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The Lievenses- Planning gets the job done without hassles

Project Features

Danny C. Flanders March 2000

A tale of three Atlanta families: THE LIEVENSES

Planning gets the job done without hassles
Danny C. Flanders - Staff
Thursday, March 23, 2000

Atlanta Journal-Constitition Thursday, March 23, 2000- Home & Garden asked readers to share their remodeling experiences. Here are three that show what can happen when communication, competence and commitment are at stake.

Tales of renovation horror are so common that many homeowners would rather sell than take on a project.

Geert and Debra Lievens had heard plenty, but because they loved their house, their neighborhood and its schools, they decided to go for it. "We were dreading it, but we had long since outgrown our home and needed the additional space badly," she says. "Buying a new home was out of the question."

Deciding to renovate didn't eliminate their fears. But they were able to conquer them by educating themselves. The result is that their project was completed ahead of schedule, to their desire and without hassle.

"Living through a renovation is tiring, stressful, dirty and intrusive," said Debra, who works in marketing from her Garden Hills home. "For most of us, it also represents a huge financial commitment and, hopefully, a good long-term investment. All the more reason to get it right."

The job: She and her husband, an engineer, wanted a master suite, a small second office, a sitting area and carport. A steep slope in the back yard and complicated roof lines presented challenges.

The hire: "My husband and I had countless discussions about the pros, the cons, the process, the results and, of course, the money that would be involved," Debra says. They considered several local design/build firms before hiring Sawhorse Inc., which had already done two smaller projects for them. The latest would involve adding some 800 square feet to their 2,100-square-foot home.

Before they first hired the company, the couple checked out its references. "Unexpected things would be inevitable, but I wanted to know how the remodeler dealt with them, how they manage the process, how they follow up on things," Debra says. "When you're talking about a big chunk of money and that much disruption in your home, you want someone you can trust."

The rub: There wasn't any --- something the Lievenses attribute to taking their time, planning and communicating with their remodeler. "I had about five years to salivate over what I wanted, and we spent a lot of time talking with them about how we'd use every aspect of the renovation," Debra says.

The fallout: The inevitable bumps occurred, most caused by weather delays, but they were dealt with promptly, Debra says. While the construction schedule in their contract called for four months of work, the couple and their two kids braced for six. To their delight, the project was completed five weeks early, on budget and with results that exceeded their expectations.

The lessons: The Lievenses believe their project was successful for several reasons --- they checked out the stability, the design skills and the construction results of the firms they considered. They also talked to references about how the companies dealt with unforeseen developments.

"With a little luck, a positive attitude, the right team of professionals and a common vision," she says, "it is possible to get it right."

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