Architecturally significant Tucson home gets a renovation

This is the highest home in the Catalina Foothills at an elevation of 3,860 feet, and was originally built in 1975 by a prominent Tucson sculptor. The modern home of colored split face block & glass peeks through a saddle in the mountains high above Ventana Canyon Resort. When originally built, Ventana Canyon didn’t exist. In fact there were only a few buildings North of Sunrise and east of Kolb. It was all natural Sonoran desert. LJ McCreary recalls looking up at the house when he began building in 1988 thinking “I’d sure like to go up and see that house sometime”. When one of his former clients approached him and said they were thinking about purchasing and renovating this architecturally significant home, LJ’s wish came true. Michael Franks of Seaver / Franks Architects began the plans for an extensive renovation.

Extensive wasn’t the word for it.  2 years and several million dollars later, an architecturally sensitive renovation and addition, that the owners are absolutely thrilled with, was created. The owner’s primary concern was to maintain the architectural integrity of the original home and the sense that it was “of the mountain”. He also wanted the original owner to like what we were doing. The home was a sculpture in and of itself.

The building site was challenging. Concrete trucks could only be filled up ½ way in order to make it up the steep twisting driveway, split face blocks had to be individually hand carried around the opposite side of the existing home and slid down a wooden shoot one at time to build a 36 foot tall 3 story staircase. Foundations were anchored with steel re-bar drilled and epoxy set directly into bedrock. A 22 foot high negative edge pool retaining wall was built in similar fashion. The roof was removed as well as all interior walls. The lower floor level was lowered 3 feet into the existing bedrock. Everything was removed except the exterior walls, and then we started working on those, cutting in openings and shoring up for large panes of glass. A natural rock face that cascaded through 2 stories of the original homes interior was hydraulically hammered out and removed. A steel bridge with custom glass side panels was built to access guest bedrooms on the upper floor. Because the home was anchored directly to the bedrock; a drainage system was installed beneath the lower floor so the mountain could drain as water came up through fissures in the rock. All in all it was a total transformation of the flow and feeling of the interior space while maintaining the architectural integrity and significance of the exterior.

Here’s what our client has to say about working together.

LJ McCreary was recommended to us by a real estate broker who specializes in selling high end lots, not homes. We figured she knew what she was talking about and decided to work with him.

From the beginning to the end of the building process, our experience with LJ and McCreary Homes was painless; LJ stayed in frequent communication with us via email, telephone and video updates, as we were out of state when our home was being built. He had good relationships with all his subs and we knew he was on top of everything that was going on.

McCreary Homes absolutely delivered on every promise they made, they just never let us down in any way. The overall quality of our home, as well as the customer service was outstanding in every detail. Any little problems that came up, LJ worked on it until it was fixed.

After the first home, LJ McCreary’s trustworthiness, followed by his excellent technical skills and experience encouraged us to go with him a second time. McCreary Homes was a winning combination in our opinion. And if we ever built a third home, he’d be the only contractor we’d call.

We’ve really had a great experience. There has been no area where we could say there was room for improvement. LJ’s even got a great sense of humor!

LJ McCreary comes from the Midwest, and so do we. He’s a real, down-to-earth person, who isn’t a flashy or slick salesman, which is good. He’s totally honest, ethical, and really takes an ownership interest in every project he works on. Our second home that LJ worked on was a very, very complicated renovation. Initially, our architect wasn’t sure LJ was “up to” the project, but we told him we would ONLY work with him. Not only did LJ do a great job, but our architect has since recommended him for other projects!

We would recommend McCreary Homes and LJ McCreary to anyone.

Best regards

LJ McCreary

McCreary Homes

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