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Updated: 09/19/2012 12:51:44PM

Restoring house poses unique challenge

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Keith Hall (left) explains what it was like, cleaning and restoring the house he inherited.


David Turley, an engineer with Greenovative Design and Engineering, points out what it formerly cost to heat and cool the house.


A garage, now torn down, had blocked the view of Blue Heron Lake.


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Chalk up another house — this one at 455 Rowland Drive — gone green, thanks to Greenovative Design and Engineering. However, that is not the real story. The real story is what the house was like before Keith Hall hired Larry Madrid and Greenovative.

Hall had inherited the one-story block house after his uncle died and it was not necessarily a blessing, Hall said. The problem was, his uncle was a hoarder, and when Hall and Madrid explored the house, it was virtually impossible to navigate.

“When we first came into the house, everything was stacked,” said Hall, who added some of it was stacked to the ceiling. In some areas of the house, the possessions were such that one could not enter some rooms. It was so extreme that all that was available was a narrow path. His uncle, explained Hall, had lived through the Great Depression. It had such a profound affect upon him that it ultimately led to his uncle become a hoarder.

The problem was not limited only inside the house. The exterior was not any better. Vegetation was so overgrown as to block almost all view of the house from the street.

The reason Madrid had accompanied Hall was because the latter had contacted Madrid Engineering. Hall had a retaining wall in the backyard on the verge of collapse. When Madrid arrived, he was astounded by what he discovered. One of his first comments to Hall concerned a garage in the back of the property that Hall’s uncle and grandfather had built.

It blocked the view of Blue Heron Lake (and yes, the garage too was stacked from ground to ceiling). Madrid wanted to tear down the garage, but Hall was reluctant at first. After all, it had been built by hand by his uncle and grandfather. However, he soon realized Madrid was right.

However, the house itself was not in any better shape than the garage, which was another reason Hall had contacted Madrid. Hall had seen the very first “green” house Greenovative Design and Engineering had built, and had come away very impressed. Clearly, the house he inherited was in need of a major overhaul. But before any work could begin, there was one big project that needed doing: Clear out everything that had been stored over the decades.

“It took six months clearing up before we could even start,” said Madrid.

“We filled at least seven dumpsters,” added Hall. Most of the clutter had little value, but there were some interesting discoveries. Hall’s uncle had a collection of bluegrass music that was astounding; so much so it could have belonged in a museum. Eventually it was sold into private hands. “Went to a collector from Oregon who came down here twice.”

It took nearly a year for everything that needed doing to be completed.

“It’s a major change from what it was,” Madrid told a gathering at an open house on Sept. 10. “We took it from a negative to a positive.”

Like the three other houses that were completed by Greenovative, the restored house is energy efficient.

“Before, the HERS (Home Energy Rating System)
was 139,” said David Turley, with Greenovative Design. “Now it’s a 71.” In dollars and cents, explained Turley, where it formerly cost $2,530 to heat and cool, it was projected now it would be $1,511.

At the open house, Hall said he would not only keep the house, but he, his wife and daughter will be moving in; a son is now on his own.

But Hall was pleased with the near-completion (still needs sod) and he can return to a passion of his: barbecue competitions.

“Of course, me and my team always needs sponsors,” he said as he hugged Madrid by the shoulder, leaving no question who that comment was specifically targeted at.