Super remodelers Fixer-upper: Remodeler Ronald E. Nodine does a masterful job on a Baltimore County couple's new bedroom suite and earns himself an honor.

March 17, 1996|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Ronald E. Nodine of American Renovator Inc. turned the leaky flat roof on an addition of a Baltimore County house into the floor of a master bedroom suite that resembles a ski chalet.

The feat has earned Mr. Nodine the Homebuilders Association of Maryland's 1995 Project of the Year and has given owners Paul and Melanie Van Sant a contemporary living space that maintains the architectural integrity of the exterior of their turn-of-the-century house.

Originally, the Van Sants wanted to fix the roof of the great room added to their house in the 1940s by installing a pitched roof. Since they were already going to the trouble and expense, they decided to have Mr. Nodine add the shell of a master bedroom that they would complete themselves. But when health problems left Mr. Van Sant hospitalized and facing months of recovery, the couple contracted with Mr. Nodine to finish the project, right down to the last brass light-switch cover.

The Van Sants are among a growing number of people who are remodeling their homes instead of moving. In 1995, $131 billion was spent on some type of remodeling, up 6 percent from 1994, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That runs the gamut from paint jobs to new roofs to extra bedrooms.

The Van Sant addition, which was also cited by the Maryland homebuilders group for best residential remodeling in the $75,001 to $100,000 range, took nearly six months to complete. The complexity of working on an occupied house which already had several additions was a challenge even for Mr. Nodine, a 23-year veteran of the remodeling business.

However, on only one occasion was he worried about the project. To attach the frame to the existing room, Mr. Nodine had to cut into the sides of the roof of the great room, leaving a portion of the room below exposed.

"With three days until we were back under roof again, we had a thunderstorm. Fortunately, it was a fast-moving storm and we didn't get a lot of rainfall. But it did blow off the tarps," Mr. Nodine said. "I raced there that afternoon, climbed up there and put them back on. We were lucky there was no damage."

Next, Mr. Nodine had to make sure that the pitch of the roof and the dormer matched the existing house. At the owners' request, he was having custom windows made that would also have to match the angle of the roof exactly. Mr. Nodine then tackled the difficulties of installing ductwork in cathedral ceilings, building a cantilever porch into the floor system, altering the chimney of the great room's fireplace to accommodate a wood-burning stove, and extending the plumbing, heating and electrical lines from the basement.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nodine and his contractors had to be especially sensitive to a recovering Mr. Van Sant and the couple's four children.

"This could have turned out to be one of those horrible nightmares. Normally, I would take an active role in something like this. So, it was very good that we had someone we could trust," Mr. Van Sant said. "He even kept the noise down as much as possible when I was resting."

Mr. Van Sant, who owns several rental properties, has worked with other remodelers in the past, though usually on much smaller projects. "I've had some bad experiences. They might not come back to take care of the last little details. But [Mr. Nodine] did everything, and I appreciated that he handled those little things as we went along. He was very responsive to our suggestions and questions."

Mr. Nodine's concern for details is apparent throughout the project. For example, he built closets that give the Van Sants the maximum amount of space, including built-in shelves and drawers, but that also hide the slanted roof line.

In the bathroom, Mr. Nodine combined ceramic white tile and cultured dark blue marble, highlighted by embossed tile trim. The mirror, the sink cabinet and even the shower enclosure were custom-made.

And top-quality fixtures, such as the Jacuzzi whirlpool tub and the exhaust fan, which also heats the room and features a night light setting, complete the luxurious surroundings.

The bedroom's cathedral ceilings, large windows and French doors give the room spaciousness, while the wood-burning stove, stone hearth and redwood floors provide coziness.

Mr. Nodine pickled the beveled, spruce paneling blue in contrast to the pickled white ceiling to combine the wood look that Mr. Van Sant wanted with the color that Mrs. Van Sant liked.

He finished off the room with the kind of details that make an attractive room functional as well: recessed lighting, a ceiling fan and a panel that allows the couple to operate exterior security lighting and hear the front doorbell.

Pub Date: 3/17/96

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