Restoring a vintage building or updating a historic farmhouse is much more complicated than the average home renovation. When you’re dealing with homes of that age, it’s very difficult for an architect to see what’s behind the walls and determine exactly how the building was constructed. Add in the complexities of working with community historic boards, and you’ve got a pretty intricate, time-consuming road ahead.
In 2007, Fein Construction was tasked with building an addition on a historic home in New York’s town of Tuxedo Park. During the build, the homeowners made changes such as requesting cathedral ceilings rather than flat, which Fein easily accommodated. This construction involved several structural modifications to achieve the home owners’ desired look. Due to the complexity of the different angles and projections, and many octagonal and cylindrical elements of the addition, getting the roof lines to plane and then work was something that had to be done live, meaning on site, and not on a plan. The home owners were so pleased with the project that they said they were considering a major addition in the future and would keep Fein in mind.
Fast forward to two-and-a-half years ago, when Fein got the call to complete a project of massive proportion: adding another 10,000 square feet to that same 12,000 square foot house.
The original structure, built in 1875, was designed by prominent architect, Bruce Price, an innovator in the Shingle Style of architecture. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the majority of the 300+ homes in Tuxedo Park are shingle style. To maintain the integrity of the village’s unique style, the community has a Board of Architectural Review to ensure that all the components on home exteriors meet certain criteria.
Architect, Peter Cooper, had his work cut out for him when designing the plans. The house is not a rectangular, conventional-style building. It’s made up of many unique elements, such as a turret with a copper dome, bump-out flying bay windows, octagonals around the back and round rooms. Thus, tying the roof lines into one another was a major undertaking. And, as with the previous addition, they needed to be fine-tuned in the field.
The clients were very involved throughout the entire build process. During the course of construction, as the build came together, they made adjustments that weren’t on the plan, such as opening up the attic to create a second-floor library and adding a Juliet balcony that overlooks a grand art gallery.
“When the client participates in the build, it is an extremely rewarding experience for both me as the builder and the client. I’m like a kid in a candy store,” said Fein Construction owner, Mike Feinberg. “When the client gives me the confidence and trust to build a project like this, there’s a real dynamic click between us… and it’s really a lot of fun.”
The project took only 16 months, and included not only the 10,000 square-foot addition, but also a complete re-siding of the entire house (including the existing 12,000-square-foot house), re-roofing the existing house, and other work in the existing house.
The formula for success for this beautiful Tuxedo Park home was client participation and trust, and a little bit of magic and creativity.