Take the tour

A Tualatin family opens up its home to visitors
by: Jaime Valdez, The Wheatcrofts’ new home features a brand new great room for living and dining and an expanded kitchen, shown in the background behind Paul, Liam, Amy and Emma  (seated, from left) and contractor Steve Stolze (standing).

Paul and Amy Wheatcroft (along with kids Liam, 8, and Emma, 5) almost have their house back.

We'll say 'almost' for now because they will spend this coming weekend at the coast while hundreds of strangers parade through their recently made-over home as a part of the Tour of Remodeled Homes. Then they'll come back and resume living in earnest in the house that Steve Stolze's SLS Custom Homes tore apart and rebuilt more than twice the size of the original.

From March of last year until early August, the Wheatcrofts lived elsewhere in Tualatin while the SLS crew knocked out a back wall and expanded the 1,350-square-foot ranch house up and out into a 3,450-square-foot dwelling more suited to a family of four.

'We moved into an apartment nearby,' said Amy, standing in her wide-open great room containing a gas fireplace, a dining area and a TV-watching space that all used to be part of their back yard. ''There's no way we could have lived in it.'

Other important additions to the house include a TV and video game room for the kids off the great room; a huge master bedroom (with appropriate bath and closet space); a bonus/game room upstairs big enough to house a home theater, wet bar and pool table (and still is not cramped); a second one-car garage angling off the old two-car garage; and a new outdoor living space.

The brand new kitchen is organized around a massive Silestone island and features gourmet-quality stainless steel appliances, more cupboards than you can shake a turkey baster at and a large pantry that is tucked underneath the big staircase off the front entry.

The Wheatcroft home is one of 15 you can visit on the Tour of Remodeled Homes, set for this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The homes are scattered all over the metro area. Call 503-684-1880 or visit www.RemodelTourPortland.com for more information.

'This is our fifth year,' said Stolze, a Tualatin-based builder who has been involved with all of the tours except the first year. 'This is great way for us to meet customers,' he said, adding that visitors to his own homes in the tour have ranged from a low of 300 to more than 1,400.

The Wheatcrofts insist that, despite what one normally hears about remodeling projects, this one was a very positive and satisfying experience. It began, said Amy Wheatcroft, when they met with designer Dan Kovac, with whom Stolze works a great deal, and he apparently heard what they had to say and incorporated their ideas and desires into the plans.

'We starting working with him in August of 2006,' she said.

The Wheatcrofts say they had been having a love-hate relationship with the little ranch house they bought in 1998 for $159,000. It became clear after nine years, that they needed more room and, even though their house sat on a half-acre lot well off of Southwest 93rd Avenue, they couldn't decide what they wanted to do.

'We kept flip-flopping back and forth,' she said. 'One day it would be 'Let's sell it'; then we'd think, 'Let's remodel.''

They talked to Realtors and more than one contractor before they ran into Stolze, a referral from neighbors. Then they knew they'd found their guy.

'We wanted to be able to get along with the builder we were using,' said Amy, who swears that on every step of the way 'it was a fun process.'

One testament to that, said Stolze, is the fact that they agreed to let the house be used as part of the Tour of Remodeled Homes.

'It's huge for the owners to offer to open up their house for this,' said the builder.

Those interested in taking the tour can purchase tickets ($17.50 apiece) two ways. One way is to buy tickets online at www.RemodelPortland.com, and buyers receive an e-mail with directions to all of the homes featured on the tour. They download tickets and a map and go on the tour.

The other option is to go to any Safeway/TicketsWest outlet and receive a ticket listing three starter homes. Pick the home closest to you and pick up your tickets at that starter home. The remaining addresses on the tour are only available once a ticket has been purchased and you visit a starting home (this level of privacy protects the homeowners.)

For more information, call the Home Builders Association's Remodelers Council at 503-684-1880 or visit the Web site at www.RemodelPortland.com.

Photos of the Wheatcroft home are featured on Stolze's Web site, www.slshomes.com.