I was recently contacted by NBC to participate as the designer in an episode of George to the Rescue – if you’ve seen the show (it’s part of Open House New York on Sunday mornings), you know that the goal is to help rescue the homes of deserving families. Host George Oliphant and a team consisting of a contractor, an architect and a designer come together to make life a bit better for selected families one home at a time.
The project I’m part of is the reconstruction of the back section of a modest New Jersey home belonging to a family of five. The husband is a stay-at-home dad because his disability doesn’t allow him to work. Not only does he take care of their three children, ranging in age from preschool to teenage, but this big-hearted family also has three rescue dogs that needed to be considered in the new plans.
Attached to the back of this home was an unusable sun porch that had been put on by a previous owner – a DIY project gone wrong. The porch couldn’t be used because it was below grade and flooded so often that it was constantly filled with water, which caused a major rust problem, along with many other issues. The only back door leading to the yard was in the sun porch, so the family had only one exit and no direct access to their backyard. As if all that wasn’t enough, the backyard at one time had a pool which is now gone – that area has become a valley filled with water that runs toward the house because the property wasn’t graded properly.
There was no way to salvage any portion of the sun porch because it was in such terrible condition. The only solution was to bulldoze the entire sun porch, grade the property properly so that water won’t run toward the house, and construct a new room in place of the sun porch. There were other complications and details that needed to be considered as well, like raising the roof on the second floor to accommodate a new eight-foot ceiling that will be equal in height with the other first-floor ceilings. And since the house is four steps up off the ground, a crawl space needs to be added underneath to bring the new room up to grade and level with the rest of the house, which will eliminate future flooding.
After many meetings and considerations, the bulldozing has begun and the family has relocated for the duration of the project. I won’t give any secrets away about the new room, the backyard, or any design work I’m doing, but check back after the show’s big reveal, when all will be told!