looking work, so we got a well-rounded idea, Neis said.
We spoke to three remodeling companies and got three quotes on
This is a good approach to take
when you are considering remodeling, according to Callen. When
you build an addition, you want to be sure you do some research.
Luckily, Milwaukee is blessed with some very good home improvement
shows so you have a good opportunity to check out the work of
local remodeling companies, he said.
As a result of their research, the
couple hired Callen Construction to take on the task of remodeling
the breakfast area. We had heard that Callen did good work and
they started on time. That was very important to us so we signed
on the deal, Neis said. The work was begun in January of 1999.
Our objective was to make it a light and airy space, but more
importantly to make it look like it had always been there, he
Callens workers dismantled the
eating area, added a crawlspace under the addition, added heating
and cooling, put in large glass patio doors for a northern and
southern exposure, and ended up with a 13- by 18-foot room, which
more than suited the owners needs. To top it off, the project
was done two weeks ahead of schedule, much to the Neis delight.
They added a box bay window with a window seat, which makes it
very homey, Neis said. Oak hardwood floors were installed and
wallpaper was added to match existing floors and walls. They
did an excellent job of matching woodwork and floors, he added.
Unless we tell you that its an addition, no one will know.
The Neises were so well pleased
with Callens work that early this year they asked him to return
to convert a portion of their basement to an exercise room and
casual living space. The couple was not using the basement much
and wanted to make it more livable. We were hoping to spruce up
an area which covered about half of the basement for an exercise
room and an art room for my wife, who dabbles in painting. Its
about 900 square feet, Neis explained.
Without thinking twice, Neis called
Callen Construction and had them come out to quote on the job. They
wanted a quiet area for exercise and some other activities. We
added a dropped Armstrong ceiling, put in some oak flooring and
some closets for storage, Callen said.
Once again, the Neises were pleased
with the results. They really opened it up and made it look
like the changes have always been there, Neis said. Thats
the real key to a good remodeling job, Callen noted. When you
build an addition, you want to make it look like it was an
original part of the house, not tacked on. The house has cedar
siding so we used cedar siding on this addition, we used the same
type of windows and wherever possible we followed the
architectural details, Callen said. Now the Neises are making
good use of their newly remodeled basement space.
dos and donts
For the Neises and his wife, the
fact that Callen Construction was reliable and worked on schedule
was paramount. When they said they would start, they started
on schedule. And they stuck to their schedule, he said. And
it can be difficult to live in your home while its being taken
apart and workers are coming and going. They tried to keep the
area where they were working as clean as they could. And thats
very important when youre living with a remodeling project,
Callen offers some counsel to the
homeowner considering remodeling. Do your homework. Dont
rush the project; wait until you have all the information you need
regarding designs, products and construction companies. Make sure
you make the right product selections. And get some advice if you
need it, Callen advised. But, once you have hired a company to
do the work, make sure they dont take over and ignore your
ideas, he added. They can provide ideas, but you want to make
sure your ideas are the ones that are used. We like the homeowner
to give the directions, he said. You should have what you want.