Case Study: The Evolution of an Addition

Late in the summer of 2016 we were approached by Jeff Cartwright and Tracey Thayer about rebuilding a small detached garage at the back of their property for a library/man cave. One year later we were breaking ground on a 700 square foot addition to their house - tearing down the garage, removing the brick patio and outdoor fireplace.

Jeff and Tracey say the changes to the project were partially influenced by some utility constraints but also the idea of building an addition on their first floor would allow them to “age in place” in their own home. The new addition was designed by long-time friends of Jeff and Tracey, architects David and Priscilla Cotton. The final design included a Great Room, full bathroom, new laundry room to bring it out of the basement, and details and finishes that made the addition flow nicely with their 1925 Craftsman style home.

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Design and drawings by Cotton Design

This project was a little different for us because we were not providing the design as we usually would, but the collaboration worked great with just one in-person meeting (the Cottons live in Vermont full-time), followed by occasional check ins and updates. We did, however, mutually insist on extremely thorough designs, drawings and decision making prior to the build out phase. The first step was taking the design and drawings from the Cottons and “building” the project out as a 3D model in SketchUp. We then created a schedule with time frames for making design decisions such as tile, appliances, countertops, fixtures and more. Making these decisions in advance means a streamlined construction phase that has less impact on our clients everyday life in their home. In addition to delays in construction, changes made later in the process can seriously impact the project’s budget.


SketchUp model by RIC design build

Once everything was in place and decisions had been made, construction began. With a addition, there is essentially no way not to impact the day to day life of homeowners, however Jeff and Tracey told us, “the RIC team made every effort to minimize intrusions and impact on our daily lives . . . one surprising (based on our experience with other contractors) and wonderful benefit was the daily focus on cleaning up whatever could be cleaned up before leaving for the evening or weekend . . . once the structure was enclosed, tools were put away each night, paint cans were left in an organized manner and materials placed into neat piles.” We strongly believe in clean, efficient job sites, and we invest in tools that allow us to keep our clients’ homes clean and safe.

Construction Phase 1: The Shell

As much construction was done as possible before having to open up the hole into the main house. Notice that clean and tidy job site!

Construction Phase 2: Interior build-out

Once we opened up the wall into the main house, we used heavy duty plastic to enclose the addition and decrease dust and debris in the main house. We also used our Build Clean system to reduce particles in the air. We partnered with our friends at Creative Conservation for efficient insulation.

Jeff and Tracey made some very intentional decisions on both internal and external materials like these reclaimed heart pine floors that flowed nicely with the rest of the home. Shiplap and wooden beams were installed on the ceilings - a great design choice.

Construction Phase 3: Exterior Details

Seth Scudder was the project manager for this project, and he ensured that the exterior details which included real wood siding were done right. In fact, our approach to project management is part of what convinced Jeff and Tracey to work with us: “We were impressed with the RIC approach in which one foreperson is assigned to each project and stays until it is completed. We don’t think RIC missed one day of work.”

We started this project in the heat of the summer and ended it with a dusting of snow. Thanks to good planning and teamwork, we stayed on track with our 6-month timeline.

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Even though it wasn’t their original plan, they are now living in and loving the new space. “We LOVE the addition, use it everyday and feel that it was just a wonderful thing to do!” In addition to providing them with a den/study/guest room, new bathroom and laundry room, this space has also allowed them the security of knowing they will be able to stay in their home longer, enjoying the space with their family. “It’s a great place for our two grandsons to play in lots of space. In fact, we have held off on placing anything on the new walls in the hallway since it is a perfect place to play various forms of ball!”

We love that this project was beautiful and intentional, but also that it has improved our clients’ daily lives by working well with their lifestyle and helping them plan for their future. A home renovation or addition isn’t just about making a house prettier or bigger - it’s about improving the life you live in it, and we are pleased to have been able to help Jeff and Tracey do just that.