For the past decade, three brothers have been making a difference in the Gifford Park Neighborhood with restoration projects.

Now Martin, John and Rob Janousek are being recognized with Restoration Exchange Omaha’s Home Preservation Award for their work on the home at 3201 California St.

The two-story home, built in the early 1900s, was a derelict when the Janouseks purchased it. It had been treated badly by many tenants, then sat empty for a year. The brothers bought the house when it went into foreclosure.

“We had noticed it a few years ago,” said Martin Janousek, an architect. “It was a nice house on a corner. Corner houses are so important. They set the tone for the area.”

Though the brothers have completed a variety of projects, the fact that they all hold down regular jobs means the work on the houses must be done on weekends or in the evenings. The house on California Street took them over a year and a half to finish, Martin said.

Though the brothers do most of the work, they have contractors help with some of the jobs. This project required stabilizing the porch and replacing steps; installing a new roof, gutters and downspouts; repairing or replacing eaves and siding; painting the exterior; restoring the windows; putting in an all-new kitchen and bathroom (except for a restored claw-foot bathtub); refinishing floors; stripping and refinishing baseboards and trim; adding insulation; installing new front and back doors; and putting in new landscaping.

Martin Janousek compares these projects to children — you take care of them and eventually have to let them go. In the case of this house, they found a dependable renter.

Though the brothers tackle different types of restoration projects, working on old houses is both challenging and rewarding, he said.

“It’s really about giving back to the neighborhood,” he said, adding that it’s important to create positive change.

There is a ripple effect. One project by them leads to other projects by the neighbors. Pretty soon the entire neighborhood has a different vibe.

This is the first time their work has been given an award.

“It’s exciting,” Martin Janousek said. “It’s an honor.”

* * *

Home Preservation Awards of Merit: Judges’ comments

Chudomelka House, 1039 S. 30th Ave.: The owners of this home clearly recognize their role as stewards. We as homeowners have a duty — a duty to ensure that our homes are better for the future owner and generations beyond when we took ownership. Mike Chudomelka has done the research to understand his home’s history and over the last 12 years has painstakingly rehabilitated the home. Beyond the blood, sweat and tears, Mike even confronted his own fear of heights to ensure that the necessary repairs were made.

Minne Lusa House, 2737 Mary St.: It’s not every day that people decide to invest in a home not for themselves but for the community at large. The folks behind the Minne Lusa House have taken a liability for the neighborhood, and against all odds created a resource and an asset. Previous renovations to the home had done damage but the owners found ways to install appropriate new pieces mixed with reusing what remained — an important balance that we can all seek to emulate.

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Saving Places

This is part of a Restoration Exchange Omaha special section, "Saving Places: Celebrating 50 years of preservation," that ran in the Omaha World-Herald on Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Click here to read more stories from the section »)

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