Go behind the scenes with two Valley remodelers and peek at their own projects

Special to Treasure MagazineFebruary 22, 2014 

  • The team who worked on Tim Gammill's house

    Design – Tim Gammill, Gammill Construction

    Kitchen design – Fine Kitchens and Baths by Patricia Dunlop

    Landscape design – Boden Haus

    Cabinets – Brookhaven by Wood-Mode, supplied by Patricia Dunlop

    Carpentry – Ed Weigt, Marty Hatch, Eric Connolly, Robert Fitzgerald, Gary Garrison

    Framing – Components Plus

    Excavation – Glenn Young

    Concrete flatwork – Western Concrete

    Basement foundation walls – Mudd Inc.

    Electrical – SK Electric

    HVAC – 4 Seasons Heating and Cooling

    Plumbing – Squire Plumbing/Optimum Underlayments

    Drywall – Emerald Drywall

    Insulation – Gale Contractors Services

    Ceramic tile – Davis Tile

    Closet packages – Treasure Valley Closets

    Stair and mantel – Sundown Woodworks – Justin Smith

    Hardwood/carpet/marmoleum – Idaho Floor Supply

    Roofing – Quality Roofing

    Exterior Painting – Colortime Painting

    Windows – Wood Windows

    Lumber – Capital Lumber

    Doors and Hardware – BMC Select

    Trim/molding – Boise Moulding

    Lighting – Builders Lighting/Online

    Plumbing fixtures – Fergusons Supply/Online

    Blinds – The Blind Gallery

    Sprinklers – Chuck's Sprinklers

    Metal fencing – Boise River Fence

  • Gammill Construction moves from father to son

    From the outside, the transition in Gammill Construction's ownership appears just as seamless as one of its award-winning remodel jobs.

    Walt Gammill started building custom homes in the Treasure Valley in 1975. In 1981, he rethought his occupational goals when a remodel job kept him going during a housing slump."I came to the conclusion about that time that remodeling is a better business," he said. "People always need something. And there are more reasons people remodel than move."

    His son Tim came around to that same conclusion after working for Hummel Architects for almost eight years before he joined his father in the business about 10 years ago.

    The partnership worked well. Walt handled the estimating, selling and bidding, while Tim focused on production and design. With Tim's background in design and architecture, the company become a one-stop shop for remodel work. Walt is now "officially" retired, having sold the company, its established reputation and client list to Tim. Some of those customers have been around since the early '80s.

    Employees Ed Weigt and Marty Hatch also have been an integral part of Gammill Construction for about 35 years, playing an important role in the company's continuity.

    Gammill Construction Inc. has been named NARI Remodeler of the Year several times in recent years. You can check out its new website at www.gammillconstructioninc.com or call 376-7828 for information.

  • The team who worked on Walt Gammill's townhouse remodel

    Electrical - SK Electric

    Plumbing - Squire Plumbing

    HVAC - 4 Seasons Heating and Cooling

    Drywall - All In One Drywall Inc. and Emerald Drywall

    Doors and trim material - BMC West

    Replacement windows - Wood Windows

    Floors -Rob's R&R Hardwood Floors

    Carpet - Idaho Floor Supply

    Kitchen design - Fine Kitchens and Baths by Patricia Dunlop (the cabinets are Brookhaven)

    Granite counters - Mesa Tile & Stone Inc.

    Tile - Davis Tile

    Electronics - Star Satellite and The Stereo Shop

    Closets - Treasure Valley Closets

    Also on the team: Window Covering Outlet, Cottage Gardeners Inc. and S&S Seamless Gutters

  • Upcoming events to inspire your projects

    THE BOISE SPRING HOME SHOW

    March 13-16, at Expo Idaho

    5-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday

    11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday

    11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

    $5 adults, $4 seniors 62 and older, free for age 12 and under

    www.boisespringhomeshow.com

    BOISE FLOWER & GARDEN SHOW

    March 21-23, Boise Centre

    10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

    10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday

    11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

    $8, $3 youth ages 12-17, free under 12

    $3 discount coupons available at Zamzows starting Feb. 24

    www.gardenshowboise.com

    BOISE SPRING PARADE OF HOMES

    April 26-May 11; www.bcaswi.org

    CANYON COUNTY PARADE OF HOMES

    June 6-22; www.srvbca.com

    NARI OF IDAHO REMODELED HOMES TOUR

    May 31-June 1

    Check the website for updatedinformation closer to the event date: www.nariofidaho.org. It's a chance to see recent remodels and meet the remodelers.

  • Tips for planning your own project

    The one theme that runs through every project is budget-planning, says Tim Gammill.

    No matter how prepared or informed a person is, the starting place is always the budget.

    "It's not their job to know what things cost necessarily, but they need to know what they're willing to spend," Gammill said. "I've literally done bathrooms from $10,000 to $80,000."

    "There really is no square-foot figure," Walt Gammill said, when it comes to remodeling.

    Tim and Christal Gammill finished building their own home a couple years ago, and they recommend prioritizing their wants. They found it helpful to create budgets within the budget, like having an appliance budget or tile budget.

    Above all, talk with your remodeler in detail about your project."Have a conversation," Christal said. "There is always a way to get it done, just maybe not the way you think you were going to get it done." But you're not really compromising the design elements that are important to you.

    One of the elements they tweaked in their home was the expensive floor tile they just loved for the master bathroom. Instead of breaking their tile budget, they talked it out with each other and their subcontractor. They came to a solution that probably looks even better than the original plan. They used the fancy stuff in the center of the floor and then framed it with a larger, less expensive complementary tile (photo, Page 22). You'd never know that it started out as a "compromise."

    Pictures from magazines are always helpful, too, when explaining your dreams to a contractor. Some people even start a scrapbook of ideas. Christal says Pinterest would be a great place to find ideas today.

    The Internet can be a good and bad resource for other reasons, Tim said. It's good because there is a wealth of ideas and products, but people have to watch out for insufficient warranties or low-quality knock-offs if they buy materials for their projects. "It's not a problem, per se, it's just a way of life we're trying to work around," Tim said.

Tim Gammill's family was growing - so while his parents were downsizing, Tim and his wife, Christal, were upsizing. Soon it would be Tim and Christal's turn to take on the "holiday duties" of family get-togethers.

Tim's parents, Walt and Laurie Gammill, had lived in the same spec house in West Boise for about 35 years. They were ready for a change.

So at about the same time, Tim and Walt Gammill both embarked on huge projects. But there's a twist to this do-it-yourself story.

Tim and Walt Gammill are the experts behind Boise remodeling company Gammill Construction, so they have more than a little experience tackling big projects.

We wanted to find out what the professionals value when they are building and remodeling for themselves. Here are Tim and Walt's stories, plus some tips to help you with your project on page 24.

TIM AND CHRISTAL GAMMILL

Tucked into a far corner of the North End of Boise sits a brand-spanking new house you would swear was built 100 years ago.

This part of town has always been popular for homebuyers who like the personality of the neighborhood and the homes. Finding one with character that hasn't seen many, many decades of wear and tear and yet still looks like it is part of the neighborhood is not an easy chore.

The answer for Tim Gammill was to build his own.

He and his wife, Christal, had lived in the North End for 13 years. They loved their neighborhood. There's a block party in that little corner of the North End every summer, and they didn't want to lose the neighborhood friends they had made.

But their family would soon grow from three to four. There happened to be a vacant lot right around the corner. It was an easy choice. Vacant lots are not easy to find in the North End.

Four years earlier, a gas leak had caused the house on that spot to basically implode, Gammill said.

The basement that was left was not what he wanted, so he had the chance to start from scratch with a healthy-sized lot - 65 feet wide and 115 feet deep.

If you love the North End, and you love the type of older home that is found throughout this part of town, it could seem like a challenging proposition to choose the right design for an empty lot.

But not if you're trained as an architect and know how to be your own contractor. Tim is the second-generation owner of Gammill Construction.

"We wanted it to feel homey, like our old house," Tim said.

He chose an American Foursquare design - popular in the mid-1890s to late 1930s. It's a design that incorporates elements of Prairie School and Craftsman styles and is sometimes called the Transitional Period.

"We wanted it to feel historic," he said. "Even the layout is similar to our old house."

There were other similarities to their old home, too.

Tim took samples of the molding from his old home to Boise Moulding, which custom-cut the trim for the new house to match the old. That can be rather labor-intensive.

"But it was really important for me to do that," he said.

You can also see some of the custom molding on the outside of the home.

But as historically authentic as the home looks from the outside, the inside is designed for contemporary living while maintaining an old-fashioned feel.

As expected, the kitchen required the most discussion.

"The kitchen was the true focus of the house, in terms of entertaining and living," Tim said. "We live in here. Everyone's in your kitchen anyway, so we embraced that."

A designated work zone in the kitchen still allows for plenty of activity and socializing, eating in a sunny, family-sized breakfast nook and a homework desk. Of course, it's designed for two growing, energetic boys in the rest of the room - all without interrupting the cooking.

Tim is very happy with the way the kitchen turned out. It allows for both activity and efficiency. The laundry room and back door mudroom are also handily adjacent to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, the rest of the house just kind of fell into place.

"We didn't have much we disagreed on," Christal said. While Tim was in charge of the basic construction and design, she enjoyed picking lights, fixtures and colors and making sure all the interior elements worked together.

Being in the remodeling business is helpful when it comes time to build your own house. Tim could be his own contractor and already knew many quality subcontractors in the Treasure Valley. And he did most of the painting himself.

"We do a lot of kitchens and bathrooms," he said about his remodeling business. "So it was a lot of fun to implement a lot of the ideas we do. I could really put to use a lot of stuff we do and see how it all works for me."

One of those ideas, for example, is a laundry chute under the master bath sink.

"If we could only figure out how to get it back up," Tim joked.

It didn't hurt to have Tim's dad around to help with the construction. Walt Gammill started the Gammill Construction remodeling company more than 35 years ago. Neither does it hurt that Christal's dad is also in construction.

"My dad did help a lot around the house," she said. "He did the whole garage."

After building a four-car, tandem garage, a two-story classically designed home with a porch and an unfinished basement with an office, they finally, in June 2012, moved into the 2,800-square-foot home - two months before the birth of their second son.

This comfortable house will be home for a good long time for the Gammill family.

"It really has lived the way we wanted it to," Tim said.

WALT AND LAURIE GAMMILL

The timing of Tim and Christal's project turned into an interesting situation. Because of the downturn in the housing market, it took three years to sell their home, although that did give them time to work over the design and plans of the new one.

Meanwhile, Walt and Laurie Gammill bought a townhouse in East Boise.

Yes, Laurie remembers the mauve carpet and violet walls, but when you live with a remodeler, these things do not matter.

"It was right, the moment we walked in," Laurie said. "Even with the colors and everything. This is a really interesting structure."

"- and with two fireplaces. Oooh…" she added. (She loves camping out near the upstairs fireplace in the spacious and comfortable master bedroom that comes complete with a small, enclosed porch.)

"We loved the location, because we like to walk, and we're close to Downtown," she said.

And downsizing from 2,200 square feet to 1,850 square feet was easy.

"We were able to put almost all our furniture in here," Laurie said.

Of course, they had to do the remodeling first.

"I saw immediately - it wasn't hard to figure out what we could do," Walt said.

And so they did it.

They pulled out the carpet and painted the entire upstairs, put in hardwood floors, replaced the flat-panel doors with two-panel doors, added a mantel, put the electrical wiring in the crawl space, made a built-in hutch and added a much-needed rail to the open side of the staircase.

And they updated the kitchen. Like many old-fashioned kitchens, it was separated from the dining area by a doorway. Down came that wall to open up the space toward the dining area.

The kitchen was gutted, the range relocated, the counters refigured and new fixtures and appliances added.

The finished room demonstrates just how efficient a small kitchen can become. Those who took last year's NARI of Idaho Remodeled Homes Tour saw it for themselves. (This year's tour is May 31 and June 1; see page 28.)

The entire project seamlessly blends the old and the new - and that really is the goal of any remodel.

Dusty Parnell is a freelance print, radio and video journalist who has worked in the Treasure Valley for more than 20 years.

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