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Silver Lining in a Dark Cloud: Remodeling After A Fire

At one moment everything's normal. A couple of hours later your life has been turned upside down. When a house fire occurs everything happens so quickly—and it's not until later that you begin to understand the full extent of how this event will affect your life. 

If you are fortunate to have the fire contained to one portion of the house, as it was with the residence pictured here, you may think that it's going to be a simple repair. It rarely is. Even though the actual fire damage may be contained, the heat and smoke from the fire have likely travelled further than you think and very possibly have caused damages that aren't readily apparent to an untrained eye. Then add to it water damage coming from efforts to put out the fire. Again, there is what you see—and what you don't see. Water coming from a fire hose soaks into walls where it collects and sits. Water trapped in the walls becomes an ideal breeding ground for mold and can pose a significant health hazard. 

Bathroom after fire

Bathroom after fire

Before Exterior

Before Exterior

The Fire Restoration Process

Before your life can return to normal, all of this needs to be taken care of by professionals who thoroughly understand what they are dealing with and how it can be remedied in a way that won't come back to haunt you later. It is likely to take longer than you would initially expect, and the process is much more complex than a normal remodel. 

  • First, the damage needs to be properly remediated. 

  • Second, insurance companies are involved. The needs of the insurance claims adjustor must be addressed appropriately, so that you get the full value of what your house was insured for. 

  • Third, when walls are ripped out because of the fire and water damage, the house then needs to be put back a little differently in order to satisfy current building codes. It's not everyone who can navigate these complexities.

Bathroom after remodel

Bathroom after remodel

Exterior after remodel

Exterior after remodel

Finding the Silver Lining: People and New Possibilities 

Along with these difficulties come a few bright spots. During the experience you are likely to meet some wonderful human beings—be it the first responders who come to the fire, or the various professionals who help and guide you through the process of restoration.  Also, if you have been thinking about remodeling your home anyway, now is a great time to add those elements to the restoration. While your house is already torn apart, and you may be living somewhere else, it's much easier and more cost-effective to go ahead and add on those upgrades you have always dreamed about adding. 

The homeowners in the situation pictured here took advantage of the tragedy and undertook a full house remodel along with the repair of the fire damage. The project included a new layout for the main floor and an updated modern style in the interior and exterior. 

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The all white kitchen, a different stain to the hardwoods, and the metal railings of the staircase all contributed to a modern atmosphere. The large living room windows and the kitchen opening up to the new deck extended the room to the outside. The open floor plan wrapping around the chimney created a main floor with lots of space. The bedrooms kept their floor space, but were repainted and finished. The main bathroom was updated with new tile, and an updated shower. The basement was refinished to match the rest of the house, and will be used for storage and an entertainment area. The entire house now has the clean modern style the homeowners desired and a repaired version of its old self.

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Design Solutions

In the end, the demolition and fire damage were not the most difficult part of the project: Figuring out where the staircase needed to go was the biggest challenge. We were able to provide a unique solution to this issue. The homeowners and the project manager decided that up against the back wall would be the best option for optimizing space, and for the safety of the staircase. The couches in the living room back up to the metal rails, complimenting the transition from the kitchen to the living room, and then to the basement. The stairs match the kitchen well, and the metal handrails catch your eye when you turn around the corner from the kitchen. 

We at ELM Construction were happy to help navigate with this family through the difficulties faced in the aftermath of their home’s fire. Helping get them into the home they had always dreamed about was an unexpected silver lining for the family. We hope you never face this situation. But if you do, realize that we are there to help you get through the difficulty and into a better place with your lives and with your home.