12/08 unedited tahoe mt. news
By Kathryn Reed
Sitting calmly at her long dining table, Monica Johnson is much calmer today than she was a year ago. This time last year she was way stressed.
“I was overwhelmed by the entire situation … of doing it myself,” Johnson said.
Two years after closing escrow on her Mule Deer Circle home, it was engulfed by the Angora Fire. She owed too much to do anything but rebuild. Being single and sole owner meant making all the decisions about how big to build, what colors to use, the contractor, subcontractors, floor plan, appliances, window coverings, fixtures. The list goes on.
Pre-Angora she had thought about remodeling the 1960s-era ranch house, but building a dream home was never in her plans.
That changed after the fire. Her rebuilt house is 1,300 square feet larger that her old one. On June 15 she threw a house warming party to celebrate her new abode.
Despite being thrilled about her home, she wishes she had taken it a little slower. She has issues with a couple windows as well as regrets about not putting electrical outlets in the floor.
The house has settled a bit. Some work has been re-done on the drywall that will require touch-ups on the paint. A leak from the master bathtub dripped into the garage. A portion of the granite countertops needs to be resealed.
Still, she’s happy.
“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s completely worth it,” Johnson said.
She sings the praise of Brian Kuelper of Kuelper Construction. This is one of a dozen houses he is responsible for in the burn area.
“He was awesome. Any questions I had he was there for me,” Johnson said. “He was always on time.”
Kuelper said it’s been interesting working in the burn area.
“They have some funny rules like putting up fencing to protect vegetation that isn’t there,” Kuelper said. He also said it’s “cutthroat out there” because out of town contractors are underbidding projects. “Then it snows and you don’t see them for two weeks.” He is accustomed to working through the winter.
Most of the subcontractors at Johnson’s place are people Kuelper works with regularly. Jose Castillo put in the foundation, Randy Wood did the excavating, and the roof was the work of Black Diamond Roofing.
Much of the building supplies came from Meeks.
Joe Gooch was the painter – another local Johnson thinks the world of. He did the exterior and interior walls as well as staining the wood.
Van Hee Woodworks created the cabinets, Rob Morris completed the BMP work, Color Tile was responsible for the hardwood floors and carpets.
The three gas fireplaces came from South Y Fireplace, with Kemper Masonry doing all the rock work.
Johnson’s focus was on the kitchen and master bedroom. She liked the tweaks to the layout of the kitchen that Kuelper suggested. The kitchen opens up into the great room, where one of the fireplaces is.
The second upstairs fireplace is in her bedroom.
She eliminated an originally planned fourth bedroom to make the master bath and walk-in closet more to her liking. A deck off her room allows her dog Sequoia to sun himself.
Johnson also liked Kuelper’s suggestions about changing some of the windows from the original set of plans. With so few trees, an abundance of sunlight naturally illuminates her home.
Downstairs is where the third fireplace is located. This is also where the two other bedrooms are. A couple roommates are living there. An efficiency kitchen provides the guys with all the amenities they might need.
Much of the furniture throughout the house came from Reno. It was financed.
Johnson opted to use her payout from AAA for construction costs – this includes putting much of the money she got for her contents into the structure.
Like many of the people who lost their home, she buys what she needs and nothing more. She has no knickknacks and is perfectly fine with that. Artwork for the walls we be acquired down the road when she finds just the right piece.
“I wanted a nice house. I love being here,” Johnson. “For the most part, I have everything I need.”