2010 Professional Remodeler of the Year

First Place, Residential Addition

My clients have a small but beautiful home in the Village of Chagrin Falls. They love their home and neighborhood, but they were unhappy with their master bathroom. The current bathroom was narrow with a single sink, fiberglass shower stall and vinyl flooring. The only way to enlarge the bathroom was to move it into the old master bedroom area. The old master bedroom was an add-on from the previous owner. It was built with materials that did not match the rest of the house. The bedroom lacked a dressing area, and did not take advantage of the beautiful view of the back yard. To enlarge the bathroom would require adding on a new bedroom and the only place to put the bedroom was over the existing deck.

My clients enjoy outdoor dining and entertaining. They were not happy with their current treated lumber deck. They were looking for something more elegant that did not have a cookie cutter feel to it. Adding on to the house would be difficult because of the close sidelines and the proximity of the garage to the house as well as the roofline of the existing house.

To meet my clients needs, we gutted the master bathroom and bedroom including the roof, back wall and windows. We also removed the existing deck. We constructed a second floor addition over a new deck giving ample room for a nice size master bathroom, bedroom and a large master closet with a dressing area. Under the addition we created a new outdoor area for eating and entertaining complete with an outdoor fireplace.

Last year was difficult for most people including my client and me. I was not given a specific budget to work with, but I did work very hard with my client and suppliers to control costs. To keep cost down, I took more bids than I usually would. I am grateful to my subcontractors and crew who worked a littler harder for a little less and still produced an outstanding product.

More About The Project

Before

This photo shows the back of the house before the addition. The second floor was the master bedroom. This section of the house was added on by a previous owner. The deck was made of treated lumber and lacked the quality and detail my client was looking for.

After

This photo shows the finished exterior of the new master bedroom, built over a new deck. We had to build over the deck because of the close side lines and garage proximity. The addition features prefinished Hardie board siding. All trim and the deck ceiling are Azek. We selected these products for their quality and low maintenance. All trim matches the original trim of the main house.

After

This photo shows the side view of the finished exterior.

Before

This photo shows side view of the old addition. The original house had cedar siding and the old addition was sided with aluminum. The cedar and aluminum siding did not line up. The window trim on the addition was very plain and did not match the trim on the rest of the house. The upper window is where the bathroom is located.

During

This photo shows the back view of the old addition. The bathroom and bedroom have been gutted. We have also removed the shed roof and back wall. Note the debris at the bottom of the photo. All trash had to be carried to a dumpster in the front of the house because the driveway was to narrow to get a dumpster near the work site.

During

This photo shows new roof rafters being installed. The new roof replaced an old shed roof. The overhang that the ladder is leading against will be cut off to make room for the new master bedroom. The nine foot sliding door will be replaced with a new twelve foot sliding glass door.

During

This photo shows the new master bedroom addition over the new deck. We have added large window openings to take advantage of the back yard view and to bring natural light into the room.

During

This photo shows side view of the old addition and new. The upper bathroom window has been relocated. Note the new gable roofline.

After

This photo shows an inward facing view of the new deck. On the new deck we used Pau Lope decking. The wood is imported from Brazil. It is some of the finest wood available and very rot resistant. The ceiling is Azek bead board. The new door is a twelve foot Pella slider with simulated divided lights.

After

This photo shows an outward facing view of the new deck.

After

The rail design was very important to my client. We spent a lot of time laying out this design with the architect. The handrail and caps are made out of Spanish cedar. The spindles are square cut western red cedar stained white.

After

This photo shows custom sized Azek Dutch doors. These doors lead to additional storage under the deck. The skirting around the deck is western red cedar stained white.

After

The finished railing

Drawing

Architect drawing of railing.

After

One of the features of the new deck is the wood burning fireplace. The fireplace is wood framed and then wrapped with Owens Corning cultured stone.

After

We chose this stone because there is a small stream cutting through the back yard. The cultured stone matches the stone found in the stream. Using the cultured stone saved my client a great deal of money over building a traditional masonry fireplace.

Before

This photo shows the chimney under construction.

Before

The original master bath is what started this whole project. The bathroom was long and narrow. My client wanted to widen the room. In order to do this we had to rebuild the master bedroom. This photo is of the old shower taken standing in front of the toilet.

Before

This photo is taken from in front of the shower.

After

My client had been planning her bathroom for a long time. She had clipped many pictures from remodeling magazines. Her attention to detail paid off. The new shower features a semi-frameless shower door. The bench and curb are honed black absolute granite. The bathroom walls are tiled with 10 X 13 ceramic tiles, installed in an Ashler pattern. The tile is capped with a white Carrere chair rail. The floor is a marble mosaic basket weave by Ann Sacks.

After

We used Rohl faucets in the bathroom. We selected Rohl because of its elegant design and quality finish. The faucets were made in Italy. The bathroom faucets, sconces, and accessories are all finished in polished nickel.

After

The new bathroom has a vaulted ceiling to give it an open and airy feel.

After

The vanity was custom made by Amish craftsmen. My client wanted an open toe-kick so she could store things under the vanity. The counter is honed black absolute granite.

After

Opposite the master bathroom is a large walk in closet with a dressing area. The room has lots of natural light and allows one person to dress without disturbing another.

After

Opposite the master bathroom is a large walk in closet with a dressing area. The room has lots of natural light and allows one person to dress without disturbing another.

Before

This photo shows the North wall of the old master bedroom. This wall will be removed so we can add on our new master bedroom. The ceiling is low and flat and the baseboard is a simple 3 �� colonial base. It does not match the rest of the house.

Before

This photo shows the South wall of the old master bedroom. The double doors are the old master closets. The closets were removed so we could enlarge the bathroom. These closets were replaced with a large walk in closet (see previous page).

After

This photo shows the new North wall of the master bedroom.

After

The new master bedroom features a vaulted ceiling. The North wall has a large bank of windows to take in the view of the back yard. The new trim matches the rest of the trim in the house.

After

This photo shows the new twelve foot Pella slider. The extra three feet of glass allows for a full view of the deck and yard from inside the house.

During

This photo shows the door opening after the new header has been installed.

Before

This photo shows the old nine foot sliding door. The door was changed so the first and second floor windows would be symmetric. We had to install a new header and move a heat duct to get this door in.

After

This photo shows the new entrance to the master bedroom. We shifted the door to the left and turned it creating a center hallway. Moving the entrance gave us the room we needed to create a much larger bathroom.

Before

This photo shows the old entrance to the master bedroom.

After

Heating the new room was a difficult problem to solve. We could not get ducts from the existing basement furnace to the new room and my client did not want a through-the-wall furnace. Our solution was to install a new 60,000 BTU furnace in the attic.

During

This photo shows the heating contractor installing the heat runs. All ducts were run through the ceiling. The new furnace has separate zones and also covers old areas of the house that were always cold.

During

The new master bedroom has three walls and the floor that are exposed to the exterior. I did not want my client to have cold feet when they got up in the morning. We chose to insulate with a product called Nu Wool. It is an eco-friendly cellulose product made of recycled paper. It is sprayed in place and can be installed around pipes and wires better than traditional fiberglass insulation.

During

This photo shows the underside of the bedroom floor. The insulation contractor is installing netting that will hold the Nu Wool insulation in place.

February 6, 2010

My husband and I have hired Robert Schwarz on two separate occasions to renovate our 83-year-old home. The first project was a kitchen remodel three years ago. The second project, pictured in this notebook, was a tear-down and rebuild of a deck and a 1970s era master suite. After interviewing several other general contractors, we hired Robert for his:

� Can-do philosophy

� Trustworthiness

� Response to setbacks

� Pursuit of excellence

� Dedication to meeting deadlines and containing costs.

We have worked with some contractors in the past who were either unable or unwilling to solve problems creatively. They responded to challenges by saying it cannot be done. Robert, on the other hand, impressed us with his philosophy that anything is possible. He is willing to think outside the box, do endless research, meet with experts, and generate one or more creative solutions to tricky issues.

Robert is also genuinely trustworthy: he is sincere, earnest, and hard working. He always wants to do the right thing, not just the easy or convenient thing. He works tirelessly to understand and meet the customers expectations. He hires expert subcontractors who not only know their craft, but who are also trustworthy themselves. We had no qualms about allowing Robert or any of his subcontractors into our home, either when we were there or when we were out.

Anyone who has ever renovated or remodeled, especially an old house, knows that such projects always involve snafus of one sort or another. Roberts response to these surprises also tells much about his character: he confronts issues head on (rather than covering up or ignoring them, as some contractors do) and then explores every possible way to resolve a problem to the customers satisfaction.

Robert demands excellence of himself and of his subcontractors. He has developed relationships with superior local craftsmen who are courteous, prompt, hardworking and tidy. Robert communicates frequently with customers and trades people alike. He researches and recommends, when necessary, high quality products at affordable prices.

Robert works assiduously to meet deadlines and contain costs. A couple of times, my husband and I made aesthetic choices that affected the overall budget. When that happened, Robert made sure we understood the implications of our choices and adjusted our expectations accordingly. He met with us regularly throughout both projects to report his progress against our costs so when the final bill came, we did not have any nasty surprises.

For all these reasons, we have recommended Robert Schwarz to friends, and would gladly consider hiring him again for future renovation projects.

Julia M. Healy