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The 24- by 28-foot kitchen features stainless steel appliances and maple cabinets custom-made by Derrick Custom Homes. Photo by Randy Hanson

Contractors, volunteers come through for Big Brothers Big Sisters

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business River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

David Robson calls it a really big recycling project.

Four years ago, he got the idea of relocating a house from the Hudson property that he and business partner Brian Zeller were developing as the Ban Tara commercial district.

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The plan was to refurbish the house with volunteer help, sell it, and donate the proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin. He was serving on the organization's board of directors at the time.

Robson thought it would be a three- or four-month project. Instead, what turned into a major undertaking involving nearly 30 businesses and dozens of volunteers was completed only recently.

If the project was grander than Robson first imagined, so too is the finished project.

The 4,000-square-foot, split-entry house now located in at 1856 Cypress Trail in New Richmond is very close to being brand new.

Virtually everything but the skeleton of the former Dennis and Bonnie Krueger residence that stood in the Ban Tara residential subdivision in Hudson has been replaced.

"Everything was gutted to the studs. All the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling, windows, roof and insulation are new. Everything," Robson said.

The entire, fully-finished, 2,000-square-foot lower level of the house is new.

Derrick Custom Homes of New Richmond put in the new foundation, did the carpentry work, helped with the ceramic tile work, and installed the trim and kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The home has all maple cabinets and trim custom-built by Derrick's cabinet shop.

Robson credits Tom Derrick, vice president of field operations for Derrick Companies, for seeing the project through to completion.

It had languished for three years. Then about a year ago, Derrick committed to the project and brought along many of the same subcontractors used by Derrick Custom Homes.

The result, for all practical purposes, is a new Derrick-built house. And the company has a reputation for building quality homes.

The asking price for the house is $249,900, which Robson and Derrick say is a bargain.

If donated labor and materials hadn't been used, the house and lot would list for around $400,000, Derrick said.

The upper level features a 24- by 28-foot kitchen that is open to a 24- by 28-foot family room surrounded with windows on three sides. There are also two large bedrooms, two bathrooms and a front living room upstairs.

The lower level contains the biggest room in the house - a 24- by 38-foot recreation room - as well as the biggest bedroom (12 by 21 feet). There are two bedrooms and a bath downstairs.

"It takes a lot of people to do something like this. There's a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and they all have their specialties," Robson said.

"Everybody donated some portion of their job. Some of them donated the labor or part of the labor. Some of them donated all of the labor. Some of them donated all of the labor and the materials for their project."

Andersen Corporation donated the windows. B&B Electric of Hudson donated both the labor and materials to wire the house. Badger Plumbing of Eau Claire provided all of the plumbing and fixtures, and installed them at no cost.

River Falls Heating & Air Conditioning donated the furnace and central air conditioning system and installed them for free.

Members of the Hudson Daybreak Rotary Club put on the roofing and siding.

Tri-State Movers of Holmen moved the house to the new subdivision west of the New Richmond Wal-Mart Supercenter in September 2008. F&K Excavating of River Falls did the site work and LaVenture Crane of New Richmond set the house on its new foundation.

"It's just amazing that in these tough times - which they are - people felt that is was a worthy cause and stepped up," Robson said.

Michel Tigan, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters' St. Croix Valley branch office in Hudson, agreed.

"We are so honored by all of the organizations, the contractors and volunteers who have come forward to make this possible for us and the children that we serve," she said. "It really shows us that no matter what is going on in the economy or the world around us, people still have goodness in their hearts to step forward and make life different for children in need."

Tigan said the St. Croix Valley office provides nearly 300 children in St. Croix and Pierce counties with an adult mentor.

It costs about $1,000 per child to set up a match, Tigan said. She said she's hoping to be able to serve 30 to 50 more children as a result of the sale of the donated house.

"Right now, due to the economic conditions, we definitely have had a larger influx in children in need of our program," she added.

Robson expects the sale of the house to generate a profit of $75,000, most of which will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin.

The Hudson Daybreak Rotary Club will get a much smaller amount to set up a charitable endowment fund.

Robson said buyers interested in viewing the house should contact him at (651) 248-0390.

He said Nancy Johnson and Luke Steele of the Hudson Edina Realty office have offered to market the house for no charge.

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