Dina Stanzione and Steve Rice are deep into their first Montavilla project together. The couple is looking at a multiyear renovation of the 1896 era house, located at 5 NE 78th Ave.
The corner house now has a crimson red coat of paint and new front railings with updated pillars. Early in the renovation, they added a fence to both the north and south border of the house. The interior is now the primary focus of construction, but COVID-19 has held up permits. “I was days away from seeking my permit in March when the permit office closed. I am still awaiting the permit as of July 5th, but it is in the works, and we hope to have it in hand in the next few weeks.” Wrote Steve Rice.
Phase one for this building required undoing years of undocumented work and replacing antiquated utilities. “The house had been turned into an unpermitted duplex,” explained Rice. They are working to return it to a single-family residence with five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Rice has gutted the interior, removing the damaged plaster from the walls. The exposed walls allowed for the replacement of the outdated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems throughout the house. Replacement energy-efficient windows have been installed, particularly along the front of the house.
Continued interior work is waiting on the permit process. That work will adjust the layout of the house. “We are redoing the floor plan to open up the kitchen/dining room on the first floor and adding a bedroom on the second floor that had been used as a second kitchen.” described Rice. Upstairs, they will create a master bedroom with attached master bath and walk-in closet.
Making a comfortable layout in the house is important for both Dina Stanzione and Steve Rice. They will be living in the house together for several years as they complete all phases of construction. After work completes on the main house, they will move in and start phase two. Prep work on the second phase has already begun in the basement. “All of the low hanging stuff in the basement has been tucked into the joists in preparation for basement remodel,” wrote Rice. When completed, the house will have three floors of habitable space.
Sometime after completing the house remodel, they want to add a detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). “We are also hoping to build an ADU on the extra parcel that faces Burnside further down the line,” remarked Rice. Currently, only a driveway and older detached garage occupy the back half of the lot.
Selecting this house for renovation was not based on business alone. Dina Stanzione lived down the street from this house for nine years. Each time she drove past it, she wondered if anyone would do something with the house. “When it went up for sale in 2019, I got very excited… We did a walk-through, and it felt like a really great opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.” Explained Stanzione. Steve Rice, her boyfriend, owns Build & Paint Portland. They agreed that this house would be a great joint project, with Rice running the renovation work.
Whatever affection they have for this house, the plan is to sell it. Rice explained that after a few years, they would be “selling it in order to find the next Montavilla house to renovate.” Living in the houses as they renovate it, is an interesting model for rehabilitating houses. It is one that should turn out quality homes that are designed for living and not a quick sale. At nearly 125 years old, it is exciting to see the house saved and refreshed. Look for continued work and an eventual listing of this house in years to come.