The renovation of this home in the Old Shandon neighborhood of downtown Columbia was completed by Ryan Parsons with Practically Perfect Home Improvement (Contractor) and Andrew and Michelle Lucas with Lucas Properties (Owners/Investors). This project was the culmination of over six months of work with dozens of craftsmen, vendors, subcontractors, and within the historic designations and restrictions of the home and neighborhood.
The main goal was to bring the home back to its former glory while making it comfortable and functional for today's needs. Another key goal was to maximize all available square footage while working within the existing footprint. This home was a rental property for many decades, and was desperately in need of total renovation. The home underwent complete interior demolition including plaster walls and ceilings, replacement of all mechanical systems, and installation of modern conveniences and finishes.
According to historical records, the home was built for Mr. Beverley Means English and was completed circa 1921. The family previously lived on a farm in Barhamville (behind the State Asylum). After the death of B. M. English, Sr. in 1919 the family likely sold the farm and moved to the city. The home was converted from single-family to duplex rather quickly, with records showing that three rooms were rented to another family soon after its completion. The interior staircase was boarded up and an exterior staircase was added to the rear of the home creating a private entrance for the 2nd floor apartment.
A major part of our renovation was to open and restore the original staircase (above), including the original handrails, which were found in sealed attic spaces and in the crawlspace. One priceless feature of the home was the original heart-pine floors which were still in tact in about 80 percent of the home on both levels. The front porch floor, while in disrepair and needing complete replacement, had matching heart pine flooring which was salvaged and later used for repairs.
Once demolition was completed, the extent of water and termite damage was exposed. Major sections of the floor structure at the rear of the home were completely removed and reframed. Two to three feet of dirt was excavated in these area to allow for the installation of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. The interior walls were modified as needed to create a more modern floor plan, including the installation of LVL beams in the main living areas. Parts of the second floor were reframed to capture unused attic space for closets, a new large bathroom, and a utility closed to house the new furnace.
Part of the decision to completely open all of the walls and ceilings was to increase the efficiency of the home. Care was taken to seal all air gaps, install fire blocking, and bring the home up to current code with new vapor barrier and insulation. The home was completely re-wired, and all existing "knob & tube" wiring was removed. The seperate electrical panels were also removed, and a single modern panel was installed with arc fault breakers per today's code. An interconnected smoke and carbon monoxide alarm system was also installed to meet code.
After passing the rough-in and insulation inspections, the walls were sheetrocked and interior finishes began. The interior design and selections were completed by Michelle Lucas with a focus on maintaining the original style and architecture. The baths on the main floor feature marble mosaic tile to capture the vintage qualities of the home. The master bath has a large custom walkin shower and double vanity while the hall bath has a corner shower with custom glass enclosure. A recessed linen alcove in the hall bath utilizes the space under the stairs to maximize every square foot possible.
Since the home was a rental property for many decades, most of the interior doors and trim were heavily damaged and beyond reasonable repair. New solid doors were sourced locally with period-correct trim packages and matte black hardware. Extensive crown molding was installed throughout, as well as tall baseboards, which are proportioan to the 12-foot ceilings downstairs. As previously mentioned, the original staircase was restored and includes almost all original treads. The railings, banisters, and balusters were replaced or restored to original spec. The modern kitchen has a large island with seating, as well as extensive counterspace and stainless appliances. The original windows provide an abundant amount of natural light and function well with the original lead counterweights.
The original square footage of the home was 2,357 square feet and was renovated to 2,655 square feet. The renovation cost $193,600, which completely floored our judges for the final look and overall craftsmanship.
Final remarks from the contractor:
Taking on a historic remodel on this scale was an extremely trying process. Many of the solutions to completing this project simply required a "one step at a time" attitude. A detailed schedule and careful management kept the project moving along. When days or even weeks passed without obvious signs of progress, we had to continue putting one foot in front of the other. Having good subcontractors who were willing to help even if that meant doing something outside of their normal expertise was invaluable. The project required dozens of craftsmen who were patient through delays, setbacks, cold/rainy weather, and everything else that happened over the course of six months. We could not have done this without their help and hard work. The saying about a contractor being only as good as his subs has never been more true.
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