WRITER | RACHEL WHITE
PHOTO | WINDBORNE PHOTOGRAPHIC
When the owners of this stately home decided to retire up north, they had two requirements: be close to the water and walk to downtown. When they came upon this Petoskey treasure built in 1899, it was in rough shape. The home, situated on a corner lot, had undergone two additions and renovations. With the classic ‘70s decor of dark paneled walls and shag carpet, they knew they needed help. Their vision was clear after talking with Jeff Grantham of Grantham Building and Remodeling. He saw the potential to restore this piece of Petoskey’s past to her former glory. “Our specialty is taking these older homes and turning them into something that neighbors say, ‘We love what you’ve done to the place,’” Grantham says. Mission accomplished.
The entire home, from basement beams to the peak of the roof, needed something replaced or reinforced, with only the exterior walls remaining mostly untouched. It was transformed into a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath Colonial beauty. “Grantham is great at looking at a space and moving things around,” the homeowners note. Because the builders do their own design and drafting, they can show homeowners what things would look like if they removed a wall, closed off or widened the doorways to create more usable space and open sightlines, or even add shakes to the gables reminiscent of the period the home was built. Grantham puts it another way: “We like to recreate and bring back to life the original details that have been covered up.” Case in point is the gorgeous front foyer with a curved stairway. Somewhere along the way, it was hidden behind a wall to make room for a first-floor bathroom. Now restored to its former glory, it’s a showpiece of the home.
The list of improvements is long. The home was not just gutted. Additional square footage was added by expanding the master bedroom over the dining room and kitchen to create an en suite with a walk-in closet. When the crumbling chimney was removed, they gained space needed for the dreamy, tiled walk-in shower, completed in sumptuous patterns. “We couldn’t fit our bed into that room before the addition,” the homeowners laughed. Egress windows were added to the bedroom to add light and as a safety feature.
On the main floor, Grantham borrowed space from the large garage to make a tiled mudroom entry with plenty of storage. A deck was built off the dining room to soak up Michigan summers, and hardwood floors were added to replace the dreaded carpet. The bunkroom, with shiplap walls, bookshelves, and a custom bunk bed, was designed and built by Grantham.
Homeowners and builder agreed that they try to keep as much of the original structure as possible. When the sagging hip roof framing was removed and changed to a trussed gable-style, they kept the joists and rafters and used them around the home for shelves upstairs, a custom bench in the mudroom, and one was crafted into the fireplace mantel. The bricks from the original chimney were cleaned and used for the new fireplace surround. The family room shows off the craftsmanship of the Grantham crew, with custom built-ins accented with shiplap. The room also highlights their technical know-how of opening a load-bearing exterior wall to make the space flow freely from room to room.
Energy efficiency is an important part of Grantham’s philosophy as a builder. To build a new home that is “green” is a fairly simple task, but to take a drafty older house from inefficient to energy-saving takes finesse. The builder tightened everything up with spray foam, and the new exterior walls of the addition used thicker framing, and they added rigid insulation. The new gable roof with trusses allowed Grantham to add attic insulation and proper ventilation. In addition to the structural and cosmetic upgrades, all mechanicals were replaced. The lead water pipes were replaced with insulated PEX water lines. The new furnace is 98% efficient, the air conditioning system is 17 SEER, and the appliances are Energy Star rated. “We strive to give people a low-maintenance, energy-efficient, and sustainable house that they never have to worry about,” Grantham says.
These are the details that Grantham Building and Remodeling takes care of so that the homeowners don’t have to give them another thought. When the homeowners purchased the house, the porch was held up by nail tips, random 4x4s, and a tire jack. It was rebuilt with composite porch boards, tongue and groove ceiling, and new columns, and is now their favorite feature. As they sit on the curved, wraparound porch in historic Petoskey, it’s almost as if they’ve been transported to another era. A time when you knew your neighbors, craftsmanship was something people took pride in, and artisans were admired. Now their biggest concern is putting together the charcuterie board because Grantham has seen to all the rest. He puts it best, “We have an appreciation for the historic architecture and what it took to build these houses over 100 years ago. We try to preserve that, and if we can’t, we imitate it. It’s an homage to the guys who did the work by hand all that time ago.”
After studying economics and political science at Kalamazoo College, Jeff Grantham thought he was headed for a career in politics or public administration. Instead, he jumped at an opportunity to partner in a roofing company in Kalamazoo. When he moved to Petoskey in 1998, he launched Grantham Building & Remodeling, focused on the Design-Build-Remodel concept. His certifications include Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist, Certified Green Building Professional, Certified Graduate Remodeler, Graduate Master Builder, and EPA Lead Renovator.
The youngest of 11 children, Grantham’s parents instilled a strong work ethic, the importance of faith and being mindful of others, and serving your community.
In 2008, Grantham donated over 600 hours to build a home for a Habitat for Humanity recipient family. He continues to spend time actively involved with Habitat for Humanity, Homes for Our Troops, and in support of his community. He is a past-president of the HBA of Northern Michigan and currently serves on the HBA Michigan Executive Board as the treasurer, slated to serve as its president in 2024, and is also currently chair of the HBA Michigan Remodelers Council as well as president of the Skilled to Build Michigan Foundation whose mission is to develop a pipeline of a skilled trades workforce.