Katie McGrath drove by the University City house for months because the ad mentioned a deep backyard, exactly what she would need to remodel it to her satisfaction.
The place was a quaint two-story brick like so many in the area, houses many new owners were tearing down for the lot, and then building from scratch. Katie liked the neighborhood; she’d grown up less than a mile away. But she didn’t like four small bedrooms with just one bath, no air conditioning, the narrow, “horrible” galley kitchen and no usable garage.
Then the price dropped to the point where a major remodel plus the purchase price still made it a reasonable investment. She invited two companies to look at the place and provide their remodeling recommendations, and S.W. Scheipeter Construction won hands-down.
“I liked what Steve Scheipeter seemed to feel he could do with the space,” she recalls. Expanding to the back as far as the old garage and building two floors up from there, the job would enlarge the house from 1,850 to 2,800 square feet, says McGrath, relaxing with her dog Doc in a spacious family room just off her freshly updated kitchen. Not to mention that the family room is right above her two-car garage, practically an impossibility in the neighborhood.
“It was a leap of faith for me—I’d never built anything before,” she says. “Steve was very matter-of-fact: Within this budget, here’s what we can do.” Which is exactly what they did, and more. Special touches like a custom hood over the stove, finished to enhance the cabinetry with a wooden overlay design element. Multi-piece moldings adorn the cabinets and copper tile accent the backsplash, custom-designed recesses in the shower walls for shampoo and soaps. Little details with big impact or function, none of which Katie had specifically asked for, but all within the budget and her personal style (“I’m into traditional finishes”). Scheipeter’s team demonstrated almost unlimited creativity, and had the freedom to unleash it—within budget.
Steve, along with all members of the design/build team, worked toward a vision that was pure Katie, with enhancements each brought to the job.
MAKING IT WORK FOR HER
“They totally changed the vibe of the house, and they made it very easy for me,” Katie says. She had been living in Sunset Hills at the time of the remodel, and was able to stay there while the work was being done, even though Scheipeter insisted the job could have been done “around her.”
“Since they spent plenty of time with me at my (old) house, they could see what my taste was,” she says, grinning. “They could see what my stuff looks like, how I use the space, what my style of entertaining is.” Katie, who has a large extended family, often entertains nieces and nephews and other relatives without having to worry about them being on top of each other.
From the street, Katie’s house looks just like so many others in Clayton and U. City—sturdy, workmanlike homes circa 1930 where so many parents and grandparents lived “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You walk through the front door into the foyer, and can immediately go upstairs, to the left and the formal living room, or to the right and the formal dining room. And now, if you step just to the right of the staircase, you flow into the new space, through the new kitchen, family room and on to the deck.
Speaking of George Bailey et. al, Katie’s annual holiday party was the goal the team had to meet, despite the vagaries of materials delivery, weather and other elements beyond anyone’s control. She had slated it to coincide with her favorite pianist’s availability. That very day the crew put on the finishing touches, left at 5pm, then all went home to freshen up before returning for the party.
Katie says she received perhaps the greatest compliment of all when she asked an architect friend for her honest appraisal: “You really can’t tell where the old place ends and the new place starts.”
With the new master bedroom there are now four bedrooms on the expanded second floor, the smallest of the old bedrooms having been absorbed by the master bathroom. With the original bathroom extensively remodeled and a new powder room on the first floor, the home now boasts four bedrooms, two and a half baths — a much more attractive property should Katie ever decide to sell.
The deck is a couple feet from one of the largest trees in the backyard; only one tree had to go to accommodate the new space. Katie says, with a laugh: “That one wasn’t a great tree; we probably would have taken it down anyhow.”
THE WORKING RELATIONSHIP
Katie, who works full time, was pleased that Scheipeter’s team respected her limited availability to discuss this knob or that, or select from these color swatches. The interior designer became a frequent lunch date.
“I’d break away and she’d meet me all over creation,” recalls Katie, with a grin. “She had already narrowed choices down to five or six based on what she knew about what I liked —not once did she have to go back to the drawing board. I was always in sync with what she had to recommend for me.”
Not only would Katie describe the process as efficient—it was enjoyable, every step of the way.
“You really get to know these people, and vice versa. They were just always gracious, helpful and happy to answer any and all of my zillion questions. It was a very interesting, and fun, process.
“There weren’t any surprises—except good ones!”
KUDOS FOR SCHEIPETER
Katie McGrath is among the many Scheipeter clients who give the company very high marks for everything from initial design conceptualization to project completion. S.W. Scheipeter Construction is one of the most highly regarded design/build residential contractors in the St. Louis region. In fact, a recent independent survey indicates that 98 percent of previous clients would recommend them. For perspective, the national average for remodeling clients is only 50 percent.
Locally, Scheipeter has earned seven Homer awards, the Oscar of the local residential building industry. Nationally, Scheipeter recently was honored by Remodeling magazine with a Big 50 award, a remodeling business award for excellence given annually to only 50 companies nationwide that have set the standard for professionalism and integrity. Other national awards include the Chrysalis Award and Qualified Remodeler magazine’s Top 500 award for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Among numerous other awards, Steve Scheipeter has earned a C.A.P.S. citation recognizing his company’s accomplishments in housing for older adults and people with disabilities. Steve has also served as chairman for the Remodelers Council of the St. Louis Home Builders Association.
To view examples of Scheipeter’s work, you can visit www.scheipeter.com, or you can call them at 314.962.7073 to discuss your project.