HOME BUILDER MAGAZINE
Grunow Construction has spent the last 25 years building a business known for quality craftsmanship and personal relationships in La Jolla. CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE AND PHOTOS
GRUNOW MOVES TOWARD GREEN FUTURE
Apr 30, 2008 - La Jolla Light
The 64-year-old, single-family home at 515 Bonair St. in La Jolla has had only one owner during its lifetime. Now, thanks to Thomas Grunow Construction, La Jolla general contractors, the residence is being expanded and updated, brought into a new age while preserving its historic integrity. Best of all, it's being done in an environmentally conscious way. CLICK HERE TO SHOW/HIDE COMPLETE ARTICLE
Grunow Construction counts itself among the growing number of "green builders." Such tradesmen are creating and restoring homes just as they've always done. But new-era builders like the Grunow’s are doing it in a way that sustains, rather than harms, the natural environment.
Dan Grunow, who's picking up the building trade from his father, Thomas, said the family business is taking its love for historical preservation and its concern for preserving the environment and combining the two, gradually morphing Thomas Grunow Construction into a "green" business. "Our company is just getting into making these (green) changes so that we're heading in the direction we want to go," said Dan Grunow. "There are a couple different sides in green building. One is using sustainable, harvestable materials, like bamboo, which grows so much faster than other (building) materials."
Another green change being employed by the Grunow’s is using non-toxic materials in drywall, paint and carpeting, thus preventing off-gassing emissions. "That's a big concern to a lot of people with all the cancer-causing and unhealthy things in the environment," said Dan Grunow. Dan Grunow noted his company is also getting heavily involved with installing photovoltaic energy-producing systems in the homes they're building. "Now that SDG&E is allowing people to supply their own power and sell that power back to the grid," he said, "it's become an investment that pays off for the customer. That's something we've been trying to offer our customers when we can."
The Grunow’s have a half dozen projects they're working on, in various stages of development, at any given time. One current project is restoration and expansion work they're performing on a historic home at 515 Bonair St. in La Jolla. That 64-year-old property, being restored between now and the end of the year at a cost of about $300,000, has been owned solely by the Lloyd family. Noel Lloyd said she's glad the home she grew up in is being expanded and restored with both its historicity - and the environment - in mind.
Lloyd praised the Grunow’s for the work they do in preserving the architectural integrity of older dwellings in town. "I am happy to see the Grunow’s restoring this and other homes and preserving them in the style in which they were conceived," Lloyd said."They will need updating to fit peoples' lifestyles. I am so pleased that they (Grunows) are going green with this venture (515 Bonair), a house that not only represents 'old' La Jolla, but will be in sync with nature and environmentally friendly - the best of both time periods."
Contracting family patriarch Thomas Grunow noted homes where he hails from in Connecticut have long histories and that the tradition of restoring them in order to preserve them for posterity is something he transplanted with him when he moved to the Jewel years ago. From a long tradition of builders (three of Grunow's four brothers in Connecticut were contractors) one of the first things Grunow did when he moved to La Jolla was to purchase and restore a home designed and built by master architect Edgar V. Ullrich in 1926. He's been building, remodeling and renovating homes, many historic, in La Jolla ever since.
Thomas Grunow, who also did work on Heritage Place, a historic corner on La Jolla Boulevard that includes the yellow Dr. Corey cottages, said he likes the idea of being true to the past in building while keeping an eye to the future, doing things progressive like going "green." "When you've been building for 30 years you end up doing things the same year after year," he pointed out. "With the younger generation, we've become a lot more aware of the need to be more environmentally sensitive. It's important to have the opportunity to make some of these (green) changes."
Thomas Grunow noted his contracting firm recycles materials rather than "taking everything to the dump." "We take it to a company called Edco," Thomas Grunow said, "and they sort everything and recycle it." What's the next big trend going to be in the building industry? Thomas Grunow had a quick answer. "The future of the industry is very complex home automation systems, where you walk in and push a button in one keypad and the thermostat and lights go on, the shades come down and the stereo goes on," he said. "In a few years, every appliance in a home is going to have the ability to send a signal to a company letting it know when it needs to be repaired."
Asked what the most satisfying part of his job was, Thomas Grunow replied: "Having happy owners. You do what it takes to please your customer." One of those "happy" Grunow customers is Lloyd. She said: "The Grunow’s appreciate the era (homes) came from and feel compelled to honor that while breathing new life into them, like this little white house that will be sustained for many years to come." "My father and mother purchased this property around 1948, and I grew up in the house and very much enjoyed the Village feel," said Lloyd. "When my mother found this home she considered it to be the fulfillment of the American dream ... a cute little house with its yellow shutters, white picket fence, big backyard. This house reflected the theme back then of cozy places, warm feelings, camaraderie with neighbors."
Lloyd noted her mother planted a little twig in the front yard of their 515 Bonair St. house, a potacarpus specimen that now towers over it. "Back then houses were constructed on a small scale," she noted, "but today people need more room. There will be expansion of this house but on the ground level. It will not be one of those two-story 'cookie-cutter' structures that seem to be cropping up all over the place."
READERS CHOICE AWARDS 2009
Thursday APRIL 29, 2010 - La Jolla Village News
Grunow Construction voted best contractor in La Jolla. VIEW ARTICLE
RESTORATION BEGINS ON WISTERIA COTTAGE
March 11, 2009 -La Jolla Light
Braces, trash cans and warning tape mark the area around the La Jolla Historic Society's Wisteria Cottage where restoration work began this week on its iconic pergola. The Irving-Gill designed structure, completed in 1909, will be taken apart board-by-board under the watchful eye of contractor and society board member Don Dewhurst of Dewhurst & Associates.
Once dismantled it will be rebuilt with vintage redwood located in Northern California by board member Tom Grunow, of Grunow Construction. La Jolla architect Trip Bennett of Bennett & Associates developed the architectural plans for the project while local architect David Singer provided extensive counsel during the planning process. Photo by Laura Decorte
REMODEL IS A FAMILY AFFAIR
Apr 8, 2009 - La Jolla Light
Grunow Construction doesn't just believe in historic home restoration: It's doing it. The well-known, family-run La Jolla firm is just putting the finishing touches on a 65- year-old, single-family home at 515 Bonair St. that it has spent the past year, and about $350,000, painstakingly remodeling. The residence has had only one previous owner. CLICK HERE TO VIEW/HIDE ARTICLE
For Grunow patriarch Thomas and son Dan, it's been a labor of love, much of which was furnished by the late Mrs. Grunow, Alanna, who did much of the interior decorating. An eBay and consignment shopper, Alanna searched incessantly to find period antiques matching the home and leaving her indelible stamp on it. "When you go over there and look at the light fixtures," Tom said, "you go, 'Wow, some of these really are old. They were taken out of houses and resold on eBay.'"
Polishing the dated dwelling their family bought as an investment to return it to its former glory was quite an undertaking. But it was one the family felt compelled to do. "I like these old cottages and feel like they're an asset to the community," said Tom Grunow, a La Jolla Historical Society board member. "I've watched more and more people rip them down and build big, two-story square boxes. That trend's a shame."
The Grunow’s resolved to be trendsetters, not followers. So they began reviving the old home, refitting it for a new modern era. "You're keeping the same bones," Dan Grunow said, "but building new windows and electrical systems, doing an old home in the old style to meet the needs of a new young family."
Transforming an old home and making it modern and functional was the Grunow’s' task. Their goal: Do it right. The refit began with a re-evaluation of the project's scope. They decided to make it larger, adding 454 square feet to the existing 1,704. Most importantly, they had to revamp its floor plan. "It had no master bedroom," Tom Grunow said, "and the living room was about half the size (then) and it didn't have a fireplace, and we wanted to add a porch to keep the front of the house more appealing and keep the 'cottagey' style."
The Grunow’s enlisted the services of La Jolla architect Siavash Khajezadeh of Design Lead to help them with the design articulation. His advice: Keep it in proper scale. "Everybody's trying to maximize square footage on these small lots," he said, "which destroys everything. You have to be careful what you're doing so you don't destroy the neighborhood."
Another hallmark of the Grunow’s' refit of the home was in how they reused its original materials. "We took the old oak flooring up and patched it in," Tom Grunow said. "We took all the window frames out and then repapered the house and moved windows around and reinstalled the window frames with insulating thermal glass."
What's been done to 515 Bonair St. drew rave reviews from Noel Lloyd, who grew up there and participated in the project by videotaping work on weekends. "You can still recognize the old house, but it looks more warm and inviting," she said. "They've increased the size of the rooms, and it's a more open experience. It was real therapeutic for me. It was hard for me to let go of it but ... it's like the phoenix rising out of the ashes."
Dan Grunow will always remember the project as a family affair. "It was my mom and dad's vision keeping the house in a certain theme," he said. "It was definitely fun being part of that." "Reinventing older homes could be a new trend," Tom Grunow said.""There are a lot of empty-nesters, just two people in big houses. They come by and see this and go, 'This is just the kind of project I would like to be downscaled into.' "
GRUNOW CONSTRUCTION ENCOURAGES SUSTAINABLE BUILDING TECHNIQUES
June 2010 - The Greg Noonan Report
As we all know “green” initiatives are the way forward regardless of the industry. It is especially true in construction due to the tremendous amount of resources needed to build homes, and the fact that there is no alternative; we all need a roof over our heads. The question remains as to why there has not been more traction towards going green and how we can incorporate a more sustainable methodology into the building trades. By and large the barriers to “green building” have been economical to this point. A host of new products, however, and changing perceptions among industry professionals and consumers, is making the push towards "green construction" not only feasible, but economical as well as ideologically appealing. CLICK HERE TO SHOW/HIDE COMPLETE ARTICLE
Many of you may have already heard of LEED, and LEED certifications which assign a value to the efficiency of a given home or development. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is essentially an index of measures that can be taken to minimize the environmental footprint during construction and throughout the life of a home. In this instance the word "construction" is a broad stroke, and the measures range from using more efficient insulation and windows, to the use of reclaimed timber and even using local manufacturers that do not consume excessive resources during transportation. Building a home according to LEED standards is the most comprehensive way to go green, but for most people undertaking residential construction and remodeling, it is beyond the scope of feasibility. In this instance, the LEED initiative provides a list of feasible measures that will indeed reduce one’s environmental footprint in regard to construction as we know it.
Just as it is daunting to imagine everything that goes into building a home, it is similarly challenging to go completely green all at once. What does “Green Construction” mean anyway, and is it even possible when resources are required to accomplish the goal? The answer is to take steps in the right direction and that begins with choosing quality. Building something that will last is a great way to be environmentally sensitive and doing so, in itself, reduces resources over the long run. Once you have made that decision then the choices towards going green are subjective and each individual can choose green measures to fit their own circumstances. For example, if you are replacing a roof, choose Duralast roofs which will last 50-70 years as opposed to asphalt which has a useful life of 20-30 years. Choose design concepts that incorporate energy efficiency such as dual pane windows that insulate more effectively, energy efficient appliances, LED lights as opposed to conventional incandescent bulbs, and solar panels that supplement energy costs. Using sustainable and readily renewable resources like new growth timbers (bamboo) and reclaimed or recycled materials is another effective way to be more environmentally conscious. There are also a number of measures that reduce environmental pollutants while improving air quality like using low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and sealers or water based finishes as opposed to petroleum based products. The opportunities to be more "green" are numerous; it is all about choosing what works within the scope of your project and budget.
At Grunow Construction, we strive for quality craftsmanship and we aim to reduce our environmental footprint by taking steps in the right direction, even if they are small steps. Visit us today to find out how we can help you "Go Green" with your construction needs.
When we think of sustainability and environmental responsibility as it relates to building we commonly think of solar, energy saving measures like efficient appliances, and recycling and reuse, but there are a host of ways to go "green" without compromising quality and cost. First, make homes more efficient. Building according to LEED standards will save you money in the long run and the initial expense is often comparable to traditional methods. Grunow Construction is a family-owned business responsible for hundreds of renovations and custom built homes throughout La Jolla. Please call Tom or Dan Grunow at (858) 459-8742 for more information.
Luxe Magazine Article
In the case of many home remodels, it often happens that one small change inevitably leads to another. For the owners of this 5,700-square-foot La Jolla home, the catalyst was an unlikely source. “It all started with a stovetop," says the wife. “We wanted to change it from electric to gas.” Adds the husband, "We went in for a stovetop and ended up redoing the entire kitchen!" And it didn’t stop there. What started as a minor renovation evolved into the complete transformation of a Southwestern-style dwelling into the elegant masterpiece residence the owners dreamed of when they purchased the home years ago for its ocean vistas. "The views are drop-dead gorgeous, but the house wasn’t necessarily my style," says the wife. "It was really only a question of when we were going to redo it."
The home, built in the early ’90s by architect Ken Ronchetti, had all the makings of a perfect seaside retreat—walls of windows, impeccable orientation—but the couple felt that the stucco-clad walls and interior columns gave the space a heavy, closed-in feel. To begin renovations, they brought in interior designer Helene Ziman, ASID, principal and owner of San Diego-based Helene Ziman & Associates, to rework the kitchen, and builder Tom Grunow, owner of Grunow Construction, Inc., in La Jolla, who had refurbished the home’s garage for the husband—an avid car buff and owner of a well-known classic car restoration business—a few years back. "Once we redid the kitchen, the idea was to bring the house uniformly up to the newer look," Grunow says. CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE AND PHOTOS