Ann Bailey

After all the time and money Dr. Ann Bailey has invested in updating her College Vista subdivision home over the years, she’ll never forget arriving from work one day last summer to find an army of men and trucks in her yard – because a dying hardwood tree at the edge of the property posed an urgent threat to a neighbor’s home.

“My yard had turned into a work site,” said Bailey, who in 2001 purchased a house built around the time Jack Cristil became the Voice of the MSU Bulldogs. “(Tree removal specialist) Calvin Patterson was here, 4-County (Electric Power) was here, and equipment was on its way to haul off the tree after it was cut down. It took hours to finish. Neighbors had already been told what was going on, and 4-County came back and reconnected the power lines. Calvin came back the next day and cleaned everything up.”

“Calvin was in the neighborhood and called me, knowing that Ann is one of our clients,” said Stephen Gore, owner of Advanced Landscaping of Starkville. “I met him there, and you could tell the tree was falling. It had been struck by lightning in the past, and the interior was hollow – the tree had split, and the weak side had burst out. If you were standing beside it, you could hear it cracking inside.

“By the size of it, that tree had to be 75-100 years old. Calvin said it would fall within 24-48 hours, and it was in a position where it would fall on the power lines … and possibly led to an electrical fire in the neighbor’s home.

Thankfully for Bailey, the director of Housing and Residence Life for the Division of Student Affairs at MSU, her other remodeling projects have been more peaceful. That doesn’t mean they’ve been easy, however, and they certainly haven’t been cheap; she says she has spent $165,000 in remodeling costs in the past decade-plus.

She has replaced the roof and added front and back decks to the home (the front deck was built by Advanced Landscaping). And new challenges have lurked around every corner, such as the need about a decade ago to replace the septic tank.

“It completely went out in 2007,” Bailey said. “That led to remodeling both bathrooms and replacing the plumbing chases (pipes in the walls) and the water heater. The house is in the county, meaning we’re not hooked up to Starkville’s water or sewer system.

“I put in one of those ‘treatment plant’ septic tanks. It’s a green concept – it takes in the water and waste material and reprocesses it. I have it in a dry creek bed, and there’s a sprinkler system within that pushes water out into the ground. You put in a chlorine tablet every two weeks, and the chlorine helps purify and clean what’s put back into the earth. The septic tank must be cleaned out every 5-7 years.”

Another issue was getting the St. Augustine grass to grow, which was rectified when Advanced Landscaping removed several elderly and dead trees and trimmed the branches of others. Over time Bailey remodeled the bathrooms, added a security system, and installed gutters and downspouts. And last spring she brought in David McReynolds Jr., owner of McReynolds Construction Company, and put him to work.

“Home renovation is as rewarding, if not more satisfying, than building from the ground up,” McReynolds said. “With Ann Bailey’s sixty-plus-year-old home, the biggest challenges were implementing modern building practices while coming to terms with the nature of the existing structure.”

McReynolds moved load-bearing walls and gutted the entire kitchen, allowing him to retro-fit with a design that kept the character of the home intact. He says the new, fully-functional and inviting kitchen/eating space complements the integrity of the period architecture.

“I faced daily issues with inefficient HVAC systems, insufficient insulation, and improper plumbing structures,” McReynolds said. “Updating existing doors demanded tedious restructuring of old frames to accommodate today’s specifications.
“Ann’s home remodel project now features two new baths, a new kitchen, all new flooring, new doors and hardware, a completed basement, efficient heating and cooling, and fresh interior and exterior paint. She was a pleasure to work with, and it is extremely rewarding to see how the finished product met all her expectations.”

“This house has tremendous curb appeal and location,” Bailey said. “The view is amazing, and it feels more like a woods retreat setting. I often tell friends that you would never know that MSU is three minutes away – unless you heard the band playing or the carillon chiming the hour.

“I can walk to football games and big events on campus. My office is three minutes away. If we have an emergency on campus or a weather event, MSU Police and other essential staff know where to find me quickly and can pick me up if needed. It is ideal.”