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Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Architect Rod Mortensen of Bountiful stands in front of his newly built "historic" home.

BOUNTIFUL — The Fergusons didn't know quite what to do. Their roof was leaking and the seven-member family was outgrowing its four-bedroom home.

But they didn't particularly want to leave their Bountiful neighborhood.

"We love the area that we are in," Craig Ferguson said. "We love our neighborhood and our neighbors. So when we looked at the possibility of building our roof, we knew we would probably get the itch and want to build a new home."

Rather than build in a new area, the family decided to add onto their 2,000-square-foot home. And with the help of professional architect Rod Mortensen, they came up with a plan that fit their style.

"We decided to add another whole floor," Ferguson said.

In May, Ferguson began tearing the roof and ceiling off of his 1963 international-style home. When finished, the home will have a new floor and 1,400 additional square feet to move around in.

"It's just a midsize normal home that now with the design elements, I think that when it's done it will be pretty nice," Ferguson said.

Mortensen helped the Fergusons design the addition, which will include a bedroom, master suite, bigger kitchen and living room. Ferguson said that his family will definitely have the space they needed.

"Even as the family goes away, the house and the space will be able to be utilized," Ferguson said. "We'll be able to have game rooms and family rooms."

He said that the addition has been designed for the future. As he and his wife get older, they could potentially live on one floor.

And Ferguson likes the fact that the home will keep its international style.

"Rod knows his stuff when it comes to remodels and style," Ferguson said.

Mortensen specializes in preservation architecture. He has designed thousands of projects since becoming a professional architect in 1987.

"It started out by just watching and seeing old buildings — neat old houses and the character," he said.

Mortensen said he also enjoys seeing what someone has done to a home in an attempt to fix it.

"It's a challenge," Mortensen said. "It's fun, especially when it's really messed up."

While other designers may relish the opportunity to tear a structure down and design something from scratch, Mortensen said he prefers the task of preserving buildings' histories. Preservation architecture, he said, allows him to look back and imagine what life would have been like when a home was originally built. He has helped many people re-create the original style of their homes.

"He has an incredible eye for design, and he really does a good job for designing a practical home that's still the same style," Ferguson said. "There are so many homes that are built these days that are nice, but they are kind of cookie-cutter homes."

Mortensen said that older homes have more character and are more friendly. He said that small changes, like adding a porch or an eave over a garage, can drastically change the feel of a home.

"Most people think that restoration has to be outrageous and totally expensive," Mortensen said, mentioning that many people try to make their house look like it did when it was first built. "They think they've got to make it look like it's 1892. But they're supposed to look old."

Mortensen said that there are several historic districts in Utah where if people do the right kind of improvements on their homes, they can receive tax credits.

"A historical district is an area where there's a high concentration of historic buildings that retain their architecture integrity," said Cory Jensen, National Registry coordinator for the Utah State Historic Preservation Office.

Jensen said that the homes in the National Registry must be 50 years or older.

In nationally registered historic districts, people can make any changes they wish to their homes, Jensen said. But local historic districts sometimes have regulations on what types of improvements people can make. Jensen said that people may have to make a proposal to a local landmark division before changing their home.

But Jensen said that historic districts help raise interest in historic buildings and artifacts.

"We encourage communities to do them mainly to educate citizens about the history and preservation of their area," Jensen said.

Although he specializes in preservation architecture, Mortensen said he will design a new home on occasion. But even his new homes have a historic look about them. In 1997 he designed his own home to blend in with older homes on his street. It includes a large front porch.

"A big porch can make a home so much more friendly as you come in," Mortensen said. "Some homes have little fake porches, maybe 2 or 3 feet. They're not livable."

The Fergusons' new plans call for a 9-foot-by-30-foot balcony.

Because architects have to do a lot schooling, Mortensen said many of their services are relatively expensive.

"I found a way to make architecture affordable for regular people," he said.

By working out of his home, Mortensen said he is able to keep his costs down, generally charging $50 for a first one-hour consultation.

"In one hour they can find out where their bearing wall is, if they can add a front porch, finish off a basement or make a home bigger," he said.

Mortensen said that most homes and additions are not designed by architects anymore but by home designers. But, he added, his education allows him to better utilize space.

Mortensen has won several awards for his preservation work, including the Award of Merit from the Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission for a home he redesigned on South Temple in Salt Lake City.

Mortensen also has experience in designing larger commercial projects.

But he said one of the best things about his job is helping people transform their OK homes into great homes.

"The thing I love so much is, the home to me is a neat place," Mortensen said. "It's where the family is. I love to help people have more of what they want for the family."


E-mail: nclemens@desnews.com