The Man Behind the House

May 12, 2016

Meet Marc Engelke, our contractor.

As he drove away, just having completed the first major punch list, I was filled with relief, sadness, fear and gratitude. I was really over wearing the blue tape around my wrist like a fashion statement. At first when I saw things that needed touch-up or repair, I thought “I’ll remember that”, but I would spend more time looking for the thing I couldn’t find (which makes you wonder if it really needed fixing, if you can’t even find it…). So I began wearing the tape like a big bold blue bracelet, Always with me and always matching my new work clothes.  I was ready to just begin living in the house, finish the unpacking and begin the decorating! But I had talked to this person almost every workday (and some weekends) for over 7 months. Was I really ready for us to be “on our own” with this house? I got a little teary as he drove away.

(I am being a little dramatic here since he rides by our house about every day, he lives within a mile away, and I know he would be there if we called him). But he is handing the house back to us at this point and the responsibility feels huge. Family home, old, historic, restored….what if something happens?

Have you ever met someone that impacted you in such way that you wondered, “What would have happened if I had NOT met that person?”.  Well, that is how I feel about Marc Engelke, our contractor.  A few of years ago a good friend, who lives in Hampton Park Terrace, said to me, “when your Daddy is ready to fix up his house, I know someone who can help.” I thought it was a friendly, subtle way to let me know we needed to put some work into our rental property. Fast forward a year or two and on her 5th or 6th nudging, I contacted Marc. Daddy was still with us and I thought it would be good to get a sense of what we needed to do to bring the property into the 20th century (yes, just the 20th century would be a big improvement….). Marc was gracious but clear, he was doing his owning renovations, flipping houses and not contracting out his work. Fast forward a couple of more years. Daddy had passed away and we had to make a decision of whether to update the house, sell it, or turn it back into a single family home.  I contacted Marc again, on a whim, and low and behold, he was doing contract work for others. I quickly told him the history of the house and he was intrigued.  He said it was rare for a home requiring a complete renovation to be in the continuous hands of the family and our desire to be true to the history of the house and historic neighborhood really brought us together.  We set up a time to meet.

Marc demonstrated his patience early on in our relationship.  My husband and I started out giving him 3 different scenarios: rental property for both units, rental property for one unit and we live in the other unit, or single family home.  After number crunching, city code quoting, budgeting, and envisioning all three scenarios, we took a field trip – to our next door neighbors.  They were so kind to let us see their home and the renovations that had been completed a couple of years ago.  It was beautiful and a real inspiration for me.  We walked out of their house and I told Marc, “That’s what we are going to do, restore it back to a single family home”. And our journey began.

So as Marc drives away, and I struggle with many emotions, I let gratitude win.

Thank you for being patient; for guiding me, teaching me, giving me time to process big decisions and little ones; for sharing your knowledge of  the history of homes that helped us honor the architectural integrity of the house and historic integrity of Hampton Park Terrace; for being as excited as I was when we found treasures in the wall; for encouraging me to explore my design aesthetic and to take risks; for knowing so many good, quality people that influenced our design, that worked on the house, that gave of themselves so that we could enjoy the results of their craft; for telling me it would be okay when I cried over the tile; for knowing when I had had enough and doing little things like uncovering the heart pine floors to cheer me up; for saving me from myself when I was about to make a wrong decision; for letting things sit for a bit when you knew it was not a good idea to invest too much time in a certain project – like restoring the screen door or putting in the old cabinet in the new water closet; for suggesting we take a walk around the block so you could show me exactly what you were talking about – with the many examples of homes you had renovated in the neighborhood; and for being fair, trustworthy and so darn likable.  You underestimate your reputation as one of the best builders in this beautiful city. Your expertise and dedication to preservation and renovation is what makes the difference in the historic neighborhoods of Charleston. Every person that we met who found out you were our contractor told us how lucky we were. And we felt it every day during this journey. So thank you for believing in us, taking on this project, and so expertly guiding us along the way. It has been an amazing, life altering experience and we can never thank you enough.

About Engelke Homes :

Engelke Homes specializes in historic renovations in the Hampton Park area of Charleston, SC.  Engelke Homes is owned and operated by Marc Engelke who has bought, sold and renovated over a 100 homes in the immediate area over the past 20 years. Notably Marc is an active member of the Preservation Society of Charleston. Founded in 1920, the Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest community-based historic preservation organization in the United States. One of the best-known programs of the Society is its Carolopolis Award.  Carolopolis Awards recognize excellent examples of preservation, renovation, restoration, and even new construction in Charleston. Engelke Homes is proud and honored to have received over 13 Carolopolis Awards since it’s inception. (Source:

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  • Reply Marc May 12, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Wow English. That was really powerful and means a lot to me. I forget sometimes how lucky I am to meet so many great people through my career and be such a part of their lives. Thanks for the kind words.

    • Reply English May 13, 2016 at 12:12 am

      We were the lucky ones!

  • Reply Monica Lavin May 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Wow. That’s great to have that type of relationship with your contractor! Makes all the difference!

    • Reply English May 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      He is a gem! I still see him popping over to check on things! He took such great care of our family home – we were so lucky to have him on our team!

  • Reply Shantel Gadsden May 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Love reading your blog posts! Such an inspiration for me, personally!

    • Reply English May 19, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Thank you! It’s nice to know when I write from my heart that it connects with someone!

  • Reply Liz Martin [charleston weekender] May 19, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I think Marc may have been responsible for our home at 4 Carolina St in 2009? Maybe not but I think he sounds like a great guy to work with!! Very appreciative to have a Carolopolis even though I had nothing to do with it 😉

    • Reply English May 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      I will ask him! He was wonderful and you are very lucky to have the Carolopolis award!!

  • Reply bastcilkdoptb August 23, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

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