The Project

Finally, we’re fixing our house!

We bought our house, a late 1970s garrison colonial, in 1996. It was in good, saleable condition; the original late 70s roof was even holding its own. The home inspector suggested we take out a number of trees/bushes to keep the moisture at bay, but…we never really looked into that. The trees and bushes which surrounded the house got taller and bushier and held in every bit of New England moisture possible.

Over the years, clapboards rotted, decks started to fall apart, things occasionally leaked, and (I realized recently) there’s some lovely moss growing on the roof. I felt sometimes like the house was going to fall down around us.

Front of house - before

Many people jump right on this stuff and get it fixed as they go, but as it turns out, we aren’t really maintenance people. We’re “deal with what’s on fire” people or perhaps we’re “it’s just barely smoldering, it will probably be fine” people. We’d like to be maintenance people, but we just aren’t. You can see that from the “before” pictures, taken yesterday morning just minutes before the workers arrived. The house had gotten into a bad state.

Back of house - before

One-story section & side door - before

We did finally get a lot of trees and bushes cut down last July – the ones that kept the moisture in and/or threatened to fall on our house every time it stormed. We took down the decks which were rotten and keeping even more moisture in. My husband replaced a few clapboards on the front of the house. And we started talking to builders and making some plans. We didn’t make any decisions quickly, but finally, finally, the project has begun.

We’re not just fixing the house; we’re also adding on a bit. The room where I’m currently typing, ostensibly a dining room, will take on the more appropriate title of “office” since we’re adding a dining room onto the back of the house. Also in the back of the house, the family room that isn’t quite spacious enough for family birthday parties and has basically no flow will gain both space and flow.

Underneath the extended family room and new dining room will be a new garage bay and basement (unheated). My husband will be thrilled to have that extra space and I will be thrilled as well. My car is out of the garage more often than not because some kind of large package has to be held, something has to be worked on, etc. Another bay means I can always put my car in the garage.

And finally, there’s a 10’ by 14’ one-story section of the house which we’ll top with a second story, giving me a dedicated sewing room. There will be little niceties as well, like a fan added in the downstairs bathroom, and the fans in the upstairs bathrooms venting to the outside rather than just the attic.

Back porch from the side - before

Our older son is happiest about the sewing room. Once my quilting/sewing supplies move out of the guest room, he will be able to move into that room. He’ll only need to share a room with his younger brother when guests come. I should probably warn him that guests may come more often with such an improvement in the house!

Materials for the project were chosen with easy maintenance in mind. We’ll have a new “lifetime warranty” roof, new-construction energy-efficient vinyl windows which open in for cleaning, and “lifetime warranty” vinyl siding.  A French drain will be put in to keep water away from the house; we had some basement flooding in the very worst storms of 2010 and we’d like to avoid that ever happening again. Various things will be done to the roof (vents and ice & water guards) and gutters will be redone and a leaf guard added to avoid leaks and water damage in the future.

Of course, it would be unrealistic to think that it will be totally maintenance-free. But if we spend some time making sure we keep things free of ice and debris (retraining ourselves to believe that ice on the roof and/or leaves in the gutter equals “on fire”) and power wash the exterior every couple of years, the house should look great for many years to come.

The expected duration of the project is 16 weeks after the foundation goes in. I know what people say about this kind of expectation, but I choose to be optimistic. Please don’t rain on my parade! Or my housing project — let’s hope for fair weather.

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