Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Builder/Architect Magazine Builder/Architect

May/June 2008

Complexity No Match for the Micon Team

By Jessica Klarp
Builder: Micon Construction, Inc.

Since 1984, the award-winning company Micon Construction, Inc., led by Michael McCorkle, has been renovating and restoring fine homes and constructing highly detailed custom homes throughout Eastern Pennsylvania. While quality, craftsmanship and communication have always been a priority, with experience has come a meticulous attention to detail, a superior standard and a level of synergy with other professionals on the job that gives architects the confidence to award increasingly larger and more complex projects to the the Micon team.

A recently completed custom project was built on an established creekside site, on a 5-acre parcel that abuts French Creek in the pristine Kimberton area. The teardown project entailed rebuilding a new 5,200-square-foot home 20 feet from the original footprint, while tapping in the existing well and septic system. Because the property was filled with established plantings and the historic tributary was so important, it was imperative that the builder preserve the flora and not encroach on the creek.

"The fact that we were able to maintain the site within the existing environment makes us very proud," McCorkle said. "When we were finished there was minimal impact on the surrounding area." The homeowners were committed to building their arts and crafts-style house with as little environmental impact as possible and Micon was able to deliver. This meant green attributes such as larger overhanging eaves, geothermal heating, extra-efficient appliances and HVAC systems, enchanced insulation and double-paned two-over-one Kolbe and Kolbe windows, which not only make and reinforce the architectural statement, but keep the house comfortable year round. Micon ordered a home energy audit with infrared scanning to ensure that the house was properly sealed.

The level of custom details on the house and environmental sensitivity, make this new construction appear to have been around for generations. The stone exterior anchored the house to the setting, which has two large ponds that drain around the side of the house. Natural materials were used outside and in such as a handmade Mahogany front door, knotty pine library designed and built by a local woodworker, a three-sidd centrally located stone fireplace that opened on to the master suite, the gathering room and an exterior seating area mean enhanced energy efficiency as well as a striking conversation piece.

To add to the complexity of the job's timing, the family had a narrow window to have the home completed. In just 11 months, the family saw an old home demolished and their dream home completed on the banks of the historic creek, all so that they could coordinate their move with the sale of their first home.

Because so many people are involved when building at this scale, it is Micon's patience and communication skills that smooth the waters for all involved. In a recent Merion, PA, renovation, the young family wanted to remain in their turn-of-the-previous-century Tudor home while the Micon team worked their magic. The 4,000-square-foot renovation has been approached in phases so that the family can live as undisturbed as possible. But it also means coordinating the needs of the family with the vision of the interior designer, the artistry of the tile ceramicist, with the schedule of the tile setter, all timed to dovetail with the countertop fabricator. And that's just for the children's bath. In the master bath there were multiple custom marble inlays and wainscoting, rediant floor heat, custom millwork on the vanities, tub surround and walk-in-shower.

The out-of-date kitchen was replaced with 150 new square feet of additional space that includes soapstone countertop, under-mounted farmhouse sink, custom tile backsplash and professional appliances. The partial daylight basement was expanded to include a multipurpose room and wine cellar. On the stucco and stone exterior great pains were taken to match old to new while maintaining the home's Tudor integrity, which meant replacing the roof with new slate and copper guttering and downspouts.

"I'm proud of the project," McCorkle said, "not onlyfor the end product but for the experience of knowing we put something back that blends with the environment around it and that this home will make the family happy for many years to come."

As with any extensive renovation of this caliber and age, the Micon team of talented foremen and valued subcontractors met with significant challenges. Structural issues were discovered and undersized load-bearing members had to be replaced. But the company's experience working with structural engineers and associated trades means the project is safe and meets the stringent standards McCorkle demands. As a result of their attention to detail and superior craftsmanship, in 2007 the Homebuilders Association of Chester and Montgomery Countries awarded Micon awards for residential renovation in a variety of categories and for best custom home.

Another example of complexity is Micon's silo house project. The company had a number of substantial challenges to overcome while building the new home where an old barn once stood overlooking the historic Brandywine Creek. The builder painstakingly dismantled a barn that dated from 1796 and salvaged all the wall stone in and around the property. The silo was preserved and enhanced and beside it a new home was constructed inside of the old barn's footprint. The two structures are linked through a basement passage where a custom wine cellar will be the woodworking homeowner's passion. The result of all this detail is 4,500 square feet of luxury: an elevator is a convenience the retired couple wanted for the three-level home; a custom granite kitchen means family meals prepared on professional-grade appliances; Pella windows are both beautiful and energy efficient; timber framing, salvaged wide-plank flooring and Mahogany decks enhance the air of authenticity. But best of all, the home appears to have been there as long as the original structure. All the stone was reused in the foundation wall and for the parking and courtyard areas. The property was so gently used that the creek just 50 yards from construction was left unharmed. The intricacy of this project is why architects love Micon.

"One of our strong points is that we rely heavily on our architectural relationships and we work well with the additional team of engineers and professionals to get the job done," he said. "I really value the talent of my team and tehir organizational skills. Becauase of them, we have accomplishd the incredibly complex and rewarding projects we have to date as a small builder in a tough neche market."

Whether breathing new life into an old home or customizing a new one, architects and homeowners can rely on Micon Construction to meet any challenge with style.