For Life! Lessons in Successful Remodeling
Tomco Company takes pride in being your contractor for life. Gary and Kristin Johnson are proof it works. They hired Tomco Company for the first remodeling project 13 years ago. Since then Tom Schiebout and his crew have been back several times for additional interior and exterior projects. They finished the most recent in the past month.
The New Brighton couple says they choose Tomco because they are confident the work will be done right and will last. They count on excellent craftsmanship, forward-looking design, clear communication and considerate workers every time. That’s far more important to them than possibly saving a little money on a less experienced remodeler.
“You can’t save enough money to make a failed project a good investment, so we hire Tom.” Kristin explained.
Like many couples, Gary and Kristin have their own priorities. Kristin is keenly focused on how the space will look and feel. Gary dives into the details of how stuff will work and perform over time. “Tom really explains things in fine detail. Sometimes I just wanted to know it will look pretty,” Kristin admits. One thing she and Gary agree on is that every project should use quality materials that will stand the test of time.
The Johnsons value Tom’s design advice too, even when some suggestions exceed the budget and must wait for a later phase to be executed. They also appreciate Tomco’s ability to seamlessly blend new surfaces and old, such as when Tom’s bricklayer finished the side of the original fireplace after removing the closet.
Over the years, Tomco has remodeled the Johnsons’ kitchen, three bathrooms, the interior stairway, the living room, the main entry and even the front elevation and hardscaping. Each time, the updates made the environment both look and perform better.
Portico and stairway enhance curb appeal, safety and function
The home sits high on a sloped lot. Kristin said the plain, flat two-story front made it look like a giant box. There also was the matter of the steep stairway that hugged the house from the tuck under garage to the small, exposed stoop. Tom re-sided the entire house, carefully balancing different textures and paint colors to add character to the flat surface. He also designed an open portico with a long curved concrete stairway, custom wrought iron rail and multi-level retaining wall to provide three-dimensional curb appeal The portico and its larger stoop also improve safety and create welcoming shelter for guests.
“Porticos can make a huge difference. Often, cities will allow them even if they encroach on the zoning for front-yard setback because they improve safety,” Tom explained.
Tomco: Take down that wall!
Once inside the entry, Tom removed a tiny coat closet that faced the main door an arm’s length away to open the space, expose the handsome see-through Chicago brick fireplace and increase natural light. He also removed the far living room wall so sunlight streams in from three directions and added recessed LED lighting.
“The living room used to be so dark. We plan to stay here after retirement so we wanted it to be more cheerful. With the wall and closet removed and the new lighting, it is so much brighter,” Kristin remarked.
Houzz-inspired custom railing
When Kristin wanted a distinctive railing to go with their new birch stairway, Tom encouraged her to look for ideas on Houzz. She spotted a modern design that would complement the light hardwood flooring, and Tom had the same company that did the outside railing fabricate it to fit.
The old stairways had solid knee walls at the top that blocked light and created a tunnel effect. Now light streams in from every angle.
Remodeling remedies hidden flaws
Perhaps the biggest improvement to the Johnson home is barely visible. While doing demolition for the bathroom makeovers, Tom discovered water dripping from the attic where another contractor had built an addition many years ago. The new perpendicular ridge had created a poorly ventilated space. With warm moist area rising from below, the inside of the gable wall resembled a glacier, Tom recalls.
Tom solved the problem by sealing all the attic air leaks around cables and pipes, insulating and windblocking the eaves with expanding foam and installing continuous ridge and soffit vents.
It’s not surprising that the Johnsons have referred Tomco to family, friends and neighbors. Although Tom has remodeled kitchens for two of their referrals, they’re all different. “Each project suits the house and reflects the personality and tastes of the owners,” Kristin said.