BLACKDOG BUILDERS RESTORE HISTORIC HOME WITH A MODERN TWIST
Blackdog Builders, Inc. (BDB) is Park City’s one-stop shop for any design/build or construction project. Established in 2005, BDB has specialized in new builds for custom homes, renovations and remodels, construction, and additions for commercial and residential properties. Since then, they have expanded their expertise to include property management as well as landscaping and stonework.
Susie, the original ‘Blackdog’ and logo, is plastered on BDB trucks and vehicles attending to projects all over town. Old Town is proud of its history, and those quaint historic miners’ homes with the proud ribbons come with the territory. Amanda Evans, head of design, and overseer of sales and marketing for Blackdog Builders, detailed one of their challenging yet rewarding historic remodel and addition design/build projects. When it comes to historic home remodels, the city must approve builders’ plans, and no alterations to the historic façade of the house are allowed, so it took creativity to construct the property into a cohesive and efficient space that thrilled its owners.
According to the homeowner, the residence was built in 1885 as a miner’s shack near the Ontario Mine. Around 1904 or 1905, the house was transplanted to its current location on Park Avenue. Upon relocating, a garage was built along with a small shed. The shed was built in partnership with the University of Utah Medical Center. The homeowners were told the shed was built to breed rats for the Medical Center, and thus the nickname of “Rat Barn” was born. Thankfully, the owners have never spotted any lingering ancestors of these rats during their tenure.
With such a unique history, BDB wanted “the old character with a modern twist” to shine throughout the home. The team transformed the property from shack to open concept with stunning features in each room. Except for the home’s façade, the project was treated like a new build; the house was completely gutted, and the builders and designers started fresh with influence and guidance from the owners.
Upon entering the home, guests see the original exposed brick beams as an ode to the structure’s first form. The kitchen, sitting area, mudroom, powder room, and master suite are all located in the historic portion on the main floor. The main floor is accented by brick, exposed steel and glass panels that scale the stairs up to the third floor, which was an uncharted challenge for the team. The steel trusses have a dual purpose on the main floor as a dramatic accent, and structural necessity since the walls were removed to create the open concept. The beams posed a stimulating new dilemma for the builders.
“The beams weighed 3,500 pounds. We couldn’t do anything with the exterior of the home, so we had to use a skid-steer loader, roll them in, and then we had to hand-build trusses on-site,” said Evans. “It was totally unique because we had to get them in the space somehow without ruining any part of the exterior.”
Beyond the main floor lies the addition in the form of the second and third floors. For the exterior of the addition, BDB used burnt wood imported from Japan; it’s a Cypress wood called Shou Sugi Ban in which the traditional Japanese charring process preserves the wood. Although an ancient practice achieves it, the black wood lends a more modern contrast to the existing historic front of the home. The second floor holds the guest room, guest bathroom, and bunk room with the bunks built into the wall.
The third floor saved the best for last. It has an impressive bar, entertainment, and living areas and outdoor rooftop patio, all revolving around a double-sided fireplace that makes all-season entertaining a no-brainer. This home celebrates details, from the primary suite’s slat wood walls and shiplap ceilings to the kitchen’s walnut cabinetry perfected by BDB’s in-house finishing carpenter. The bathroom in the remodeled shed even used the homeowner’s son’s old racing skis as subway tile as the backsplash, which the owner calls a “custom work of art.”
“The homeowner saw a wall of skis at Park City Library; this is where the idea stemmed from,” Evans recalled. “Then a local sporting goods shop donated additional skis to us, and we cut them into tiles. We had to rip the edges, adjust thickness, cut through steel; it was an extensive process. Some of the pairs of skis we used were her son’s, and we made sure the parts with his name made it to the backsplash. All in all, it was a collaborative process between homeowner and the Blackdog team.”
This project stayed true to the family’s needs and utilized every team from demolition and framing to carpentry and landscaping. The project spanned about 12 months to complete, which is quicker than most house renovation and build projects as large as this one. Blackdog Builders quite literally does it all and with their clients in mind and attention to detail that will wow any homeowner or guest.