Summary: In today’s homeowner interview, Joe DeMarco of Perry Brothers Construction sits down with Kellie Gentry of Beverly, MA. Recently, Kellie and her family decided to remodel the bathroom of their historic home. She gives us the inside scoop on what it was like working with Perry Brothers Construction, from the planning stages to the final results.
Joe DeMarco: I’m Joe DeMarco with Perry Brothers Construction. I’m here with Kellie Gentry. Recently we remodeled her bathroom here and I just wanted to ask her a few questions about her experience and everything.
And then Steve the cat is also down here too if you end up seeing him in the frame.
How Did You Find A General Contractor In Your Area?
Joe DeMarco: Hi, Kellie. First off, the first thing I’d like to say is just, how did you end up finding Perry Brothers Construction?
Kellie Gentry: Sure. One of our friends from church has worked with Perry Brothers and they came very highly recommended. We had wanted to do this project for quite a while and had trouble finding or locating a contractor.
Many of the people that we called just either didn’t respond, even after multiple calls, we didn’t hear from them. We were having trouble even getting any response.
Katie, our friend, was like, “Why don’t you call the Perry Brothers? I’ve worked with them.” They’re great.” So we did.
You guys were really responsive. Called us back even when I hadn’t called back a few times, tracked me down. I was really grateful for the responsiveness, and we’re like, this is where we want to go.
What Key Contracting Services Did Perry Brothers Provide You?
Joe DeMarco: Communication with your general contractor was a big thing for you?
Kellie Gentry: Absolutely, yes.
Joe DeMarco: What was it like first meeting Bill when he first came to the house?
Kellie Gentry: Bill was great. I mean, he came and understood what we wanted to do with the project. He was very patient as we were trying to figure out our budget and whether we wanted to do more or a little bit less. He was willing to go through multiple quotes.
He gave us contacts he recommended who sold the tiles, vanity, and cabinetry. It was really nice to have those contacts too. We did end up using those as well. But yeah, no, he was very responsive.
Gave us the contact for an architect to draw out our bathroom remodel because we were moving plumbing, we were moving all of the fixtures in the bathrooms. We weren’t entirely sure if the upstairs bathroom was vented or if anything was even done properly.
While we had everything pulled out, Bill suggested connecting the plumbing lines. I was on board with that. Let’s make sure while we have all the plumbing open that everything is working properly upstairs.
Joe DeMarco: Yeah, it’s easier to do it before the wall is put in and everything.
Kellie Gentry: Yes. Yeah, exactly. They went ahead and took a look at that and made sure everything was functioning there.
What Was The Process Of Planning Your Bathroom Remodel?
Joe DeMarco: You were obviously planning on doing the bathroom.
Kellie Gentry: Yes.
Joe DeMarco: Did you already have the idea of what items you wanted to select, the layout of it, or was that more something that came about as you were talking with Bill?
Kellie Gentry: Sure. I mean, I had an idea. We’ve been wanting to do this for a number of years, so I’ve been planning it in my head, waiting for the time where we can do it.
And then as I said, I was trying to get a response from any contractor.
I knew generally that I wanted to move it around, but didn’t know how it would work. Actually his reference to the architect really was able to put it onto paper. I was able to see it.
Joe DeMarco: Really see your bathroom remodeling ideas.
Kellie Gentry: Yeah. The biggest thing that I was having trouble with was what to do with our window. We had a full-sized window in the bathroom. It looked right out on the front lawn, which was a big issue for privacy, which is a very important thing to have in a bathroom.
I wasn’t sure. Originally I had thought about putting in a large transom light, which would be a window that was above head level to get some light and air in there.
Either the architect or Bill suggested it, I can’t remember who, but we said, “let’s just do a small bathroom window,” which I had never even considered. And that’s what we ended up going with. It was a lot less work as far as structural work. It served the purpose of privacy and getting light and some airflow into the bathroom too.
Joe DeMarco: You don’t want a bathroom with no windows.
Kellie Gentry: No, you don’t.
Did You Feel Like The On-Site Remodeling Crew Respected Your Home?
Joe DeMarco: Tell me too just how were the guys? Was everyone courteous that came through? Did you enjoy having everyone here, of course, as much as you can when having people working in your house?
Kellie Gentry: Yeah, no, I mean, it was great. We didn’t see them a lot because both of my husband and I work in Boston, so we would come home and check and see a whole new world appearing each night.
My kids would sometimes come through. Most of the time they were spending the afternoon with the neighbors, but nonetheless, they always had pleasant interactions.
We did hear from the kids one thing that was hysterical to us. How much they interacted with the cat, with Steve, especially during construction, because the dust barriers blocked off part of the upstairs and Steve wasn’t used to not having a full range of the house.
I was trying to just leave Steve upstairs so he was out of their way, but we learned that they were actually moving the plastic every time Steve wanted to go through the area.
Joe DeMarco: They liked having Steve around.
Kellie Gentry: I guess. I guess. Well, Steve became well-known to all of them and they all were interacting with him, which we thought was pretty funny and great.
Joe DeMarco: And a clean job site when you guys would come home?
Absolutely. I mean, yeah, no, it was all maintained to that area. It was very, very clean. The rest of the house was really not interrupted at all.
Why Did You Install A Custom Shower Niche?
Joe DeMarco: You were telling me a little bit about it, but tell me about your reasons for the custom niche that you have in the shower?
Kellie Gentry: Oh, sure. We have four people in our family. One of those small standard niches doesn’t hold everyone’s shampoos, everyone’s body wash. I have two teenagers, one of them a teenage girl. We have a lot of stuff that goes into the bathroom.
When storing shampoo bottles in a shower niche, inevitably, if you don’t have the room, they end up littering around the side of the tub.
We wanted everything to fit in the niche, and they were able to build it. They’re like, “How big do you want it?” I was like, “Well, I’ll measure my largest shampoo bottle.”
That’s how big they made it, long enough to fit mostly across the tub and then tall enough to fit our tallest bottle.
Tell Me About The Defogging Bathroom Vanity
Joe DeMarco: Tell me about the vanity mirror you got there, the cabinet, just that system there. What is that?
Kellie Gentry: I mean, we had seen that in a showroom. I just liked the clean, simple look. It had a light in it and, of course, we want light in the bathroom. But it has not only the light on the outside, but it also has a defogger. If we turn that on, it works best before the shower.
If it’s turned on before the shower, then when you come out, the mirror isn’t fogged up, which, again, for us is helpful. In the mornings, multiple people are getting ready for their day. It keeps the mirror clean after the shower for the next person coming in.
How Was The Communication Between You And Your Project Manager?
Joe DeMarco: I know with the flooring there were some leveling problems with that. When those concerns were brought up, you communicated with Mike, your project manager a lot, how was communicating between you, Mike, and Bill during those issues?
Kellie Gentry: I mean, Mike was extremely responsive, open to texting. If I came in in the evening and looked at something and wanted something a little bit different, he would change it with no question, which was fantastic.
We knew the floor was going to be an issue going in. It’s also one of the reasons we wanted the bathroom redone, not just because it was old, ugly, and non-functional. It had been there a long time, and over time the floor right next to the tub was starting to rot. We could actually feel that it was springy right there near the tub, but we didn’t know how far the rot or anything like that went.
We knew we were going to have to be taking out some of the flooring, and that was one of the primary reasons we were gutting the bathroom. When they took out the bathroom, Mike let us know that it was a little bit more than what was going to be expected.
Bill gave us a call and explained that the floor was three inches out of level. It didn’t have enough support. Mike came through and walked me all the way through it. Took me down into the basement and showed me some of the structural design from the original house, because this is an old historic house.
I guess, where the bathroom is now, they originally thought that at one time it had been an entry before they had indoor plumbing. That was his understanding that they had just decided to use this place when they were bringing in indoor plumbing.
Looking at it from downstairs, he is like, “We don’t have the supports for a tub.” We also on the living room side of the bathroom door have a full wall of bookshelves, which is very heavy.
He’s the one that explained, “You’ve got too much weight on this wall. There is no support here.” I think even if we weren’t putting a tub in, we would’ve needed the supports.
It was three inches out of level. Also, the subflooring, if you could even call it that, was non-uniform warped pieces of random wood that had been shimmed from below.
People would try to make do and I guess stick things in to try and make it level going along. They had to really take everything out, put in whole new supports and whole new joists.
We knew that some work was going to be needed to be done. Just personally, when we plan for a project, we always don’t go to the full end of our budget. We leave a little bit of room. For an old house, you’re always going to find something.
Joe DeMarco: Any kind of old overage.
Kellie Gentry: We knew that we were going to find something because it was an old house. We were prepared for a surprise to arise, and it did.
Joe DeMarco: You were happy Mike brought that to your attention?
Kellie Gentry: Oh yeah. I mean, we want a structurally sound house. That’s part of the reason we’re gutting it. Yeah, no, it’s strong and secure. It’s going to last. All of the main issues we’re doing. We don’t just want a house that’s flipped and put over and made to look nice on the outside, but there’s really big issues underneath. No. We want the structural issues solved and secure.
I mean, you could tell just when the work was done, you could see the lines were level.
The doors and the walls that they put in, everything was level and straight, and it was great to see that coming along where everything was a little wonky before.
Yeah, no, we were really pleased. Again, they were very clear, direct. We knew what was happening. We knew why it was happening.
Most of the explanations I gave you were ones that Mike had given me, explaining the situation, very clear about what the cost for my bathroom remodel was going to be.
Joe DeMarco: Well, the cost, pretty much at the end, it added up to what you expected?
Kellie Gentry: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. But going along, if there was any change like with that big one, Bill or Mike always brought it to our attention.
Joe DeMarco: They’d let you know.
Kellie Gentry: Exactly. Let me know what it was going to be. Of course, and got our permission before we were going to go forward.
Joe DeMarco: Kellie, thank you for allowing me to interview you.
Kellie Gentry: Of course.
Joe DeMarco: I really appreciate it.
Would You Like Perry Brothers Construction To Remodel Your Historical Home?
Do you want to have a bathroom remodeling experience like Kellie? Whether historic homes or modern master baths, Perry Brothers Construction has been expertly remodeling homes across Massachusetts and New Hampshire for almost fifty years. Call our offices at (781)-233-7511 to schedule your free design-build consultation with one of our project managers.