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How it Began

How did we get into this whole renovation thing?  Not too hard to figure out.  Like so many of you, the house was too small.

Built twenty-five years ago, the house is a Cape Cod, 24X40, so about 1000 sf on the first floor, 500 sf upstairs, and the basement was finished around fifteen years ago, adding another 1000 sf, though it really doesn’t seem like it.  But it really comes down to usability.  For instance, the living room, with a brick wall fireplace on one whole wall, low windows, and archways in bad places, is extremely tight with just five people.  The kitchen is a small L-shaped thing with a triangular pantry closet and there is really only one place to stand in it to get things done and, of course, not enough storage, so we keep bulk supplies in the basement, where they really are not convenient.  Upstairs bedrooms, well, it is a Cape, so most of the walls only come up to shoulder height or lower.

So, when we came back from Missouri in 2007, we came up with a plan.  Well, blueprints too, but that is not what I meant.  Our master plan was simple: 1) sell the house in Missouri to help finance the construction, 2) buy a small-ish house in a neighboring hamlet to live in during renovation and allow the boys to go to a better school district, and 3) renovate the house.  This was, of course, the summer of 2007 – you remember what happened next.

Skip ahead a few months, we had a house in Missouri that we were not going to sell anytime soon and were looking into renting out, we had the temporary house, and we had our house with no possible way to finance a renovation.  Fine.  Fate smiled at Destiny and all that.  It was pretty much all we could do to keep up with three house payments.

But we did have plans drawn up – actually the winter before we came home.  This was a good plan for the time, with two boys entering high school.  We got a larger Master upstairs, plus something the architect dubbed a media room and a Master Bath.  Even a small balcony to sit on.  Larger living room, larger kitchen (now to be eat-in), a separate dining room, a bedroom to replace the one that was to become the dining room, and – blessed event – a garage!

I am sure we would have been comfortable in that house.  A pity we never got to build it.  Instead, we spent over five years scraping by, for the most part, renting the houses when we could.  Instead, the house fell deeper into a state of disrepair, because I only have rudimentary home repair skills and why fix something you are planning to replace soon?  Instead, we lived in a holding pattern, waiting for the world to change.

We now have a very different set of plans, based on the boys becoming young men and soon to be starting their own independent lives.  Also, we wanted something closer to single-story living, to help us through our golden years, which may still be a couple of decades off – hopefully – but we sure do not want to do another renovation then.

In a later edition: the long terrible tale of how our current house plans evolved.  Warning: that story contains viscous high-pressure salesmen.


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