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Making a ‘few’ changes

Mike McNerney transforms his BE home for his parents

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Mar 28, 2021

Ruth McNerney stands in the kitchen of her new home in Blue Earth. Her son, Mike, said he wanted to make a few changes before his parents moved into his former residence. The few changes were actually a total remodel of the entire main floor of the house on South Circle Drive on the south side of Blue Earth.

When Mike McNerney moved back to his hometown of Blue Earth in 2010, he bought a house on South Circle Drive.

He later moved to a different house in Blue Earth, but he kept the one on South Circle Drive and did not sell it.

“I kept the house because I felt my mom and dad (Jack and Ruth McNerney) would someday need a house where everything, including the bathroom and laundry, was all on one floor,” McNerney explains. “And I thought that at some point they could move into mine.”

McNerney says when he was living in the house after he first bought it, he had a vision of how to change it to make it better and more modern in several ways.

“About two years ago my mom said she felt it was getting to be time for them to make a move,” McNerney says. “I told her I wanted to make a few changes before they moved in.”

Ruth McNerney said that was fine.

“I thought he meant small changes like new carpet and paint,” Ruth says. “I didn’t know he meant all this,” as she looked around her new home.

McNerney’s vision was to do a total makeover of the main floor. And, that would involve some major construction.

He took out the basement stairs which basically separated the kitchen from the living room to create an open concept.

The stairs to the basement were moved to half of a tiny bedroom. The other half of the tiny bedroom was added to the master bedroom.

He completely tore out the kitchen and built it all new. The bathroom was also all torn out and redone, with new everything, including removing the tub and putting in a walk-in shower.

There is new flooring throughout, new windows, new recessed light fixtures, new doors, in fact, new just about everything.

And, behind the two new bifold doors on the hallway closet is the main floor laundry, with stackable washer and dryer.

Like most home improvement projects, it took twice as long, had twice as many issues and cost twice as much as McNerney had anticipated.

“I thought I could get it all done in six or seven months,” he says. “But it took a year and a half, almost two years.”

It was all finished last December, and Jack and Ruth were able to move in from Dec. 14-19, right before the first snow of the winter season.

“I was trying to move some things by myself, before the official move day and I hurt my shoulder,” McNerney says. “Fortunately, my friends stepped in and were very instrumental with making the move happen.”

McNerney says he also had many, many friends help with the remodeling project itself.

“I can’t name them all because there were so many of them that I might forget one,” he says. “I just want to let them all know how grateful I am for their help. Without all their help it would probably have taken me another year and a half to get it all done.”

He also says he had a lot of help from local businesses.

“I got a lot of the materials from Lamperts, including the cabinets and counter tops,” McNerney says. “Todd and Troy were awesome to work with.”

He adds that it was actually less expensive to shop at home.

“I did check on kitchen cabinet prices out of town at the big box stores,” he says. “But Lamperts was $800 to $900 cheaper and the cabinets were better quality.”

And while McNerney did a lot of work himself, or with the help of many friends, he did hire some local contractors.

“I got all the flooring from Armon’s and Matt Armon was great to work with,” he says. “The carpet and the laminate planking turned out terrific.”

He had Ben Gjere do some of the construction work, like installing windows, and Skip Meyer did the taping, mudding and texturing of the new wall areas.

“I hung the dry wall myself,” McNerney says. “But I left the rest of that work to the pros.”

There are still a few things left to do. One big item is putting new siding on the outside of the house.

McNerney says his parents loved the new house, and he is glad he was able to complete it and move them in before his father passed away.

“His health was not good and was deteriorating faster than I thought,” McNerney says. “But he was able to enjoy the new house for a while.”

John T. “Jack” McNerney passed away on Feb. 26, 2021 at the age of 82.

Ruth McNerney says it has been rough losing her husband, but she is very happy to be living in a new home. And Mike McNerney is happy that she is happy.

“It was all worthwhile,” McNerney says. “I wasn’t worried about the market value of the house, and whether this would increase it or not. I just wanted to do something for my mom and dad. It was a small price to pay to make up for all they had to put up with, with me, over the years.”