A Tree Goes Through It

Ridgefield, CT home with garage demolished by tree during Hurricane Sandy.

Upon first glance you would think a giant saw had sliced the garage literally in half. Despite the damage to the family automobiles in the now crushed garage, this family was thankful the tree didn’t fall 20 feet to the left hitting the main structure where they were just sitting down to eat or worse, happened slightly later when the kids would have been playing in the room over the garage.


Having worked with us on their prior renovation projects, their first and only call was to us. Our immediate priority was to stabilize and close up the structure, while removing the crushed cars with their full gas tanks. Time was of the essence, as many other similarly damaged unstable residences were being condemned by the building department. We were able to carefully extricate the cars, without them blowing up, adding reinforcement and buttoning everything up in one very long day.


Then, we got to work designing a new garage that would follow the same footprint of the original with some modifications to optimize the living space above. Concurrently, we worked with the clients' insurance company to minimize their out of pockets costs. Finally, construction began. It took us just under eight  weeks from the day we started reconstruction to the clients pulling their new cars into their “new” garage. We wonder if they’ll be planting a replacement tree in the front yard or if it’s just too soon.

Car Extraction and Stabilization


cut tree with ameriacn flag

dismantling the garage

When we arrived on the scene, the bulk of the downed tree had been removed but it’s damage was clearly visible. Our task was to carefully remove the debris so that the cars could be extracted, stabilizing damaged areas as we went along, and then closing it up in such a way that it would withstand the rest of the winter until insurance monies could be figured out, a design completed and permits procured.


excavator dismantles the garage

We carefully used the excavator to dismantle what remained of the garage and remove the heavy debris.

excavator picks up pieces of debris

It is surprising how agile the excavator can be.

men guide excavator during demo

The men worked alongside the excavator, dismantling components, and setting aside personal possessions and toys that we were able to rescue from the rubble.


windows that were saved during garage demo are removed by workers

A couple of windows were not damaged, and were removed gently and set aside for reuse.


carpenter guides the excavator with precision

Extra care was taken as we got closer to the cars. Their gas tanks were full and we were concerned about the possibility of an explosion.


squished cars are visible under the debris

At last, the cars are visible. More debris had to removed to get them out.


totalled car has been uncovered

Definately totaled.


structural damage is visible now

Once the cars were out of there, we began to address the structural damage (see the saggy beams on the left side).


temporary walls hold up the broken areas

We built temporary walls to hold it up, and then a structure that we would be able to plywood and tarp.





plywood is installed to keep the weather out



garage is tarped to protect it.


And then tarping began. Multiple huge tarps were used, overlapping them for insurance against future storms.

final touches on protecting the garage



sun sets while workers finish their work

The sun had set as the guys put the final touches on closing up the garage.


Design Enhancements


Clark Construction design drawing for garage with dormer in Ridgefield CT

The former bonus room had sloped ceilings that limited the amount of usable floor space. By adding a shed dormer, we maximized the floor space. Natural light was increased by doubling the front and rear double hung windows and adding a row of awning windows on the new dormer.



design drawing showing a view from the driveway with the new shed dormer addition in Ridgefield Connecticut, designed by Clark Construction

Aesthetic enhancements included a shed roof over the garage doors with decorative brackets. The addition of bead board below added charm and character to the structure.


Like the rest of the house, all exterior materials are maintenance free materials, minimizing the possibility cracking, peeling or fading siding and trim.


design drawing of the side of the garage, with new man door and keypad entry lock

The addition of a man-door would make opening the garage doors for the kids when getting off the school bus unnecessary. Installing a keypad entry lock ensures easy access for the kids without a concern for lost or forgotten keys.


Floor plan of the bonus room atop a garage in Ridgefield, Connecticut

A new bath with an improved layout, up to date fixtures and a stall shower would be tucked back into the rear corner.


Wood flooring would replace the former carpet and a large walk in closet would provide accessible storage for bins full of toys, off season clothing and holiday decorations.


We installed a ductless HVAC unit to provide heat and air conditioning for this bonus room space. Although the unit was more pricey than doing baseboard heat, this will prove to be an economically beneficial and green decision in the long run, as it essentially allows for "zoning" this room.




garage is fully tarped and protected from the weather

When we were ready to start work we had to unwrap, like a big present, the structure that we had tarped weeks before to keep our client's home water tight over the winter.

the foreground shows what remains of the tree that caused all the damage to the garage

In the foreground you can see what remains of the tree that caused an incredible amount of damage.


new foundation block forms the base of the garage walls

Where the foundation had cracked, all old block was removed, and new block installed at the base of the garage walls.

living space is tarped while the new garage is built

We carefully tarped the area where the garage was attaching to living space to keep it dry until the connection was made watertight.


new roof line is framed

The new roof line is being framed which will increase the usable square footage of the bonus room for the family.


garage is framed and sheathed

You may think we forgot the windows at the front but they are coming.


garage with windows installed

As promised, windows are installed. The row of transoms at the added shed dormer will bring a lot of light and increased headroom to the space.


hardiplank siding is installed

New maintenance-free siding and trim is added to match the rest of the house.


shed dormer from the inside

The view of that new shed dormer from the inside. The wall space below will be perfect for the promised big screen TV.


sheetrock is boomed in

A boom makes it easy to bring in 12' sheets of sheetrock.


room is sheetrocked

The oversized sheetrock makes it easy to get the room done quickly.


oak staircase

An oak staircase leads to the mudroom area.


bathroom is tiled

With sheetrock in place, the new bathroom is tiled. Alternating the subtle stripes in the tile makes the small space appear larger.


new oak flooring is installed

New oak flooring is installed after being acclimated to the space. This will reduce dust and allergens, an improvement over the old wall-to-wall carpet.


garage doors

Garage doors are installed.


garage exterior trim and siding details

Exterior trim and siding are being finished. That overhang at the garage doors breaks up the vertical space and adds architectural interest once the decorative brackets get installed.


view from the driveway shows details

Those brackets do add a lot. The crown molding over the garage doors is another nice touch. The man door at the rear of the garage will make access easy once we install the keypad lock to avoid needing a key.


interior trim is being worked on

With the floors installed the interior trim is being finished up. Painting will be next.


bathroom painted and tiled

With the bathroom painted and tiled, the modular shower door is installed.


handrail up the stairs

With paint complete, the handrail is installed and stained.


stain sample on floor is a preview

Soothing colors are chosen, saving the darkest color as an accent. The stain sample on the floor will allow the client an opportunity to approve the shade before the rest of the floor is stained.


in wall HVAC unit

The unit over the window will allow the homeowners to control heat and air conditioning as is needed in the space.


hardwood floors await finishing

Staining, sanding and finishing the floors comes next.

cleaning up the tree

Time to get rid of that constant reminder in the front yard.


getting ready for the new driveway

With the old driveway removed, a new one is laid out with spray paint.


boulders are removed from the new driveway

Just some of the boulders unearthed in preparing for the new driveway. Removing these will provide for a longer lasting driveway with less frost heaving.


driveway prepping is underway

Edges are laid carefully by hand close to the house to avoid damage to the new siding and trim.


dump truck unloads asphalt

These two will make laying the rest of the driveway a lot easier than wheel barrows.


driveway being rolled

A few quick passes with this baby will ensure a driveway ready for skateboards.


driveway is setting up

Ready to drive on in just a few days so we can collect our port-o-let and call this project done.


Completed garage addition by Clark Construction in Ridgefield, Connecticut

Not a bad transformation in eight weeks.


View of garage from driveway

view of garage from front of house