Montvale Road, Newton, MA

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1800's Carriage House Rear Expansion

Montvale Road, Newton

Project Journal:

This is the story of Maureen and Craig, first time home owners and their experience with Metropolitan Building Systems Corp.

Located in the suburban Montvale Road neighborhood of Newton, this elegant stucco mansion was lovingly restored and expanded by Metropolitan Building Systems Corp. This first dream home of Maureen and Craig proved to be a labor of love, but not without its unexpected surprises!  Read more about Metro’s evolution of the project and the experience of homeowner’s just like yourself below.

“…it was something about the front of the house…the house deserved to evolve…I could see it for what it could be.”  – Maureen

Scope of Project:

  • Interior renovated and updated to match timeless elegance of exterior.
  • New expanded kitchen & mud room.
  • Family room.
  • 2 children’s bedrooms, new master bedroom, 4 bedrooms in total.
  • New and refinished oak floors throughout.
  • New deck utilizing cost efficient PVC material to simulate wood decking to last a lifetime.
  • Stucco exterior blended and matched seamlessly with original structure and new addition.
  • Complete finished basement within new and existing structure.
  • Coffered ceilings & extensive woodwork throughout.
  • New 4 zone high efficiency boiler with hydro-air, heated garage and new central air.
  • Brand new plumbing and 200 amp electrical panel and service.

The Story:

Maureen and Craig were previously living in two apartments in Boston’s South End, but while they loved the area, it was their dream to find the perfect first home for themselves and their 3 children.  After searching for just the right fit, they stumbled upon a stunning stucco home on Montvale Road in Newton.  “We were looking for a project, ” said Maureen smiling.  “When I saw it…there was something about it, something about the front of the home, but the curious thing is that it seemed unfinished.  The interior didn’t do the exterior justice.  It was if they started it…and it was never finished.  The house deserved to evolve.

Construction begins on the interior

An Early Offer and Finding the Right Visionary

In September of 2003, Maureen and Craig put in their first offer on the Montvale Road home before heading to California on holiday.  After a brief tug of war, their offer was accepted and soon began the restoration work.  They closed on Montvale Road in December and begun seeking an architect to discuss their plans with.  Now stuck with the daunting task of locating the perfect designer and builder, they spoke with a close female friend who recommended her builder who only worked with a specific architect, Bob May.

“Bob was very laid back, but professional and nice.”  Maureen said.  “Unfortunately, the builder we were referred to left the industry as his son was diagnosed with cancer.  We were left a little in the lurch so we began looking for alternative builders immediately.”

Bob had recommended Paul Wilkes and Metropolitan Building Systems Corp., but both Maureen and Craig thought it would be wise to get competitive quotes as well.  Craig shook his head, “We had two or three other people who were recommended to take a look at the house, but they either didn’t show up, or took a 20 minute walkthrough and then gave us an absurd quote.  It was very frustrating.”  Paul Wilkes and his team conducted a thorough inspection of the property and prepared an honest and thorough quote.

“It really was embarrassing for Bob.  The night we had booked those appointments, Paul was the only one who showed up.”  Maureen said.

A stunning, upscale kitchen with built-in seating & storage

The Scope of the Project

Paul Wilkes and his team began discussions as to the details of the renovation and addition work needed.  “The house was not deep enough in length.  I could see that immediately…not so much to add an addition, but to make the house more proportionate and balanced.”  Paul related.

A more spacious and modern kitchen was definitely key, as the existing was far too formal and compact in space, especially with the three children.  “We needed something more functional, ” said Maureen.  A family room was also key, the ultimate goal being to flesh out the interior of the home, finishing and blending it to be more airy with a better use of space.

An unexpected surprise...the entire second level floor is cement!

Unforeseen Challenges Arise

When construction began Maureen and Craig intended to occupy the residence, but as work began it swiftly became apparent that making alternate living arrangements was necessary.  Paul recalled the daunting task at hand.  “We found out early on that the floor was uneven all over…a 3 inch difference.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but from a building perspective its a structural nightmare.  We had considered balancing it out and keeping the existing flooring, but then we uncovered another surprise.”

The surprise was the discovery that the entire second level floor was cement!  The difficulty of trying to work with cement in running electrical and plumbing for the new bedrooms and bathrooms was too overwhelming to consider.  The team met and began tossing around ideas, when Metro’s lead man Guy, threw out the solution.  Take the floor out, gut the interior and leave just the shell.  Provided structural beams were put in place, the shell of the home would be fine.  This too would address the unbalanced floor in the kitchen.

“It took 12 dumpsters and 3 or 4 small ones for the whole job, including removing the cement….that’s about 90,000 to 95,000 lbs of debris and masonry…it was incredible, ” Paul said.  Maureen and Craig were sad to see the beautiful tile floor in the kitchen demolished to make way for the new interior.  “I cried”, Maureen said laughing, “I really was hoping we could’ve kept it.”

While the interior was getting an overhaul, the exterior was also in need of expansion.  “The key here was to blend everything in and really make the home look complete…as if it always had been these dimensions.  I was blown away by how our guys were able to seamlessly work in the walls and stucco to match the existing front of the home.  You’d never know the difference”, said Paul.

Beautiful custom milling & detailing in the bedrooms

The New Montvale Home

As the home slowly moved towards completion, the design elements once in blueprint soon began to take shape and the new and expanded kitchen, mud room, 2 children’s bedrooms, family room, and the new large master bedroom sprouted from the dust.  Outside, a beautiful and spacious new deck hugged the back of the new addition and Paul Wilkes made a cost saving suggestion.  “Using durable PVC material to simulate the look of wood decking saved them a lot of money…the best part was that they’ll last a lifetime and look great too.”

“Through all of the work”, Craig said, “the cleanliness on the job was awesome…the basement was sparkling!  They always picked up after the job was done every day.  I’d never heard of anything like that.”

Paul smiled.  “I guess you can say we have a lipstick on the job, clean construction policy.  A lot of times when home owners visit the site to see how things are coming, it can be stressful…especially with the home torn apart.  Seeing some amount of order in disorder reassures them and that’s what matters most to me.”

In December of 2006, Maureen, Craig and their family moved into their new home on Montvale Road just in time for the holidays, the best present they could’ve received.  Maureen and Craig looked at each other and shared some personal gratitude to Paul and his team.  “We had heard nightmare stories from friends and acquaintances where one day builders just stopped coming.  Even in the beginning, we had people who never showed up to even give us the quote, but Paul and his team were always prepared, punctual and above all honest.”

Paul was a little humbled, “Working with Maureen and Craig has been great…what mattered most at the end of the day was putting in the overtime to meet our timeline and get them into the home by Christmas, especially for the kids.”

Maureen pressed one final point home, “It’s refreshing to meet a really honest businessman with integrity.  We’ve told all our friends about Metropolitan Building Systems Corp. and how they’ve made our dream a reality.”

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