Marshalltown couple getting new house after tornado ravaged first home

T-R PHOTOS BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Just four months after Chelsey and Jared Steckly purchased their house, 1507 Fremont St., the July 19 tornado leveled most of it to the ground. It is being rebuilt this week by Simms Construction and Wausau Homes Marshalltown. Being a stick-frame home, many pieces of the house came pre-assembled, resulting in the rebuilding process only taking a few days this week to complete.

Buying your first home is one of those milestone moments in a young couple’s life, but for Chelsey and Jared Steckly, their initial excitement over this accomplishment was short-lived.

Just four months after purchasing their house, 1507 Fremont St., the July 19 tornado leveled most of it to the ground.

“We were both home with our two dogs. It was very rocky and overwhelming,” Chelsey said. “We were actually on the patio and when we heard the sirens we went down in the basement. The tree broke and fell on the house — it was the only house around here that was demolished. It was hard because it was our first home too.”

The house, constructed in 1959, was too damaged to remain occupied, forcing the couple to seek temporary housing at a townhouse in Marshalltown. New to the area and wanting to remain, the Stecklys began the process of locating a contractor to fix their home. They came upon Jeff Simms, who owns both Simms Construction, 811 Iowa Avenue West, and the newly opened branch of Wausau Homes Marshalltown, 609 Iowa Ave West.

Simms said once the couple signed off on his services, he got to work outlining the plan to rebuild their house.

“Once they accepted me, we went through and finalized blueprints and then put in an order for the house (with the supplies) here within five weeks,” he said. “This is probably the first rebuilt home after the tornado.”

Work on the property began bright and early the morning of Jan. 9. The pre-assembled parts make the labor time go quickly. The team consists of a set crew of five to six workers, plus a crane operator and truck drivers who brought in the supplies.

“It is a weather-tight house within a few days,” Simms said. “It’s a panelized wall system. People think it’s modular but it’s not. It’s a stick-frame home — it’s just that all the walls are framed ahead of time.”

Using the existing foundation and referring to photographs of the home pre-tornado, the team got to work.

“It was a fairly complicated design,” Simms said. “It is a four-level split house, which is kind of unusual to see. It has a basement, the entryway, a step up into the kitchen and an upstairs.”

One major benefit of the overhaul is it allowed the couple the opportunity to customize the interior by expanding the kitchen, modernizing some features and bringing the house up to code.

“They are so into helping you and making sure that after a big experience like this, they help you with the decisions,” Chelsey said.

After the construction work wraps up this week, the project will enter Phase II: painting and interior design. The Stecklys estimate moving back into their home in April.

Simms said he is working on several similar building and rebuilding projects in Marshalltown.

“I’ve operated Simms Construction for 20 years, and now I have Wausau, whose office opened here the Monday before the tornado,” he said of the timing. “There is a demand for new housing, so we think this (building) system will help us keep up with the demand.”

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz

at 641-753-6611 or

sjordan@timesrepublican.com