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Father-Daughter Remodeling Team Takes On 165-Year-Old Excelsior Home

Originally published March 7

EXCELSIOR, Minn. (WCCO) -- One good thing to come out of the pandemic is that many people gravitated towards things they love to do -- and they're still doing them.

For a father-daughter team, that means renovating old houses. And in some cases, really old houses.

"If I'm going to do something besides teaching, I'm going to do something I love," said Kurt Weber.

During his career, Kurt has been a teacher and a hockey coach, but remodeling is his real love.

"The new construction is fine, but the remodeling is a fun challenge," said Kurt.

In this case the challenge is an Excelsior home built in 1858 -- the year Minnesota became a state. And when you're working on something this old, it helps to have a new set of eyes.

"We laugh as we walk through the rooms because you can tell what era they are from," said Alisha Perkins. "This was definitely renovated in the 70s. Here's the 80s and the 90s."

Years ago, Kurt teamed up with his daughter Alisha to build and remodel homes. They quickly learned that Kurt knows construction, while Alisha knows design.

"We took one bathroom and turned it into two," said Alisha, while overlooking their current project.

The father-daughter duo has worked so well together, that their eye-catching results has been featured in magazines. They call themselves the Dovetail Builders because in woodworking, a dovetail joint is one of the strongest.

When Alisha's friend bought the old Excelsior bed and breakfast, she wanted a crew with a strong bond.

"When she bought this she said, 'Would you be interested in doing a project of this kind of scale?' I was like, 'Yeah, but I have to bring a contractor with that I like [laughs]!'" said Alisha.

"We are completely different, and that's the nice thing, honestly," said Kurt. "We don't really fight about it because she wins out right away."

Kidding aside, it takes a special skill to modernize a 165-year-old house while keeping its character intact. They gut bathrooms, dining rooms and kitchens. Railings and other things need to be brought up to code. The crew repurposes as much as they can, while keeping within their budget.

"There used to be a closet here, so the room felt significantly smaller. So we took that out," said Alisha, while pointing out another change.

While these renovations will be done in the spring, they're not entirely sure what the house's new purpose will be. But that's not necessarily what's important.

"It's my favorite thing. My dad is one of my favorite people in my life," said Alisha.

For Kurt, the feeling is mutual. Because it's not just the work that's solid. It's the bond, too.

"What a blessing. This is one of the many things I love to do and to do it with her," he said. "She's so talented that believe it or not, it takes a lot of pressure off of me."

Kurt and Alisha will paint the outside of the house too -- changing it from pink to hale navy. They will be done within the next couple months so the house can be used for a wedding.

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