Ren­o­va­tion Re­flec­tions

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Af­ter grow­ing up in a beau­ti­ful her­itage home on Duf­ferin Street, in Stanstead, one that his fa­ther was con­stantly work­ing on, it’s not that sur­pris­ing that Philip Pran­g­ley found him­self drawn to the home reno-

va­tion busi­ness when he moved back to his home­town about thirty years ago. “I lived in Mon­treal about fif­teen years then, af­ter hav­ing chil­dren, my wife and I wanted to move to Stanstead; we didn’t want our chil­dren grow­ing up in Mon­treal. I used to work in pho­tog­ra­phy but I dropped it right af­ter mov­ing to Stanstead full time and got right into con­struc­tion,” ex­plained Mr. Pran­g­ley, the owner of Pran­g­ley Ren­o­va­tion, in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal.

Ren­o­va­tion work, as the name of his com­pany im­plies, is Mr. Pran­g­ley’s spe­cialty. “Just be­cause it’s a ren­o­va­tion, doesn’t mean it’s a small job. Ren­o­va­tion jobs are of­ten big­ger than con­struc­tion jobs. You have to work with and re­spect what is there, even if it’s twisted and out of square, and make it look right. Some­times, you have to just throw your square and level away!”

“An old house has in­cred­i­ble sto­ries to tell. It’s al­ways in­ter­est­ing when you take a house apart and learn its history,” con­tin­ued the ren­o­va­tor. “I like main­tain­ing the char­ac­ter of the orig­i­nal house.”

“Old houses were usu­ally built with an at­ten­tion to de­tail that you don’t see to­day. But when some­one says ‘They don’t build houses to­day like they used to’, I say ‘Thank God’. Some of the blun­ders that you see in old homes are un­be­liev­able. I’ve seen a huge, weight­bear­ing beam with a four inch notch cut in it. In one old farm­house they had taken the main bear­ing wall out of the mid­dle of the house. When you walked on the sec­ond floor, it was like walk­ing on a mat­tress!”

With so many cen­ten­nial and her­itage homes scat­tered around Stanstead and the re­gion, zon­ing can be an is­sue when it comes to ren­o­va­tions. “Stanstead has homes in a her­itage zone, but that zon­ing is too broad. Then there are towns like Og­den where there is no her­itage zon­ing; now the MRC is get­ting in­volved there. It used to be the build­ing in­spec­tor was some­one lo­cal who you knew and who was easy to get along with. Now the build­ing in­spec­tors have a de­gree and they’re not usu­ally from the area. They don’t al­ways un­der­stand that some peo­ple just can’t af­ford to do the job the way they think they should. It’s al­ways a com­pro­mise in ren­o­va­tion: fol­low­ing the proper con­struc­tion codes with­out break­ing the bank.”

Another in­ter­est­ing as­pect to Philip’s work is deal­ing with the ‘fall-out’ from all the home ren­o­vat­ing shows on tele­vi­sion. “Peo­ple watch TV and get all kinds of ideas but they have no idea of the cost of what they see. You have to be quite the diplo­mat. It’s im­por­tant to sit down with the client and fig­ure out what we can do and what we can’t do, and what their bud­get can do. Quite of­ten they are not even in the ball park when it comes to their ‘guessti­mate’ of the cost of the work. You re­ally have to get a feel for the client and the house, and what they want to do with it be­fore you start jug­gling num­bers around.”

But one of the hard­est tasks as a home ren­o­va­tor is, as Philip put it, “Work­ing on a house that re­ally should be burnt!”

“I like what I do. I like the chal­lenge of ren­o­vat­ing and I like pre­serv­ing those beau­ti­ful, old houses,” con­cluded Mr. Pran­g­ley.

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Philip Pran­g­ley was re-roof­ing a house this week that was ac­tu­ally a log home un­der the alu­minum sid­ing.

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