Joel Kuphal Renovates Home Studs Up & All By Himself

Tips and Fixes

When it comes to renovating his farm house from the studs on up, Joel Kuphal, of Gaylord, Minnesota gives the song “All By Myself” a whole new meaning.  Yup, Joel is the “Lone Ranger of Renovators” and even devised a rigging mechanism to help him nail sheet rock to the ceiling, yes, all by himself.  His home was originally owned by his grandfather, built in the 1920’s, and was in great need of repair and an LA style face lift.

Mr. Kuphal has been a drafter and carpenter by trade since 1987 and currently works for  EJ Pinske Builders in Gaylord, MN.  On weekends and during his limited free time (he is also a part-time EMT) , Joel can be found working away, room by room, modernizing, restoring, and refurbishing his home to reveal its great bones and potential, highlighting the home’s classic early American architecture.

So far, Joel has gutted his house down to the studs in order to insulate the exterior walls; an absolute must for those brutal Minnesota winters and muggy hot summers.  Since installing this insulation and replacing all the original windows, the savings on energy has been impressive: dropping his heating bill 75%.  Additionally, Joel has rewired the entire house, hung two patio doors, replaced 90% of the plumbing, and redesigned the kitchen and both bathrooms, all while living in the house the entire time. This DIYer found creative solutions when it came to accomplishing many of the building tasks.  Along with the sheet rock rig, Joel added shoes to the top of his ladder to protect the foil-foam insulation.

Something interesting was discovered during the rebuild, “I found this label on the back-side of the old plaster I tore off my walls and then realized that the foil-foam insulation I just installed is made by the same company, Celotex.”  It’s good to know good companies can still be in business, even after almost 100 years.

With this kind of unique solo building experience, I asked Joel what DIY tips he had added to his tool-belt of knowledge. “I would do one room at a time not the whole house. If people offer you help, TAKE IT! Reuse old trim and doors wherever you can, and most importantly, if you are doing the work yourself, once you start, don’t stop till you are done…it is so hard to get back at it.” He also added, “DiggersList will help me find matching parts or trim I’ll need later when I’m finishing out rooms, and help me get rid of stuff I’ve got left over.”

After explaining all the changes he made, Joel shared a little secret hidden behind his new walls: personal items placed behind the sheet rock such as Twin’s posters and a pennant, as well as signed messages from his family that will one day be revealed to the next owner when they decide to renovate.  A sort of “habitation time capsule” if you will.  That’s just so cool, Joe!


Written By Skaie Knox

Decor/Design/Repurposing nerd and DIYer, brand ambassador, freelance writer, and the editor-in-chief for HomeJelly. Skaie is also a signed and published singer/songwriter (Fervor Records/ASCAP) and kid's book author (Big Bug Lunch!). She was voted "Class Clown", and is a rescue dogs crusader.

5 Comments

  • Ceramic says:

    Woo Hoo!wonderful share, great article, very usefull for me…thanks.

  • Matt says:

    I had a chance to stay at his house, and I STILL can’t believe he hung all of the drywall by himself. Amazing!

  • Amanda R. says:

    Very impressive!

  • Ian says:

    Wow, he builds, he saves lives, he even mounts sheet rock on ceilings all alone. He’s some sort of Minnesota Super hero construction dude!!!!

  • Joe K says:

    Thank you Cousin Skaie for the great article. Just a couple of things…first if Celotex wants to pay me for their ad in the article that would be great…the sheet rock rig is nothing special, I just borrowed it from my buddy Ron Kirsch, & you forgot to mention the main reason why I’m doing the work myself; because I’m single:) Thanks again Cuz!

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