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