WORTHINGTON — With five kids at home in the summer of 2020, just months into the COVID-19 pandemic, a rural Worthington couple decided it was time to transform their nearly century-old, two-bedroom, one-bath home into the space needed for a growing family.
“We had talked about it before, but the expense of it….” said Tyler Nienkerk of the home he and Shannon share on the southeast edge of Worthington. “We’d looked at other houses for quite a while and we couldn’t find what we wanted — and we didn’t want to move from here. We have a nice location, we just gotta do what we gotta do to make it livable for us.”
In the home since 2010, Nienkerk wanted to keep the original structure intact because of the renovations they’d already completed.
Those previous renovations included new cabinets and a backsplash, a full-size dishwasher and a built-in microwave in their kitchen. Also, they cut through a section of wall between the kitchen and the living room to create a more open feel, removed a chimney, finished off the existing unfinished basement, installed laminate flooring on the main level and replaced carpet in the upstairs bedrooms.
The addition onto their home included a new three-stall garage attached on the east side of the home and angled to the south, and a new master bedroom with bath and walk-in closet, home office and laundry room added on to the west, with a full basement underneath the addition. The result is an L-shaped home and garage that meets form and function for the family.
Nienkerk hired Worthington contractor Clair Van Grouw for the project after getting Van Grouw’s input on other projects with the home.
“To Clair’s credit, he probably acted half as my psychologist,” Nienkerk said with a grin. “It started as a whole lot less than what it ended as. It started out small — we just needed more space.”
And then, as the work commenced, there were changes and additions made because “we don’t want to do this later,” he added.
“Every curveball I threw him, he made it work,” Nienkerk said of Van Grouw. “There were a lot of curveballs. He did a great job.”
The home addition was the first project to get under way, with Henning Construction digging a full basement with walk-out access. As the work progressed, a hole was cut into the west side of the existing home to create the hallway that leads to the three new rooms — an office to the south, a laundry room to the north, and a master bedroom with bath and walk-in closet at the west end.
When work on the home addition stalled, Van Grouw began building the new three-stall garage, which includes ample space for family gatherings, Nienkerk noted.
“Our kitchen is always going to be small and our living room is always going to be small,” he said. “If we can keep people in the garage instead of the house, it’s a lot easier.
“We can host family and get-togethers and just do it in the garage,” he added. With that in mind, the garage has in-floor heat, and Nienkerk has since added some couches and a flat-screen TV.
“The kids play out there and the older ones do a lot of rollerblading out there,” Nienkerk said. It’s been great for this hockey-loving family, as simply moving the cars outside allows the kids to get their rollerblades and hockey sticks and practice.
“If a tornado came through and took the whole house, I’d build that big of a garage again. It’s been very valuable to us, and the kids can play out there all winter. I just love it.”
Nienkerk, the son of longtime local contractor Craig Nienkerk, said that when it came time to moving ahead with the project, he had certain contractors in mind. Many of the people he worked with had an established relationship with his dad, and often worked on projects together.
“I know most of the contractors in town, so when the decision was block or concrete, I knew the Reitmeiers (Reitmeier Masonry),” Nienkerk said. “They do a really good job.”
Don Peters Plumbing and Heating of Rushmore was called upon because he had worked with Craig for years, and Worthington Electric was tapped for all of the electrical work in the new addition, as well as updating the existing electrical wiring in the kitchen.
Worthington Building Materials designed and drafted the project with input from the couple.
“They gave out the drawing and I spent a lot of time at home reconfiguring it,” Nienkerk said. “Then I’d show Shannon.
“The laundry room was set up differently and she said, ‘Not a chance,’” he added. “It’s very hard, on a drawing, to visualize it.”
With Shannon’s suggestions the laundry room was reconfigured in a way that worked best for her, and the two offered other suggestions that could easily be changed before construction began.
Other contractors brought in for the project were BTU Heating and Cooling, which did the HVAC system; Colonial Cabinets for the kitchen cabinets; Yeske Floors and More, which did the kitchen backsplash and flooring in the kitchen, living room and a bit in the basement; and Bob Henderson, who did all of the painting.
Nienkerk, who works for the city of Worthington street department, saved some money by installing the flooring in the new addition with the help of friends. He also helped contractors with some of the dirt work, laid the outside plumbing, prepped the garage for the concrete flooring and helped install the in-floor heating system.
Anyone who has planned a home renovation or construction project since the start of the pandemic knows of the ongoing supply and demand issues for materials, whether it be windows, doors or countertops.
Nienkerk said having Van Grouw oversee the construction helped immensely, as Van Grouw made sure to get items ordered well in advance of the summer 2021 construction.
Even with that, the garage doors didn’t arrive until November.
“We ordered those in early summer, and they were supposed to be here in early October,” Nienkerk said.
Van Grouw said the wait times have grown even longer since Nienkerk’s project.
“Right now there’s window companies that, if you place an order for windows, they’re 52 weeks out,” Van Grouw said last week. “Some of the more common window companies, they’re 20 weeks out.”
Having experienced these shortages for the past two years, Van Grouw said the materials he has scheduled for this summer were decided upon and ordered last year.
“Overhead doors have been incredibly long lead times,” he shared. “Some of the lock doors — entrance and patio doors — are taking longer too.
“Bottom line, we just have to be better time managers,” Van Grouw said. “We have to know longer in advance what we need and when we need it.”
Nienkerk said getting supplies ordered — and putting a down payment on the materials — helped him in the long run because it locked in his prices. By the time construction actually began, some of the materials he’d ordered had doubled in price, he was told.
“Clair did a good job of staying on top of orders,” Nienkerk said. “He would always check in with the lumber yard.”
Construction at the Nienkerk residence wrapped up in late November or early December, but there are still some outdoor projects to be completed.
“We need front steps,” Nienkerk said. “Originally we were going to put in a deck, but with the placement of the garage doors, we put in a concrete patio instead.”
McCuen Construction will return this spring to add a concrete curtain in front of the three-stall garage.
As for the landscaping, Nienkerk plans to do most of it himself.
“I would like to get it a little more enclosed with trees,” he said, noting that several large trees had to be removed for the home addition.
“I need to reshape the landscape and get it all more usable,” he said.
With the bulk of construction behind them, Nienkerk said their family is super happy with the additions and their space.
“It pretty well satisfies what we need,” he said — especially with another little addition to the family, five-month-old Jayna. “Our favorite space is the garage. For Shannon to get out with the baby and not have to trudge through a bunch of snow or wind, it’s been awesome.”
Van Grouw is pleased with the results of the project as well.
“Tyler ended up with a really nice addition,” he said. “They have a pretty comfortable home there now. A full basement on a remodel, we don’t do that very often, but that’s what they wanted and it worked really good for them.”
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