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Returning home: OC remodel reflects trend


by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Kari Andersen expresses relief that her house's remodel was able to save her father's stove that he would light every evening until the day he died in 2011.Kari Andersen is returning to her parents’ home at the age of 62 — not to the familiar shag carpeting, sunken living areas and swirly wallpaper in the bedrooms — but to a remodeled house nearly unrecognizable from its original 1980 version.

Such “whole-house remodels” take everything down to the studs to put in new plumbing, electrical and air-conditioning systems. The old disco-inspired lamp had to go, too.

“I’ll tell you that lamp went very quickly in the estate sale, because there’s a whole resurgence of that,” Andersen said.

Originally about 2,150 square feet, approximately 800 square feet of additions expanded the garage and put in new bedrooms for when her four children and two grandchildren visit. Although she’s updating the house that’s located just outside Oregon City limits near Redland Road, she’s also keeping many original features intact.

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City-based remodeler Ed Parsons completely remodeled Kari Andersen's home just outside of Oregon City so she could return to the property her parents owned for more than 30 years.A support pillar in the house’s cathedral hallway/

living room incorporates a Port Orford cedar her father brought from Bandon. Because her father always tried to save falling trees throughout the 1-acre property, you can still see a cable mark on the tree trunk that had been planted in the driveway. Her husband, Les Andersen, 59, striped the tree and cleaned it up for Oregon City-based remodeler Ed Parsons.

“The idea here was to keep this room the way it was but open it up,” Parsons said. “The footprint of the house is pretty much the same, and the length of the house is similar. Some original beams remain, as well as some flooring.”

As for the cost of the remodel, Andersen acknowledged that she could have rebuilt the house new, but then she couldn’t have reused and recycled so much of the old house.

“It’s not about saving money, but rather about sentiment,” she said.

Particular sentimental value comes to Andersen from having cared for her parents there during the last years of their lives. Her mother, who died in the house at age 92 in 2010, was the same age as Andersen upon moving into the house.

“We really liked the location, so we wanted to carry it on forward,” she said.

To keep the house warm, her dad chopped wood every day until the night he died from melanoma at age 97 in 2011. So she wanted the remodel to keep the old wood stove, which her father would use every night to start a fire.

Retirees’ movement

Andersen is part of a new national movement to embrace a “home for life” idea where seniors can comfortably stay in their one-level home if the necessary remodels have been done. This home’s remodel also features a shower with a large doorway ideal for wheelchair access.

“People are wanting to stay in their homes for longer and wanting their homes designed so they can do that,” said Hallie Gentry, events manager at the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, which is putting on the Tour of Remodeled Homes featuring the Andersen house this weekend.

Retirees have become an important market as people under 35 more frequently eschew homeownership. Last month’s Pew Research Center analysis of government data showed young adults shed substantially more debt than older adults during the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath — in large part by less frequently owning a house.

Audit shows efficiency

Clean Energy Works Oregon last month completed an audit of Andersen’s house using a Blower Door Test and Ductblaster Test, plus visual inspection of mechanical, HVAC and lighting systems, to determine that the house’s carbon footprint is only 6.4 tons a year compared with the average Oregon home of a similar size at 9.1 tons annually.

“You guys did a nice job on the remodel — the house is very appealing and so efficient,” said Clean Energy Works spokeswoman Colleen Shannon. “Carmy (home performance auditor) was particularly impressed with the attention paid to preventing/sealing air leaks, even considering that this house has 37 can lights, which are notoriously leaky areas.”

Parsons Remodeling is also benefiting from the trend. Parsons completes 32 to 40 remodeling jobs a year, more than half of which are in Clackamas County. He took over the company that started in 1979 from his father, who gave him his start helping install shag carpeting and sunken living rooms.

“I’ve remodeled some of the houses that he’s built,” Parsons said.

For more information, visit parsonsremodeling.com or remodeltourportland.com.