Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Crazy Adventure - The Farm House Remodel - Part 1

I started this blog almost 9 years to the day ago - May 25, 2004.  If you look through the list of posts, one conclusion you could reach is that I have been neither prolific nor committed.  You'd be right about that.  Spoiler alert:  That's probably not going to change, despite my good intentions.

I reread the original post tonight and was surprised by how many other things have remained the same.  I still think I'm living the good life in paradise.  Mary still hasn't figured out she got the short end of the deal.  (Though it's been 37 years now, so it's possible she's figured it out and is simply not going to admit it.)  And we're still pursuing crazy adventures together.  Since I published that first post we've put our last kid through college, lived in at least three different homes, toured Europe and moved to a farm.

Which brings me to the latest adventure - the subject of this series of posts.  We moved to Second Act Farm in the spring of 2012.  The house was livable, but we knew it would require some major work.  I could see a major renovation in our future, but we agreed up front that we'd live in it for a year before we attempted any substantial changes.  We wanted to experience the place through four seasons and give some thought to what changes were really necessary.

That was a good plan for a reason we didn't anticipate up front - starting the farm would completely consume all of our spare time and energy.  Stripping wallpaper and picking paint colors never made it to the middle of the priority list, much less the top.  We had our hands full making all the mistakes that new farmers make.  (Some of those are documented at the farm blog, http://secondactfarm.blogspot.com/ .  Same spoiler alert - posts are few and far between.  See a pattern emerging?)

But over the winter we found some time and a good architect, Louis, who helped us refine our ideas into a buildable design.  The plan in a nutshell is this:  We would demolish the front third of the house (everything forward of the dashed line in the photo below).  It contains two small front rooms, and a half story above - ceiling is at 6' - 2".

In its place, we would have a new, larger two story addition, like shown in the architect's drawing below.  It will have a new living room and master suite downstairs and two guest rooms upstairs.  A wall of windows on the first floor will look out over the adjacent farm land, and a wraparound porch will give us extra space to entertain.

The middle third of the house will be gutted and reconfigured to contain a new kitchen, pantry and laundry room.  The rear of the house will remain unchanged.  It's currently the master suite - where we'll be living during the remodel - but in the future will become a combination office and exercise room.

Through the early spring, we talked to several local builders and negotiated price and specifications.  We ultimately selected Greg and his company to do the work.  

They started the demolition one week ago.  Two thirds of the house is now gutted.  There are large saw kerfs in the side walls that mark where the front of the house will be separated.  We're currently living in the master suite (along with half of our furniture) and using a borrowed FEMA trailer parked in the back yard as our kitchen and dining room.  (Yes, that's FEMA trailer, as in one of the thousands that was deployed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.  But that's a story for another day.)

Lots of our friends and family members have asked us about the project, so we have decided to document our experiences here.  It's not likely we'll post every day, but we will document the entire project from now through completion - currently scheduled for the first week of October.  We hope you'll find it entertaining.  Mary and I went into this with an agreement that neither one of us would complain about the noise, dirt or general inconvenience involved in this project.  So far, we've held up our ends of the bargain, but there's a long, hot summer ahead.  We know that some of our friends have started a pool, betting on which one of us caves in first, and when.  You might want a piece of that action.  

Stay tuned.  Lots more to come!