A series of happy coincidences comes together with gorgeous results.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Photography by Mirza Kudic
Featured in Summer 2023
To hear Scott and Elizabeth Brennan tell it, their attractive new outdoor living space is the result of some happy—and some not so happy—coincidences. However, as in all good stories, those seemingly disconnected events led to a beautiful conclusion.
It all started last summer, when the couple decided it was time to update the balustrade in their West Des Moines home’s two-story entry.
The home was built in the 1980s, and the original painted balustrade and railing were looking a bit dated. The stairway leads to a catwalk balcony overlooking the two-story great room. Because the balcony is visible throughout the home, the Brennans wanted something that offered more of a statement.
“Kaufman Construction had done projects for people we know, and we knew they could do the balustrade as well as some exterior repair jobs we needed done,” says Liz.
That was happy coincidence number one.
“After talking with the Brennans about what they wanted for the balustrade, we designed a custom metal balustrade with wood railing, as well as replacing the carpet with wood floors,” says Devan Kaufman, owner of Kaufman Construction.
The company began that original project late in the summer; a local craftsman built the custom balustrade. Kaufman says a “simple” project like replacing stair railings is usually more involved than homeowners expect when floors and walls are also involved. But the Brennans’ project expanded in a different way.
“We had some siding areas that needed replacing,” says Scott, “so we had already planned to have the Kaufman crew take care of that while they were here. But our deck was in bad shape, and we knew we were going to need to replace that again soon.”
That’s when happy coincidence number two occurred.
“I was at a friend’s house. They had an enclosed deck area with a roof that was so nice,” Liz says. “I came home and looked at our deck and said to Devan, ‘What would it take to just put a little roof over this? Just a little one?’”
As fate would have it, outdoor living spaces are familiar projects for Kaufman Construction, so the Brennans had the right team on hand. Kaufman created a design, sat down with the couple at the Kaufman Construction offices, and went over the entire project.
“It really was wonderful,” Liz says. “They had detailed plans and 3-D images that they put up on a large screen so we could visualize the finished space. They could even show us what it would look like at different times of day as the sunlight changed. And the finished deck looks exactly like they said it would.”
But that’s getting ahead of the story.
By the time plans were complete and materials prepared, the interior project was finished. But winter had arrived. Fortunately, a relatively mild season allowed the Kaufman Construction crew to start outside work toward the end of February.
“At one point, the neighbors joked that we had the record for the most contractors on the job at one time,” Liz reports. “The roofers were here. The Kaufman crew was here. I think we had electricians here.”
As weather permitted, crews continued work throughout the winter, sometimes even working as it snowed.
Despite those issues, Kaufman says the project went as planned. “Any time you add to an existing roofline, there are factors to consider to make sure you don’t create saddles where water can settle,” he says. “We were able to incorporate the new roof structure so that it works with the existing design and doesn’t create trouble spots.”
And that’s where an unhappy event led to happy coincidence number three.
Scott says, “We’d had some hail damage last year and needed to have roofing replaced over the garage. Kaufman had the deck structure ready for roofing so that we could have all the necessary roofing completed at the same time.”
Siding repair was also coordinated along with the deck project. “Before we even started the deck project, we’d promised to host a shower for our nephew,” says Scott. “That was already on the calendar for May.”
With the late-fall start date and weather issues over the winter, the Brennans were just a little skeptical about the completion date. But again, the Kaufman team’s experience led to just the results they had promised.
So happy coincidence number four was less a coincidence and more clearly the culmination of expertise and planning.
“They finished everything the Thursday before Mother’s Day, and the shower was that Saturday,” Scott says.
As family gathered on the patio and covered deck and enjoyed the shaded seating area and perfect spring weather, Scott says it was like the space had always been there.
Liz adds, “It’s exactly what I imagined and just what Devan said it would be.”
Oh, and the new balustrade and railing are perfect, too. •
- Remodeler Kaufman Construction