The lake at White Oak Landing subdivision rose so high during the flood of 2016 that it filled this high-perched home with two feet of water. Photos by Melissa Oivanki.

From the ground up: A surge of water compelled the Mcintyres to rebuild their dream home

Most days of the week, Mark McIntyre can be found hauling bags of mulch, hand-shoveling garden soil, clipping bushes and potting spring foliage to create a lush landscape at the White Oak Landing home he shares with wife Marianne. Mark has always enjoyed yardwork, but these days the planting and the pruning can be considered therapeutic—the exterior oasis masks the fact that the interior of the house is still being remodeled.

“I’m working in the yard because I can,” he says, laughing. “I’m not a carpenter. I can’t stain the floors and I can’t install the countertops, but I can make things grow. And so I do.”

Mark and Marianne McIntyre built their White Oak Landing home for the water views and the serenity it gives them looking out their back porch. They never imagined that the water could rise high enough to encompass the house.

The McIntyres’ home took in 2 feet of water during the flood of 2016, when the lake that the home was built to overlook rose up and came crashing in. An outdoor kitchen, constructed at a lower elevation and closer to the lake, was covered in water up to its ceiling fans. Once the water receded and the couple began to consider renovation, they realized that it was going to be a slow process.

“It was an overnight occurrence, but it’s not an overnight fix,” says Marianne. “We really had to rebuild the house from the ground up.”

Indeed, they did. Because the McIntyres’ 12-year-old home was built on a slope, half of the house sits on a slab foundation while the other half is pier-and-beam construction. The rising water flowed under the pier-and-beam foundation and lifted the base of the house in the process. New footings and three 30-foot I-beams ultimately had to be installed before reconstruction could even begin.

“That was our first setback,” says Mark. “Our insurance company called in a structural engineer to confirm the foundation problem. We were stalled for almost a month waiting on those results. It took the adjuster about four months to get the whole report in because of the delay.”

In addition to the foundation issue, the entire exterior of the home had to be resurfaced. The original concrete cracked extensively due to the movement of the foundation, so new stucco was applied to the whole house. All exterior wood windows have been replaced with aluminum clad, new heart-of-pine wood floors were installed, and new kitchen cabinets are awaiting granite that is due to arrive at the end of May.

New heart-of-pine floors await a stain, walls will be repainted, and the new fireplace will get a new finish before the home is complete.

“It’s a waiting game,” says Marianne, “and everybody is in line.”

Meanwhile, Mark and Marianne live upstairs in their home with only a microwave to constitute a makeshift kitchen. Rice cakes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches comprise much of their food during the day, and most evening meals transpire in restaurants. For months, Marianne lived with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren (Mark stayed upstairs at home) until construction was to a point that she felt comfortable moving back in.

“If there is a silver lining in any of this, it’s the time that we got to spend with the grandkids,” says Marianne. “It’s been our home away from home.”

And while many families who flooded are taking the opportunity to go in a different design direction when remodeling, the McIntyres are making very few changes. No walls have been reconfigured because the floor plan was already open. Most furniture and even the drapes and rugs were saved thanks to nearby friends who showed up en masse to help before the floodwaters rose too high. And the duo loved the stone in the bathrooms and the granite in the kitchen, so they are simply reinstalling the same patterns they had before. Color to the walls and faux finishing on the cabinets are a few of the minor changes that they are making to acknowledge that a complete reconstruction has taken place. They anticipate the entire house to be complete around the beginning of June.

“This was my dream home. This was where we wanted to retire,” says Marianne, looking over the flowerbeds in the backyard. “When Mark and I sit on the swing in the evening by the lake, I still say that I wouldn’t change a thing. I love this house. I just can’t wait to have it back.”

For a closer look at the rest of this home, click on the photos in the gallery below: