Back from the brink
Before Rich Gulash remodeled his PGA Village home, this porch was nothing but paver stones. He spent almost $20,000 building a summer kitchen and creating the cedar box ceiling. ROB DOWNEY PHOTO
Extensive drywall eradication project breathes new life into PGA Village home
BY GREG GARDNER
After rebuilding more than 1,700 houses destroyed by natural disasters, Rich Gulash knew he could buy a home polluted by Chinese drywall and rebuild it into a masterpiece.
Spending almost $250,000, Gulash spared no expense when he gutted an average PGA Village home to rid it of the Chinese drywall curse that sickens people, corrodes wiring and destroys appliances.
“I became certified in replacing Chinese drywall, but I go a few steps further because you have to do this right,” Gulash said. Every “stick” of drywall, wiring and ductwork was replaced. “The shell was all that was left,” he explained. “We tore everything out, cleaned the block, floors and trusses and then sprayed away every single molecule with 1,000 gallons of water before drying it for four days.”
He then sprayed the entire home with Nanoscale, a 10-year warranty product originally designed to rinse soldiers off from chemicals released by SCUD missiles in the First Gulf War.
“My family was going to live here so I was not going to take any chances for long-term problems,” Gulash said. The 3,428-square-foot home took 10 months to close on and just four months for the remodeling after the cleansing process was complete. “It was hard,” he said. “I would work with clients all day and then work on the house until 11 o’clock at night.”
The list of upgrades and changes to the home is three pages long. The redesign came with a great deal of thought given to functionality and elegance. Almost one-third of the budget went to a complete makeover of the kitchen. The dual fuel 48-inch, six-burner stove with griddle and double convection oven “will turn a 12-pound turkey into dust in two hours,” Gulash said, speaking from experience.
The family room next to the kitchen opens out to the lanai via French doors.
Wife Talena designed the new cabinets’ profile, which has different heights, depths and elevations. “The kitchen is her vision,” he said. “She drew it and I built it on what she wanted.” The Omega Dynasty cherry cabinets are complemented by double profile crown molding.
The kitchen and pantry all have Delta Touch2O.xt Technology, which allows you to use your elbow to touch any part of the faucet so you don’t get raw chicken all over the handle. A spice rack emerges up and out of the cabinets while the pot filler tap is easily moved around to fill large pots on the counter instead of in the sink. Granite countertops are accented by the tumbled marble backsplash lit from hidden lighting on dimmers, which also control lighting above the cabinets.
A dimmer controlled five-light chandelier hangs over the center island, which was relocated for better efficiency. State-of-the-art appliances include icemaker, a below-counter microwave, trash compactor and two garbage disposals.
The couple spent $6,000 on the butler’s pantry, which originally was not much more than a pass-through hallway with some cabinets. Plumbing was run underneath the original slab for hot and cold water at the wet bar. A second refrigerator and third sink were added.
MARBLE FROM TURKEY
Gulash ripped the floors out of the house and replaced the common areas with polished Crema Marfil Marble from Turkey including the pantry. “They have been making marble since the days of Julius Caesar and it is timeless,” he said.
Brazilian tigerwood can be found in the four bedrooms including a hallway that turns at 90 degrees leading to the master bedroom, where Gulash had the wood meet at a 45-degree angle before continuing down the hall.
The master suite has tent ceilings with $15,000 spent on his and her closets that have a pull-down gadget to reach the hangers found at the top. The frameless glass shower is a “car wash” with two shower heads and four sprayers with six-way diverters, Gulash said. Throughout the home, including the master bedroom, TVs are recessed into the wall with supports and dedicated outlets to hide wires.
Talena Gulash knew the old kitchen needed some pazazz, so she designed the new cabinets with various heights to replace the old boring ones.
For their 1-year-old daughter, Talyn, the couple converted the bedroom off the master into a nursery complete with a recessed changing shelf and a paint scheme appropriate for a princess.
Where there was an empty outside porch is now a screened-in lanai with outdoor kitchen, tumbled marble countertops and a gas grill connected to the home’s propane system fed by an in-ground 500-gallon tank. Electric outlets were added along with hot and cold running water.
Every light fixture inside and out was replaced. While the home does not have a pool, Gulash wired it so electric is available and a gas line was installed for a pool heater. Attic decking allows for additional storage accessible from pull-down stairs.
EXTERIOR FRESHENED UP
Except for paint, very little was done to the exterior of the home, which is CBS construction with barrel tile roof. The landscaping, which had been neglected, was brought back to life by Gulash, who was a golf course superintendent in a previous career.
From 2004-2013, the Gulashes were “storm chasers” picking up the pieces of natural disaster with as many as 135 people working for him. “I have had them (homeowners) cry on my shoulder after their home was destroyed and I have had them cry on my shoulder when the work was done.”
Gulash had partners until 2009, when he formed his own company RichCo Corp. The couple no longer chases storms, but the memories of the devastation don’t go away. They rebuilt homes following hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ike, Katrina and Sandy and floods in Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee. “A storm can create a $1 billion industry overnight. I had a stable of guys chasing storms for nine years,” he said.
The rear lanai opens out onto a beautiful preserve with no homes in sight.
The eerie quiet of New Orleans after Katrina didn’t compare to climbing a 40-foot roof and seeing the swath of destruction caused by the tornado in Tuscaloosa, Ala. “It was humbling to see that kind of power,” Gulash said. “It was like God took his thumb and scratched the earth away.”
The arrival of their daughter changed their travel for work. “Being in Jackson, Miss., after the floods was not pleasant,” Talena Gulash said. “I said, ‘We have a beautiful house in Florida. What are we doing?’ ”
The couple are avid boaters and fishermen. After six years of enjoying the home, they have decided to sell and park their boat behind a waterfront house. Kay Rodriguez of Lang Realty has listed 9409 Scarborough Court for $679,000.