Remodeling in Real Time

What began as a clients' online chronicle of their home improvement project became an e-tool for a Wisconsin remodeler.

March 05, 2000

What began as a clients' online chronicle of their home improvement project became an e-tool for a Wisconsin remodeler.

When Phil and Vicki DeGruy decided to remodel their home, they figured the best way to keep friends and family updated on the project's progress was to create an online scrapbook. "We have friends and family scattered all over the country," says Vicki.

Having developed sites for non-profit groups, the DeGruys developed a user-friendly site, which details the progression of their whole-house remodel using photographs and text. Though the DeGruys built the site for their friends and family, Jim Comstock, owner of J.C. Builders, has benefited from the online photo album, as well.

Comstock refers current and potential clients to the website. Not only does the DeGruy's site give his company a favorable review, more importantly it provides a fair and realistic rep-resentation of the remodeling process, according to Comstock.

As noted on the site, the DeGruy's original plan was to add an unattached workshop for Phil and a 15-run kennel with a grooming area for their own dogs and their Chow Chow res-cue project, Thunderhill. The DeGruy's is the main foster kennel for Wisconsin Chow Chow Rescue where approximately 15-20 abandoned Chows find shelter at Thunderhill as they await permanent adoptive homes.

Despite their need for the kennel, the couple soon learned zoning didn't allow outbuildings larger than the house. Their home measured just 800 square feet, and wouldn't accommodate the project.

As a result, the DeGruys met with J.C. Builders and signed a contract to undertake a whole-house remodel in January 1998. The couple, like many homeowners, thought their project would begin immediately and be completed quickly. "We figured we could have a new house by the end of the year," the couple says on their site. Unfortunately, the DeGruys' proj-ect went through two design changes. "It doesn't matter to the bank how much money you make or how good a job you have," the DeGruys say. "If they think it costs too much, they won't lend you the money." The lender was especially concerned that adding the kennel and workshop would devalue the home.

The third design, which included a new kitchen, a guest bedroom, an attached dog kennel, and several other tweaks, was approved and construction began in November 1999. Vicki es-timates J.C. Builders will complete the project in the next four to six weeks.

"It's a long process, and that's why I like using [the website]," says Comstock. "It shows people that it doesn't happen overnight," Comstock says.

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