I recently met Tom and Yumiko Virant at their home 496 Sunset Drive. It is a house I have admired for two years on my daily hikes through North Asheville. It is a 2100 sq/ft modern home with 800 sq/ft of decking. It was originally built in 1961. Tom and Yumiko both have degrees in architecture and work together as their own design/build team, Virant Design. Yumiko is a licensed architect while Tom is a general contractor. They have many interesting stories to tell about other projects they have worked on, but for the sake of this post I will let Tom tell you about the home they currently live in.
Tom says, “My wife and I bought the house in the fall of 2003. At the time I was working for a design/build company as a job-site superintendent overseeing high end residential construction, and my wife was working in an architecture firm in Asheville. At first we thought we could do some minor renovation, move in, and continue to work on the renovation over time. As soon as we started digging into the project (literally) it became apparent that the best thing for the house would be a full gut renovation. The original house had some great design features that we liked, and had a great site, so we decided it would be worth it in the long run.”
“At that point it was clear that it was going to be more than working on the weekends, so I quit my job and started working on the renovation full time (I am a licensed contractor as well). The design process was the first step, since we had a feeling that we were going to completely gut the interior, we redesigned the layout and detailing of the house to make more sense in the 21st century. Larger master suite with walk-in closet, larger kitchen, etc. The house had been slightly under built originally (by today’s standards) and had not been well maintained for the last few years, so demolition was the next step.
We tore off the old roof (and roof framing), completely gutted the entire interior (all walls, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment) and tore off the exterior decks. All that was left of the original house is the foundation, lower level slab, upper floor framing, about 3/4 of the exterior wall framing, and the windows (which the previous owner had just installed before the sale, which was a big reason why we purchased the house. Pella architectural series, all custom sized.)”.
“After the demo, we went about rebuilding everything, upgrading everything as we went. Generally most of the work was done by myself with a couple employees, and a couple main subcontractors (electrical, plumbing, a/c and heating system, drywall, roofing, grading, etc.) All of the carpentry, woodwork, trim, copper work, hardwood floors, retaining walls were all done by me.”
Here is a detailed list of the complete renovation:
• All new interior framing, drywall, paint, trim etc.
• All new electrical, everything brand new from the pole on the street to the last switch…
• Complete low voltage wiring and panel.
• All new mechanical systems – 6 zone radiant floor heating
• New propane high efficiency boiler, supplies both heat and hot water
• Efficient “Mini-duct” Air conditioning system
• All new interior finishes, oak kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, stained wood doors, Emtek brass hardware, custom base cabinet in master bath w/ marble top.
• All plumbing fixtures are Grohe, Toto toilets, and a Duravit sink in powder bath (double shower in master, plus custom “Japanese” (deep) soaking tub)
• Full marble tile in master bath, decorative tile in powder bath.
• 13″ tall clerestory glass all the way around the house, lets in great amounts of daylight!
• Relined fireplace on upper level and rebuilt as “bellfires” unit, similar to a “Rumford” style
• Relined old boiler flue and installed Rais-Wittus “Mino” wood stove in lower level.
• Ash hardwood floors throughout entire house (tile in bathrooms, and slate in entry foyer)
• Built in cabinets in lower level “family room”
• All closets have built-in closet systems
• Laundry chute from master closet to laundry room
• New roof framing, including exposed glulam beams and commercial reinforced PVC roofing membrane (typical product on large commercial buildings, walmart etc…)
• Icynene spray in foam insulation.
• All new exterior decks, cypress decking, concealed fasteners, copper and Cambara handrail
• Added balcony off master bedroom with outside shower
• Exterior copper coping on roof and exposed beams
• New cypress siding and cedar trim
• Two large retaining walls to create flat lawn area and enlarged driveway
• Extensive perennial landscaping.