Renovation important to construction industry
August 31, 2014
VAIL — The valley's construction industry continues to recover from the slump that began in 2009, but a part of the business that developed during the dark days continues to be important.
David Hyde is the president of Shaeffer Hyde Construction, a company with 35 years in the local industry. Hyde said recently that remodeling jobs account for as much as 40 percent of his company's business these days. And those projects can keep general contractors and other companies working hard.
Projects range from simple to extensive.
One of Shaeffer Hyde's extensive projects is on Beaver Dam Road in Vail. The home was built in 1993, but the owner, who purchased the home a few years ago, decided on an extensive remodel of the place.
Hyde said his company had cared for the home for a few years, so when the owner started talking about remodeling, Shaeffer Hyde was already familiar with the property.
The process with this owner is similar to other projects, Hyde said.
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"We find out what (the owner's) goals are," Hyde said. "What can the home be? Do they want to turn a game room into a TV room? What seasons do they come?"
In the case of the Beaver Dam Road home, the builders, the owner and architect Doug DeChant talked about several items, from opening up the interior to cladding the roof in copper plate. As you'd expect in one of Vail's premier locations, the materials and workmanship on display are first-rate, from the new wooden floors to the backlit counter top on the wet bar in the middle of the living/dining room — which is most of the main floor.
All that work has the property buzzing. Hyde said people from perhaps 25 different trades have worked on the home in various stages of the project.
Nearly complete now, the home is spectacular. The most spectacular part of the job, though, is on the north wall facing Gore Creek.
This wall called for glass, and lots of it. Now, virtually all of the north wall is glass, opening the home's views to the creek. The most remarkable part is on the northwest corner, where two of the large glass panels are actually doors, which opens up the main floor to the patio outside.
This is hard work when you're saving the basic structure of a home.
Hyde likes the process, calling it a "more sustainable" way of creating something new from an existing structure.
DeChant said that in a neighborhood like Beaver Dam Road, demolishing an old structure and replacing it with something new allows more freedom for clients, architects and builders. On the other hand, using an existing structure requires "a different kind of creativity," he said.
Chris Evans, of Evans Chaffee Construction, said his company has a few remodeling projects on the books right now. He agreed that remodeling presents different challenges. And those challenges can multiply the more radical the job.
And, Evans said, local companies are still actively looking for projects, from new work to remodeling jobs to home renovations.
Possible Complications and Surprises
But, Evans said, projects that involve going deeply into a home's structure will almost always reveal some surprises, which can complicate both budgets and schedules.
In high-rent districts, schedules can be complicated by homeowner associations, too. DeChant said some associations only allow construction during certain times of year.
That can lead to more extensive work down the road, though. DeChant said one project at Beaver Creek stretched from two to three seasons because the owners saw the opportunity for other improvements.
The opportunity to live with a home is important, Hyde said, especially at the beginning of planning for a renovation.
"When an owner buys a place, we encourage them to live with it for a season," Hyde said. That can help inform what kinds of changes an owner wants to see.
While the Beaver Dam Road home is a high-end project, some of the technology used will eventually land in homes in places in less-exclusive neighborhoods.
Hyde said features such as the lift-and-slide windows in the Beaver Dam Road home will often end up being copied by other companies, and competition affects prices.
Features such as high-efficiency insulation and window coatings that cut energy use are already in common use, DeChant said.
In addition, DeChant said some of the ideas about finishes and style are making their way into other neighborhoods, if for no other reason than homes and land are more available in those areas.
In places like Vail, though, renovation is a continuing thing — there are only so many places next to the slopes or other desirable locations.
DeChant said his company recently re-designed a home on the Vail Golf Course. It was the third time that home had been re-done, he said.