Bill and Renee Crenshaw began offering their home to the homeless long before a fire took it away from them, putting the retired Lake Wylie couple in need of a place to stay themselves.
Now, thanks to one local company, plans to put the Crenshaws back into their dream home are ahead of schedule.
On Sept. 12, fire erupted at 393 Smallwood Lane destroying not only personal possessions, but the retirement home also used to house the For Cats Only boarding business and rescued foster animals for Animal Adoption League.
Most of our good jewelry, a couple of articles of clothing, and that was about it, Renee Crenshaw said of what remained.
What the fire didn’t take was Crenshaws resolve to rebuild. Within days she had Brian Jones and Kenny Childers on site, after reading their company name off a vehicle at a Lake Wylie intersection. The partners in Clover-based Cornerstone Design Group and Cornerstone Builders Group began rebuild work so soon after the fire, they had to watch their step.
There were still hot spots, Jones said.
Planning on the new dream home began in September, construction in December. Currently Jones and Childers are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, with plans on finishing the 3,400-square-foot home within 90 days.
That was our retirement, dream home, Crenshaw said of the home that burned, leaving the Crenshaw’s and six remaining pets in an on-site travel trailer with 30 feet of floor space. Were all starting to get on each others nerves.
A terrifying event
Crenshaw called the loss of her own animals last fall heartbreaking. With the loss of other peoples boarded pets, Crenshaw was devastated. The cat coordinator for Animal Adoption League had between that organization, her boarding business and personal pets 19 animals on site prior to the fire. Eight cats and one dog couldn’t be accounted for afterward.
Now, Crenshaw is still on the fence about whether to continue the boarding business but said it isn’t part of the new floor plans. In fact, the difference in the downsized 3,400 square feet and the 3,700 square feet at the former house is the area used to board.
Crenshaw hasn’t ruled out building a separate structure on site for what she believes is a needed business in the community.
Im just not sure if I’m ready for that, yet, she said.
Crenshaw plans to continue fostering, a decision that will be easier once she and her husband are out of the travel trailer and back inside their home.
The winter months were really bad, she said.
Since beginning their design business in 2007 and just recently adding construction services, Jones and Childers have become accustomed to home building projects from the North Carolina Triad to Columbia. Yet there isn’t much about the Crenshaw rebuild that’s business as usual, they say.
First it was the spot hire and fire cleanup, then the first-attempt design agreement that ordinarily can take months. There was the pressure to rebuild not only a home, but possible business location. Most unique, they say, was a homeowner willing to live on-site to help oversee design and construction efforts.
People go camping (just) on the weekend for a reason, Jones said of the Crenshaw setup.
Yet the Crenshaw’s direct communication on what they want is what helped keep Cornerstone ahead of schedule. And their proximity to the construction site also helps keep subcontractors on their toes. You know you’re really going to get their best, Childers said.
The new home calls for a living room memorial garden for the animals lost last fall, and other design options to fix lifestyle issues that didn’t work with the previous home layout. Crenshaws almost as excited about the progress as she is the best news since the fire, the return of two animals five and seven weeks after the incident.
One cat was a personal pet, the other a foster that Crenshaw planned on finding another home.
He ain’t getting adopted out now, she said.
The Cornerstone team believes the new home will be an improvement on the old, and they’ve even designed the space with accessibility for the future in mind. They want the new home to be what the Crenshaws hoped they already had their final dream home.