So a lot has happened in the first week of building…A LOT (if you’re just visiting for the first time, you can start here to see our Little House on a Hill as we originally bought it a couple of months ago). The crew took down the roof – talk about a shock! – and they’ve started to make some real progress on getting the second floor and new roof up! I had no idea how quickly these things progress once they start moving and every time we visit the house there is something that is drastically different…it’s both terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
This first week has certainly taught us that unexpected things really do happen when renovating a house. Of course we knew this was somewhat inevitable, but given how smoothly demo went and how few surprises we found there it’s been like waiting for a timer to go off for something real to go wrong.
On Tuesday, they started to dig the front and back yard to pour the footers for our front porch and the foundation for the little addition we’re doing in the back of the house. When they did so we found 2 surprises…first, they found that the back door/closet area that we were building on to was actually only sitting on 3 inches of concrete on top of soft soil. In other words, it could have sunk into the ground at any moment – especially since we’re on a pretty steep hill. This isn’t a HUGE deal, but it does mean that they had to dig the whole thing out and we’ll need to resubmit plans to the town just in case.
The second surprise presented more of a problem…the water main connecting to our house was LITERALLY exactly where the footer for the front porch was supposed to go. We have a couple of options: 1) pay to move it a few feet away, 2) move the porch in a couple of feet or 3) eliminate the front porch all together and just build a portico. We’re still waiting on the price to move the water main but that seems like the most likely scenario at the moment. Fingers crossed!
We’ve also started making some design decisions which I’m super excited about. I can’t wait to see the house start taking shape and actually having conversations about specifics made it feel like this is really happening.
We got awesome news that we CAN move the windows in our dining room and downstairs office to be centered with the walls. We had previously been told that this would cost a lot of incremental money that we didn’t have but the windows need to be re-framed anyway so moving them is not an issue. On the plus side, this means that the windows won’t look so funny in the rooms. On the down side, this means that when you look at the side of the house from the road or driveway, the upstairs and downstairs windows won’t line up (they didn’t really anyway but now they really won’t). That is definitely a compromise we’re willing to make.
As we were discussing stair railings and design with our builder it quickly became clear that there was something that the hubby and I just weren’t understanding from the drawings. We thought there would be a wall from about halfway up the staircase to the second floor on both sides of the stairs. As it turns out, that wall will only be on ONE side and the other side will be open to downstairs the whole way. (This is probably a rookie misunderstanding but hey, we’re learning!) I had always wanted to get a horizontal black railing system but before we thought there would only be a few feet of it on either side of the stairs. Now that we know that it’s going to be visible all the way up the stairs (due to code dictating that you must have a continuous stair railing on one side) I want it even more, I think it will really pull the house together with the black windows. Now we just have to figure out how to get it in an affordable way!
Last but not least, the back patio covering. This has been a sticking point between me and the hubby since we got the drawings from the architect on day 1. We have a rather small backyard (most of it is a wooded hill at the moment) and I wanted to make sure we had a place to put the grill that was easy to access so I did not want the back patio covered to make sure we weren’t creating a space for smoke to build up. The hubby on the other hand, really wanted it – he thinks it will make the house look less tall from the side. I guess if I have to learn to compromise somewhere, it should be on something that other people have suggested we keep as well, right? In the end, we will be covering the back patio…we’ll see how it turns out!
These are the exterior plans! You can see the back patio covering that I was talking about – this will be stretched/flattened out to match the front porch.
That’s it for now! Hopefully there will be walls up for my next update!