2414 63rd Ave SE, Mercer Island

Local builder chooses to renovate an existing Mercer Island home rather than tear it down



Green building is a hot topic in our area. Home buyers want to feel good about their home purchase and also support environmentally sound practices. When discussing green building, new construction often comes to mind – green builders develop their plan for environmentally friendly homes right from the design phase. In our region land is at a premium, and to accommodate new construction builders have been purchasing existing homes, which are then torn down to make way for the new, green home.

A local builder who lives on Mercer Island, Justin Davis of True Design Build, approaches his design and remodeling projects with a focus on creating a greener home, rather than tearing down an existing residence. Davis enjoys the challenge a remodel presents – he works diligently to find the balance between a project’s goals and retaining a portion of a home’s original character. So when a Mercer Island house came to market last year in East Seattle, one where the estate did not want to sell the property to anyone who would tear it down, Davis decided to submit an offer. He had a plan for reinventing this home to fit both the neighborhood and today’s lifestyle.

In our current market, selling over asking price is common. However, the managers of the Blauman estate, Mr. Blauman’s sons, wanted to make sure their father’s legacy lived on. Mr. Blauman had been remodeling his home as a labor of love, and was not able to finish what he started. The home contained special touches, like tongue and groove joints, car decking material, and Blauman’s signature “wavy brick” design he installed on the sides of the house. It was important to his sons that the property be finished, rather than torn down, because it was Mr. Blauman’s dream to build a quality home for his family. When Davis submitted an offer, along with a commitment to remodel rather than tear down, the estate was willing to take his offer even though it was not the highest.

Davis was then able to take Mr. Blauman’s dream and make it a reality, while following his own passion for green building. He composed a remodel design that effectively used the existing space and available resources, while keeping a significant amount of debris out of local landfills. The studs-out remodel allowed for installation of products that provide better heating and cooling efficiency, water-saving fixtures, and an energy efficient gas tankless water heater. Davis preserved the wavy brick that was originally installed, and he reused resources – for example, he repurposed the garage door for the barn-style master bath doorway.

The finished house fits the scale and style of the other homes on the East Seattle street it resides on. The neighbors have been quite complimentary of the process and the final product. They expressed their gratitude for keeping the existing home in place, while Davis’ vision, and work of True Design Build’s team, made it shine. The neighbors are eager for new owners to move in!

Davis shared that there are similar properties in the Mercer Island community that possess the same potential as the Blauman home. He would love to see more properties revamped rather than torn down, “The community is something I am already invested in as a resident on Mercer Island, and by building beautiful, healthy, well-designed homes I can continue to contribute to the future of the island. The island is changing quickly and it is important to me to do what I can to make the changes intentional…” With the city of Mercer Island’s having the most tear downs, per capita, in King County, and the trend to replace existing properties with ones twice as large, exploring creative solutions to building is a noteworthy topic. The reality is it often comes down to the numbers – how can a builder make it work, from the purchase of the property, and then afford the remodeling costs. It’s a conversation that will continue here on Mercer Island, as the community continues to grow.

The home described in this article is listed for sale, mls number 1024199. If you would like to speak with Justin Davis, owner of True Design Build, he can be reached via his office (206-294-5227), cell (323-481-6805), or by email truedesignbuild@gmail.com .