CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Denny and Debbie Pritt passed by the corner lot ranch house in South Charleston for years.
Debbie most recalls disliking the large paned picture window in the front of the house. In fact, she can recall noticing the ugly window back when she was in junior high.
The couple, both retired, started thinking about moving to a new home all on one level to accommodate them as they got older; Debbie already has problem knees.
They heard the house on the corner was going to become available. And they looked with fresh eyes.
The lot was ideal, flat and spacious. The house was on one level. And it was in their neighborhood, tucked away near Little Creek Country Club and Little Creek Park.
So when they heard through the grapevine it was going on the market, they jumped at the chance, really almost without even taking a hard look inside.
And after six months of renovations, the Pritts have no reservations about the extensive work that was done to create the home of their dreams. Through a few surprises and potential disasters (like the septic tanks discovered during backyard excavation), they remained confident this project would work.
It helps to have your nephew on the job. Mickey Dent of Dent Construction was their general contractor.
Using plans conceived by architect David Marshall, Dent created an entirely new floor plan for the home.
"We tore half of the house down and gutted the rest," Dent said.
"People want to know why we didn't just tear it down," Debbie said. "We bought the house for the lot."
The driveway that ran to the garage in the front of the house is gone. That garage space is now a master suite. A large sunroom that had been added on to the rear of the home was torn down and rebuilt. Walls came down and the main part of the first floor is an open expanse that leads from living and dining areas to a gourmet kitchen and a huge family room. The driveway was moved to the side of the house, where a new garage now stands.
The Pritts say Dent made what could have been an overwhelming process easy. He had suggestions for every decision they needed to make and the three quickly came to a meeting of the minds.
"I was smart - I deferred," Denny jokes.
"The biggest stress I had was the dining room light," Debbie said.
It was Dent who suggested laying dark, wide-paneled hardwood in a diagonal pattern through the dining area and family room and horizontally in the living room. He also suggested adding light inlays.
"It's such a big area, we wanted to do something to split it up," he said.