Spotlight on a National CotY Winner: NJW Construction

Envision a turn-of-the-century farmhouse standing gracefully on an open countryside with sightlines to a nearby pond. Adjacent to this stands a modern industrial-style structure. A closer look reveals the two buildings are actually one home connected via a breezeway.

Farmhouse Remodel

1803 farmhouse updated with state-of-the-art addition.

This inventive expansion project that merged disparate design styles did not daunt the team at NJW Construction. “With the addition, the homeowner didn’t want to match the original home,” said Joel Walter, CR, and president of NJW Construction in Columbus, Ohio. “He wanted to do something different but that would coincide with the original home.”

The original structure was built in 1803 and features stone walls more than 18-inches thick. The separate addition has a warehouse box design with a flat roof system and large over-sized windows. The exterior of this portion of the home is clad in rusted corrugated metal panels, giving it an aged appearance.

Barn wood siding on the breezeway’s outer walls and a metal roof ease the transition from the original structure to the new building with its blend of old world elements and modern design. The interior of the breezeway features flagstone flooring, which is also included at the courtyard entry point, and in the transition area into the original home. What used to be the kitchen in the original structure now houses a dining area with site lines into the breezeway.

The addition’s open concept interior includes unique elements such as free floating concrete stairs built into the wall and concrete flooring throughout the main floor. The first floor includes the new kitchen, which features custom wood cabinetry and a large 13-foot island with a Caesar-stone waterfall counter top, a half bath and laundry room. The second level houses the new master bedroom suite with a custom master closet and bathroom.

The biggest obstacle in this project, according to Walter, was cutting through the two-story stone wall on the original structure and installing a steel header to support the second floor.

“Today’s practices are just so different from that era, especially the quality of cement and how they made their products,” said Walter. “There was just a lot of concern with the wall staying together while we were doing this.”

This expansion project was one of three from NJW Construction that won National CotY awards in 2016. NARI National—the only professional trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry—hosts the CotY Awards competition. Contractors vie for these coveted awards annually. This specific project won the Residential Addition Over $250,000 award. A Modern Farmhouse won the Entire House $250,000 to $500,000 category and a Midcentury Modern kitchen remodel won the Residential Kitchen $60,001 to $100,000 category.

This long-time NARI member has been participating in the annual CotY contest since 2005, and has won at the local level over the years, but never entered the national competition until 2015. “We had projects in past that I felt could have won national awards, but we never entered,” said Walter. “So I was determined in the future that if any projects I felt could win I would send them in, and last year was obviously a good year for that.”

Walter submitted projects with distinct features that a judge would remember or use to differentiate from the other entries. He based this decision on his experience judging for other associations at the regional level over the years. “When judging, the projects tend to run together a little bit when you are looking at multiple projects over a couple of hours,” he explained.

For this particular homestead expansion project, Walter knew from the design stage that he would enter it in the national competition. “The ideas we were incorporating into the design helped me determine that we should enter this project,” he said.

A couple of NJW employees took the lead in creating the PowerPoint, collecting images and reflecting back on the job for the competition. “Professional photographs are key,” said Walter. “We organized the rest of the information from notes and invoices and contracts from the companies we purchased materials from and the people involved. … Every job is custom, so they are all different, and our contracts are pretty specific,” he added. The document was then reviewed by everyone involved in the project before being submitted.

Walter estimates it takes between 24 and 32 hours to compile and submit the applications for each project they turn in. “It does take time, but in the end it’s worth it,” he said. “…There’s a lot of pride among all the employees with seeing the project win. It also makes clients feel great that their project is of that quality. The personal reward is that you know you did the project well.”

NJW Construction has used the wins from last year’s CotY awards to help promote their company and win new clients. A list of the CotY awards won is included in a packet the company creates for prospective clients. They’ve touted the wins on their website, google page, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Houzz. They’ve also issued press releases to local media.

“CotY has a lot of intangible benefits,” said Walter. “Clients will remember a project a couple of years later and reach out to you about doing a project, or you’ll run into them and they’ll bring up a project. It’s marketing at its best and you want to create that lasting image where they remember you if they ever do need a remodeling contractor.”

Give your company the recognition it deserves. Enter the annual Coty Awards competition today.

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